It was a Tuesday night. I was sprawled on the couch, watching the clock, having the grand debate with myself about how early is too early to go to bed. I’d eaten much too much at dinner and was feeling sort of gross. I was also sore from an intense session with the trainer.
I was sifting through the mass of stuff on my Google Reader when I came across two articles back to back. Both talked about various diseases being “silent killers.”
Post #1 said, “Often, fatigue is the only symptom of this fatal disease. Know when to call 9-1-1.”
Fatigue? I’m a working mom. I’m exhausted. If I called 9-1-1 every time I was fatigued, I’d be on a first name basis with the EMTs.
But post #2 was even better, again discussing another disease that could be fatal. “Women rarely experience any symptoms at all.”
Wait, so you mean that the absence of symptoms could mean that I’m dying?
And I have to admit, at that very moment, these posts got my nervous adrenaline pumping. What if I was seriously ill and didn’t know it? What if I ignored my complete lack of symptoms and assumed that everything was ok while metastatic cancer was quietly eating away at my body? What if my kid had to be raised without a mother because I didn’t call an ambulance at the first sign of fatigue? And then I stopped myself and took a deep breath.
Look, I don’t want to minimize the risks of major illnesses, from heart disease to cancer. But the way these diseases are presented in the media make me absolutely irate. Stop trying to scare the crap out of people and instead encourage everyone to visit the doctor for regular checkups and routine diagnostic testing. The more regularly we’re all being checked, the more aware we are of our risk factors, the less likely we are to have any illness that’s developed into something catastrophic and untreatable.
(This is the part where I knock on wood because I’ve undoubtedly jinxed myself and assured that I have heart failure and cancer of the everything.)
With that in mind, I did the only sensible thing: I scheduled an appointment with my doctor and had the full array of blood work done, just to be sure that all was well. There’s nothing like a little bit of knowledge to put the paranoid mind at ease.
Do you ever have to talk your inner hypochondriac down off the ledge?