Hypochondria and Cancer and Me

Like most dudes, I don’t go to the doctor. Not unless something is literally falling off. That something could be a leg or even dry scaly spots. True. I’m vain. And if I start getting visual blemishes on the temple that is my body, I might consider the dermatologist.

(This post brought to you by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society!)

Then again, that first dermatologist may have been good at doling out prescriptions for dry scalp, but he sort of missed the more important stuff. Like the fucking skin cancer growing on my nose. That little bump had been there for so long, I didn’t give it much thought and never would have gone to the doctor to check that out had it not been for the OTHER reason dudes go to the doctor. Incessant nagging by a woman. Thankfully, that all worked out okay and now I have nothing but a cool scar to show for it.

That’s not to say I don’t worry about things. Especially the older I get. If something is hurting I immediately assume I’m catching a stroke, a heart attack or the cancer. Or all three at the same time. And because I’ve known a couple of youngish people who got dropped in broad daylight by a brain aneurysm, when I get a headache I tend to assume I’ve got approximately fifteen minutes to live.

And I’ve been having headaches lately. Eyeball piercing headaches in the left eye. They wrap around to the back of my head and grab me by my neck. Sometimes they feel sinus-y. Sometimes they don’t. Still, they’re just headaches, right? Besides, by the time I jump through the hoops to get to the doctor, they’ll magically disappear or I’ll be dead.

But one of them got so bad the other night, I finally through in the towel. I know what’s going to happen. They’re going to look up my nose or something and say, “Meh. Allergies.” And they’re probably right. I’ve been developing allergies the older I get. Tree pollen or something. (Death to all trees and the people who hug them). This spring was extremely brutal and now that I think about it, the headaches are following a similar pattern.

Either way, I want these things gone. It’s not just the pain. It’s the feeling that I’ve turned into one of those old ladies who has to go lie down in a dark room over her eyes until her “spell” has passed. Sure, she might be in legitimate pain, but you know and I know we all think of that old lady as crazy. Crazy and lonely and smelling of cats.

But wait! It gets better. As you may or may not know, I’m running the Hampton Half Marathon with Team in Training to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This involves hanging out and going on training runs with a lot of cool people, some who have survived cancer and some who know people who have survived (or succumbed).

Now look, I know, rationally, that cancer is not contagious. I know this. But being around it can sure cause hypochondria! Before training runs, we have something called mission moments, in which one of the participants tells everyone else why he or she is running. Last night, this guy gets up and tells us about his college buddy who’d been diagnosed with leukemia. The warning signs? Three days of splitting headaches and bleeding gums.

Remember up above where I told you about my headaches? Yeah, that. Also, my gums bled the other night. Granted, not uncontrollably for no reason, but because I got a little aggressive with the floss. (I figure if I’m gonna floss once a year, I’m gonna make it count.) So anyway, yeah. My gums bled, too. Suddenly, I was having visions of me standing up in front of the group saying, “My mission moment is, well, me. I caught the cancer.” And then everyone breaks down crying uncontrollably and telling me how brave and strong I am and how good I look with no hair.

Still, I found some inner strength and finished last night’s training run. Then went home and went to sleep (with the help of my good friend Ambien). Today? Headache is a little less. Probably my body just gearing up to embarrass me in front of the doctor this afternoon — like your car when you bring it into the shop.

Either that or the Zyrtec is working.


9 thoughts on “Hypochondria and Cancer and Me

  1. Sometimes I think that we must be for real related, not just step-related. Whatever you do, don’t go to webmd.com. You can check your symptoms off on a little list and it’ll show you a whole host of dreadful diseases you probably have. I had prostate cancer for awhile.

  2. Why are the symptoms of brain aneurysms, pretty much the same as “being Dawn Summers”?

    Thinking or processing problems
    Sudden changes in behavior
    Loss of balance and coordination
    Decreased concentration
    Short-term memory difficulty

    I’m dying. It’s your fault. I hope you’re happy.

  3. I think the symptoms of aneurysm are: a) splitting headache followed almost immediately by b) death.

    And a trouble spelling the word aneurysm.

  4. I wouldn’t worry about cancer or an aneurysm. Chances are we’ve just got mad cow because of all those steaks and burgers we ate in college. That pain is probably just the prions in our brains growing larger. Jack Miller’s is probably to blame.

  5. Dude. I spent about two hours last night convinced I was in the initial stages of heart disease (tightness in the chest, pain radiating down my arm). And thanks to Web MD, I upped the stress/anxiety levels to just shy of stabbing chest pains.

    And then I realized that it was likely sore muscles from lugging around my laptop and 3-inch thick copy decks for days.

    The getting older thing is the root of all of the increased worry. I know people who had heart attacks at 40, and as I creep closer and closer to it I think, “shit, I’m at the age where people start having heart attacks.”

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