I am not a hypochondriac. Hypochondriacs are people with imaginary physical ailments. I have actual physical ailments that have, on occasion, caused me to believe in imaginary physical complications of said ailments. I prefer to be called cautious.
First, there was the time Dan and I were driving in downtown Salt Lake City. I was feeling extremely nauseated. Then a strange tingling sensation began in my jaw and fingertips and slowly spread up my arms, and as it did so, my fingers, wrists, and elbows began involuntarily contorting. I figured only one of two things could feasibly be happening: my body was either becoming possessed and I was in need of an exorcism, or I had tetanus and needed a doctor. I also thought that if the tingling reached my lungs, I might experience respiratory failure.
I insisted Dan drive me to the hospital and screamed at him to run every red light, which he didn’t. “When I’m dead you’re gonna be reeeeally happy you waited for that light.” Then I began calmly reciting a list of all my symptoms. “If I’m unconscious by the time we arrive at the hospital because YOU WON’T RUN THE RED LIGHTS, here’s what you need to know when the doctor asks what my symptoms were.”
I thought I was being very responsible.
I had never been to the hospital before, and the procedures just added to my paranoia. I was rolled in with a wheelchair, asked twenty questions, and before I knew it I had needles and tubes taped to my arm. This ish was for real.
Eventually, the doctor explained to me that I had caused the strange tingling. I had unknowingly been hyperventilating to ease my nausea (which was, in all likelihood, due to car sickness) and caused a mild loss of oxygen to my extremities. My inability to breathe correctly — the one thing that humans, even infants, are stellar at all the time without even thinking about it — was the diagnoses.
The second time a doctor all but rolled his eyes at me was a few weeks ago. I’d been experiencing abdominal pain for fourteen days straight and wasn’t getting better. I began webMDing things and I’d narrowed my problem down to one of three possibilities: Pelvic Inflammatory disease (which was impossible due to the fact that it usually is synonymous with STD’s, and hey – virgin when I got married here), Ovarian Cyst (I know, you’re really glad I’m taking you on this uncomfortable trip down “Let’s explore health issues with gross names which quickly evoke weird visual images”), and lastly, I thought maybe I was pregnant.
I went to see the doctor. Told him my symptoms. Peed in a cup. At the end of a brief visit, he said to lay off fried and dairy-based foods. If my symptoms didn’t disappear in three days, I could come back in.
“You sure?” said I, she who has no training in medicine but is a self-trained expert at Googling symptoms. “Cause I’m worried I might have pelvic inflammation and then I’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO HAVE BABIES.” I emphasized that last phrase not to be dramatic so much as to clue the calm doctor in to the OBVIOUS severity of my predicament.
“Just give it three days.”
Three days later and I was symptom free.
Then there was the time when I was visiting HERE and had a bit of a fall. Just to make it clear, at the onset of getting hurt I was cool as a cucumber. I’d just gotten off riding down a big waterslide when I slipped on a floating device and scraped my left knee and foot.
I was so “whateves, it’s just a few scrapes, let’s go on another slide” about the whole thing.
Then Dan’s eyes got wide. “Hun, you’re bleeding.”
“No I’m n— oh.” I looked down and blood was streaming down my leg.
Dan was the perfect hero. He ran to the lifeguard to learn the location of the nearest red cross station. Then he ran back, swept me up in his arms, and practically ran across the park to first aid. It was really very sweet.
He was a little freaked out. “This is the first time I’ve seen you get hurt in our nearly seven years of marriage,” he said.
That’s because I’m CAUTIOUS.
Anyway, flash forward eight days later. The cut on my knee? Healed. The one on my foot? Not so healed. In fact, my foot was slightly swollen, and let’s just say said cut morphed hourly between something that looked like a jellyfish and something resembling pepperoni pizza. This was not a normal scrape. Something was wrong.
I went to see the doctor.
When the nurse checked me in, he immediately grasped the seriousness of my predicament.
“Yikes, what happened here? That does not look good.”
“I know, right? Listen,” I began to instruct him, steeling myself for the inevitable infected-cuts procedures to soon come, “please tell the Doctor that when it comes to disinfecting the wound, I’d rather dip my whole foot in acid than have him inject the wound with a needle.”
“Well, I can’t make any promises, but we’ll see what the doctor says.”
When the doctor came in and looked at it, I was suddenly less confident in articulating my “symptoms” to him as I had been with the nurse. I said, “It does this morphy thing. And it’s been 8 days… and oh! Look at my knee…” I rolled up my pants and thrust my knee at his face, “it’s healed already! Something is definitely wrong with that cut.”
He began handling me in a manner that I can only describe as “tough.” I think he was trying to teach me a “don’t be such a baby” lesson. He pressed hard all around the edge of the wound. The more I went like, “Oh yeah, ouch, uh-huh, right there really hurts,” the less sensitive he became.
His conclusion? “It’s a normal scrape and is healing slowly for one reason only. The skin on your foot heals more slowly.” After offering me a prescription for antibiotics, “not that you need it, but if it makes you feel better,” he got up and opened the door for me to leave. Didn’t even charge me for the visit.
I declined the prescription and apologized for wasting his time and for showing him my unshaved leg when I insisted he look at my healed knee.