Before I was told I had a serious illness to worry about, I worried about getting a serious illness.
And after I was told I didn’t have a serious illnessto worry about, I still worried about getting one!
Worrying about my health is as natural to me as breathing.
Because I have ‘Health Anxiety’.
AKA, Illness Anxiety Disorder.
Or Hypochondria, as some might call it…
But I don’t!
I call it TRYING TO STAY ALIVE!
Which is something I’ve been working on for quite some time!
So don’t call me a hypochondriac…
It’s not glamorous…
AND I’M BLOODY WELL NOT ONE!
There’s a difference!
Anyway, there’s a difference between a hypochondriac.
They believe they’re ill when they’re NOT!
I worry about being ill when I AM!
Usually because someone told me I am. Like Doctor Google. Or the hospital.
They don’t always get it right,
But that doesn’t stop my worries getting out of hand.
Like the time my doctor’s (new) receptionist called about blood tests and in a ‘grave’ voice – no pun intended – said I should come in to discuss the results.
Fear gripped me, I refused to wait, I demanded the doctor come to the phone and when he didn’t, I begged, bossed and bullied the receptionist for information.
Until she gave in …
Begging, bossing and bullying her was a VERY BAD MOVE…
Because she said I had a bone disease!
That’s not my favourite word.
And I knew that must mean I was seriously ill…
So I Googled it…
Which was my SECOND BAD MOVE
Because Google said I was definitely seriously ill.
And yep, you guessed it…
I could die!
So I spent the next hour crying down the phone to my nearest and dearest and imagining my kids growing up motherless.
And when I’d finished depressing everyone…I mean, sharing the depressing news with everyone – the receptionist called back…
To say she was sorry but I didn’t have a bone disease after all!
I was just a bit deficient in vitamin D!
I WAS GOING TO LIVE!
I’d worried for nothing!
Worrying is bad for you!
Worrying is terrible for the health.
And despite the fact my specialist subject on Master Mind could be ‘things that are terrible for the health’, it didn’t stop me doing it…
Although you may not believe it, I never used to worry about anything.
Least of all my health.
I thought I would live forever…
Believed I was immortal.
Until I had children and suddenly the world looked different.
Somehow I’d never noticed it was a world full of diseases, bugs and a zillion hazards that could rob me of my children.
Or my children of me!
And for the first time in my life I began to worry. That something could happen to them…
…or to me.
So I took extra steps to be healthy.
I loaded up with green juice.
I ate superfoods.
I took the latest miracle minerals and supplements.
And lots and lots of my favourite cure all.
It was all going so well.
But then my mum died…
I didn’t want to die…
And in an instant my world turned upside down as I realised if SHE could die, I could die.
If SHE could leave ME, I could leave MY kids.
In an instant I realised I wasn’t immortal.
And wouldn’t live forever. .
So my anxieties gathered pace as I began to tune into my body and focus on my health.
Because I didn’t want to be ill.
Like my mum.
And I didn’t want to die.
Like my mum.
Wild eyed and freaky!
To start with I managed my fears and went to the doctor with any concerns.
I don’t mean to hang around the surgery like a wild-eyed freak with a health obsession.
Or a hypochondriac.
I only went to the doc with bona fide concerns. Ones that could mean, ‘farewell, it’s been good to know you!’
But I stopped going after the doctor intimated he did think I was a wild-eyed freak with a health obsession…
Or a hypochondriac!
After I jokingly said he probably thought the ailment I was asking about with was ‘all in my head’.
And I was met with a stony silence!
Needless to say I only go to the doctor now if absolutely necessary…
And I NEVER, ever make jokes with him!
Over time, if my health was worrying me, I would spring into action to sort it out.
Like when I woke at 3am with a stomach pain and couldn’t figure out why I had a stomach pain.
Then realising it was probably toxic shock syndrome I drove to the village hospital in panic.
Village hospitals don’t usually welcome patients at 3am and I’m sure the nurse who came to the desk thought I was a bit mad.
And I probably seemed that way, as I was rather intense when she suggested I come back the next day.
What I mean is, I refused to!
So she let me in, which was a relief as there was no way I could wait a few hours.
I might not have had a few hours…
After all, toxic shock syndrome kills and nurses should know that!
Then there was the time I started choking on a mint humbug while driving down a country lane to collect the kids from school.
The humble humbug lodged in my larynx and I freaked out.
I coughed, spluttered and gasped, doing all I could to force the malicious mint back up, but just choked even more.
I was very sure I was actually going to die when suddenly before my eyes was the most beautiful sight I’d ever seen.
It was a beige ford fiesta…
Parked at the roadside.
My chance at life!
So I brought my car to a screeching halt, threw the door open, stumbled toward the fiesta clutching my throat and hammered on the window for help!
Staring back at me, were the bemused faces of two elderly ladies who were sharing a flask of tea, foil wrapped sandwiches and a battenburg cake.
Which they quite rightly had to abandon as I gasped I was probably choking to death on a humbug and ordered them to get out of the car and slap me on the back.
And then I bent forward like a child at a 1950s public school getting ready for a beating.
Or maybe more like someone who had escaped from a high security unit!
Rising to the challenge, one of the elderly ladies hit me between the shoulder blades – delivering what could only be described as more tickle than slap.
And all I can say is thank heavens I wasn’t dying, because that would’ve sealed my fate.
Though to be honest there wasn’t a fate to be sealed as the scenario from choking to finale went on for well over ten minutes.
And I hadn’t even turned blue!
But as I drove to school I kept a close check on myself to make sure I actually was still alive.
Fortunately I was!
It had been touch and go for a while, if only in my head!
And to this day I have never eaten any kind of boiled sweet in the car.
They’re far too dangerous!
I wasn’t rational
When you worry about your health it’s hard to be rational…
…about anything that could rob you of it.
Like when I was preparing a chicken and as I cut the strings a splash of raw chicken juice flew into my eye.
All I saw was my bloodstream being infiltrated by every type of bacteria that ever existed.
With a side helping of bird flu!
But fortunately there was a family sized eye wash in the bathroom cupboard and I used most of it to ensure my eye was clear of ALL chicken bacteria.
It had been a close call!
But I’m pleased to announce to this day I remain free of ALL chicken bacteria diseases.
And bird flu!
And now I always keep eyewash in the cabinet!
My biggest anxiety is choking.
I choke a lot.
I choke on anything.
If I swallow something and it doesn’t go down, I panic, cough, gurn and retch.
It happens so often it’s quite exhausting..
There’s been many times I’ve phoned my husband in panic because something got trapped in my tonsils.
So we have a ritual now.
He spends ten minutes reassuring me I’m alive.
And if I’m still alive after ten minutes of reassurance I believe I am!
And the crisis is averted.
But I do worry one day I’ll call him while choking and he’ll be on the phone to the accountant or something rubbish like that.
And then I’ll croak!
But I guess that’s just another anxiety.
I am NOT a hypochondriac!
And you now know I have anxiety.
And even though I have health anxiety…
I AM NOT A HYPOCHONDRIAC!
I will argue that to the death!
Although, as I’m sure you’ll understand, I’d much rather not!