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A day in the life of a hypochondriac



There is a vivid memory burned in my mind about a woman with scleroderma. I was young and caught just a fraction of the movie as I flicked through the channels, pausing long enough to see her stiff from the disease and gasping for a final breath.  Horrified, I hastily turned off the oversized tube television and slammed the cabinet shut.

During my first uveitis flare in 2010 the doctors tossed out a host of potential causes that sent me into hypochondriac’s hell. The following weeks were fraught with worry and obsessive internet research as I desperately tried to pin down the cause of this ailment. When the anxiety reached a record high I returned to the clinic to review the test results.

Diagnosis: Unknown.

“We are going to proceed under the suspicion that you are simply suffering from reoccurring uveitis,” the doctor said as he retracted his pen and shoved it into the pocket of his white coat. “Right now you are fine so we will simply monitor you. Continue your healthy and active lifestyle and we’ll see you back in six months.”

The following months passed with ease and the sense that I had a new lease on life.

This cycle has repeated three more times since 2010. At each new appointment the doctor mutters more potential diseases and sends me into a renewed fit of worry. After days of late- night Wikipedia searches I return to review the test results and am told the same thing: diagnosis unknown. “We’ll see you in six months.”

Rinse and repeat.

Last week was my fourth checkup after experiencing glorious health and negligible panic. This time a resident medical student visited me first. She paused during the examination to point out some red spots on my chest and then muttered scleroderma. My mind raced and I tried hopelessly to block the memory but there it was – a terrifying final breath on my parent’s television. God don’t let that be me.

After her assessment was complete my regular doctor entered, looked me over, ordered blood work and said I still appear fine.

“What, what about these things,” I hissed and pointed violently at my chest.

“Those? That’s probably nothing.”

“But she said it could be scleroderma,” I panted and gestured at his now blushing resident.

The good doctor assured me that all was well and sent me back into the world to enjoy life for six more months. Nevertheless, the damage was done and one week later I found myself between two paper sheets at a dermatologist’s office.

“I need to know if all these equal scleroderma,” I sputtered.

The doctor gently looked me over, scribbled notes in his folder and said the same thing that I have heard over and over: “Your tests are inconclusive and at this point you are a normal, healthy woman who simply has reoccurring uveitis and now some spots due to aging, which is a good thing for someone like you. Continue with your healthy, active lifestyle.”

I walked away with a spring in my step knowing that the reaper I so fear had been dismissed for another six months.


This week I’m going out on a very scary limb and participating in my first Yeah Write. Stop by and check out all the other wonderful and brave writers. 


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  1. August 1, 2012

    ahhhh that silly resident. She just wanted it to be something exciting and to use her new knowledge, completely forgetting (already!) that you are a person and possibly a hypochondriac and that she shouldn’t even whisper scary diagnoses in the presence of a patient unless she has good reason to. BLEH! Hope she learned her lesson…

    • August 2, 2012

      Oh Robin, I wish I could have told that resident what hell she had just stirred up inside of me. The No. 1 rule of rheumatology is to NEVER say a disease to a patient unless you are certain she does or does not have it. Bottom line. What matters is that according to the dermatologist, who looked me all over, my skin is just fine and I have many years of sun damage to look forward too 🙂

  2. August 1, 2012

    Wow, I can imagine what you had to go through. But what a relief knowing you’re not free from your ‘nightmare’.

  3. August 2, 2012

    Congrats on participating in Yeah Write! I have not done so myself, but I’m considering it for the future. As to your actual post – this sounds EXACTLY like something I would do. Glad to hear you have at least another 6 months to live. 😉

    • August 2, 2012

      Thanks, Laura! It’s a little scary putting my work out there but I hope it brings some good feedback in time and makes me a better writer. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. dberonilla #
    August 2, 2012

    Oh the panic that a few accidental words can set us into!
    I bet you are so sick of hearing “continue with your healthy, active lifestyle”. I know I would be.

  5. August 2, 2012

    i really enjoyed reading this; it was well written and held my interest but i have no clue what either medical terms are that you mentioned. google here i come. 😀

  6. August 2, 2012

    “Practice” that is what they call what doctors do…

  7. want2bwriter #
    August 3, 2012

    I can’t image living under that kind of fear. As humans we fear the unknown, and this is a perfect example of that. if the doctors were just able to pin point a root cause (no matter the diagnosis) at least you would know and be able to put your mind at ease.

    I hope everything turns out well for you.

    Michael A. Walker
    Defying Procrastination

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