Thursday, August 12, 2010

It's all in your head

There's this generalization in medicine that says when you're in medical school, you think you have every disease you learn about, and when you're finally a doctor, you think nothing can touch you. Basically when you're in med school, you're a hypochondriac, and when you're a doctor, you're invincible.

Let me be the first to tell you that the first part is totally true. Granted, I've been the first category going on 24 years now and I'm ready to move into the super hero, nothing-can-touch-me phase. Although, I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to be a permanent resident of the Hypochondriacs Anonymous group.

And it's true, what they say. In school, we spend an eternity learning about all the symptoms of these horrible, fatal diseases, that you can't help wondering if that muscle cramp in your calf is the first sign of Muscular Dystrophy. During a lecture last week on throat cancer, there was so much psychosomatic coughing going on that it sounded like we all had emphysema.

I have a Neurology test tomorrow and it covers all manner of neurologic diseases like Parkinson's and Huntington's and Lou Gherig's disease. The really bad stuff, full of weird muscle twitches and hemiballismus, and numbness, and tingling, and no cures.

Do you think it's a coincidence that I've just started having bilateral distal leg numbness and some occasional hand tremors? Or how about the fact that I'm having a harder time clicking on the stupid trackpad on my laptop? Obviously that means I'm having some distal upper limb weakness! I must have early onset Parkinson's, right? Oh no! I'm obviously wasting my last few healthy years slaving away in med school. I should be sitting on a beach someplace drinking pina coladas.

Nevermind the fact that my legs are numb because I've been sitting in the same chair for the past 8 hours, and my hands are shaking because I drank my first soda in two weeks and my nervous system is in shock from all the caffeine, and I think the trackpad must have some dirt underneath it or something, because it really has gotten harder to click and the sound it makes is no longer loud, but dull and sad.

Earlier this year, I managed to convince myself that I had a brain tumor. This was totally a second year's fault, though, because she made the mistake of telling me that because my migraines are always in my left temple area that I might want to worry about the possibility of brain tumors. She obviously didn't realize that she was telling this to the person who likes worrying so much that it's the only exercise she gets (I'm convinced that anxiety burns calories and I read somewhere once that people who fidget burn an extra 350 calories a day. When I'm anxious I can't make my leg stop bouncing up and down. I'm sure the USDA totally counts that as exercise, right?).

It's going to be just my luck, too. After convincing myself that every little ache or pain is evidence of a tumor or infection, I'm going to end up playing The Boy Who Cried Wolf with myself when the one symptom I finally choose to ignore is actually a problem.

I guess this is the price I pay to learn about all these things. I'll just have to hold out until I graduate, then I'll never be sick again! (eye roll)

God complex here I come!

Speaking of crazy neurological disorders, check out this YouTube video. The human brain can do some really messed up stuff. Just don't be afraid to get a flu shot.

Currently Reading: Mind Hunter: Inside The FBI's Elite Crime Unit Because I need to worry about serial killers like I need a hole in my head.

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