September 24, 2007

Sick Day

Posted in Office Hijinks at 9:42 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

I hate being sick.  And I’m not talking about hangover sick.  I’m talking about being physically sick – you don’t know what it is you have because you aren’t going to bother going to the doctor’s, all you know is that you hurt all over and it is difficult to do anything but lay on your couch and watch really bad TV – sick.   

And I think it is worse for me because on top of all of that, I’m a recovering hypochondriac. 

I once had a primary care physician refuse to take any more blood from me.  You know how recovering alcoholics receive a coin for being six months clean, and they tell the story of their personal rock bottom?  That was mine – when my doctor that I loved and trusted and needed refused to take any more of my blood.  I threatened to never see him again. You can imagine this would be a significant blow to his business, but still he refused.   

At the time, I was quite convinced I was dying from the bird flu, because I was home sick and Channel 10 news had just reported that a flamingo at the Philadelphia Zoo had been diagnosed. Since I was living in the Art Museum area at the time, which isn’t far from the zoo … well, you can see where I am going with this.   

That was a turning point for me. I still never saw that physician again, but it was more out of embarrassment; as it turns out, he was right, I didn’t have the avian flu.     

Part of my hypochondria comes from my mother.  She’s a nurse, and before me, she was pretty lackadaisical when it came to her children’s (and by “children” I really just mean Big Sis) health.  I won’t embarrass the ol’ girl too much here, but just know that when my sister was 7, she walked around with a broken arm for more than two days because my mother was convinced she was fine.   

And then I came along.  And in kindergarten, as 5 year olds sometimes do, I got chicken pox.  Except my crazy body and immune system landed me in the hospital for nine days, I had to have surgery to remove lymph nodes and had my picture taken for a medical journal.  After that, my mom was pretty careful never to dismiss anything I got as just a cold. 

As a recovering hypochondriac, I now avoid getting sick.  Whenever anyone near me starts to cough or sneeze or even sniffle, I reach for the Airborne and zinc lozenges and then chase it all down with Echinacea tea.   

And when I do get sick, I like to pretend I am not.  I get really dressed up for work and I put on lots of make up and I smile and when anyone asks me what is wrong I shake my head and say, “Nothing.  I feel great.”     

I was so good at faking well that earlier in the week, New Boss didn’t even know anything was wrong.  He asked me if I had a fun weekend and I responded, kind of truthfully, “Oh, I was sick.”   

He smiled and said, “What?  Did you have meningitis like that girl at Penn?” 

And that is when I decided to go home.  Not because I needed to make an appointment to have my spine tapped.  I mean, a lot of Penn students take the subway; she could have been one of them.  But, no, I went home because I gave up.  I was sick, and the only thing that would make me better was time on my couch, in my sweats, watching Maury Povich. 

I’m not really sure what the 12 steps to recovering from hypochondria are, but I certainly felt like admitting that I just had a cold and needed to be home was an important one.   

Plus, if it was meningitis, it really wasn’t fair exposing my co-workers to it. 

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