Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The hypochondriac

I must confess that I google even the most minor ailments that I suffer from. A few years ago, I started seeing a floater in my vision. Before I found out what it really was (and reassured by a doctor) I was gunning for permanent blindness. Just a few months ago, I could hear my heart beat in my ear. It sounds ridiculous, I know. What kind of an arid unromantic am I? But then I googled it and found that it was Pulsatile tinnitus (at least that is what I settled on after a lot of browsing, since my doctor had advised me to stay away from google after the blindness episode). Just after Christmas when it got really hot in Australia, I decided that my frequent thirst and fatigue was definitely related to the possibility that my pancreas have failed and I have contracted Diabetes. Since this runs in the family, I found that my thirst aggravated miraculously after I made up my mind about being diabetic. Sometimes when I feel low in the evening and very happy in the morning, I imagine that I might be bipolar. One day, after an eight hour day at my part time job, which primarily consisted of entering weights to the fifth decimal in an excel sheet, I concluded that I sometimes reverse the digits in numbers owing to a latent dyslexia. Today,  in my breaks from data excavation, I am googling up "sore calves". Although I have a perfectly plausible explanation (an overdose of suryanamaskaras; 50 a day for the past one week),I would  like to go with Pseudothrombophlebitis syndrome.I should not bore you with my version of being a hypochondriac. The following excerpt from the 'Three Men in a Boat' was the inspiration for this post. I think every one should have this book by their bedside. :)

"It is a most extraordinary thing, but I never read a patent medicine 
advertisement without being impelled to the conclusion that I am 
suffering from the particular disease therein dealt with in its most 
virulent form. The diagnosis seems in every case to correspond exactly 
with all the sensations that I have ever felt.

I remember going to the British Museum one day to read up the treatment 
for some slight ailment of which I had a touch - hay fever, I fancy it 
was. I got down the book, and read all I came to read; and then, in an 
unthinking moment, I idly turned the leaves, and began to indolently 
study diseases, generally. I forget which was the first distemper I 
plunged into - some fearful, devastating scourge, I know - and, before I 
had glanced half down the list of "premonitory symptoms," it was borne in 
upon me that I had fairly got it.

I sat for awhile, frozen with horror; and then, in the listlessness of 
despair, I again turned over the pages. I came to typhoid fever - read 
the symptoms - discovered that I had typhoid fever, must have had it for 
months without knowing it - wondered what else I had got; turned up St. 
Vitus's Dance - found, as I expected, that I had that too, - began to get 
interested in my case, and determined to sift it to the bottom, and so 
started alphabetically - read up ague, and learnt that I was sickening 
for it, and that the acute stage would commence in about another 
fortnight. Bright's disease, I was relieved to find, I had only in a 
modified form, and, so far as that was concerned, I might live for years. 
Cholera I had, with severe complications; and diphtheria I seemed to have 
been born with. I plodded conscientiously through the twenty-six 
letters, and the only malady I could conclude I had not got was 
housemaid's knee.

I felt rather hurt about this at first; it seemed somehow to be a sort of 
slight. Why hadn't I got housemaid's knee? Why this invidious 
reservation? After a while, however, less grasping feelings prevailed. I 
reflected that I had every other known malady in the pharmacology, and I 
grew less selfish, and determined to do without housemaid's knee. Gout, 
in its most malignant stage, it would appear, had seized me without my 
being aware of it; and zymosis I had evidently been suffering with from 
boyhood. There were no more diseases after zymosis, so I concluded there 
was nothing else the matter with me.

I sat and pondered. I thought what an interesting case I must be from a 
medical point of view, what an acquisition I should be to a class! 
Students would have no need to "walk the hospitals," if they had me. I 
was a hospital in myself. All they need do would be to walk round me, 
and, after that, take their diploma".

Imagine what would have happened if Jerome K. Jerome had access to Google!


Raj said...

Well, last month I had to go through two stress tests.. you can imagine how much my imagination must have worked :)

Saee said...

At least you were prescribed stress tests. :)
I sometimes try to listen to my heart beat just to make sure. :P