I’m Dying from 2 Rare Diseases

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.

Let's see which disease I have today...
Let’s see which disease I have today…

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.

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13 thoughts on “I’m Dying from 2 Rare Diseases

  1. “I’m turning into a hypochondriac.”

    Mark, I know exactly how you feel because when I was a medical assistant (way back in the late 80’s), I kept thinking I had everything the patient’s had. It was like the more I knew about medical stuff, the more paranoid I became about looking for all the symptoms.

    “One of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism is an increased sensitivity to heat. A-ha!! I thought when I read that.”

    Ha! Funny you mentioned that because as you know, like you, I run hot all the time. And when I read about hyperthyroidism online several years ago, I thought I might have it too. But also like you, I didn’t have any of the other symptoms.

    Whew!

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  2. A-ha!!

    I’m sure you didn’t mean to….but this really had me laughing!

    I just kept on thinking about the look on Tara’s face as you explained to her what your lastest ailment is.

    Priceless!

    Like

  3. This is the problem with learning about this stuff – it happened to me too when I was taking Anatomy & Physiology. It doesn’t help that people still ask me to help diagnose their symptoms or ask me what does this pain or that pain mean?

    Like

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