Hypochondriacs Should Not Have Access to the Internet
There is something wrong with me. No one knows what it is. The CIA refuses to believe that terrorists are poisoning my food. And the doctors refuse to believe that I am not crazy. But has anyone bothered to test me for cat litter disease? I think not.
I thought toxoplaswhatever was just a great excuse for getting out of changing the litter box for the nine months I was pregnant. But, it turns out that pregnant women are not the only victims. In fact, 1/3 of the world’s population is walking around with this infection RIGHT NOW!
A test of a bunch of Danish women showed that the ones with the infection had a higher risk of suicide attempts than those without the infection. According to the scientists, it is not necessarily causally related.
But, I’m not fooled. Notice that this study consisted entirely of women. The scientists are just trying to cover up the fact that these poor women all married husbands who force them to change the litter box.
Of course, I have not attempted suicide. (Unless you count the time, last week, when I drove on the highway at night without turning my car headlights on. But, that was kind of not really deliberate, so I don’t think that counts. And, let’s not mention that minor incident to Cap’n Firepants, okay?) And, I am not Danish. So, I guess that is why no doctor has recommended this test for me.
Oh, and we don’t have a cat. We used to have a cat, though. Who committed suicide. Okay, not really. But, I am pretty sure that I did get toxoplaswhatchamacallit, and I am, right this moment, suffering from other problems that it causes which the sexist Danish scientists have not yet discovered – such as an inefficient colon and a tendency to acquire mattresses that need immediate disposal.
My point is that I am quite frustrated with the inability, or the complete lack of curiosity, on my doctors’ parts to figure out what is wrong with me. Doesn’t anyone know how to Google besides me?
As the daughter of a hypochondriac, I am regularly on the lookout for such symptoms in myself. And, yes, I recognize the irony of that sentence.
Sometimes, when I hang around people that are a bit older than myself, my own latent hypochondria seems to feel the need to make an appearance, and I start worrying that I am being far too nonchalant about the obvious signs that my body is about to disintegrate. This happened to me the other day.
I was helping MILlie, an 81 year old woman, to do some Christmas shopping. When I’m with MILlie, I become more aware of sounds. She has problems hearing, particularly when the environment is noisy. So, I become sensitive to noise as well.
Generally, when MILlie is in the car with me, I turn down the radio so she doesn’t have to listen to my daughter’s horrifying taste in music, or my equally (to her) horrifying taste in National Public Radio.
We were walking into Hobby Lobby after a short car ride the other day, and I couldn’t help but wince at the very forceful bell-ringing being produced in front of the store by the Salvation Army representative. It was so demandingly loud, that I steered MILlie as far away from the donation bucket as possible so she wouldn’t have to be subjected to the less than dulcet sounds. I’m pretty sure that was not the goal of the bell-ringer – to scare away potential donors. But that was the effect.
When we got inside the store, I could still hear the bell as we shopped. The entire time we weaved our way through the crowds and tried to determine the best gifts for those left on MILlie’s list, I was acutely aware of that darn bell cussing me out for avoiding the donation bucket.
The checkout shuffle we had to do in order to make our purchases momentarily distracted me from the ringing. First we stood in the back of one line of 6 or 7 people, then were told that line was closing. We moved to a different line (after I explained to MILlie why we were deserting our well-earned spot) and were told again, 5 minutes later, that the line would be closing. I almost climbed on top of the register and shouted, “Can someone direct me to a line that will stay open until I exit the store?” – but I did not want to confuse MILlie any more.
We finally finished paying, and were rewarded with the running of the gauntlet past the bell and bucket once again to reach my car. When we finally got in the car, I immediately started the motor, even though MILlie was still climbing in, hoping to drown out the sound of the darn bell that was destined to haunt my dreams.
Finally, I edged the car out of the parking lot, and headed to the street. But, as I got farther away from the store, the bell-ringing continued. And I had a dread thought.
Tinnitus. I had heard a story on NPR the other day about someone who developed it at a relatively early age, and it seemed to be an excruciating torture. Maybe this entire time, what I had thought to be the Salvation Army attempting to guilt me into submission had merely been my inner ear collapsing.
“I still hear the ringing,” I said desperately to MILlie, as we distanced ourselves from the only obvious bell in our vicinity. I glanced peripherally at MILlie to see if she was wearing some kind of damn bell necklace or earrings or headband or something that could explain why I was still hearing the ringing.
“Huh?” MILlie asked, clearly stating that she had no idea what ringing I was talking about.
“The ringing!” I said, with just a hint of hysteria in my voice. “It’s still ringing and we are nowhere near the store. WHAT IS THAT RINGING?”
And then I noticed my radio was still on, but I had turned the volume down. Apparently not all of the way, though. I flipped the volume to the right, and nearly blasted us both out of the car. With the ringing. On NPR. Doing a story on God knows what.
MILlie gave me a fearful look and I turned the radio off. Blessed silence.
“Sorry,” I said, as she primly put her hands in her lap and wisely said nothing.
I think I’ll be institutionalized way before I am hospitalized.
This is Becoming a Pain in the Butt
I did something truly frightening and scheduled a colonoscopy for myself on Halloween. In retrospect, that wasn’t my best plan ever. But Fate saved me from myself once again, and my doctor’s office called to reschedule because, apparently, the doctor’s husband is having surgery on that date.
I am not going to go into the details of the domino effect of this schedule change. Being a teacher of gifted students at two different schools, I had to personally notify at least 500 people when I cancelled class for next Monday. My students thought I was taking a day off for Halloween. I didn’t take off for my own birthday, but I’m going to relax at home on Halloween? If I was going to let that day effect my teaching schedule, I would go for the day after Halloween – when the kids are so sugared up from all of the candy they ate, and so exhausted from trick or treating that they are extra diligent about misbehaving, and drop their heads on the desk as soon as you ask them to expend some energy on anything that requires thought.
Anyway, my doctors’s office decided to reschedule me for next Wednesday. After I dutifully marked that on my calendar and hung up, I contemplated the nightmare I had just agreed to.
I had just finished emailing all of the teachers about next week’s schedule change, and let Transportation know so they could get a different driver because the current bus driver has already scheduled his life around me once and refuses to do it again. Now I was going to have to tell everyone that I was just jerking their chains. I really meant to cancel class next Wednesday.
And, let’s be logical about this. If the doctor’s husband is having surgery on Monday, and something goes wrong, is my doctor going to be in any shape to be doing the sensitive things they do during such procedures? What if the husband stops breathing during his mystery operation and everyone panics and the nurse drops a scalpel, and someone steps on it and slips, hitting the anesthesia guy in the crotch and then all Hell breaks loose? Do I really want the doctor to be working on me a mere two days after this traumatic experience? I think not.
Of course, rescheduling would mean I would have to call the office back again. So, I need to weigh the likelihood of my doctor going off the deep end due to her husband’s brush with death against the likelihood of me talking to a real live person who can help me before I stab myself with the butter knife after being forced to listen to scratchy elevator music for fifteen minutes. This is not Dr. Jimmy’s office where humans pick up the phone after one ring and magically pull convenient-for-my-calendar appointments out of their uncolonoscopied rears.
Then I looked at my calendar more closely. What? OK – hide the butter knives. Time to call the doctor’s office. I could handle re-notifying 500 people rather than calling back to re-re-schedule, but there was another event on the calendar that I could not cancel and I sure as heck didn’t plan to attend loopy on anesthesia with an aching butt.
David Sedaris is coming to town. That man’s writings – and his readings of his writings – makes life worth living, and I am not going to miss his humor injection for a dang colonoscopy that will probably result in my doctor officially declaring me a hypochondriac once and for all.
So, I called the office again. And, you have rightly deduced that I did not stab myself. The colonoscopy is rescheduled. I will be able to enjoy David Sedaris with my full faculties intact. At least the ones that are usually present.
I haven’t told the 500 people yet. I’m thinking of keeping things quiet. After all, it might not be so bad to have the day off on Halloween.
Why It’s Inconceivable that I Should Be Sick
My post “Results of a Study on John Denver and Depression” referred to the fact that mental illness appears to run in our family. In “Name this Phobia…” I admitted that I am fearful of dying with a messy house. I realize these confessions may make me sound slightly unbalanced. But I’m actually completely unbalanced as today’s submission will confirm.
I am related to a hypochondriac. I will not mention who it is, although I am pretty certain this relative does not read my blog. So, if you are a relative who is reading my blog right now, I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT YOU!
My concern is that hypochondria is hereditary.
So I am afraid that I am going to complain about being sick all of the time.
Which kind of worries me when I think I might actually be sick.
Sometimes when I think I’m sick, I think I’m just thinking it.
Especially if I just happened to watch a drug commercial or chance upon an ad in which was listed a lot of symptoms and side effects.
So, not wanting to appear hypochondriacal, I ignore the symptoms, and wait them out.
But then I start thinking, what if this is something real, and I, by ignoring it, am making it worse? What if it’s cancer, or some as yet unidentified Terminal Illness, and I could have saved myself by going to the doctor three months ago, but now it’s Too Late?
And, I will have to tell my husband and my daughter and Wonderbutt and Mrs. P.I.B. that I have two days to live because I was paranoid about being paranoid.
But that, I think, is exactly what a hypochondriac would think.
And, as everyone knows, hypochondria comes from the Greek word meaning “under the cartilage of the breastbone.” And Greece was the home of Socrates who died by poisoning, so I clearly must choose to go to the doctor immediately.
But I am part Sicilian, and as everyone knows, including germs and cancer cells, you should “never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line!”
Of course, another part of me is Irish, so I am clearly fearful of terrorists. And I suspect they have been poisoning my food.
But that’s exactly the way a hypochondriac would think, so I clearly should ignore my psychosomatic symptoms.
And then I will start laughing hysterically and pitch over backwards and die.
I’ve been watching the Princess Bride too much.