One day, when I was about twelve years old, I started having heart palpitations. It kept happening, and the longer it went on, the more freaked out I got (which I’m sure wasn’t helping matters). It got to the point where I was crying, convinced that at the ripe old age of twelve, I was having a heart attack. I made my mom drop everything and take me to the doctor. My doctor patiently checked me out, and then we had a little chat about dealing with anxiety.
I blame my adolescent hypochondria on reading those YA books by Lurlene McDaniel. The books were all about kids dealing with serious, often fatal, illnesses. For months, I was secretly convinced I had a brain tumour because I would sometimes get headaches and that’s how one of her characters discovered she had a brain tumour. As I got older, I grew out of this hypochondria. Certainly, nursing school extinguished any remaining flickers of that fire. When you start interacting with patients who are dealing with real medical problems, you pretty quickly adopt an attitude of “Meh, you’ll be fine” to anything short of profuse bleeding (NOTE: this attitude is only directed to myself and my family- patient concerns are always treated seriously).
Every once in awhile, though, I will notice some sort of physical anomaly on myself, and instead of just brushing it off, I will worry about it. Like when Penelope was about a month old, I discovered a palpable mass in my abdomen and was convinced that I had some sort of reproductive cancer. I booked an appointment for my doctor to examine me at the same time as Penelope’s two month check-up and I was legitimately terrified about what she would say. Of course, it was not cancer- it was only a hernia (apparently they are fairly common following repeat C-sections, a fact of which I had previously been unaware) and the only threat it posed was of a cosmetic nature.
And I am currently battling with myself over what must be a benign condition. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a bump, about the size of a quarter, on my forehead. It’s barely noticeable when I look in the mirror, but I can definitely feel it when I touch my forehead. Which I do all the time now to check if it’s still there and obsess over whether or not it’s gotten any bigger. It’s not painful, it’s not a pimple, there’s no skin discolouration- it’s just a bump on my forehead. I have been tempted to Google “forehead tumour” but I’m too scared to find out if “forehead tumours” are actually a thing.
So instead, I’m going to repeat to myself, complete with a Schwarzenegger accent, “It’s not a tumour.” And I will remember that there are plenty of people suffering from real medical conditions, and that I am not currently one of them, thankfully. But someone please tell me that I’m not the only one who does this needless worrying about harmless things! I can’t be the only recovering hypochondriac out there, so please share your stories so I don’t feel so ridiculous. I will enjoy reading about them whilst rubbing my forehead bump.