"She's trying to get out of class."
"Does she only seem sick after she's spent time with you?"
As I got older, they said to me:
"Just because your parents said you have arthritis doesn't make it true."
"There's a difference between out-of-shape and sick."
"If you tried to make yourself floss your teeth wouldn't have so many problems."
While becoming an adult and with diagnoses - names - for what I had, they said still:
"Must be nice to get these breaks."
"How convenient that you got sick before the due date."
"You don't look sick to me."
Even as an independent woman, diagnosed a decade and engrossed in health activism, I've been told:
"I just don't buy it."
You probably didn't know, dear readers, but I'm a hypochondriac. I must be. What 20-something predicts weather fronts from joint pains; what teen really gets sick around major assignments that caused a great deal of stress; what 3rd grader wears long-johns to guard their arthritic legs in the cold. Who gets sick, after all, from eating first thing in the morning - and getting your head wet absolutely cannot lead to a cold.
I guess there's no scientific basis to some things I'd been told. It seems bones aren't made of porous materials that swell & contract with changes in humidity & pressure much like wood does. Stress doesn't affect your immune system or trigger flares. Everyone knows that arthritis checks your birth date to see if you're 'old enough' before causing pain, and a the drop in body temperature from the evaporation process of a wet head coupled with an already defunct regulatory system doesn't leave your body susceptible to illness.
Even my behavior couldn't cover my lies. Being a top student didn't fool the staff in my schools who knew I was just trying to get out of classes & assignments. My doctors may have been deceived into giving the diagnoses they documented in letters, but these teachers, school nurses, & staff members could not be so easily duped.
But it turns out I missed so many symptoms. Some hypochondriac I turned out to be.
I didn't know that the pop & crackle of my joints could be played off as tissue damage. I had no idea the inside of my mouth where the inside of my cheeks are so dry that tongue depressors hang on for themselves & the flesh appears matte would be a great excuse for my frequent dental carries. Imagine how much more I could have claimed if I knew my excessive reaction to mild exercise with a pulse that jumps & thorough fatigue afterward could be claimed as signs of a disorder, that problems swallowing are frequently attributed to several conditions, or that my laziness could be titled "brain fog". I'm getting a little better, though...I know that the problem I noticed lately where I randomly have trouble with my hands in doing tasks such as jotting down a note for someone might be passable as complications from Sjogren's & Fibromyalgia.
It's such a strange feeling when I realize retrospectively that a personal habit or mannerism I've developed over time might actually be claimed as a medical malady. Sometimes I go for years without coming up with the claim.
I'm really going to have to step it up if I'm going to be the hypochondriac I know I have inside.
|Image found here.