That's So Sick

I have a friend who has recurring bouts of hypochondria. Whenever she gets sick, I send her fake flowers, which sets off a bogus allergic reaction. The way I discovered that she had been feigning illnesses was that one time she recovered rather quickly because she was actually sick. I figured that if you can get over e-coli in less than a week, then dermatitis should not linger for five months. Besides, too much salve might give you rickets. I learned that from volume 27 of the encyclopedia of diseases entitled, "What's Wrong with Me?"

Everyone that knows her also knows she has been faking it. Yet they jump every time she comes down with something new and never seem to be concerned that proof of any ailment is sadly lacking. When we received a mass emailing alerting us to the flesh eating bacteria she had contracted, I was the only one bothered that she exhibited nary a blemish. I also thought it odd that she was being treated by a veterinarian. On a positive note, her feline diabetes completely vanished.

I once suggested to a group of mutual friends that perhaps it was time for an intervention. I was unanimously voted down for fear that such an event could trigger a terminal faux illness. It would be just like a hypochondriac to fake their own death. I was then told that even though she is not sick with any real illness, hypochondria itself is a disease, so we should treat her as if she really is sick. I wonder if thinking you are smart when you are really stupid means you should be treated like Einstein.

I bring this up not because I'm upset with my friend (I am a frequent 'buyer' at the hospital gift shop now and have qualified for the stuffed Pooh bear drawing), but because I am jealous. I'd like to score one of those blue placards that entitles me to a front parking spot, I just don't want to be treated for anything that might involve a painful procedure. Hypochondria did both for my friend. No pain, all gain. Maybe it could work for me.

Except, I know I don't really want to be ill. I don't even want to look sick. Many people who fake illnesses really believe they are sick or wish they were, and sometimes generate realistic looking symptoms. They act sickly and have mastered the art of getting pale in no time. I do not want to give up a suntan just to make it appear I am at deaths door. Whatever illness I 'contract' also has to allow me to keep up my weightlifting schedule. I will not relinquish any muscle size for sympathy. I'm more of a hypo-hypochondriac. Someone who fakes pretending to be sick. If thinking you are sick is a disease, then thinking you are a person who thinks they are sick must be worse.

Believing I've contracted a fatal malady is not unusual for me. Like most people, I assume every headache is a watermelon sized brain tumor making its presence known, and any awkward stumble is the onset of Lou Gehrig's disease. I get paranoid when someone says I look tired and assume narcolepsy is about to consume me. (Narcolepsy by the way, is the only disease where bed rest is not prescribed) A small part of me knows I am not really afflicted with these ailments, I just hope that imagining I have them will prevent their manifestation. I do the same thing with every little crisis in life. I blow it way out of proportion. I treat missing a green light as a major catastrophe in the hopes that God will look down upon me and say, "I can't give him cancer right now. He's got enough trouble." So far, this system has worked flawlessly. I'm healthy, but I do spend three hours a day stopped a traffic signals.

The other problem with hypochondria is that some do-gooder doctor might actually believe me and start some agonizing therapy that I don't need. At least, I know I don't need it. And suppose he prescribes a colorful pill. Even placebos have side effects for me, and I've recently entered a twelve step program to cure my addiction to them. So, no thanks to any of that.

What I've settled on is really the best of all possible worlds. Every few weeks or so, friends will receive an email from me explaining that the reason I haven't called or written is that I've just recovered from a near fatal illness. That way I will never have to appear sick but will be praised for how quickly I have recovered. I may even still qualify for gifts. I will regale them with horrific stories of the treatments that didn't work, and how my case of jaundice is written up in all the medical journals. No one will be allowed to be upset with me for not calling or getting together because I was so sick. I may have even been in a coma.

So, that 's my plan. If you don't hear from me for a while, say a prayer. I'm sure I could use it. If I pull through, I'll fill you in on the details. Rest assured, it was painful, but the thought of you buying me dinner helped me survive those dark days. You can pick the restaurant, but I'll drive. After all, I do get the best parking spot.

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