I am Dying
I know I am dying, because, well, I just know. I’m certain of it. I can feel it.
That pain on the left side of my stomach still hasn’t gone away. It’s been there for eight or nine months now. The ultrasound came up negative. So did the CT scan, the MRI and the colonoscopy.
“It’s probably nothing,” said one doctor.
“You likely pulled a muscle,” said another.
“I’d ignore it,” advised a third.
They are wrong. I know they are wrong. So, with nowhere else to turn, I seek out reassurance. “What do you think my stomach pain is?” I ask. “Do you think I’m OK?”
Eyes roll. “You’re fine,” my father says. “You’re fine,” my mother says. “You’re fine,” my sister-in-law says.
“You’re 37 years old. You run marathons. You play basketball every Monday. You’ve never even broken a bone,” my wife says. “You’re fine.”
I don’t believe them. I can’t believe them. I refuse to believe them. I wish I could believe them.
This is what it is to be a hypochondriac—what it is to live a life too often based upon the raw, carnal fear of inevitable, forthcoming, around-the-bend death. Though I was only recently diagnosed with the disorder, it has plagued me for more than a decade. Over the past 10 years, I have been convinced that I am dying of (in no particular order): brain cancer, stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, testicular cancer, lung cancer, neck cancer, Lyme disease. When one ailment is dismissed by doctors, I inevitably rush to the Internet to learn why they are wrong. What? I don’t have colon cancer? Then it must be…. A full-throttle hypochondriac like me convinces himself—beyond reassurance, beyond comfort, beyond anything—that a cut is never merely a cut, that a cough is never merely a cough. He doesn’t merely think he feels the pain. He literally feels the pain.