I have to admit that I’m a hypochondriac. I don’t mean that I choose to admit it. I mean that I have to admit it. I have no choice, because I have obsessive-compulsive disorder, and I can’t stop myself. And I’ve got a number of other health issues that are in various stages of advancement.
Holy cow. This is why psychologists get paid so much. It’s hard to figure all this out.
Regardless, I am pretty sure I am a hypochondriac (unless I’m not). I try to make the best of it, though. For example, I consider myself an optimistic, glass-half-full hypochondriac. I fully realize that I’m not dying every time I think I’m dying. But I am confident that one day…I’m going to be right!
You know, though, it’s hard to get other people to admit to being hypochondriacs. When I speak to groups, I’ll ask if anyone else in the room has made WebMD.com their homepage, and invariably no hands shoot up.
However, as they say about paranoia (not that I’m paranoid), just because you are a hypochondriac doesn’t mean you’re not also sick.
A while back, I began feeling very tired during the day (don’t worry – this story has a happy ending, and hopefully even a funny one).
As I was noticing this increasing fatigue, my wife Stacy began claiming that at night I was jerking and snorting and snoring and eating all the Ben & Jerry’s in the freezer. Actually, she didn’t connect the ice cream issue to the sleep issues, but I’m pretty sure they are related. I’m not sure she buys it.
Anyway, this time it turns out it was real. I was diagnosed with mild sleep apnea, meaning my airway collapses at night, causing me to wake up (a feeling of suffocation will do that) and interrupting my sleep. As a result, I don’t get the REM sleep I need, and I end up falling asleep during meetings with people who can fire me.
The doctor gave me something called a “CPAP” to wear when I sleep. A CPAP is a big plastic and foam mask that covers my nose, along with most of the rest of my face, with straps that go around the back of my head. Fixed to the front of this huge mask is a long plastic hose about an inch in diameter that runs from my face to an air pump sitting on the floor.
Are you getting an image? Lying in bed, I look like a cross between Hannibal Lecter and a cosmonaut.
The way this works is you push a button on the pump, and the thing pushes air into your nose, down your throat and into your lungs, forcing the airway to stay open at night. If you open your mouth, the air whistles right out your mouth instead of into your lungs, and you sound like wind blowing over the top of a Coke bottle.
Make no mistake – I feel much better. I have loads of energy and I’m no longer tempted to nap on the drive to and from work. But I’m here to tell you, there are few things that can challenge your union’s romantic spirit like one of you wearing a running HVAC unit on his face all night.
What does this have to do with hypochondria? Only that I wish this issue was all in my head instead of strapped to my face.