Tuesday, 10 June 2003

To be or not to be... a hypochondriac

I'm trying not to be a hypochondriac but I developed a swelling over my collar bone by my neck and was freaked out by it all weekend.

Yesterday I forgot about it cos I was at a meeting all day in Lincolnshire with my boss and the rest of the Quality Assurance team (extremely high powered - we sat in the sun, ate lunch, looked at the ponies and the sheep, stroked the dogs...and eventually talked about work). Its interesting going to less formal days out with these types of colleagues: I expected one of them to be dressed in khakis and one of those sleeveless jackets with all the pockets that fishermen like, and another to have a real hard time with dressing down but was mistaken in both cases. Discovered that the one who I thought would be in khakis found other people's misfortune hilarious (a woman in silly shoes didn't get out of the train at her stop because her forward planning wasn't very good -- her bag was stowed at the other end of the carriage and she went to collect it but didn't take her briefcase with her - by the time she came back up the train the joining passengers had blocked the aisle -- and it ended in her feebly exclaiming "but I want to get off" as the train pulled slowly out of the station) - she said it came from when she watched her mother catch her toe in a grate outside their house and fall flat down on her nose when she was a child! This humour has stayed with her...!

So anyway, finally today the swelling in my neck was really making itself obvious (to me) so I decided I ought to go get it seen - it could be, you know, cancer, hernia, some horrible sexually transmitted disease (you've heard the stories - people let it go for years and it gets into the lymph and travels all over the body and makes you go mad) ... my list was endless and irrational. So I called the doctor. I hate going to the doctor - not particularly because of the doctors themselves but initally because of the receptionists - FASCISTS - they have the power (in Greystoke voice) to allow you to see a doctor or not because you don't have an appointment (and you have to wait about 3 weeks for an appointment at my surgery so I could've died by then), "is it an emergency?", "how long since you noticed the symptoms?", "Oh, right Sunday and its Tuesday now", "well, let me see ok then - be here by 4 but you will have to wait - could be a very long time."

I went to the doctor, sat in the waiting room for ages and ages, trying to figure out what order the patients were in - pregnant woman after mother and child, single man before or after me? Elderly gentleman, where does he fit into the preferential order of things. And after that trying to figure out what is wrong with them all - pregnancy is obvious but apart from the young man who is snot gobbling furiously (hayfever or summer cold was my guess) I couldn't possibly tell.

And an hour and a half later my name gets called, I've waited so long by then that I'm shocked. During my wait I get rational again and wonder why I was worried in the first place so keep feeling the swelling to check that its still there, prodding it and making it sore. So when I get in I show it to the doctor and she says yes I can see it and prods it. "But I'm not convinced," by what? my story? - do you think I'm lying? seeking attention? here by virtue of untruths? Oh god and I duped the receptionist, I must be goooood, "take off your top". Sadly I wore a higher necked teeshirt today than I would usually and in order for her to get a full picture I have to take off my teeshirt - having not planned to see the doctor or indeed because I hadn't remembered that perhaps this would happen, I haven't remembered which brassiere I'm wearing, haven't readjusted everything so that its all sitting neatly in place and have to take off my top fearing that something will be out of sorts. She prods some more, and decides she must consult a colleague. "Pop through to have a look when you have a mo." In troops the reserve - very good looking young man smartly dressed very sincere and she introduces him and sheepishly following him is someone else - another younger man not so stylishly dressed but smart, and the doctor in reserves introduces his student doctor. Dishy doctors are quite off putting - its much easier to be told off by an old matron or fatherly figure but young tellling off the young - not so keen on that. "Take off you top again". Oh GOD. Now I take off my shirt again with a audience of three and sit feeling very exposed as they look at the sides of my neck (I just want to readjust myself just in case but can't). Dishy doctor comes round the back and starts feeling the sides of my neck, almost like a light massage - and the more he does it the more vulnerable I feel. So when he's felt enough he comes back, sits down to talk and as he starts suddenly sees that I have my top off and says, "oh yes, you can get dressed again before I talk to you". Its not a malicious feeling swelling, although he agrees that there is something there, she doesn't think there's anything there, with shirt on she thought so, with shirt off no. It has no definable edges, doesn't really hurt. Keep an eye on it and if it changes come back to talk again. So the final word is - I am a hypochondriac - sob.

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