Holy Diarrhea! I’m A Hypochondriac

sick man

It’s true. I’ve denied it for years, not because I was ashamed of being a hypochondriac, but because I didn’t think the word applied to me. Why? Miss Snarky Pants, with all of her books, her degrees, her 4-year reign as FCS’s Spelling Bee Champion – don’t be a hater! – never bothered to look up the friggin’ word in a dictionary. Nope, I determined its meaning from overhearing its usage in every day speech. My parents, for example, used the word a lot, and, come to think of it, slewed their eyes towards me whenever they uttered it. For all these years, I’d been operating under the delusion that a hypochondriac was a person who believed they had many illnesses, when, in fact, they did not.

Color me red when I discovered the error of my ways. The cornerstone upon which the entire foundation of who I am and what I believe was crushed when I Googled hypochondriac, only to discover that Dictionary.com defines it as “an excessive preoccupation with one’s health, usually focusing on some particular symptom, [sic] as cardiac or gastric problems.” For a moment, I thought, That’s not me. I usually think I have cancer. I’m not worried about my heart…except for when I can feel its beat pulsing in my temples, and then I’m certain I’m suffering an aneurysm. Hey, it could happen. And my gastric problems are real. You can’t fake diarrhea.

I scrolled down to the second definition: a person who worries or talks excessively about his or her health. Crap! I couldn’t deny it. My health sneaks its way into every conversation I have these days. I get asked, “How are you feeling?” more often than Taylor Swift gets asked, “Who are you going to write a nasty song about next week dating?” For example, today while I was warning my outdoorsy neighbor about the recent mosquito-borne pathogen outbreak in Florida, she blurted out, “What the hell is dengue fever?” However, her next question was “How’s your stomach feeling?” This woman has never even used my bathroom, but she’s knows that my bowel has been distressed lately.

And yes, I’m terrified that I’m going to contract dengue fever. Why?

(1) Eight cases have been reported in Florida in the last few weeks, in two counties: Martin and Miami-Dade. Granted, I don’t live in either of those counties, but mosquitoes can fly. Fly! They aren’t constrained by the nightmarish gridlock on I-4 as families squeeze in a pre-Labor Day Disney visit. No, mosquitoes view that arterial roadway as, well, an actual artery. Moreover, the Aedes aegypti, the species of mosquito that typically carries the virus, prefers human blood to that of other mammalians. Did I mention that only the breeding females transmit the disease? Mothersuckers!

Mothersucker! (Image via Wikipedia)

My Blood Is On Your Hands. Erm, I Mean, In Your Stomach. (Image via Wikipedia)

(2) I know someone who contracted dengue fever while in Central America. Obviously, the disease isn’t all that rare. His case was so severe, he prayed to God for death. And he’s an atheist.

(3) When it comes to mosquitoes, my blood is a bottle of 1945 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild Jeroboam. No, make that a FREE bottle of 1945 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild Jeroboam. Yeah, I had to Google that, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Their lust for my blood culminates almost daily in a feeding frenzy that’s convinced me that no vampire could ever resist me. Take that, Bella Swan.

(4) I’m an unlucky person. Sort of. In my mind, most of the good things that  have happened to me in life resulted from hard work and perky breasts, not good fortune.

The problem is that I’m a recovering attorney, and my mind operates in a very specific way. When I assess that there is a threat within a 500 mile or so radius, I scour the Internet for evidence to support or dismiss that threat. After reading dozens of articles, blogs, Wikipedia entries, and a couple of double-blind, random, placebo-controlled studies, and determining that the threat is valid, I then begin comparing the disease’s list of symptoms with my current ailments. Dengue fever sufferers, for example, may expect fevers as high as 106 F, severe headaches, body rash, joint and muscle pain so draconian it can cause contortions, nausea, vomiting, eye pain, and minor bleeding from the gums and nose.

My gums bled this morning when I brushed my teeth. My lower back is killing me and I’ve had recurrent abdominal distress for over two weeks. Someone’s tap dancing on a nerve directly behind my left eye, as I write. I could be dying. But the only doctor I’ve seen in months is my chiropractor.

ben franklin

Benjamin Franklin: A Man Of Mad Skills, I Say!

Why? Because I don’t really believe I have, or am going to catch, dengue fever, but the chance exists. In law, you might call it reasonable doubt or preponderance of the evidence. If there is any reasonable doubt that I could be bitten by an infected mosquito, then I have to take the necessary precautions to make sure that neither I, nor Hubby, my family, all my FB friends, all my Twitter friends, all the friends whom I’ve actually met, the lady in front of me in the checkout line who looks like she has a weak immune system, and each and every one of my adoring blog readers, contract dengue fever. Does that make me a hypochondriac or just a concerned citizen who believes that Benjamin Franklin was correct when he wrote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? C’mon, he nailed the whole electricity thing. The dude had mad smart skills.

Call me a hypochondriac, but it won’t stop me from hiding indoors after dusk for the next couple of months. After all, I live in one of the warmest, wettest places in the country, and that doesn’t take into account Tampa’s strip clubs, which are a hot mess all on their own. My yard breeds mosquitoes the way those Duggars spawn children. Our 1920′s bungalow rests on bricks stacked a foot high – and, based on the bites that pepper my calves and ankles - the dark, sweltering space below it is probably the largest Aedes aegypti neonatal unit in Florida.

Today, I’ll be calling our local mosquito control center and requesting that they do a drive by drenching. Likewise, thrice-daily DEET baths, and mesh body armor after dark are probably in order. I’ve considered sending Hubby outside 5 to 10 minutes ahead of me as a decoy of sorts, but that would involve stepping over a serious moral line. One I’d readily cross (hey, his immune system has my lymph nodes mounted on wooden plaque hanging on its wall), but those pesky, little bloodsuckers won’t touch him. It’s like his mother bottle-fed him a diet of Off! mixed with Skin So Soft. I thought spouses were supposed to have each other’s backs, but mine won’t even donate a pint of blood.

Would You Care For Some Fresh Cracked Salmonella On Your Salad Today?

Would You Care For Some Fresh Cracked Salmonella On Your Salad Today?

Prevention is the key to beating hypochondria. If I’m not bitten by a mosquito, I won’t worry that my headache is indicative of blistering fevers and aching muscles to come. Or, if I don’t leave the house until Thanksgiving. Or if I temporarily move to Antarctica.

Plus, I have bigger concerns. Did you know that spices can carry salmonella? The FDA will be releasing a study that shows that 15% of coriander, 12% of both basil and oregano, and 4% of regular ol’ peppercorns imported to the United States are contaminated with the potentially-deadly virus. Americans are particularly at risk because we tend to add pepper to our food after it is cooked – and the heating process is what destroys the salmonella virus.

Now ask yourself, Have I sprinkled a little fresh, ground pepper to my food recently? When did the chef add that coriander to my curry? What about the basil I use in my homemade Italian vinaigrette?

Now who’s the hypochondriac?

***

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Are you a hypochondriac? Do you discuss your ailments in the same way you used to brag about your children’s and grandchildren’s accomplishments? I want to hear about it. Share your favorite story in the Comments section below.

64 comments

  1. WSW

    Welcome back, Chicky Baby. May I suggest a Valium/Immodium cocktail followed by a trip to NYC? All the mosquitoes in Times Square have been consumed by the pigeons who are routinely taken care of by the local rodent population. Now that’s a food chain that works.

      • Tim Anderson

        I share your pain with the biting winged demons. They just fking love me. It’s amazing. Nice write by the way

      • Miss Snarky Pants

        Thanks, Tim. We must have extraordinarily sweet blood. I’m pretty sure they’re busing the little bloodsuckers in from other counties so that they can savor a drop or two of my blood. I’m like absinthe for hipster mosquitoes.

  2. Carrie Rubin

    I laughed when I saw this post, because I’m currently at a board-review symposium, and this morning’s sessions are on infectious diseases. All sorts of creepy crawlies. You’d love it…

    Thanks for a fun break to my morning. :)

  3. annabanana210

    I missed reading your thoughts; they give me confidence. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who worries about the trivial minutia that I do so often obsess about. Trust me, I’m a nurse and hands down the worst patient!! I obsess about any and everything (birth defects for kids I don’t have, aneurysm, pulmonary emboli, strokes… you name it!!). Thanks for being brave enough to let us read it! :) Plus, the odds of you dying of dengue fever are nowhere as realistic as you dying from a nosocomial infection (hospital acquired germies), so take comfort in that (??).

    • Miss Snarky Pants

      I’d take comfort if you hadn’t told me that last bit. You know I’m gonna Google “noscomial infection” now. ;) Glad to know I’m not the only one out there. I’ve always hoped that my blatant, if not sometimes exaggerated, honesty helps others feel more comfortable with their own quirkiness. Deep down, we’re all weird in one way or another. It’s a relief, in a way, to put it all out there for the world to read.

  4. Pat .

    The correct use of “[sic]” to denote the missing “such” in the quote was a master stroke! But, what really caught my attention was that you have or had “perky breasts”. Gosh. Nevertheless, I am off to the pantry to throw out all those potentially lethal herbs and spices – oh, and I need to buy a mosquito net.

    • Miss Snarky Pants

      At this stage in my life, I think I may have to cop to them having been perky. Then again, compared to friends who have bred and breastfed their own soccer teams, my breasts are AWESOME, if awesome means shaped like a biscuit as opposed to a baguette. But yeah, perky is the only consolation that small-breasted women have. Every time we see people mesmerized by a woman’s endowments, we tell ourselves, “Well, at least mine are naturally perky!”

  5. lostnchina

    So after my first first fateful camping trip, my boyfriend got diarrhea sick…like, the man spent the night in the bathroom with a pail, dish rags kinda sick. Two nights later, like any dutiful girlfriend, I got sick with the same thing (though much milder). My suggestion – live in China for a while – you’ll build the resistance of a cockroach.

  6. Laura

    Freaking hilarious! And informative — I learned lots of stuff from this! Oh, how I’ve missed you too. And you’re writing. Mosquito neonatal unit… such a great image. Weird how they stay away from your husband. And he doesn’t even have perky breasts (??) I’m wondering if there’s some other way to lure them away from you? I mean, I know the full-net suit + DEET bath + husband lure isn’t really inconvenient, but still. Maybe a hummingbird feeder with human blood? I’ll think on it for you. Meantime… more, more!

  7. Gunmetal Geisha

    You might have more eyebrows than me, but I’m definitely more of a hypochondriac than you: I eat cooked tomatoes and sunflower seeds because they say it’s good for the prostate, even though I don’t have a prostate.

  8. juaneismann

    Hahaha!! Very funny. Also enlightening. Personally, I have no aversion to mosquitos (other than their being butt ugly to me and a flying nuisance). I doubt I shall ever contract anything from them as I consume mass quantities of Coca-Cola every day. Somehow, they aren’t attracted to HFCS infused perspiration. Or maybe it’s due to having a father who wasn’t attractive to them either.

    At any rate, I have now learned more about Dengue Fever than I ever wanted to know.

    Thanks for expanding my horizons!! :)

  9. Fathead Follies

    Oh my God, first of all that was uncomfortably close to reading something that was extracted from my own mind. We may very well be on the cusp of synchronized menstruation, in which case I have to warn you that I have an enlarged uterus and have diagnosed myself perimenopausal.
    Second, now I have to worry about my spices, which up until two minutes ago may have been the only thing in my kitchen that I didn’t obsessively sniff and fret over every time I eat it (yes, I do believe I can smell salmonella despite scientific proof to the contrary). I’m going to go douse my pepper with vodka.
    Third, I too have a spouse who is impervious to mosquito bites. We don’t know if he gets them because he’s not allergic to the bites…or poison ivy for that matter. He can also eat a turkey sandwich left in a hot car for an entire afternoon. AND he’s been vaccinated for anthrax. He’s disturbingly amazing and the only shot my children have of survival.

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