Adventures in Hypochondria

When I had chicken pox, I asked my mom if I was going to die.

I was 7.

When I discovered the tricep on the back of my left arm, I immediately thought it was a long tumor.  I was in 3rd grade.

I would peruse medical encyclopedias in the school library– looking for any sign that this wouldn’t be my last year of recess or collecting scratch and sniff erasers.

God, I miss those.

I’ve been studying medicine for years.

Which medical school do I attend?


My professors are, ehealthforum, wrong diagnosis (that has to be the equivalent of 1st year med school hell) mayoclinic (cliff notes) and livestrong.

Oh and not to leave out the trusty teacher assistants:   the contributing members of any discussion board that may be currently discussing any or all symptoms of my at-home-diagnosis…and reddit.

In 2014, all of my medical findings were negated by actual doctors.  I didn’t have skin cancer, scalp cancer or tonsil cancer (it was strep).

About strep.  When I discovered a yellowish bubble on my left tonsil last Fall, I took a q-tip to it.  Part of it ruptured.  So this is what I googled:

Punctured tonsil abscess accidentally swallowed pus.

After 6 hours and two phone charges later, my diagnosis and prognosis were as follows:  possible tonsil cancer, but most definitely death after a long, risky surgery in which the abscess could or could not successfully be removed.

I stayed up, shaking, until 7am the next morning thinking about my first surgery.

Then I called my uncle, who just happens to be one of the best ENT surgeons, but 1800 miles away.  I sent him a picture with a play-by-play of the night before.  He told me if I really wanted to feel better to just go see someone here in Los Angeles.

So, I did what any one else in my case would do,  I researched the best ENT at Cedars Sinai and promptly made an appointment.

This was a specialists office, so the receptionist asked, “can you tell us the name of the doctor who referred you?”

My heart sank.  I was trying to make an appointment meant for people who really needed to see a specialist.

I needed a specialist.

“Um, I don’t have a referring doc, but my uncle is an ENT in Missouri and told me that I may feel better if I see an ENT here in Los Angeles.”

I made the appointment.

I think after the nurse met with me, she told the doctor that I was verifiably crazy.  He came in, did a few tests and explained to me that I’m not a person who has a lifestyle that warrants head and neck cancers.  He also warned me that tonsils are like meatballs and they can sometimes shrink or stay enlarged.


So, I have two swedish meatballs in the back of my throat.

I’m sure that ENT wrote “HYPOCHONDRIA” in my file.

This year, my left eye went blurry.

I went to a top eye doctor in Los Angeles.  He found my eyes to be suffering from allergies for which he gave me eye drops!  EYE DROPS?!?  So I half laugh and confess to him,  “I came in here thinking you were going to tell me I had a tumor pressing on my optic nerve.”

He didn’t flinch.  He responds by rote, “well, we do check for that, but we really can’t tell for sure without an MRI.”

I almost fainted.

It was Friday.  He was off to St. Barts for a 10 day holiday.  I was off to my apartment where I got a second opinion on my i-phone.

Because when you ask the top doctor for his opinion first, you realize “I am the second opinion.”

May I remind you, it’s only January.  Prognosis:  hopeful.


Doctor M

One thought on “Adventures in Hypochondria

  1. Lizzie May says:

    ahhh I love this so much!!! Beautifully written and I can relate 100,000,000 %!!! We have some of the same professors! I was convinced I had thyroid cancer last week due to a lump in my throat that I spotted in yoga class and subsequently fixated on all day. My mom gently reminded me that sometimes anxiety also can cause a feeling of “lump in the throat” while I cried about how terrible it was going to be when I had my thyroid removed. Turns out the lump in my throat is gone now that I’m dealing with my newly diagnosed achilles tendinosis (a friend on instagram diagnosed it-hence, 100% accurate).


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