speculative diagnoses

I’ve come to realise that I’m quite good at being a hypochondriac. By “good” I mean that I’m good at (mis)interpreting a simple and probably harmless symptom/ailment as something potentially life-threatening or at least life-altering in some way. I am not, however, someone who Googles symptoms to find my diagnoses. No, being a healthcare professional, I am creative enough to diagnose myself, thanks.

Before I cause any outrage, I also want to mention that I do not take my own hypochondria seriously because I know it’s (probably) nothing to worry about. I’m not one of those people who clog up clinic waiting rooms or emergency departments for some passing complaint. (On a side note – has anyone else seen those TV ads the government is running recently about this very issue – of not wasting emergency department resources with minor complaints that are treatable outside of hospital? They’re great, aren’t they?)

Here, let me give you some examples, and you can decide for yourself if I’m good at this hypochondria thing. I feel like I should include some sort of disclaimer on this – kind of like “do not use this as medical advice” but it’s sort of the opposite of medical advice since it’s more like saying “you have this sympton, so you do NOT have this disease; you’ll be fine”. Basically, don’t take any of this seriously.

  • One afternoon when I was waiting for the train home, I noticed a small spider on my leg (unidentified species). Not sure if I got bitten or not, but I just brushed it off. By the time I got off the train later, my leg was starting to ache a bit and, if I remember correctly, I also got a headache. Naturally, I speculated about what sort of spider it might have been (remember, this is Australia, ok) and whether it could cause paralysis or something. Needless to say, I survived that one.
  • Similarly, any time that I get headaches primarily consisting of shooting-type pain, I wonder if I’ll pass out or something. Really, though, I know it’s more likely that I’m just a bit dehydrated.
  • More recently, I’ve had this weird taste in my mouth that was unrelated to what I’d eaten that day. This actually lasted a few days (coming and going), and I wondered if this could be one of those obscure symptoms for some sort of endocrine disorder. Nothing has (as yet) eventuated from this.
  • Every dot initially looks like it could be melanoma.
  • Not sure if this counts, but there was a time when papercuts (and other lacerations) seemed kind of common in the dispensary, and we’d kind of joke about contracting infectious diseases. Fortunately, papercuts seem less common these days, and we always have plenty of alcohol swabs on hand if necessary.

Well, that’s the list for now. I don’t get sick very often (never had to take a sick day), so maybe this is my mind’s way of compensating, and just leaping at any opportunity to potentially call in sick. Yeah, ok, not likely. I have heard, however, that it’s more common for people who work in the healthcare industry to have hypochondriac tendencies. And it’s usually worst-case scenario.