Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hypochondria And The Man

I was talking to a friend in England today, and, amongst other things, we chatted about how her poor husband had broken his leg last Autumn while out running. He had slipped on some wet leaves and gone down hard. He had heroically made it home, and was scathing of my friend's attempts to get him to seek professional advice over his injury. It was just a sprain apparently, and would get better without medical intervention. My friend thought the rather hideous purple lump was probably a little more than a sprain, but being a wise and gentle woman, did not push her husband on the matter. So, for nearly a week, this hero went to work. My friend eventually had had enough and told him he had to get to a hospital. The large and hideous lump was getting larger and more hideous by the day, and was not going away. The Doctor sent him straight to the hospital, and my friend received a phone call a few hours later requesting that she go to pick him up. The hero and his new friend, Plaster Cast.

The thing is, when my friend told me this story, she said "You know how men are ... they don't like to make a fuss". And I found myself agreeing with her. But as I was nodding and murmuring acquiescence I was thinking, "really? Are men like this? Mine isn't!"

My husband is a hypochondriac. Every new mole that appears is cancerous. Every unexplained rash has a deep and sinister explanation. Every lump and bump, cough and wheeze is a strange terrifying disease.

And who was that idiot who invented Web MD? Isn't it bad enough that when we are ill, our imaginations are working overtime, and we are writing our own obituaries before the end of the day? Do we really need to log on and find a thousand and one other things we might be dying from, as opposed to just the one we thought up ourselves?

A couple of years ago, my husband discovered a lump on his chest. He was devastated, and asked friends to pray. An appointment was made to see the doctor, and he just about managed to get through the weekend, experiencing those moments of loss and devastation which accompany the terminally ill. On the Monday, he saw the doctor. While he was waiting to be examined, his attention was caught by an illustration of the human body pinned to the wall. He got up to have a closer look, and he saw something which made him feel at once so much better, and yet at the same time, strangely worse. The illustration showed a protuberance, just about where the unidentified lump on his chest sat. It was bone. He had asked people to pray, had suffered a weekend thinking he was going to die, and was now sitting waiting to see a doctor, all because he had a bone in his chest. A bone that was meant to be there. How embarrassing!
When the doctor eventually entered the room, Andy sheepishly explained that he appeared to be there under false pretences.
Later we had a good chortle about it all (He may be a hypochondriac but at least he can laugh at himself)
We put the whole episode down to the fact that we had been purposefully losing weight slowly over the past few months, and that he was now thinner than he had been for quite some time. This bone hadn't actually been visible for several years. He had forgotten it had ever existed. I think that excuse is rather reasonable, don't you?!

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About Me

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I have been married to Andy since 1991, we have 4 daughters, 2 dogs, 2 cat, 4 rabbits (and various baby rabbits) and a hamster (not dead). We have lived in the U.S.A since 2000, and are citizens of the U.K. I miss many things about the U.K.(pubs, old buildings, red post boxes, church bells,narrow roads, a good joint of roast lamb with mint sauce, to name but a few) but I have grown to love the U.S.