Category Archives: Disease of the Day
It takes a lot of work to sit down at your computer, open up your browser, and Google a bunch of symptoms. Then, we are required to expend our remaining energy on focusing on the list of results so we can narrow it down to the exact fatal disease that is killing us this week. This requires a single-minded commitment that most of us do not possess. So, we often end up finding all kinds of infirmities that don’t precisely fit our conditions, but have great potential for afflicting us in the future. I don’t know how you deal with this plethora of plagues, but I used to save them all in bookmarks on my browser. Just in case. I mean, just because you don’t have Elephantiasis now doesn’t mean you won’t be swollen up by Christmas. It’s important to be prepared.
Then it occurred to me that this is the exact type of situation for which Pinterest was invented.
Who needs boards full of cutesy craft projects, ridiculously complicated recipes, and quippy quixotic quotes?
What I need is a board that shows me all of the different diseases I can get if I’m bitten by a tick in South America.
So, I set about creating my Pathophobic Pinterest Boards.
They include: Parasites That Live Inside Humans, Skin Gone Wrong, Infections Caused by Sea Snails Under Your Skin, Can I Die From Inhaling Dog Farts on a Regular Basis?, What to Do If You Suspect You Have Ebola, and What Does It Mean When Your Left Eye Keeps Twitching?
Note that I added the Sea Snail pin to two boards because it is obviously a matter of Skin Gone Wrong as well as a prime example of Infections Caused by Sea Snails Under Your Skin.
You may notice that I have not actually pinned anything on to the Diseases You Get from Being Bitten By a Tick in South America board. Google was very unhelpful on that subject. But I’m leaving the board there. Because I know that it’s only a matter of time.
The great thing about using Pinterest is that you are notified if someone else has pinned that exact same item on a board. This is gratifying because then you can be comforted by the fact that you are not the only obsessive compulsive hypochondriac collecting potential diseases.
I am sure I will be adding more boards and pins soon. In fact, I have been playing around with the idea of adding an Experimental Drugs That I Will Probably Need in the Future board because it’s really hard to keep track of those pesky trials and you never know when you’re going to need one. The problem with adding that one is that I’m afraid the drug companies will get wind of my interest and hike up their prices and/or fabricate the results.
It’s difficult being a paranoid hypochondriac with a social network.
I finally solved the mystery of what’s using up all of the RAM in my brain, rendering it completely useless for ordinary tasks like processing words and creating pointless bulleted lists of what I desperately need from the grocery store.
Someone has apparently messed with my system preferences and over-upgraded my anti-virus program resulting in my brain spending more time on defending me from highly contagious infections than reminding me to perform simple tasks – such as putting a memory stick into my camera before I take 200 pictures and realize that none have been saved.
I was thinking that getting older was the culprit, but a rare moment of self-awareness the other day revealed the true reason I can’t remember a darn thing anymore.
I was supervising recess, and a student came up, rubbed his palm on my arm, and asked me if he could go to the bathroom.
“Sure,” I said automatically.
What I was thinking was, “I need to douse my left arm in hand-sanitizer as soon as I get back to my classroom.”
About 2 minutes later, a parent walked up to me, introduced himself, and shook my hand.
“Hello,” I said automatically.
Thinking, of course, “And I will use my right hand that man just shook to spread the hand-sanitizer all over my left arm.”
And then someone asked me a question.
And a small bit of panic began to rise because I now had two things to remember and one thing to respond to all at the same time and apparently two is my max amount for multi-tasking and my brain completely freezes if required to perform three functions at the same exact time.
I don’t even remember the question. It was about that moment that a random window opened in my brain, informing me that this is exactly why I am a basket case while simultaneously debating whether the person who asked me the question got close enough that I would now need to sanitize my entire body just to be on the safe side.
Later that day, I informed my husband of my great revelation.
“I can’t remember anything because I’m too busy trying to remember which parts of my body need to be disinfected every time someone comes near me. I’m seriously creating little mental maps in my brain with place-markers on every spot that has been touched since the last time I expunged all of the germs.”
Despite the fact that I make astounding statements like this every single day, my husband seemed a bit concerned by the gravity of the situation.
“That’s weird,” he said. “You seriously need to stop watching those reruns of Monk.”
“Oh God,” I thought. “I never thought of that. CAN YOU IMAGINE ALL OF THE BACTERIA LIVING ON OUR REMOTE CONTROL?!!!”
“Have you had your thyroid checked lately?”
“Well, you just seem to be losing more hair than usual.”
This slightly disturbing dialogue occurred between my hair stylist’s sister and me as she was washing my hair. I don’t think she realized that she was pouring gasoline on a hypochondriac’s fire.
It didn’t help when my hair stylist, himself, said, “Oh yes, we had a client who had thyroid problems. But instead of losing her hair, she lost her eyebrows.”
I think you can predict what I did when I went home.
It says a lot about my husband’s understanding of me when he said nothing after walking in on me in the bathroom with my nose pressed to the mirror, trying to look for evidence of any missing eyebrow hair.
The truth is, I have been thinking of getting my thyroid checked. It was checked 3 years ago, but my sister, Crash, had already planted the idea in my head a couple of weeks ago that I should make another go at it, and I am a firm believer that one medical test is never enough. Especially when it comes out negative. I’m not paranoid (much), but it seems to me that there are a lot things that can go wrong between the draining of my blood in one office building and the examination of it in some anonymous warehouse under a microscope. Just check out the “Non-Fat Yogurt” episode of Seinfeld, and you’ll be
paranoid, moderately suspicious too.
What I’m trying to figure out, though, is how I can get my doctor to just order the tests without me having to go in and explain my rationale for needing them. Because I already paid my hair stylist $150. I don’t see why I need to add a $20 co-pay to the mix.
“Hello? Yes, I wanted to see if Dr. Jimmy can order some thyroid tests for me? No, I don’t need to meet with him first. My hair stylist’s sister already diagnosed me. Plus, I did the internet checklist. Really, the blood tests are just a formality. If Dr. Jimmy wants, we can skip those, too, and he can just start giving me the drugs.”
Yes, I’m sure that would work.
I’m pretty sure I have shingles. My father-in-law had shingles. Then he died. Not necessarily a cause and effect situation. Especially since it was 3 years later. But still.
You seem skeptical. I understand. I mean, we all know I have a history of hypochondriacal tendencies that are often exacerbated by Google and television commercials. Like the time I became convinced that I had mesothelioma merely because I dreamed that I had it, and logically deduced that I could never dream a disease that I hadn’t even heard of. So, in my estimation, I was a psychic with lung disease, probably contracted from working in the coal mines. Wondering why my psychic powers waited until after I was dying to kick in. And then I realized that a mesothelioma commercial plays on Robin & Friends on HLN every morning while I’m getting dressed. So, I wasn’t psychic and, oh yeah, I never worked in a coal mine. So, it was quite possible that I had not contracted mesothelioma and I could stop cuing my hacking cough every time my husband walked into the room so he would feel sorry for me. Or walk out of the room in disgust. (He being the disgusted one – not I.)
This time, I am well aware that shingles have been highly commercialized. They are scaring the you-know-what out of me. And when you have an inefficient colon, that’s a pretty big deal.
What makes me mad is that I thought I was safe.
You know, when you’re in your twenties, you hear about all of these adults who get chicken pox who never had it when they were kids, and it’s so much worse when you’re an adult?
And I thought, “Whew. Dodged that bullet. Missed a whole week of school and got to stay up late to watch The Wizard of Oz when my mom found a pock behind my ear. And she had totally forbidden me to stay up to watch it because I had school the next day. And that was WAY before DVR’s. No adult chicken pox for me, nosirree. I am immune.” Never mind that I was scarred for life by the Wicked Witch of the West and her untimely death by water, quite possibly the reason I refused to enter the lake for an entire season of swimming lessons the following summer.
But now, the Shingles Soothsayers are telling me, “Haha! You stupid fool! You had chicken pox when you were a kid. So now this deadly virus is just hiding out in your body waiting until your First Very Important Interview with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. And then Herpes Zoster, AKA Shingles, will swoop in and give you ‘small sores that begin to dry and form crusts’. But, don’t worry, the crusts ‘fall off in 2 to 3 weeks.’ And, ‘Scarring is rare.’
And it’s only possible, but not certain, that it will cause genital warts.”
And I just want to know how successfully triumphing over chicken pox when I am 8 throws me down the rocky path to contracting a venereal disease when I’m 60.
This is what I get for wishing a pox on myself just so I could watch two witches get exterminated by a girl with a dog in a basket.