People think this was a medical student problem. Boy, are they wrong. Imagine the years we spent learning about different diseases and how to test for them. All that knowledge has a way of appearing, through the brain folds, at a time when what you need most is rest. Take a look at what happens:
1. Going to the bathroom in the middle of the night: “Oh God. Urinary incontinence? Already? I haven’t even had kids. Is it weight training? Is it genetics? I’m going to need surgery. Speaking of genetics, diabetes runs in my family. Oh shit is it diabetes?”
“I had lettuce for dinner and lettuce is a diuretic.”
2. Neck pain during a cold is automatically meningitis. So, you bend your head down to see if pain increases. If it does, you are doomed. Your brain is in danger.
3. Fatigue from the flu puts mononucleosis on your list of possibilities, which makes you palpate for enlarged lymph nodes in your neck, underarms, and groin area. You know that a percentage of people also get enlarged liver and spleen. You palpate your abdomen too.
4. Any pain in your mouth naturally means tooth loss. Then of course you go on to decide whether you’d want an implant to replace it. And wait will you have enough jawbone for the damn implant because if you don’t, you’ll need a bone graft and where are they going to take if from? Your sinuses? Your hips? Even though you have no risk factors, you still wonder will the implant even take?
5. Pain in the ear from sinusitis: “What if it’s a tumor. Just wait till we do a CT scan.” Then your mind starts to imagine all sorts of lesions on the image.
6. Forgetfulness: “Brain tumor,” instead of, “I must have a lot on my plate.”
7. Fever at night, you know, during the same flu as numbers 3 and 5: “Am I developing Ludwig’s angina?” For those who are not familiar with this, it is a life-threatening infection that starts on one side of the neck and then travels to the other. All that pressure on the neck then compromises the airway. Very dangerous, of course. Why else would you worry?
8. Sweating at night: “Here comes menopause.” Never mind that you are on your period.
9. Pain in the front of the neck is some sort of thyroid issue. We’d need blood test and definitely an ultrasound. You might even use your stethoscope to listen to the thyroid for any abnormal sounds. While you’ve got the stethoscope you might listen to your heart too. Phew. All is well.
10. Weight loss for lack of appetite. This one you don’t mind so much. Here, you want to know how you can stay at the lower weight.
The trouble is when you do not like to take medicine or go to the doctor. So, you live with these festering stressful thoughts that weaken your immune system and prolong your cold.