A Spat of Hypochondria

By Beacon Staff

I neither suck down vitamins nor have an ideal diet, but I rarely get laid up. And when I do, it’s only under extreme circumstances. By extreme, I mean it takes more than a fever or runny nose to keep me out of the office. My first sick day in recent memory began at 4 a.m. last week when I stumbled around the Kalispell Regional Medical Center complex looking for a doctor. Because when I do get sick, I’m certain death is looming.

It began as a sore throat that only seemed to worsen over a long poker game. I cut the night short, began chugging water and got some much-needed rest. That is, until about 3:30 a.m. when I awoke to what felt like something much worse than a cold. Alone in the dark, my wheels began humming.

In this information era, where cures are touted, then debunked, where everything is said to give you cancer, and where symptoms of disease can be confusing, it’s easy to overreact when your body experiences an unfamiliar pain. At least that’s my defense.

It felt as if my throat was swelling and I feared I would swallow my tonsils. In my mind, I began rummaging through all I had read or heard on tonsil diseases. I sprang to my feet after concluding (wrongly) that I immediately needed a tonsillectomy before I suffocated. I had confused this procedure with an appendectomy, which is an urgent surgery to remove a swollen appendix. After visiting the emergency room I realized I had mixed up the two tissues.

I returned to Urgent Care about four hours later only to be told that my tonsils were fine and I wasn’t even really sick save for a sore throat. Oh, and my blood pressure looked great. So, I sheepishly took the prescription for cough syrup to the local Walgreens and mulled how a minor illness had prompted such paranoia. Hypochondria is “an excessive preoccupation or worry about having a serious illness.” Instead, I think I suffer from an information overload. There’s a new debate every week about what household products will kill you and which symptoms to look out for before your imminent death. Maybe reading them, as I do, is its own strange disease.

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