In high school I brushed off feeling ill. A hacking cough? It’s just something caught in my throat. Serial sneezing? It’ll pass in a moment. I saw throwing up as a sign of weakness and Advil as a cure-all: If I just take some ibuprofen for those chicken pox, I’ll be better in an hour. This was a safe practice because I had my parents around to attend to my health and convince me that ignoring a bleeding wound was not the best way to make it disappear.
But now, my parents aren’t around to detect a sore throat; they can’t fuss over bruises they can’t see. It makes me nervous that I am the only one monitoring myself for signs of sickness, and I have a newly heightened awareness of everything that goes wrong with my body.
When I returned from Harvest, for example, I noted a massive bug bite on my leg and spent an inordinate amount of time worrying whether I’d gotten it from a disease-carrying tick or something worse, like a black widow spider. Then, after losing my voice the first week of school, I spent sleepless nights hoping that it wasn’t an indicator of spinal cord injury. I soon realized that I was not the same person I was in high school: I had become an obsessive hypochondriac.
My friends think I’m simply crazy, but I remain convinced of the legitimacy of my concerns. Like now, I know there’s something wrong with my left hand. Just after moving to campus, I scratched it in an embarrassing trip-and-fall and incurred four scratches on my knuckles. As they healed, the cuts became minute, raised bumps. When they didn’t disappear, I began to worry. After conducting research online, I am now of the belief that I have the beginning of a keloid. The pictures of keloids on the Internet are terrifying. I immediately dialed University Health Services to get some professional advice.
It turns out getting an appointment with YUHS is harder than getting a last-minute ticket to “A Conversation with Tony Blair.” After working my way through two receptionists and discarding a handful of appointment times, I set up a consultation with a doctor in October. I wish it were sooner, for with every passing day, I’m positive my scars are growing larger and larger. By the time October rolls around, my left hand will probably be entirely covered in scar tissue. My friends reassure me it’s not urgent, but I haven’t discarded the idea of calling in a medical emergency.
If the bumps really are nothing, I hope the doctor humors me and prescribes a placebo. I’ll take it, and I’m sure it will heal my woes instantly. I’ll be content once again, and I’ll never have to know the difference. I’m fine if the doctor thinks I’m crazy because I’m only trying to take care of myself the best I can. Besides, he won’t be the first to think it — it’s really just as everyone has always suspected.
Wait, did I just sniffle? YUHS, the next four years are going to be fun.