Monday, September 13, 2010
For the Hypochondriacs
Oh my sweet sisters who suffer from the disease -- yes I said it, I know you just cringed at the word -- of hypochondria, how I feel your pain. Perhaps this captivating fear is a recent occurrence in your life, or maybe it's been following you for years. I would say the beginning of my hypochondria set in around 7th grade. It's true.
I'm sure some of you will be able to relate. It was nearing winter-time, so as most lovely mothers do around that particular time of year, mine made a big pot of chili for our fam. Chili is her specialty, so of course I was quite thrilled to indulge -- I was the "eater" child in our family.
Just call me Rolly like the puppy from 101 Dalmatians... "I'm hungry, Mother, I'm hungry."
Needless to say, I'm sure I ate what was quite a generous helping. I don't quite remember the details in this mix, but I do vividly remember feeling a burning sensation in my chest after consuming that scrumptious bowl of winter wonder.
Chest burning... Immediate thoughts... "Heart attack. Must be caused by my recent inactivity. It's been so cold outside, I haven't played recently. That must be it. All those commercials that I've seen -- people take Asprin when they're having a heart attack. Bayer Asprin. God must have been showing those to me so I would know what to do in this exact moment. But I'm only 13, and I hear Asprin is lethal for those of us in our preteen years. Oh what a predicament I am in..." Little did I know there was a little thing they like to call "heart burn..." How much worry that sweet fact would have saved me...
Or perhaps it began in my younger years around age 7 when I suddenly felt stomach pains while on a shopping trip with my mommy and grandmother. What was the cause? Pregnancy. Yep, I was convinced I was pregnant at age 7 -- one heck of a virgin birth that would have been...
Anyway, I say all of that to tell you that my fears of disease have decreased a bit over the years, but last weekend I admit, my fears flared up once again. You see, I had been feeling an interesting itch in my throat. I tried to ignore it, I did. I tried to convince myself I was only allergic to some pollen floating in the air, but the fear kept creeping up -- it could be throat cancer. Or what if it was a severe case of strep throat? One can never tell. Those things can set in quickly, and then you never know what can happen. It could have burned a hole in my throat or something -- never to have allowed me to swallow again, resulting in me being hospitalized for life and being fed by a tube for the remainder my days. No marriage. No children.
After a long debate, I decided a doctor visit was necessary.
I'm sure physicians try to exude only the most joyous of sentiments in their pristinely cleaned offices, but let's just be honest. Every time I walk into a medical center of sorts, my heart starts racing so quickly it's as if I'd been proposed to by my future husband. (Let it be known the dichotomy between the feelings that go along with proposals and doctors visits could not be more drastic, but the thought of both do make my heart race at a rather rapid rate.) As I walked in, I tried to remain calm.
"They're just normal people," I tried to tell myself. But there it was, that underlying fear inside of me shouting, "Ya, they may just be people, but they're people who about to tell you all the things that could possibly be malfunctioning within your many organs... BE AFRAID. BE VERY AFRAID."
What the heck, stupid fear? GET OUT OF MY WAY. Nonetheless, I let it reign over my life in that moment -- silly me. The nurse called me to the back to take my blood pressure -- read all my vitals. So like I normally do when very nervous, I proceeded to chat the individual's ear off. "Yes, just so you know, I really fear this machine. I hate the feeling of it cinching around my arm -- it feels like it will never let go. It will though. I'm sure. Right?"
"Yes, ma'am. Hmmmm, that reading can't be right. Let's try again... Just relax."
Thoughts: Oh okay! Relax! I would have DONE that if I COULD, so my vitals wouldn't freak out and make you tell me I have high blood pressure or something that will result in a life full varying blood pressure medications and thousands of rounds of visits to the doctor's office. But the cinching FRIGHTENS ME.
(Just like tanning beds -- what if they get stuck and you can't get out. Then they'd have to call the fire department and some man with some power tool will have to come pry me out only to find my naked body torched by hideous fake heat and UV rays. One can only hope I'd make it and not die from encroaching anxiety of thinking of power tools coming so close to my bare skin. Heavens to betsy!!)
Then began the questioning ... Did I drink? Smoke? Sexually active? No, no, no -- all fine and dandy, but what does this have anything to do with the yellow snot coming out of my nose, thank you very much? I tell you, I'm really not sassy in real life, but medical situations whip that sass right out of me.
The nurse left, and there I was -- alone in that, what I would assume to be, germ-infested little room. Can I just say terrifying? What if the patient before me had TB? Or some strange skin disease only known to small countries like Qatar or Bahrain? (I just took a quiz on the Middle East, that's why I say those countries... I'm sure they don't have random skin diseases, I just have the Middle East on the mind... Promise... I love the Middle East! I might go to Yemen this summer!)
Sorry, I know I need to cut to the chase... I digress...
The doctor soon arrived. She discussed my symptoms and after reviewing my nostrils, ears and throat, determined I had it was "viral".
"Viral? I'm sorry, as in a virus?? As in contagious? I'm contagious??"
She laughed. If nothing else, at least my crazy hypochondria brought joy to the life of another human being. "Well, it is contagious like a cold."
"Okay. So what do you recommend, Doc?" (Just kidding, I didn't say "doc" -- just felt like it was fitting.)
"Well, I can give you a shot, that's what most patients prefer."
"A shot? Like in my arm, right?"
"Yes, I will send the nurse right in."
I'm alone again. A shot -- I can do this. It's just a shot. I don't mind them. All of the sudden the nasty, new "Shots" song by LMFAO and Lil Jon infiltrated my mind. Of course, I feel as though they are not referring to shots of a differing kind of "medical healing" than the common Tetanus or Yellow Fever... Nonetheless, it heightened my insecurity about the whole ordeal all the more.
Suddenly the nurse opened the door. "Alright, now you're going to need to bend over. This will go in your bottom."
I almost started laughing. I thought she was joking.
"I'm sorry, I was under the impression this would be going in my arm."
"Impossible. All adult shots go in the bottom."
"Well, in that case, I feel like I will just go with a prescribed medication. Thanks."
Then I felt guilty. I didn't want her to feel bad about herself. It wasn't her -- actually it kind of was. If she would have been a bit more joyful and understanding about the whole shot thing, I may have been inclined to get the shot. But no. I was too overwhelmed by the booming voice and long needle in hand. It is okay though. I survived.
And now seven days later, I'm feeling quite better! Praise the Lord. All the glory and honor to Him -- for reals! He is so good to love me unconditionally despite my many inadequacies -- and when I say many, I mean it, there are a lot of them. I hope this little tale comforted those of you who also fear disease and the doctor's office alike. Or perhaps just brought some laughter to those of you who found this account of my reality ridiculously hilarious.
There's more of that to come.