Mom I Think I Have Cancer, and Other Cases of Medical Hysteria

A couple weeks ago I had a large bug bite on my arm. I immediately freaked out, assumed I had Chikungunya, and spent all day monitoring my arm – and let’s not forget the time I had a tingle in my throat after eating some lychees and I thought I was having an allergic reaction . All this aside, I’m not even the greatest sufferer of ‘I Think I Have Cancer’ syndrome. I know people that think every bump or momentary pain is indicative of a larger, terminal problem. A friend mentioned to me that she once thought the prickly heat across her chest was breast cancer.

For the past week, I have found it impossible to stay awake. I go to bed at a reasonable hour and will only wake up twelve hours later. As soon as I wake up, I’m hit by an overwhelming sleepiness and feel unable to get out of bed. In the afternoons, I return to bed for naps that leave me groggy and with a headache. Google tells me a variety of things – I’m anemic, I have a thyroid issue, I’m vitamin deficient, I have narcolepsy, I have cancer. I’m pretty sure I don’t have cancer, but now that some large-print article on the internet has suggested it, I plunge into paranoia. I get a blood test that tells me nothing’s wrong with me. I ultimately decide that I should start eating healthier and drinking less coffee.

How often is it that we think we have huge problems, and the answer boils down to something as simple as caffeine addiction? There have been times I sit down to study for a test or work on a project thinking the task ahead of me is astronomical, procrastinate for several hours, and end up completing the work in half that time. Why is it in the 21st century, the first emotion everyone experiences is panic? A big task isn’t chunked into sections and completed, it’s worried about until time starts to run out. An issue with my body’s cicardian rhythm isn’t thought about logically, instead, I run off to get blood work done. Nowadays, we can’t move slowly. Either we act fast, or we feel as though we’ve gotten nothing done.

I feel like the now-constant presence of the internet has contributed to this newfound panic culture. With the potential answer to everything right at our fingertips, gone is the patience that generations past had. If they were ill, they waited for a doctor appointment instead of running to take advice from web bloggers like me that have no practical medical knowledge. I mean, if I’m constantly thinking I have cancer, what kind of advice can I offer to you if you think you have cancer? Certainly nothing of value.

I do think medical hysteria can be cured by simply waiting a few days for aggravate or dissolve before one tries consulting the internet. Obviously if your leg gets cut off you should take a trip to the emergency room, but a couple of painful bug bites doesn’t warrant panic.

Maybe I should take up meditation. Maybe we all should.

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