thief of time

Friday, September 03, 2004

Hypochondria

My son came home last week with the plague. Well, if it wasn’t the plague, it was something that made me want to cover him with a sheet, give him a bell and have him call out “unclean, unclean” as he approached family living areas. No matter how much I tried to discourage it, he insisted in breathing in the same room that we were in.

My mother-in-law doesn’t believe in germs—at least, not in the family. I think she thinks I’m a bit obsessive-compulsive to worry about such things and maybe I am.


I come by it honestly, though, as I have inherited this morbid interest in my health from a long line of almanac and horse doctor consultants. Well, maybe two doesn’t count as a long line, but they must have come by it somewhere, so I think it’s definitely in the genes. I first noticed this in my grandfather who loved to try all kinds of home remedies. My dad is also very conscious of health issues and is always interested in following the latest health news and taking note of the correct vitamin supplements to use to combat all kinds of illnesses and conditions.

When I was a child, I noted this with a mildly benevolent eye, and dutifully took the vitamin supplements I was given and indeed experienced extremely good health for the most part, except for the inevitable childhood diseases. I’ve been similarly blessed in my adult life, even with taking vitamins rather sporadically at best.

Expose me to flu germs however, and my inner hypochondriac shows itself in full force. All this week, I’ve been monitoring myself for the slightest indication that something’s awry. Wednesday, I came over all headachy—not a definite sign, but certainly an indicator in my eyes. Now today, I’m getting an aching back and my throat is becoming increasingly annoyed with me. Still not proof positive, because I might have done something to myself and I might have aggravated my allergies, but even so, I feel an increasing sense of satisfaction that my worst fears have been justified.

In any case, it becomes a bit tiring to be on constant red alert, so I think I’ll make an early night of it and see how I feel tomorrow morning. With any luck, I’ll be able to kick this thing over the weekend and be back at work on Monday, even though my son’s been sick for a week. I’ll just have to hope that it’s the weakness of this younger generation. It’s time to get out my dad’s megadoses of Vitamin C and hope that natural resilience will do the rest.

Then I can get back to my normal state of not being terribly concerned about such things. Even when I come across such colds at work, as you do, it usually doesn’t worry me very much (though I don’t take unnecessary risks) because I’ve been lucky (unlike the rest of my family) to mostly be able to resist them. Bring it up close and personal in the home, however, particularly with Doberman barking, and I become hyperconscious of the danger.

Maybe I’m a bit like my mother-in-law after all, only in reverse, in that it’s family germs that I’m particularly conscious of.

PS If you’re reading this, boy, stop it and get back to bed or you’ll never get better! It’s bad enough that you’ve infected the one that cooks and cleans for you without getting the rest of the household involved as well. I like to alone in my misery so I can get the proper amount of sympathy.




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