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Posts Tagged ‘hypochondria’

  1. True Confessions: I Was Held Hostage by a Hypochondriac Dentist

    May 1, 2016 by Diane

    dentist chair

    Dear Dr. Lu,

    Every six months, after you poke at my gums, and scrape and buff my teeth, I entertain the thought of finding another dentist. Not because you recline the chair to such depths that my head is in China, or because you mutter just loud enough for me to hear, “That tooth has twisted even more! It’s ninety degrees now!” The reason, Dr. Lu, is because if we were in a contest to determine who is the greater hypochondriac, you would win.

    I’m reluctant to walk into your lobby where the photos of perfect veneer teeth lining your walls mock me, where the samples of bacon-flavored toothpaste tempt child carnivores. I am reluctant to commit myself to your bright light and sharp implements as you feverishly hunt for something wrong. I am reluctant to be motored upside-down, although the thirty minutes of traction, paid for by my insurance company, is a bonus. I am slightly more reluctant to hear your warnings:

    “If you don’t get a mouth guard, you will grind your teeth right down to the nerve!”

    Yes, Dr. Lu, I have heard your alarms. I have suffered your exclamation points. I am aware that if my teeth crack from the pressure, you might not be able to FIX them, a horror I refuse to contemplate—not because my teeth may be splintered, but because you would be the one I would be reaching out to in the middle of the night, a hypochondriac dentist from Hell. I am cognizant that a mouth guard will save my teeth, which is why I agreed to purchase the device.

    “Fine. I’ll get it.”

    “Think about it,” you said, practically purring with delight.

    “I’ll get it.”

    “Let me know, after you’ve thought about it.”

    “I said I’ll get the mouth guard!”

    “It’s five hundred dollars, you know.”

    As if I needed that parting shot. As if I needed to be reminded: well, there goes the retirement nest egg. 

    No, Dr. Lu, it isn’t the capitulation on my part to spend my last dollar on this robber-of-sleep that compels me to once again rethink dentists.

    It’s the hour-long torture I had to endure to make the mold for this five hundred dollar chunk of plastic. It’s the accusation that I moved my head when you held me hostage in the chair with that cold goop pressed between my clenched teeth. It was not I who moved, Dr. Lu. It was you. You, who held the goop in place. Yes, you—reaching for something the minute my teeth clamped down. “Don’t bite me!” you shrieked, and, “Hold still!” And then you reached, jerking my head which I tried desperately to immobilize. Oh, the glare you shot me after prying my jaw open and examining the smeared glob. “We have to do it again!”

    Five times, Dr. Lu. Five times you shoved that goop in my mouth. And every time, you moved.

    “I can’t make any more!” you wailed. “We’ve made fifteen!”

    Five. It was five.

    “I’m sure it’’ll be fine,” I told you, pulling from my Buddha-like self the calm that you lacked.

    But it didn’t end there, did it, Dr. Lu?

    Oh, no.

    When I returned for the final fitting of the completed mouth guard, the suction was so tight you had to brace your diminutive foot against the upside-down chair to pry it off. “That’s a good fit!” you said, your face aglow, as I had visions of calling 911 in the morning to get free of the thing, or roadside assistance, or someone with a crowbar.

    Yes, Dr. Lu, I have entertained the thought of switching dentists many, many times over the past ten years, dragging myself to your office, wondering why I am the only one coming and going. Did you display the bacon toothpaste, which now collects dust on your shelf, to lure a new generation of patients?

    Oh, I’ve tried to find a new dentist. I’ve searched Yelp, reading the reviews. But the only dentist available on my back-alley insurance plan is a man reportedly terrified of blood.

    So you may rest assured, Dr. Lu, I will continue to bare my teeth for you alone. Because a hypochondriac dentist seems like a much better bargain than a dentist who might blanche and keel over, leaving me with a drill spinning madly in my mouth.


  2. Book Review: The Germ Files

    February 28, 2016 by Diane

    The Germ Files

    Jason Tetro spent fifteen years researching microbiology at the University of Ottawa, so he’s a germ expert. Or a hypochondriac. Being an expert hypochondriac myself, I opened this book with some trepidation after reading the bold red type on the back cover: “SOME GERMS ARE OUT TO GET US.”

    Yikes.

    I plunged bravely onward, opening the book at random to a page about honey. With its proteins, antioxidants, minerals, fructose, glucose, sucrose and fermented antimicrobials, raw honey can attack bacteria known to cause cavities. Sweet! But wait, that’s not all. Once swallowed, it prevents heartburn and damage to the stomach wall from acid production. How cool is that! And just how does honey manage these miraculous feats? Because in it’s raw form (that’s unpasteurized, folks), it’s fermented, containing several good bacteria and their byproducts.

    Byproducts? Oh, geez. I don’t want to know.

    Flipping to another page, I discovered that Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, two species of probiotics, not only help you digest food, they release a plethora of vitamins and minerals in the gut, help prevent the onset of the trots, and…check this out…keep us calm. And oh, by the way, they seek out and destroy bacteria “known to cause rotting and human infection.”

    “GET ME A BOTTLE!” I hollered to no one in particular. And then this caught my eye:

    Where do the people who produce probiotics for consumption find their bacteria? Well, in milk or some fermented material…maybe.

    Or human feces.

    Wait! What!?

    Specifically, baby feces. What better subject for gathering specimens than an infant with its gut full of strong bacterial species.

    Feeling woozy yet?

    Fear not. After all the testing in the laboratory to see if said feces bacteria can survive stomach acid, bile, and loss of oxygen, and have the ability to cling to human cells in the digestive track while dueling with potential pathogens and not harming its human host in the process, those who remain victorious are used for probiotic development. The end result is far, far removed from that sweet little baby’s behind.

    Whew.

    This book is filled with fascinating tidbits. From hygiene to beauty products, health, food, diet, childcare and yes, even sex, the author does a bang-up job of explaining how germs impact us for the good or ill, where they come from, how they live (and die), how they protect us, and how to avoid their harm. And he does so in a highly readable, entertaining yet informative fashion.

    If you want to live in harmony with those 137 trillion freeloaders that you’re harboring, read this book.


  3. Is it Too Much to Ask?

    February 14, 2016 by Diane

    Man holding woman's hand

    I have a friend who is my rock, my anchor. I have another who makes me laugh. A third is sympathetic to my every woe, and another bolsters me when I’m down. I have an upbeat boss and an intuitive coworker, a wise mother, a supportive sister, and a visionary father.

    I am grateful for their presence.

    When I feel agitated, I know who to seek out: the anchor. When I lose my perspective, I latch onto the one who makes me laugh. When I need advice I call my mother, for insight I find my coworker, when I’m riddled with doubts I talk to my sister. If I want to feel like the world is dandy I look at my boss and his bouncy stride.

    These are the roles that I’ve assigned to the people in my life, and if they stray from their roles, I become unsettled.

    I don’t want the rock to become needy, or the humorous one to become cynical. I don’t want to reach out to my sympathetic friend and hear, “oh, get over it.” I don’t want the upbeat one to become depressed, the insightful one to act dense, the wise one to turn stupid, or the visionary to stop dreaming. I don’t want the one bolstering me to suddenly want me to bolster them. And I don’t want my dentist to be a hypochondriac.

    Is it too much to ask for them to stick to their roles?

    Well, yes, it is too much to ask. We all have our many sides, and we’re entitled to own them. There will be a day when my boss comes to work with his feet dragging, or my insightful coworker looks at me with a blank expression. There will be a time when I’m the one being the anchor or the bolster or the fountain of wisdom, or the one saying, “Don’t stop dreaming, kid.” There will come a time when I’m the caretaker for the one who cares for me.

    And that’s okay, because it makes me stronger.

    It reminds me that I’m all that I seek in others.

    It reminds me that I’m more than the one who is anxious.

    Woman holding man's hand