Do you ever think about death? Yes. Sure you do. A fleeting thought that drifts in and out of the transom of your mind. I spend hours, I spend days… – and you think this makes you a better person? Look, when the shit comes down, I’m gonna be prepared and you’re not, that’s all I’m saying. And in the meantime, you’re gonna ruin your whole life waiting for it. (Source)
I had a bit of a health concern this week. To call it a cancer scare would be a little melodramatic. Narcissistic, even. Perhaps even Malignant Narcissism.
The ingredients for this week’s disaster: A twinge in my belly that felt like it could be a hernia, a trip to urgent care, a lonnnnng wait there, a rushed visit with a doctor who ordered a CT scan, a resulting tender spot, a history of atypical moles and a 21st-century phenomenon called cyberchondria.
See, with the Internet now providing a ready source of mildly reliable medical information, all of our worries can be magnified. Every Web site has to list the worst-case scenarios in this litigious society. That headache you have? Well, it could be from the bump to the head you got a few minutes ago when you were in the kitchen and didn’t notice a cabinet door was open. Or it could be an advanced metastatic cancer that originated in your pancreas. Sure, one is more likely than the other by a factor of a few hundred thousand, but susceptible minds have a hard time absorbing the odds.
Here’s another factor — as someone who spends far too much of his personal and professional time following sports, I’ve grown accustomed to happy endings in medical dramas, and that didn’t happen this week. Basically, if an athlete survives the initial trauma, he always exceeds medical expectations. Bobby Hurley not only survived his traffic accident, he returned to the NBA for a couple of years. Kevin Everett is apparently taking a few steps. So I went to sleep Monday night fully expecting to read the next morning that Sean Taylor had awakened in the hospital and was identifying his assailants. When that didn’t happen, it threw my sense of medical reality all out of whack.
I knew I was being ridiculous. Yet I couldn’t quite convince that loud nagging voice in my head. When I stopped listening, it metastatized to my stomach and claimed most of my digestive system. That gave me a good excuse to call for an appointment with my actual doctor.
She was able to take a better look at the situation and reassure me that it couldn’t possibly be what I was fearing. We had a good talk about cyberchondria, Sean Taylor, the Washington sniper and actual medical conditions.
So I’m glad I held onto this song for an appropriate week. It’s an ode to paranoia with tasteful understatement and one of the most beautiful choruses ever written. Ghosts appear and fade away …