The last month or so, I’ve felt a bit like some of the characters Woody Allen has played in his films. You know the characters: the worried ones that are priming themselves for a shot at being ordained a Patron Saint of Hypochondriacs.
Yes, I can relate, except I’m no hypochondriac. As such, I’ve been on a pilgrimage to find out what’s wrong with me. I need a handle on the situation. I need clarity. I need to make some sense of the random and collective aches and pains I have … and also a few chronic conditions, to boot. Not to mention the other few medical concerns, I might be plagued with, that I read about on the Internet and that are awaiting some medical confirmation.
There are days when I feel better, and then there are days when I feel worse. My body seems to have a rhythm all it’s own and resists any attempt to improve the status quo. Really, I’m not kidding. I think there is some intrasomatic conspiracy going on somewhere in my central nervous system. Consider the following evidence:
- I tried biking to get fit. Mysteriously, I started experiencing dizzy spells, and eventually fell off my bike, breaking both elbows in the process.
- I tried acupuncture weekly. Karmic bliss did not follow each session. I experienced no lighter than air floating sensation, but only a thud as if someone had dropped me from mid-air. Following each session, I felt worse than when I had started. In fact, it took me 4 days to get back to feeling normally abnormal. I was told that for some people this discomfort was part of the “healing” process. This was followed by 2 more days of trepidation and dreams of needles chasing me. I eventually opted not to be healed.
- I went on a diet. Lots of salad and fresh fruit. I love salad. I love fresh fruit. I don’t love running to the crapper all day or having to carry an extra pair of underwear on me, just in case … treading lightly here … that warm sensation was not of a gaseous composition.
I could go on, but I think you get the point … and I hate points because they tend to be sobering… and being sober is probably what I need least. After all, drinking in moderation is supposedly good for the heart. So yes, I consume in moderation. I do not drink to excess. I like white wine, Sauvignon blanc, to be exact. I was told to drink dry red wine. I don’t like dry red wine. I don’t mind sweet red wine. I was sternly told to only drink dry red wine.
OK, so I’ve been off to see some doctors…and the truth is I hate going to doctors. I’ve always hated going to doctors. Can you really blame me? My earliest memories of my being a lamb led to the slaughter include having a stick jammed in my butt, and then being jabbed in the arm, or butt – or both, with a needle. Oh yeah, the popsicle stick shoved in my mouth was no picnic either. And no, the lollipop at the end didn’t really make up for the trauma.
Doctors also have a penchant for dismissing your input. Sure, they take your history and nod, and reply things like “well, I don’t know about that”. When you’ve peaked their interest they ask you blunt questions concerning various shades of grey of a symptom. For example:
Their question: “Can you describe the pain”?
My answer: “It’s a hurtful pain”.
Their reply: Can you be more specific?”
My reply: “It hurts painfully”.
Their reply: “Is it a dull ache or a stabbing or shooting pain”?
My reply: “Can you be more specific?”
Their reply (now playing the psychologist): “I’ll just be the one asking questions today…”
Etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum.
So rather than seeking medical advice I usually follow 2 delusional ideologies:
(1) I opt to self-medicate. Living in a country with national health means I don’t need to pay a doctor to give me a prescription for an antihistamine or an aspirin, like I would in the ‘States. Anyway, for most of my usual problems, the doctors only end up giving me the same meds that I’ve already taken. Sometimes, they even ask me “what works for you?” I’ve also been to several doctors in the past, that either gave me a prescription for something that was already off the market, or obviously suggested a drug that a pharmaceutical company was giving them a cut of the sales on.
(2) I’m of the opinion that ignorance is bliss. I’m a fervent believer in the saying “seek and ye shall find”, suggesting that if you go looking for trouble, you’ll find it – and not only in spades, sometimes in hearts, diamonds, and clubs. Take enough medical tests and eventually you’ll find a problem!
Eventually however, I realize my own shortcomings as a pseudo-medical quack. Usually, this follows days of obsessively reading up on various symptoms in an effort to self-diagnose myself, until I have fallen into a state of Google-induced neurosis. I read myself sick and still don’t have any answers. So these days, I’m off to see the doctors for some real professional advice … or at least their best guess.
PS. Thanks for reading. Do you enjoy going to the doctor? Are you a hypochondriac or have you really experienced any unexplained symptoms? Come on, be honest and let me know!