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True Confessions #1: I Might be a Little Bit of a Hypochondriac

This may come as a total surprise to some, but in certain situations, I’m can be just a teensy tiny bit of a hypochondriac.

Any time I start to even feel the inkling of a cold coming on, I’ll bust out the cough drops, cold & flu medicine, and start drinking hot tea (usually an Echinacea blend) like it’s going out of style. This might seem like an extreme reaction to a mild cold, but I really, really hate being sick or visiting the doctor, so it’s worth it for me to take some preventative measures and avoid being uncomfortable later.

If something seems like more than just a cold, I’m on WebMD looking for all possible conditions that match my symptoms. Over the years, I’ve come up with some pretty creative possibilities for my ailments based on the results of the “symptom checker.”

True story.

Thus far, my self-diagnosis’ from WebMD have never matched up to the real illness/ailment– a few years ago I noticed a strange patch of skin on my wrist that never seemed to heal all of the way, so I scheduled a visit to my dermatologist, where I knew he was going to tell me it needed to be biopsied and was probably cancerous.

Luckily, I was way off, because in reality it was just dry skin being irritated by my watch. The remedy: stop wearing the watch or any bracelets for a few days, stop picking at the scab, and start using this special prescription lotion for dry skin.

He said that it’s hardly ever cancer, and he was right because the spot healed itself after a few days. I felt like a huge dummy that day, but very glad that my diagnosis was inaccurate.

I think a lot of people tend to over-react a little when getting sick, as it’s not very fun to feel like the walking dead or having to miss out on everything that is happening in the world outside of the sickroom.

The Internet is a great resource for information and finding remedies when you’re sick, but for people like myself, it can be a little dangerous, as telling the “symptom checker” you have a headache will return anything from a migraine, to a sinus infection, to a brain aneurysm as the results of possible diagnosis’. And, as I learned from the dermatologist (and from other doctors over the years), it’s rarely a worst case scenario, and most likely something simple like a cold or the flu.

I’m guessing that my advanced stage of hypochondria is a little bit due to genetics, as my dad happens to be more paranoid about diseases or illness than me. Because of this fact, I like to think that I come from a long line of hypochondriacs.

It was a little bit of a joke in my family growing up, so one year at Christmas, my mom got him a medical encyclopedia for a joke present. He loved it, and may have read through the book and started suddenly coming down with a new bevy of illnesses based on imagined symptoms…. and the illnesses were being self-diagnosed in alphabetical order.

I’m nowhere near that level of paranoia when it comes to getting sick, but I think at times it’s ok to be a little extra cautious when it comes to staying healthy. Especially since it’s the time of year when people start getting colds from the sudden weather changes (or whatever it is that makes people sick), so I may have stocked up a little on the anti-bacterial soap, chicken noodle soup, kleenex, and cold medicine… just in case I start feeling less than 100%.

How do you react to a cold– do you go a little overboard on treating it, or just let it play itself out and take it easy for a few days (without consulting the Internet for other possibilities)?

One Response

  1. […] the mood to share some of my embarrassing confessions (my fascination with dressing up my dog, my hypochondria, and my old-person tendencies), sharing what is one of the most embarrassing only seems fitting […]

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