A couple of weeks ago, I had an ambulatory EEG to determine if my periods of spacing out and losing awareness are epileptic in nature. Out of three possible outcomes—normal, epileptic, or something really bad, the results were option 1: the test was fine.
It may sound odd, but that wasn’t really my desired outcome. I was hoping for a clear answer. I already have mild epilepsy and was hoping I could just get a different medication. The doctor suggested that my episodes were just related to mood issues, such as anxiety. Perhaps my problem stems from an over-sensitive nervous system. Can’t say I’m impressed with this coming from a prominent neurologist.
“Would you like me to prescribe an anti-depressant?” No, not really. Do all doctors default to anti-depressants when they can’t figure out the problem? My God, even dentists probably do at this point.
Maybe everyone was right after all. Maybe I am just a crazy bitch.
My dramatic appearance wearing the EEG equipment obviously caught people’s attention. When my coworkers asked if I got my results, at first I pretended that I hadn’t gotten them yet. People forget when you said you’ll get the results; they won’t forget what you had on your head. Well, at least a few considerate ones won’t. But too much time has passed for that lie. So now I tell the truth, but I make it seem like I’m hiding something bad.
“Did you get your results yet?”
“Um… Yes, I did…” I pretend to smile bravely while I hold something back. “Yes.. they’re okay. I’ll be fine.” I then give a tight-lipped smile and nod, and change the subject in the artificially pleasant voice of one who wishes to avoid a painful subject.
What a disgrace I am! I know how offensive I must sound to those who have actually suffered through a dangerous illness. Perhaps I ought to have mentioned that any of my fearful expressions of serious illness should always be taken with a grain of salt. They are the words of an inveterate hypochondriac who stays up until two-thirty in the morning googling toenail pain.
I’m not sure when this hypochondriac obsession began. I believe it may have started the time I found a palpable lump in my breast (verifiably palpable, not imaginarily), and the doctor—a surgeon, no less—actually laughed and said I was too young for anything to be wrong. The ultrasound report said there was a palpable mass but the test itself showed nothing to correspond to that mass.
I asked the doctor, “So what is it then?”
There’s something there… but they don’t know what. Nine years later, the lump and I are still here. But how many stories have you read—or known of personally—in which someone is dismissed by a doctor, only to be later diagnosed with something at an advanced stage?
Here is my challenge to you who say that the possibility of serious illness is remote and my obsession is ridiculous: explain to me why I should be exempt from such an illness. Perhaps the odds are small, but someone will get sick. Why shouldn’t it be me? People act like there’s some designated group of cancer scapegoats, who are hand-selected to receive cancer diagnoses so that the rest of us don’t have to worry. Yes, the odds could be 1 in 1000 or 10,000. But, why shouldn’t I be that one?
Despite my exaggerated paranoia stemming from the inexplicable lump incident, though, the fault is not all on my side. Doctors, like the original Frankenstein, have created this monster. I have actually never asked for a test. They urge you to take the test, and then inform you that you’re fine. Then they prescribe a drug. When it doesn’t work, they tell you that you don’t need it. They send you for a different test, which also shows nothing. Once they have never given you an answer and thoroughly confused both you and themselves, they give you an SSRI.
I’ll make a confession. Maybe deep down I do like it. Maybe you don’t even have to look down that far. My arm twitched back and forth the other day, and maybe I was a little glad to feel it. Maybe I even encouraged it a bit. Who knows. The twitch was real and other people could see it. If they had looked. That means it’s not in my head. Except when I dramatized it a little bit. I’m not sure if I did or not. But at the very least it started out real. I think.
When I started my blog, it was mainly a diary of hypochondriac fever dreams, so these posts are hardly out of character for my blog. I appreciate and cherish each and every well-wish (however undeserved, considering the doubtful reality of my issues) from those who comment, especially since they are not obliged to. That being said—I don’t beg for sympathy, only commiseration. Commiseration is balm for any pain, big or small, real or imaginary. So please, if you have even a grain of sympathy in your heart, direct it towards yourself and wallow in your self-pity. I never turn a deaf ear to other people’s medical problems. And if you must reproach me, then reproach me, for it may be the best medicine.