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!
(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.
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.
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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64 thoughts on “Holy Diarrhea! I’m A Hypochondriac”
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.
I don’t know, WSW. Do you have any idea how many germs there are on a flight from Florida to NYC? I don’t think so. 😉
Thanks! Please visit again. 🙂
Hypochondria is nothing. Time to move along the food chain to Münchausen syndrome.
Shh, I think I can hear a mosquito in the background.
It’s hard to be really good at Munchausen syndrome when you don’t have kids to practice on. My dad always said I’d regret not breeding…and now it turns out he’s right.
I share your pain with the biting winged demons. They just fking love me. It’s amazing. Nice write by the way
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.
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. 🙂
You’re welcome, Doc! Make sure to scald your hands and peel off your skin when you get home. You don’t want to spread talk of infectious diseases to your kids!
Yes, I’d hate to give them rat bite fever or whip worm…
You realize I’ll be Googling both of those illnesses in about five seconds.
Haha, have fun with that! Why don’t you add babesiosis to your list?…
You’re evil incarnate! Why must you mock me?
Because I’m bored.
Thank goodness I’m not a baseball player in Oklahoma.
Not me, no hypochondriac. I got enough real s*** going on in my body than to worry about catching some exotic disease. Anyway, stay healthy.
Sorry to hear that Tom. You stay healthy. I’m, apparently, in pretty damn good shape. 🙂
I’m in Florida now and the mosquitoes have been taking steroids. Not good!
It’s never a good sign when the mosquitoes are eating the birds instead of the other way around.
I just visited your blog, then your FB page (at your blog post invitation) and I went to high school where you live. Small world!
Really? Where did you go?
Jupiter High School. I’ll shoot you a friend request on FB. We can chat via FB messaging.:)
I think that’s half a mile away. Thanks! 🙂
I think the school’s been moved since I attended. It used to be near the corner of Indiantown Road and Military Trail, but I think they built a new school on another piece of property. I guess I’ll find out when I return for my 30 year reunion in a few years. 🙂
Crap – I think it just moved down the road on Military some. I think… Nothing could induce me to return to the hell of my high school 🙂
Friend! You’re back! Good to see you. Now go wash your hands.
How can someone be so funny in so few words?
I perform best before a tough audience. It’s why I am so good with 2Ls.
Oh, I’m sorry. I’m supposed to be talking about how pretty your new bangs are. Forget any compliments that might suggest you have an intellect. 😉
I wholly embrace kind words unrelated to the shape of the dead strands of protein on my forehead.
I, on the other hand, would be thrilled if anyone complimented me on the dead strands of protein on my head. Moreover, if anyone’s brave enough to lie to me and tell me I could be a hand model, I might just dedicate an entire blog post to them. Maybe.
Great post – laughed out loud and I have no idea who my doctor is.
I’ll be your doctor. I know lots about infectious diseases. 😉
When they said coriander, did they mean to include cilantro?!
Perky breasts AND perseverance?! I see the problem with my lack of success in life.
Never underestimate the power of the perk.
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 (??).
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.
Yay! You’re back! I’ve missed you!
Thank you! It’s good to be missed. 🙂 Did you still want me to do a guest post for your blog? I haven’t forgotten that you asked, but give me a couple weeks to finish up my book edit and then we’ll talk. Thanks for being such a faithful reader!
Of course I do. I’m still available to ARC read, if you want.
When I’m at the ARC stage, I’ll let you know. 🙂
I can beta read, too. Just sayen.
I also live in Florida and am prime rib for mosquitos. They can carry all kinds of things from dinosaur DNA to West Nile Virus
Ooooooh. I want dinosaur DNA! If I could lose a few pounds just by shedding scales (pun totally intended), I’d be alright with being a lizard.
I hope we can mutate and at least gain laser eyes or something from mosquito-borne DNA mixage.
What would you do with laser eyes? I want the power to turn everything I touch into chocolate. Or bacon. Hmmmm…tough decision.
I could use the laser eyes to make bacon out of everything and to melt chocolate for fondue.
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.
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!”
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.
Yeah, but what do you have to go through to build up that resistance? I think I’d rather catch dengue fever than eat a chicken foot. I have texture issues when it comes to food.
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!
I was thinking of hanging road kill from the branches of our crepe myrtles, but the blood wouldn’t remain fresh enough for mosquitoes and would attract reality television stars.
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.
Ha! Please tell me that you don’t ask your doctor to check your imaginary prostrate.
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!! 🙂
That’s me. Spreading the more words about Dengue Fever than anyone ever wanted to read.
Glad it made you giggle!
“It’s like his mother bottle-fed him a diet of Off! mixed with Skin So Soft.”—Whoa. Does that really work? I may have to try that out.
Which part? Bottle-feeding that combination to an infant or using Skin So Soft?
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.
Are you 100% sure that he’s not a robot? They’re very lifelike these days. I always knew we were histrionic Twinsies.
Histrionic twinsies. I’m so proud:-)