There are hypochondriacs, then there’s me. I live on a whole other plane of existence.
“Are you sure it’s a pulled muscle?” a slithery voice asks me, when I’m sure that the reason my shoulder is sore is because my wild boar of a dog yanked on his leash. “Are you sure it’s your gall bladder?” it asks, when I have a stomach ache, but I’ve already had a scan that shows significant gallstones, a surgical consult, and a scheduled date for surgery.
“But are you sure?”
Because it’s not enough to constantly worry about the aches and pains that come with being 50 and menopausal, I also have a big side order of anxiety deluxe.
Other people: My leg hurts. If it keeps up, I’ll go to the doctor and have it looked at.
Me: I have a blood clot, and I’m going to die.
Other people: Geez, what did I eat today? I have terrible indigestion and gas.
Me: I’m having a heart attack, and I’m going to die.
Other people: Boy, this is a terrible headache. I’ll take a couple of Tylenol and it should subside.
Me: I have a brain tumor, and I’m going to die.
You may be noticing a pattern. My counselor calls this catastrophizing. I call it “Monday.”
I joke about my health anxiety. I have to, in order to stay sane. There are several tricks I have in my arsenal now to get through the day. Sometimes the fact that I get through the day without calling my doctor in a panic or speeding to the ER is a major feat.
Sound generators (ocean waves, white noise, tubular bells, etc.) help as well. Recognizing ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) tends to defeat intrusive thoughts. Watching funny videos is always good too, especially the little clips I have of my little grandchildren. Watching American Housewife. (looking at you, Katy Mixon.)
Occasionally, though, I get an A plus in imagination and creativity when it comes to my anxiety. For instance, the other night I was battling for space on our bed with our pig of a dog, and when he finally laid down, my covers were pulled down. Since the light was still on, I was able to see a giant reddish bruise right between my boobs.
Cold fear shot through me. I couldn’t remember injuring myself, so obviously, the only reasonable thing to conclude was that I was bleeding internally. Lips numb with fear, I wet a piece of the top sheet and rubbed at it, and it disappeared. My tired but still slithery brain said that I was just dissipating the blood, and I was quite confident I’d be dead by morning. I decided against calling the ambulance just then.
Morning came and the alarm went off as usual. After I took a shower I noticed the bruise wasn’t there anymore. I had been given a reprieve and was going to live, temporarily at least.
After lunch I brushed my teeth in the bathroom at work, and just for shits and giggles, decided to look and ensure the bruise was still gone, just in case I should forget entering sales and begin writing my obituary. I pulled up my shirt and to my absolute horror; the bruise was back, only bigger. And redder.
I hyperventilated for only a minute or two while I was wetting a paper towel, just in case a wet paper towel was good for curing internal bleeding.
Funny thing, though, once again it disappeared. Not only that, there was a red stain on the paper towel.
Wait just a gosh darn minute.
It was then that I remembered that while I was getting ready the day before, putting on makeup, a small chunk of red lipstick had crumbled off the tube and dropped. I hadn’t found it on the bathroom floor.
However, my bra caught that small crumb of lipstick right between my boobs, where the warmth melted it onto the inside of my bra, where it caused a big, red “bruise”.
I let out a high pitched giggle. I wasn’t about to die, after all. I could put off writing my obituary and instead write this article.
Thanks for the welcome to Love, Lust, and Laptops!!