Aw, Jill, I know that has to be hard! Since I've had this autoimmune disease (as yet without a name, doctors are calling it definitely autoimmune, and that's about all I know) enter my life, I've had feelings like that, too, where I notice something strange and then I start to think about it more, and more, and more. And so then I go research whatever is bugging me. And that invariably teaches me about some new symptoms that could be indicative of whatever disease, and then I'll start to notice something new... It's not a good cycle to be in. And I know it has to be ten times worse when you have health anxiety.
So, just from an objective perspective here, it sounds like the doctors came up with a plausible explanation for the abnormal blood tests, and that you don't have anything else going on besides that old positive ANA. I want to share something with you from the American College of Rheumatology about the ANA test (from http://www.rheumatology.org/practice...ions/ana.asp):
Only about 11-13% of persons with a positive ANA test have lupus and up to 15% of completely healthy people have a positive ANA test. Thus a positive ANA test does not automatically translate into a diagnosis of lupus or any autoimmune or connective tissue disease.
So it is completely likely you do not have lupus, even with a positive ANA, since you don't have many of the telltale symptoms.
But back to the health anxiety. Health anxiety is a real thing, and it is not to be dismissed or taken lightly, though some doctors will shrug it off. I want to share with you a story. I see a chronic illness counselor, who helps me deal with the emotional and psychological impact of a frustrating, painful, undiagnosed condition. One day I told her that I felt like I was crazy, that I was focusing -- obsessing even -- over the tiniest symptoms or twinges. And she told me that is not uncommon when you're surrounded by the medical field and researching conditions all the time, like I was.
She told me a story about a former client of hers, a completely physically healthy ICU nurse who suffered disabling health anxiety. This nurse spent most of her time around the sickest of the sick, and she started to believe that she, too, had some sort of terrible illness, just lurking, waiting to kill her if she didn't get it caught. This nurse used her access to the health care system and the fact that because she was a nurse, everyone took her seriously about health issues, to have who knows how many scans and tests and consults-- few, if any, of which were really warranted. But she still had a very real problem, that affected her just as profoundly as many physical illnesses can: her health anxiety.
So, this nurse started seeing a chronic illness counselor -- though any sort of counselor or therapist who specializes in health-related issues would do -- and she was able to talk through her worries about her health without fear of being judged, and she was also able to have someone familiar with her situation there to help her figure out when something she was worried about was her anxiety flaring up or when she may actually need to see a doctor.
It sounds like you're very stressed about your health right now, and stress like that is never good for you, and it is probably wreaking havoc on your IBS. If there's any way to find someone like a counselor or therapist to discuss your anxiety with, I really think you'd find some good in it. A counselor who specializes in health issues could definitely help you manage your anxiety and help you keep track of when a symptom warrants seeing a doctor.
Lots of hugs to you, Jill-- it sounds like you're dealing with hell right now, and it sounds like it sucks!