Hypochondria: A Cautionary Tale

I wish I were one of those people who never think anything’s wrong. Who could have a pus-filled 4-inch tumor on their lip and think, “maybe I should have that looked at.” But I’m not.

Since July I’ve had heart disease (my cholesterol ratio is like that of an Olympic athlete and my resting pulse is around 64 – but maybe low in my case means my heart’s not working hard en- sorry, sorry), kidney failure, a tumor in my side, cellulitis, deep vein thrombosis and a brain tumor. What gives me hope is that I truly believe the Higher Power would not actually give me all these diseases at once. It has a sense of humor sometimes but no one (or being) is that damn funny.

I come by it honestly. Yesterday I told my mother, who was visiting her sister at the time that my kid had a stye. In unison they shrieked “oh no!” like I’d just told them she was going to need her eyes removed. Last month while in DC I fell at the Jefferson Memorial (clearly he still has it in for the coloreds) and got a nasty bump and bruise. I told my dad. His reply? “If it still feels warm later today I’d go to the emergency room to make sure an infection hasn’t started in the bone.” Seriously. I won’t even get into my sister’s hypochondria, but I’m not surprised my niece will be dressed as a doctor for Halloween this year.

If spare the rod spoil the child was your parents philosophy, you know the phrase “shut up before I give you something to cry about!” Well last week I got the hypochondriac’s version of this warning.

2 weeks ago I had my annual mammogram. Last week I got the envelope with the letter that tells you the mammogram was clear, except it didn’t say that. It said further screening was necessary. Wait WHAT???

An interesting blend of calm and paralyzing fear wash over you when faced with an actual medical red flag. I swiftly called my doctor to find out why they hadn’t called me and got little information. I then called to schedule the tests, then started thinking about all the people I know that have survived breast cancer. I thought of my daughter, and how I should really do more of the things she wants me to do with her. I thought how I should only have ONE glass of wine and how it should be red, and how I should become vegan. I thought about my husband, and what kind of wench would he date or marry. I went there. Alllllll the way there.

For the next week all I saw everywhere I looked was breast cancer. Billboards, commercials, Instagram posts of fundraising walks. The NFL. Because, this is how life is, right? Whenever something is on our mind it’s all we see, everywhere we look.

So, after another round of intense squeezing and ultrasounds I was cleared for now. Remarkably, with the threat of a real medical issue staring me down the lingering pain in my side and week long headache just disappeared. They’re back now, but I’ve decided to take an advil and chill. And if you live with the crazy too, you’ll definitely appreciate this.



*One thing I learned very quickly from just needing a few extra tests is how expensive disease can be. Consider giving to one of the many organizations helping fight Breast Cancer:

The Pink Fund Inc.

National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund

Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation


These are just a few. I recommend visiting http://www.charitynavigator.org/ for this, or any cause that moves you.


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