Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Life as a hypochondriac

I have a tendency towards anxiety. I could go more deeply into this, but frankly, I'm not brave enough to address that on this blog, so I'll just address one facet of this anxiety.

I have two phobias. One is raccoons (bad experience on a Girl Scout camp-out), and the other is the majority of things that have to do with medicine.

I mean, I TAKE medicine. I'm actually pretty good in a first aid emergency situation. Blood doesn't bother me too much (at least not after being in Macbeth), and I have a decent knowledge of home remedies for the day-to-day ailment.

But now and then, this phobia takes a hold of me and I become an anxiety-ridden MESS. Here's what life is like for a hypochondriac.

You go home a little early from school/work, because you're not feeling well. In a moment of sickly boredom, you visit and discover that there's been a massive meningitis outbreak in the U.S., with cases in Idaho. You are IMMEDIATELY CERTAIN that you have meningitis. Because, even though you only slept like 3 hours last night and that co-worker you spend all day with is still getting over a cold, you are sure that what you're experiencing can only be meningitis. Heck, your neck is even sore! It's been sore for days! Never mind the fact that you definitely slept funny and it's really more like your shoulders that are sore. YOU HAVE MENINGITIS. After tearfully panicking and realizing you don't even have a will written, you scroll down on the CNN news story and discover that it's a rare form of NON-CONTAGIOUS fungal meningitis that is linked to a contaminated batch of injectable steroids. You've never been injected with steroids.

Your lower back has been sore for a little while, and stretching isn't helping, so you log on to that handy hypochondriac's nightmare Have you ever visited this website? Don't. You'll panic. Even if you're NOT a hypochondriac. Anyway, you use the online "symptom checker," and discover that, besides indicating "muscle strain," pain in the lower back can also be a symptom of a ruptured organ (there are several to choose from), several varieties of cancer, and acute kidney failure. Noting that your urine wasn't the purest color the last time you went, you decide to research acute kidney failure a little further, and discover that apparently, acute kidney failure can happen with NO SYMPTOMS. So even if you're feeling totally fine, your kidneys could be failing at any point in time. Acutely.

Children's books like Madeline (wherein that French orphan girl gets appendicitis) and that one Curious George book wherein he swallows a puzzle piece? Those continue to haunt you well into your mid and late twenties. To this day, if I have a slight pain in my side, I think of that stupid orphan girl and her burst appendix.

Any throat pain is immediately a deadly form of strep, or tonsillitis. I actually have had tonsillitis before (remember this? and THIS monstrosity?) and survived it, so I really shouldn't worry. But that trip to the hospital during that episode was NOT something I'd care to repeat.

Anyway. I bring all of this up, because I'm totally getting sick. That meningitis thing up there happened to me today. My throat is KILLING me, but it's just red--no tonsiloliths or white strep patches. And I haven't been injected with steroids, so I'm pretty sure I'm safe from meningitis. I promised my cooperating teacher no sick days, AND tomorrow is the beginning of my unit, so I don't really have time to get sick.

So, like any good hypochondriac would do, I'm signing off to go gargle with Listerine/take vitamins/drink water/sleep/do yoga/take echinacea (how the heck to you spell that?!)/eat a spoonful of honey with cinnamon/eat toast/take a bath.

Wish me luck. 

image via


Jamey Meteer said...

This is funny because sometimes,I'm the exact opposite. Take ten months ago for example..."Oh, I probably just ate something funny" FALSE: PREGNANT.
A few months after that...
"Oh it's just a scratchy throat"
This past week...
"Oh, it's just a headache from lack of sleep"
(totally kidding about that last one...probably shouldn't joke about it...but I did...oh well..)

Hope you feel better soon!

Marla said...

Jamey: Your comment has probably sent Liz over the edge! Oh no! I have two daughters like you, that think every ache and pain is something deadly. And, unfortnuately, when they look something up online they read the very worst possibilities! My advice to them and you: Don't look up anything on the internet, wait at least 2 days after you get any symptom to even get concerned. As you age you will find that the body gets aches & pains all the time - but for the most part it helas itself! Keep a positive attitude too because there is true to "mind over matter". Not always, but it can make a difference!

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