Diagnosis: Hypochondria Caused by Reading Medical Books

As someone who gets a cut and then thinks they’re going to die, I probably shouldn’t be reading medical books. But I can’t help myself.

Recently I checked out, “If Our Bodies Could Talk: A Guide to Operating and Maintaining a Human Body” from my library. I flipped through it and stumbled upon a section titled “How in rare cases popping a zit on your nose can kill you”.

My response to this was to ignore the word “rare” and also ignore reading that section until I got to it.

I should be dead by now, I thought.

I’m always surprised at how fragile our bodies are. From reading the book, I learned that if you drink too much water your brain can swell and cause you to act crazy. Too little water and of course, you die. How are we keeping our bodies alive without an owner’s manual?

I expressed these concerns to my boyfriend who was tired of hearing about all my existential crises that week.

“You gotta stop reading these books. Pick up some fiction or sci-fi,” he said to me.

I do read fiction books, but I find non-fiction books, especially regarding the human body to be more interesting.

I like to tell myself that by reading these books, I’m more prepared for a medical crises. For instance, “Brain on Fire” is a book based on the real story of a 24-year-old woman who was perfectly normal and then one day turned violent and crazy.

It turns out that she had a rare neurological disease. After I recounted the story my boyfriend looked at me like I was psychotic for enjoying it.

“It’s helpful,” I said.

“How?” he asked.

“Well, no one could figure out what was wrong with her. And then a doctor asked her to draw a clock and was immediately able to diagnose her when she drew all the numbers on the clock on one side.”

“How is that helpful?”

“If someone I know starts acting crazy one day, I can save them months of time with doctors by asking them to draw a clock”

He looked skeptical. Of course, this knowledge only helps if the person has a rare brain disease, ergo it only works in rare cases. But still. I could save a life one day because I picked up that book.

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