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.
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.