My sister and I loved both of our grandmothers very much but they were complete opposites when it came to dealing with pain and doctors.. Our mom’s mom, was a stoic, no nonsense kind of person who never admitted to feeling pain and cured every ailment with herbs and every cut or scrape by dabbing Sea Breeze on it. She needed a hip replacement for years but never had one because she did not believe in messing with what God had given her. Our other grandmother, our dad’s mother, relied on her doctors to cure everything and saw them very frequently. In fairness, she did suffer a plethora of ailments, some honest and painful, but many existed only in her head.
As she aged, she did not come to visit us often because she was afraid to be away from her doctors. Her G.P. made almost daily house calls to her home to treat her various symptoms. (Those days are long gone) She used to have strange ailments that we kids nicknamed. For instance, one symptom she had often was what we called "the sweats". We now know she was experiencing hot flashes from prolonged menopause. She would suddenly become soaking wet, fan herself wildly and mop the back of her neck with one handkerchiefs after another. She did not realize those hot flashes were normal for her age. And I guess her doctors never explained them to her. You would have thought that with all the times she spent with doctors, one of them would have discussed menopause with her, but maybe back then, they didn't. My sister and I have always prayed we would not fall into her 'a symptom a day trap' (hypochondria perhaps?) but alas…I think we may have. The first thing we ask each other when we talk is, "How are you feeling today? Does anything hurt?"
Fevers, headaches, sore throats, stuffy noses and rashes now seem to worry me unduly. Every brown spot on my body, I presume is a potential skin cancer and might need Mohs surgery. Covid and its continued prominence in our world, has made me doubly anxious. I now take my temperature a few times a week, which I never did before, and a home Covid test more often than I will admit. I also worry about our children and grandchildren and check on their health more than is probably necessary.
Although health worries have worsened in the last few years with COVID-19, they have been aggravated by the constant media attention, the C.D.C. and Dr. Fauci's never ending news conferences and the availability of health information on the internet. I am as guilty as anyone. As soon as I get a symptom, I immediately run to the computer and google it, and always find the worst-case scenario. Experts recommend that people who are anxious about their health should wait a reasonable time to see if their symptoms go away on their own before panicking. (But what's a reasonable time?) If symptoms persist, then see your physician. Do not be your own doctor and for heavens sake, DO NOT GOOGLE every single one of your medical complaints!!! You'll drive yourself crazy.
While worrying about one’s health is normal, experts say not to build improbable scenarios where every symptom spells doom. Every sprain is not a fracture; every headache is not a migraine or a brain tumor and every stomach pain is not pancreatic cancer or an ulcer.
I used to watch the evening news every night but found it so depressing that I've stopped. I guess I'll have to do the same thing with healthcare information. Everywhere I look, there's a newsletter, a pamphlet or a commercial talking about some disease, some pills or shots to cure and a frightening laundry list of their side effects. I could happily live the rest of my life without knowing any more about Monkeypox or the next pandemic or virus coming down the road. Sometimes...ignorance really is bliss.
Until my next inspiration…ciao