Filipino guy in Los Angeles, talking about his daily blah, reality tv, world events... a little bit of everything

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

HYPOCHONDRIA (hahy-puh-kon-dree-uh) noun

The persistent conviction that one is or is likely to become ill, often involving symptoms when illness is neither present nor likely, and persisting despite reassurance and medical assurance to the contrary
------ American Heritage Dictionary

The first time I've ever heard of this word was from the movie My Girl. Anna Chlumsky's character (Vada) kept visiting her doctor where she complained about various ailments all of which exist only in her head. Maybe its because her mom had just died or that she lives in a house that also serves as a funeral parlor but going to the doctor was a source of comfort for her. (SPOILER ALERT) Eventually, we see her loose her bestfriend (played by Macaulay Caulkin in his prime pre-puberty, pre-crack, pre-divorce, pre-rehab). Anyway I digress. Like Vada, I too suffer from hypochondria. I'm not really clinically diagnosed but the fact that I think I have it is a strong suggestion that maybe... just maybe I really am.

Growing up I was somewhat an active kid. I was busy with school and constantly played street games with my friends. I barely got sick. The few times that I really ended up in bed for days to recover were due to infectious diseases brought about by getting exposed from other kids (chicken pox) or from those pesky mosquitoes (typhoid fever- which by the way eliminates me from being even considered as a possible blood donor).

I started feeling more sickly in high school. I would feel a slight head-ache and I would automatically assume that I had a tumor growing in my brain. I had pulled some muscle in my legs this leads me to imagine a life in a wheelchair. It got worse in college when I was at UCLA. Maybe its the stress but I kept having really bad nosebleeds that sometimes lasts for over an hour. Seriously... seriously (I love me some Grey's Anatomy) my room almost always looks like a bloody crime scene from the t.v. show CSI. Loosing so much blood really freaked me out so I ended up thinking that I had some sort of genetic disease that prevents my blood from coagulating or even worse that I could be hemophiliac.

It was also in college when I started to become sexually active (note for The Boyfriend...this is the paragraph that I suggest you skip). I was especially "active" in my 1st and 2nd year of college, after being dateless in high school I took advantage of my new found freedom ( I was like a monkey that had just escaped a cage in search of bananas...any kind of them). It was clearly my slutty phase (Hey! dont judge...many gay guys go through the same thing). Although I always practiced safe-sex, I was constantly in the health clinic demanding the doctors to check me out regardless of the fact I had no symptoms. I can't even begin to tell you how crazy I get while waiting for the results for these tests (especially the HIV test) that I always prepare for the worst case scenario. Thank Buddha that I've never been diagnosed with anything.

Graduate school is when I fully realized how paranoid I am. I was well aware of how much I go to the doctor for even the smallest head-ache but I just can't let it be. The Boyfriend has a different approach to getting sick-- let your body deal with it. On the other hand theres me, constantly insisting on having someone reassure me that my suspicious tumor is nothing more than a large pimple and that my constant nosebleeds are attributed to the dry Southern California air and not hemophilia. It doesn't help that I'm located in the USC Health Sciences Campus (where we have several hospitals and hundreds of doctors within a 4-block radius). I go so often I've spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars with my frequent doctor visitations. Almost all the time, I would be told that everything was just fine... mostly I'm happy to hear this but theres an odd part of me that is slightly dissapointed because my self-diagnosis is nothing but a figment of my own imagination.

So where does this story go and what could possibly explain my pessimistic approach on my own health? Well like Vada (again from the movie), she was constantly worried about her health because she knew that in an instant, she could be gone. Loosing someone so close to you without warning can definitely lead to paranoia about one's own mortality. In my case, it seemed like I started acting like a paranoid hypochondriac after my mom died. Maybe its my coping mechanism.

Another possible explanation is that I'm afraid of loosing control. I know I could be somewhat of a control-freak, my friends and family are well aware of this side of me. I like things planned out and any deviation from this can lead to a near nervous breakdown (imagine Martha Stewart when she was told that she's going to jail). Ok I exaggerate, I don't completely go crazy, just a little bit. I'm still working on this slight imperfection of mine. I know, I just need to relax and let things be. What does this trait of mine have to do with me being a hypochondriac... well its simple; getting sick is loosing control of your body and in order to get back that control, you need it to be diagnosed early enough so it can be treated accordingly. I know this sounds ridiculous but I really think that this explanation together with the coping mechanism I mentioned above, can explain why I think I'm a hypochondriac. I'm working on it... its a process. Like alcoholics, the first step is to acknowledge it.

"Hi! My name is Ernesto and I'm a hypochondriac"


Blogger rOckY said...

the allure the mere possibility of control is often hard to resist - we do live in a world that naturally moves towards entropy and not order after all. it manifests in many ways, some being more affected than others.

as always, the first step in disarming a trap is knowing its there and it takes a lot of will to get even this far. i'm happy you've come to this realization and hope that things work out for you.

1:22 AM

Anonymous Bojan said...

I love this post and I understand exactly what you mean. I had a slightly different life health-wise. When I was little, I would always get sick but I liked getting sick because that would mean staying home and being pampered by the family. Nowadays, getting sick to the point I couldn't function would mean failing a class. I already took one final with a huge fever and I never wanna go through that again.
But yes, it is all about losing control. I think in some sense this is also why I'm not a big drinker. I don't have the need to control others but losing control of yourself, the thought of your body failing or being invaded by something sinister really tops it all.

9:26 AM


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