I don't know if I've mentioned it before, or if you've already realized it, but I am a huge hypochondriac. That's why I was so excited when I finally got diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Because I actually HAD something. Usually when I go to the doctor, she's like, “Yeah, you're just dehydrated. Drink more water and less TaB,” or “Yeah, that's probably just gas.” Last year I became convinced I had a massive tumor under my ribs, and I went to the doctor, and she was like, “Yeah, that's your abdominal muscle.”
But whatever. Better safe than sorry, right?
I do suffer from several doctor-confirmed maladies: dysmenorrhea, insomnia, and migraines.
Dysmenorrhea, in case you are a guy who is reading this and you don't know, is severe menstrual cramps (I am betting any guys who might have been reading this just left to go read the Boston Sports Guy on ESPN.com instead). The only treatment for this that has ever worked for me is birth control pills, which I have been on since I was 15 (although back then the Pill didn't have as many variations as it does today and it gave me high blood pressure so I had to go off it for a while and take massive doses of something called Darvocet whenever I had my period, which various college roommates would “borrow” from me since it turned out to be a fun recreational drug to do with beer. Not that I myself ever tried this, nor should you.)
The insomnia I've had since I was 12. There is no cure for it, so I just have to do all those stupid things you are supposed to do to help you fall asleep, like no caffeine after 5PM and have chamomile tea and quiet reading time before bed. Usually none of these things ever work, which is why I am awake until 3 most nights, fretting over the state of the world, or my novel, or my cat. That's why, when I DO fall asleep, I can't wake up until 10AM. This is also why I hated high school and why going on early morning talk shows positively kills me.
Migraines are another story. It took me a long time to realize what I was having even WAS a migraine, because I thought with migraines you threw up and stuff. But I have never felt that sick from a migraine. Usually I just become aware of this tiny irritating pressure behind one eye, and I think, “Well, that's annoying.” Then as the day wears on, the pressure stays the same, but my tolerance goes from, “That's annoying” to “I AM GOING TO KILL SOMEONE IF THIS TINY PAIN DOESN'T GO AWAY.”
That, it turns out, is a migraine. Sometimes before I get one, I see a bright white blob floating around in front of my eyes, which is helpful, because then I know to take a migraine pill, because the blob is an aura. I have these great pills, Zomig, that knock those puppies out, sometimes before they even start. Tom Cruise probably wouldn't approve, but I have taken vitamins all my life, and truthfully, they are not effective in wiping out migraines.
Frankly, with all that, combined with my ever-present self-loathing (speaking of which, to all you BHSS Panthers who were offended by my “$%^& the Panthers” remark in a previous blog, don't worry—it's not you. It's me. I hate MYSELF, not you Panthers. Well, not ALL of you, anyway), it's a wonder I have ever written any novels at all. I am obviously an invalid who should be confined to bed, possibly in a Swiss sanitarium, where I should be permitted to do nothing all day but paint pretty watercolors of the Alps and possibly eat bon bons.
And yet, I persevere. For my readers. I do it all for you.
Sometimes, though—especially after watching the Lifetime Channel–I decide that it's not enough simply to be battling the disorders listed above, and that I might possibly be suffering from some new, as yet undiagnosed disease. That is when I turn to my old friend, Yahoo! Health. I can spend HOURS on Yahoo! Health, diagnosing myself and my friends—especially in the psychiatric disorder section.
Not long ago, I realized I was excessively bloated—so much so that I could no longer zip up my white Lily Pulitzer (shut up, when you move to Florida you will wear white Lily Pulitzers, too, I don't care if you lived in Greenwich Village for nearly ten years and have a pink streak in your hair, YOU WILL WEAR WHITE LILY PULITZERS IF YOU MOVE TO FLORIDA) capris that I had worn just 25 days earlier, when I was in Ohio. And suddenly, I couldn't even zip them up?
It was obvious to me that there was only one explanation: I had a massive cyst on my ovaries that was getting ready to explode.
Except according to Yahoo! Health ovarian cysts don't explode that often, which I found extremely disappointing, because I was fantasizing about He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog staggering into the Key West emergency room with me in his arms, just like Angel staggered into the emergency room with Buffy in his arms on that one episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer when he drank almost all of her blood to cure the poison from the arrow Faith shot at him.
Only instead of being all, “She needs blood!” like Angel was, He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog (who will, from now on, be referred to as HWSNBNITB, or HB for short) would be all, “Look out! She has a cyst that is going to explode!”
Except that, because I AM such a hypochondriac, I go to the doctor to get my ovaries etc checked ALL THE TIME (see earlier paragraph re: abdominal muscle), and if there'd been something in there, I'm sure they would have found it.
Which was actually fine, because I wasn't married to the cyst thing. A tumor would have been fine, too, particularly if it turned out to be my vanished twin, which, as many of you know from Discovery Health Channel, is when a twin absorbs her sibling in utero, and sometimes parts of the absorbed twin are left inside the remaining twin, as in the case of my friend from high school's college roommate who, when she was 20, had a 10 pound mass of hair and teeth removed from her belly, which turned out to have been her long lost twin. Amazingly, people had just always assumed she was a chubby girl. Only she wasn't: she was TWO girls. Well, one and a half, really.
So I was kind of hoping the bloating was from my vanished twin.
Except that this didn't even make sense, because really, wouldn't my vanished twin have been there all along? I mean, since birth? And I have had a LOT of X-rays, being a hypochondriac, and all, and no one has ever gone, “Hey, what's this tiny foot doing there by your liver?”
So it seemed unlikely my sudden bloating was my vanished twin.
Still, to get confirmation that I might have devoured a sibling in utero (which actually makes sense because I'm left handed and I've read the theory that left-handed people were once part of a set of twins), I called my mother to ask if she remembered hearing any particularly loud chewing noises coming from her belly when she was pregnant with me (I always like to gather as much data as I can before heading to the doctor's office, in order to avoid situations like the embarrassing, “That's-Your-Abdominal-Muscle” one).
Anyway, my mom listened very attentively to my reasons for believing I had a cyst or a tumor or a twin in my belly (she is really the only person who is ever very interested in hearing about my health problems, which is why I love her so much even though she occasionally forgets my birthday).
Then, when I was through telling her all about it, Mom said, “Well, didn't I read in your blog that you ate an entire bag of bite-sized Milky Ways? Maybe that's why your pants don't fit.”
I canceled my doctor's appointment. And got on my bike.
And I'm sorry to say, two weeks later, my pants fit fine.