I’ve Been Accused Of Being A Hypochondriac


One of my favorite old jokes is about the hypochondriac whose gravestone reads, “I told you I was sick.”

But the joke hit a bit too close to home when my daughter switched from her doctor to mine and, in a getting-to-know-you conversation, the two of them agreed that I am a hypochondriac.

I’m not! I just know when I’m sick.

Truth be told, I am one of the healthiest people I know, knock on wood. (Knocking on wood is one of my most reliable forms of preventive medicine. That, and m&m’s.)

But really. Aside from a vague, unidentifiable pain in my thigh which could be bursitis, but is more likely to have been caused by that table I walked into yesterday, I’m fine. And then there’s the fact that I’ve begun letting my sentences trail off

It could be a sign of a debilitating neurological disorder, but maybe it’s just a family thing. As my 87-year-old mother impatiently puts it, “We know how they end!”

That’s what I love about my parents. Nothing is serious. Even as children, our fears were relieved by never being taken seriously. My sister Pam actually came up from the basement with a Pick-Up Stick poking out of her eyeball and my mother demanded, “Do you want to go to the emergency room? Is that what you want?” With that kind of threat hanging over her head, Pam hurriedly pulled it out. No kid wants to go to the emergency room.

My siblings and I cured a lot of our own maladies. Half the time, we didn’t even tell our parents anything was going on. My arm was broken for two days before I told them. I wouldn’t have mentioned it at all, but mom asked why it was just hanging there, limp. I knew then I should’ve done a better job of covering that up. I could’ve tied a string to one finger, threaded it through the back of my sweater and pulled the arm up and down with the other hand. I guess the pain kept me from thinking clearly. So I was taken to the doctor, and a big, heavy, itchy, white cast was put on it. That’s what I got for complaining.

So, fast forward back to the future, I resent that I am now being considered a hypochondriac.

You see, I had started to read articles that said you need to speak up in the doctor’s office, to be an advocate for your own health. If, like I did, you take that advice one step further by trying to self-diagnose via WebMD, well, there you go. I thought I was being helpful.

Evidently doctors hate that.

So it’s back to “mum’s the word,” “knock on wood” and a big sack of peanut m&m’s, the prescription that has never steered me wrong.

And it’s affordable.