Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Hypochondriac

Oh no! I overslept! Why didn't I sleep well? Maybe my sleep apnea was bad again last night. Let me check my CPAP machine...no, it's plugged in. Maybe I need a new mask. I need to shower and shave and get ready for work.
Oh God, there I go dropping the soap again. Wait...is my toe swollen? Do I have the gout? I have been feeling a little under the weather lately, perhaps the gout would explain it. I better make an appointment with my doctor. Hang on, what's that spot? I don't remember seeing that spot on my skin before! Is it sun damage? Actinic keratosis? Basal cell carcinoma? Squamous cell carcinoma? Melanoma? Oh, it's a piece of lint.
Well, wasn't I lucky? I would've been in a spot of trouble had it been something serious.
Hmm, my armpits look a little bit swollen. Oh, I bet it's that aluminum chloride salt they use in the deodorants! What would a differential dx be? Cat Scratch Fever? Lymphatic Tuberculosis? Oh, it's got to be lymphatic tuberculosis! Why did I ever volunteer at the soup kitchen?
Well, great. My life's ruined now that I'm a carrier for tuberculosis. I just hope I don't get elephantitis. I might as well get to work; that should at least ease the pain of having this horrible debilitating disease.
I can't help but wonder what exactly is in all this pollution my car emits. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons? I just KNOW all of that is going into my lungs. Cigarette smoke too, because my stupid supervisor won't make my fellow workers move away from the building entrance when they're on their smoke break. The car's heat smells kind of funny. Why is that? MOLD! Oh Jesus! I better pull off the side of the road, roll down the windows and get started on anti-fungal therapy!
Well, I'm almost at work. I've already got lymphatic tuberculosis, I know that much. Why prolong the inevitable? Mycositis should be the least of my worries!
Ugh, I hate this part of work. Shaking hands never did anyone any good. Just think of where your hands go! Doors, noses, everywhere! What people don't like to talk about is that Typhoid Mary didn't spread the disease by being close to people, she actually spread it by shaking hands! Where did I put my gloves? Ah, here they are.
"Bob, how are you?"
"Uh, hi Kevin. You're not planning on examining me with the gloves on, are you?"
"What? Oh, no! Ha ha ha. I just don't want to catch anything from you!"
"Ha ha. Where's your mask?"
"Oh, it's right here along with sterile gauze."
"Geez, I was joking. I've gotta get back to work. And be careful of the coffee today. It's really hot, and we're all out of mugs."
"Ok, thanks Bob."
Gosh, Bob doesn't look well these days. What could it be? Diabetes Mellitus II? No, that pallor. It's probably anemia. Pernicious.
Eh, we've all got problems, but mine is the worst. Lymphatic tuberculosis! Gosh, I can't wait to tell my doctor. He'll probably congratulate me for being so smart and figuring it out all by myself just through my symptoms. Yeah.
If there's one thing I like about my job, it's getting the papers fresh off the printers. It's so hot that nothing can survive! Good, clean, sterile white. I like it. Ouch, that papercut stings. Wait, am I up to date on my tetanus booster? But bacteria can't survive the heat. What if tetanus is caused by a virus? Viruses can survive HEAT!
Gosh, lymphatic tuberculosis, mycositis, and now tetanus. Great, I feel so fatigued from all these maladies that I need some coffee. Sheesh, at least it's not like last week when I thought I had multiple sclerosis, glioblastoma multiforme (like Ted Kennedy), and HPV causing massive skin lesions like that guy I saw on television. It's a good thing I didn't have any of that stuff, but doggonit if I don't have these new illnesses. I just know that heart disease, a heart attack, cancer, stroke, car crash, the flu, or something else is going to get me in the end. I just know it.
Oh great, they're out of mugs! Well what do I do now? I can't drink out of that styrofoam! Who knows what heavy industrial manufacturing chemicals go into those things! I've requested paper cups time and time again. Sure, they might have sulfur in them, but I think I'd take my chances with that than with this 'cancer in a cup!' Maybe, maybe if I just put some milk and sugar in my mouth (wait, no sugar, it might make me insulin resistant...and no artificial sweetener either because it might give me bladder cancer) and just kind of pour the coffee in...
"AAAAAAGH!"
"What the hell is that? What happened? Kevin! Are you alright?"
"No I'm not alright! My oral cavity is completely burnt and I might need maxillofacial reconstructive surgery!"
"Geez, he is kind of swollen, we should probably take him to the hospital or something..."
"Yes! Yes, take me to the hospital! We'll have to take your car, Dora, mine's got a mold infestation."

Let's see, I'll need an fMRI, a CT scan, maybe a PET scan, and lots and lots of X-rays. By golly, we've got to get down to the source of my sickness.

"So, doctor, what exactly is wrong with Kevin?"
"Nothing's wrong with him, he's just burnt his mouth. He insists that he has tuberculosis, mycositis, and tetanus even though his lungs are clear, he doesn't have any TB antibodies in his blood, and he's received a tetanus vaccine a year ago."
"Oh, GOD, not again. Two years ago he effectively ended the office Christmas party by announcing that he might have liver cirrhosis and cancer after having the punch. He's always like this."
"Oh. Well, I'll see if I can talk to him, but you have to promise me that you'll never take him back to this floor or hospital again."
"I promise."

Oh, great. That doctor was talking to Dora for a long time. He's probably got bad news and is bracing her for it. Probably describing my tuberculosis, mycositis, and tetanus. Probably infected my entire body. Yeah, my jaw is getting kind of stiff right about now. Lungs hurt. Ohhhh, mortality of man. Well, I'll be strong. I've resigned myself to this fate. I just hope Dora is strong enough to take the diagnosis of my diseases. Here comes the doctor to tell me the bad news. *sigh* And life was so good!

"Mr. Smith, how are you?"
"Oh, not good, Dr. Li. Why don't you just go ahead and tell me the bad news?"
"Well, yes, I do have some bad news. You have cancer!"
"I KNEW IT!"
"But, there is a silver lining to this cloud. It's a benign type, and it's extremely slow growing, but it might produce symptoms from time to time that manifest themselves in different ways."
"Like what?"
"Oh, general malaise, weakness, fatigue, productive and dry cough, postnasal drip, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, constipation, itchy scalp, sinus infection, and possibly hearing loss."
"Gosh! This is amazing! How long do I have to live?"
"Well, I should say about 40-50 years with no apparent decline in health."
"Why that means I'll be...80 or 90!"
"That's right, but I wouldn't worry about telling your family about this. Best not to let them worry about it, since you'll be perfectly fine, even though you have this tumor growing in you."
"Oh, that's ok. I don't have a family. Too many germs!"
"Alright, well, I need to see another patient, but enjoy the rest of your life while you can, Mr. Smith!"
"Oh, I will, doctor, I will!"

"Dora, did you hear that I have cancer! What a relief! I guess this means I won't have to worry about getting dengue fever, or tropical parasites now that I have cancer!"
"Oh, no, that's awful Kevin! How long did the doctor give you to live?"
"40-50 years. It sounds pretty serious. I'm sure all the guys at the office will be broken up about it, so let's just let this be our little secret, ok?"
"Fine with me!"
Boy! Cancer! A rare type too! Wow. I have a strange feeling I won't need my CPAP machine tonight, and suddenly drinking from styrofoam cups doesn't seem like such a serious thing anymore. Gosh, cancer! What a relief!
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