Hypochondria and me is not a new sitcom about a silly curmudgeon who is convinced they have everything. Someone told me about this awful condition once, and right away I was sure I had it.
That’s the thing with hypochondria; not only do hypochondriacs think they have that, they think they have everything else that’s serious and life threatening, too. It’s become a meme in our house; whenever someone mentions some disease, syndrome, illness, or health condition, I pipe up with, “I’ve got that!”
Naturally, everyone scoffs at me and laughs it off, but let me tell you why us hypochondriacs have everything we’re sure we have, why it’s no laughing matter, and why you too, might be sick with everything.
I must have been traumatized some time in my life. I listened once too often to a friend or relative’s complaints, or saw one too many infomercials about the side effects of a new drug, and became convinced I had “what they had,” like Meg Ryan in reverse in that famous scene in When Harry Met Sally.
Health threats are always traumatic, regardless of the person and the ailment, and they bring the sufferer just inches and minutes from death. Naturally. They wouldn’t be a “threat” if they didn’t.
“The doctor told me it was good I came in when I did. That hang nail and the resultant loss of blood was more serious than I’d thought. He gave me a shot of penicillin and told me to stay off that finger for a week.”
My hypochondria isn’t just because of the internet and the ease with which strangers can tell you what you’re afflicted with, strangers who can’t see you and have no way of running tests on your sore finger.
It’s also because articles about new diseases and conditions have been popping up in conversation and magazines ever since doctors started telling us how healthy we are and could be, but “Oh, looka here,” they said. Due to modern living, no open windows, the ubiquity of central air, the lack of exercise, processed food, and not eating our veggies, we’re all dying of some other thing.
I took a medical course several years ago in order to work in the front office of a medical clinic. I can’t remember now why I thought this was a good idea. I don’t like being around sick people, and presumably a medical office worker will see those people all day long in the course of their work day.
During this medical course, we had to break up into teams for an assignment. All the teams studied an illness or disease. Each team had to describe the symptoms of that illness in their presentation.
As I listened to each presentation, I was sure I had the illness they described. If not for the seat belt I was wearing, I’d have run out of class screaming. My classmates would have properly diagnosed the symptoms for fear, which are chills, aches, nausea, fever, unexplained weight loss, unexplained weight gain, thirst, and hunger.
None of these illnesses or conditions have yet been cured by the miracle of science or chemistry, so these symptoms could happen to YOU, too. If you have ANY of them, at any time, call me.
I’ll end up having them, too.
The symptoms to watch for are:
Chills, aches, nausea, fever, unexplained weight loss, unexplained weight gain, thirst, and hunger. Our teams in the medical course did admirably in diagnosing their assigned conditions. I was proud of our skills.
If a patient has a bee sting, the symptoms are:
A hurty spot, chills, aches, nausea, fever, unexplained weight loss, unexplained weight gain, thirst, and hunger.
If the patient has a sprained ankle, the symptoms are:
A swollen ankle, chills, aches, nausea, fever, unexplained weight gain (because of the inactivity and raging denial of eating too much), thirst, and hunger.
If the patient has a cold, the symptoms are:
A runny nose, chills, aches, nausea, fever, unexplained weight loss (I wish), unexplained weight gain (much more likely), thirst, and hunger.
If a patient has IBS, a viral infection, or pneumonia, the symptoms are:
A swollen body, chills, aches, nausea, fever, unexplained weight loss AND unexplained weight gain, thirst, and hunger.
If a person has cancer, the symptoms are:
Everything. And including a headache, sore throat, stubbed toe, aching knee, pulled groin, ear infection, and mosquito bite. No matter what we’ve got, we’ve got cancer.
If a person is dead, the symptoms are:
Lack of breathing and heartbeat, chills, aches, nausea, fever, unexplained weight loss (natch), thirst, and hunger.
Wouldn’t you have all those things, too?