Saturday, 20 October 2007

Hypochondria

I told my doctor I was sure I had all the symptoms of hypo-chondria but she said no, I was just imagining it. Honestly, these doctors, they just want to get you out of the surgery.

I've met people with raging hypochondria who know for a fact they're got terminal cancer but the doctors keep misdiagnosing it. I would point out they looked perfectly healthy, only to hear a catalogue of tell-tale symptoms like intermittent light-headedness. Only intermittent? You should be so lucky, says I.

Of course real hypochondriacs don't just imagine they're ill, like you and me reading the worst into a stubborn headache. They pester the doctors and consultants for every scan, blood test and investigation known to medicine, always hoping for something lethal.

Personally, I stay well away from doctors and hospitals if at all possible. You could end up sicker than when you started. Doctors? It's their business to find illnesses so give them half a chance and they'll find one. Your blood pressure's a tad high, Nick, you'd better take some of these little pink pills. Quick, run for it!

As for hospitals, it's a toss-up whether you come out cured of that chronic affliction or adding another one. Blood clots, anyone? Superbugs, fresh today. Oops, just whipped out the wrong kidney. Lucky you've got two, eh? Nowadays the nurses don't just check your pulse, they check your will and your life insurance. Just in case.

But hypochondria's on a roll. If you can't find an actual illness to lay claim to, there's a potential illness just round the corner. Every day the media reports something unexpectedly dangerous, something that'll make us all horribly ill in a few years' time. Mobile phones, lipstick, burning candles - they're all oozing health hazards.

I just know I'm almost ill. I've got all the symptoms. Tell me the truth, doc, I can take it.

17 comments:

red said...

Why is it do you think that men suffer from hypochondria so much more than women?

Medbh said...

I think for some people they think if they always obsess that they are sick it'll never actually happen. Like it would tempt fate to say that they were healthy. Asking for trouble and all that.

I know a hypochondriac who would up getting cancer. She likes being sick.

Nick said...

Red - Online sources say it affects men and women equally. Why do you think it's more common in men? Is this based on men you've known? I know men tend to exaggerate their illnesses, like a common cold that becomes a life-threatening disability....

Medbh - Maybe also it's a subconscious way of preparing for the worst, should it one day happen? If you've imagined yourself with cancer for years, is it easier to cope if it becomes reality?

red said...

I was only stirring :-)

Nick said...

Only stirring, indeed. Che agitatrice! Of course there's one form of hypochondria that's very common in men - imagining their masculinity is being drained away by hysterical, demanding harridans....

Medbh said...

Yes, like with the Burmese military officials who think that if they touch women's panties or robes that their he-man strength is sapped. Assholes.

Nick said...

Yes, they're obviously allergic to monks' robes as well. An accidental brush with these revolutionary garments and they might fall very sick indeed....

Wisewebwoman said...

Nick:
I was married to one and he came from a long line of them. Seriously.
I think it is an illness unto itself.
Hypos are never happy with diagnoses or specialists, there is always a missing piece of information. My ex went through operations even. He was always happiest in hospital, going over his symptoms (real and imaginary) with a whole vast new audience (co-patients, doctors, nurses, trainees, even the attendants who delivered the food).
It just gets bigger and bigger and when I see him now he is like a tap, out it all pours.

Nick said...

Quite an obsession, www. It must have been awful coping with it. Presumably any attempts to convince him he was mistaken just fell on deaf ears. OCDs are completely irrational, often the people themselves know they're irrational but simply can't control it.

gayƩ said...

If you listen to your body long enough you will start imagining it's complaining. How can it not sometimes; I need cleaner air, why are you making me ingest these horrible chemicals, I think I will be sick, look why don't you just do us a favour and put your legs up for a minute, take a deep breath your body, that is I need it, slow down, take your time, no need to get upset, ok you just upped your sugar levels now you will see red, read a little I am getting lazy and I will revert to childhood unless you keep me busy.
Hypos, in my opinion are actually in touch with their bodies and constantly hearing it, but are too lazy to do anything about it other than complain or feel everything is worse than it really is...

Nick said...

Now that's a thought, Gaye - a lot of the odd physical symptoms we get are probably just a reaction to some weird chemical we've ingested. They'll probably go away once that chemical has cleared from our body, but it's easy to imagine they're the start of some nasty disease.

The Major said...

I'm one of these guys who has to shrug off a couple cancers a week and about a stroke a day. It's exhausting of course but once it's over it does feel really good to be alive and well.

Nick said...

Yes, something like banging your head against a brick wall because it feels so good when you stop? You think, of course I don't have those terrible things, hoorah!!

Manuel said...

I've had ebola virus three times this year already, no joke.....

Conortje said...

I often think I'm a hypochondriac but then I have good reason - I always end up really weird things - I'm severly allergic to kiwis, discovered that I only have one kidney and somehow developed a stone in a saliva gland a few years back. Nothing run of the mill for Conortje - whatever will it be next??

Nick said...

Manuel - three times? Good grief. Where did you pick that up? Didn't know you were keen on African safaris....

Con - what extraordinary things to have. Are you pulling my leg? If not, you'd better avoid New Zealand.

Conortje said...

It's all true I promise!