I’m Dying from 2 Rare Diseases

A while back, I mentioned how writing medical articles on a daily basis was making me pretty knowledgeable in terms of illnesses and diseases. I joked that I felt like I was just a stethoscope away from being a bona fide doctor. It’s true. In the past week several friends on Facebook posted about sick children and not feeling well, and I couldn’t help but dispense treatment advice (“use a warm compress and over-the-counter medications for pain relief”). What can I say? I may not have taken the Hippocratic Oath, but I still like to help people.

There is another, more serious consequence of writing about medical conditions all the time: I’m turning into a hypochondriac.

I’ve always been a generally healthy person overall. Pancreatitis/gall bladder surgery aside, I rarely get sick. It’s been a few years since I’ve had a cold, despite being surrounded by a house full of sick people on more than one occasion. Good genes apparently run in the family. And yet, ever since I began penning these articles, I’ve become paranoid that I am suffering from whatever condition I’m writing about at the time.

Let's see which disease I have today...
Let’s see which disease I have today…

Take this morning, for instance. Hyperthyroidism. It’s a disease in which an overactive thyroid produces an overabundance of thyroid hormone, speeding up the body’s metabolism. One of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism is an increased sensitivity to heat. A-ha!! I thought when I read that. I am hot all the time. I must have hyperthyroidism. Never mind the fact that there are at least a dozen other symptoms, including hand tremors, fatigue, clammy skin, itching, protruding eyes, and goiter, none of which I have. Fortunately I talked myself off that ledge after a few minutes, but there is always some new disease lurking around the corner that I’m able to identify with, even if it’s only a single shared symptom. Or, worse still, there will be no symptoms, and yet I’m still convinced I’ve got it. I was writing about cancer earlier, and learned that people who have pancreatic cancer – one of the deadliest, with a very high mortality rate – often experience no symptoms until the cancer has progressed to an advanced stage that is untreatable. Oh, shit! I thought, my heart skipping a beat or two as I read those words. I have NO symptoms of pancreatic cancer. WHICH MEANS I MUST HAVE PANCREATIC CANCER! 

Logic and reasoning have never been my strong suits.

It’s a lot more fun playing doctor with other people than it is playing with yourself. Err…you know what I mean. So I’ll just soldier on and try not to think too much while writing these articles. My sanity depends upon it.

13 thoughts on “I’m Dying from 2 Rare Diseases

  1. “I’m turning into a hypochondriac.”

    Mark, I know exactly how you feel because when I was a medical assistant (way back in the late 80’s), I kept thinking I had everything the patient’s had. It was like the more I knew about medical stuff, the more paranoid I became about looking for all the symptoms.

    “One of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism is an increased sensitivity to heat. A-ha!! I thought when I read that.”

    Ha! Funny you mentioned that because as you know, like you, I run hot all the time. And when I read about hyperthyroidism online several years ago, I thought I might have it too. But also like you, I didn’t have any of the other symptoms.



  2. A-ha!!

    I’m sure you didn’t mean to….but this really had me laughing!

    I just kept on thinking about the look on Tara’s face as you explained to her what your lastest ailment is.



  3. What’s the name of the disease where someone gets a particular song that a particular someone blogged about just the other day stuck in their head AGAIN?! Cause I need a cure!!!


  4. This is the problem with learning about this stuff – it happened to me too when I was taking Anatomy & Physiology. It doesn’t help that people still ask me to help diagnose their symptoms or ask me what does this pain or that pain mean?


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