Hypochodriac’s delight


Melissa Stagnaro

My favorite line in Music and Lyrics isn’t one of Hugh Grant’s (a.k.a. Alex Fletcher’s) witty one liners, of which there are many. No, the line which makes me laugh the loudest is when, seconds after arriving to water the plants in Fletcher’s apartment, Drew Barrymore (as Sophie Fisher) pricks her finger on a cactus. Prompting her to declare she must leave immediately to treat the “wound” and thus avoid infection.

“I’m a little hypochondriacal,” she tells her not-yet-but-soon-to-be love interest and musical collaborator. At which point I laugh, as if on cue.

How silly, I think. Like she couldn’t just finish watering the handful of houseplants before going in search of anti-biotic ointment? Please. No one can be that neurotic. Can they?

As I poked fun at this seemingly over the top behavior, a part of me was secretly grateful. Because my own hypochondriacal tendencies paled in comparison to this demonstration.

I mean, sure, I may spend (far too much) time worrying about whether a cut, scrape or burn is getting infected. But that’s because I’m usually too lackadaisical in tending to such problems.

And I think all humans are influenced to at least a certain extent by the power of suggestion. I mean, it’s perfectly normal, after reading about something like the human botfly (which lays its eggs under the surface of the skin), to start checking for the tell-tale breathing tubes by which their parasitic young get oxygen while feeding on the flesh of their host. Right?

(It’s been over a month, but I just can’t get that horrific image out of my head. I’ve had to re-evaluate my desire to visit Costa Rica after reading about them. Thankfully, they aren’t exactly common in upstate New York.)

Now, despite what may appear to be evidence to the contrary, I still maintain that I’m not a hypochondria. But after today, I may be forced to rethink that assertion.

My mom has been pestering me for months to get the both the seasonal and H1N1 flu shots. Being as procrastination is much more of a problem for me than hypochondria, I’ve continually put it off.

So it seemed like the fates had aligned when this morning, the Chenango County’s Public Health Department held a vaccine clinic in the Pennysaver building. It’s just across the parking lot, and it was free, so it was kind of a no-brainer.

Not that I signed up for it in advance, mind you. Jeff and I waited until they made a sort of “last call” before sauntering across the parking lot.

It wasn’t what I would call a lengthy process. In fact, it happened kind of fast. A bit of paperwork followed by a nasal vaccine here, a jab there and we were back at our desks.

What followed was a period of time where we were both, as Jeff put it, “acutely aware of every body function.” We were a veritable hypochondriacal case study.

I could practically feel the H1N1 virus incubating inside my left nostril, plotting its virulent attack on my sinuses. At some point, Jeff became aware of a slight twitching of a muscle on his forehead, which he attributed to the flu bugs trying to tunnel into his brain.

Then came a subtle numbness, which somehow managed to spread from his right arm to my left.

Just as I began to reach my panic threshold – that wall right before full-on panic attack sets in – the voice of reason spoke up, reminding me that that’s where we’d just gotten our shots. It also told me, in a voice which sounded  suspiciously like that of my own mother, to stop whining.

I was just coming down from my near-panic buzz, when a new thought hit me. I mean, are anyone else’s hands really dry? And smell faintly of gardenias?

Oh wait, that could have something to do with the hand sanitizer I’ve practically been bathing in since our return from across the way.

Yeah. Maybe, like Drew Barrymore as Sophie Fisher, I’m a bit hypochondriacal. But only a bit.