Monday, April 27, 2009

litmus tests

At various times, I've been convinced I have TB, a weak heart, eczema, skin cancer, AIDS, a bad liver, deafness, the beginnings of Alzheimers' and so on. I only have to read the Mumbai Mirror in the morning to be convinced that I am perishing of something quite serious.

Though this warrants several checks in the bathroom mirror between midnight and 3 am, it still takes a lot of nagging from Teja for me to go and see the doctor. Maybe because my doctor usually puts my niggling doubts to a definite rest.

In the last few months, 3-4 friends had been talking to me about their thyroid problems, and with my usual empathy, I checked off all the symptoms they mentioned on my own list of 'yes, I have that' - dry skin, dry, thinning hair, fatigue, unexplained weight gain. (the unexplained part being that I never explain my weight gain to anybody, the fact that I don't diet and don't exercise, yes, that's unexplained.)

Anyway, after weeks of anxiety over my supposed hypothyroidism, I thought I'd be smart and prescribe a thyroid test for myself. The lab was smarter and gave me back a report that made no sense to me and which I would need to take to my doctor to decode.

Me: "Dr. M, first I must apologize because I took a test without you asking me to."

He raises his eyebrows.

Me stumbling on my words: "It's just that I feel so tired these days."

Dr. M: "Everyone is tired these days."

I raise my eyebrows.

Dr. M: "It's the heat. And our diet. The fruits and vegetables we eat are so full of pesticides. The water we drink is unhealthy. The pollution. The stress. Also, you know, there are no movies being released these days."

I don't take too kindly to these generalities.

Me: "No, no. It's not just that. I don't get sleep. I feel my skin burning. My throat hurts. There's a humming in my ears. I sweat all the time. My nose feels cold ..."

He has heard several variations of this litany from me over the years he has known me, so he just takes the papers and looks at them intently. He turns them around, and looks at them upside down. He looks at the back of the papers. He looks at the front of them once again and then hands them back to me.

Dr. M: "The T4, T3, TSH counts are normal."

I look disappointed. He feels sorry for me.

Dr. M: "Maybe you should take some more tests. Check your cholesterol, sugar, haemoglobin. Maybe you are not getting enough calcium. Look, let me prescribe some vitamins for you. Take them for a month. And if you still don't feel well, come back, and I'll write you some tests."

I nod happily. I pay him his fees and come away clutching the precious prescription in my hand.

I feel quite alright that evening. Until the next morning, I read of Cushings' disease and am convinced that my body is reeling under an excess of cortisol. However when I read up Cushings' disease on the internet, the tests sound way too complicated and expensive to undertake. I decide this time, I will suffer quietly.


Violet said...

Hehe.. reminds me of the first chapter of "Three men in a boat" :) I used to find all the defects with myself till I had my daughter, and its been her turn to be diagnosed since.

memsaab said...

Banno sometimes you make me laugh so hard I fall off my chair.

I am happy to have a "don't ask don't tell" policy on my own health. I don't ask anybody (eg: doctors) what they think of my condition and don't tell anyone how I got to be in it.

Space Bar said...

spot of cyberchondria, huh? i have these attacks all the time! :D get well soon.

anja said...

you are hilarious! "I don't get sleep. I feel my skin burning. My throat hurts. There's a humming in my ears. I sweat all the time. My nose feels cold ..."

Your doctor is quite sympathetic no, at least he gave you some prescription=)

L'd ol!

Kaevan said...

get well soon ;)

Anonymous said...

Love the "nose feels cold" symptom! :-)


Manjushree Abhinav said...

If you want to exchange your troubles for some bliss, I know just the place for you.

bollyviewer said...

O dear! I've decided to ignore my diseases these days, as well. Havent had AIDS or TB, yet - so, I guess my sufferings are less than yours!

dipali said...

Methinks you need to stop reading:)
(medical stuff)

Banno said...

Swine flu added to the list, recommended by Punjab da Puttar!

Thanks for your good wishes everyone!

SUR NOTES said...

cushings, cushings? how did i miss that?

symptoms? sounds like just thething i might have.

and the pigs are flying into my soul as i type this... :(

agent green glass said...

ha. you made me laugh so hard.
i've got a bad cold and fever since two days, and then this morning i read about swine flu. damn. i spend 5 sneaky minutes ticking all the symptoms in my head. and they matched. of course, the man in the house laughed at me and asked, " So when did you go to Mexico last?"

dustedoff said...

I agree with Violet: I read this and was reminded of the first chapter of Three Men in a Boat... and what was that someone (Mark Twain? don't remember) said about being careful when reading medical books - you could die of a misprint.

Take care and get well soon!

Tazeen said...

oh God, I just loved reading this, absolute gem :)

hopscotch said...

this could be me in your body... though these days m convinced i have jaundice instead of Cushings'...

Anindita said...

LOL...this is a darling post! Hope you feel better soon.

Ugich Konitari said...


When you get tired of Mumbai Mirror, go check out

APNATHYROID(An information overload when I was detected hypothyroid, made me create this page. Just ignore the juvenile design (in my html learning days), but you will find a lot to entertain you ...:-)

(There is even poem on thyroid)

Arfi said...

Went to see the doctor a couple of years ago about my knee that I'd banged up playing basketball.
Doctor asks, How did you hurt it ?
'Playing basketball'
How old are you ?
What you still playing basketball for ?
Switch doctors ? Yours sounds good. :)

Ashley said...

I have had the same experience with my doctor. Also, when I Google my symptoms, I get Cushings disease, too. It probably is stress and pollution. Those are the things you and I have in common -- clear across the world, I am certain.

We should just retire, live like princesses and have people wait on us and amuse us. Then we will know if it's stress or something more serious. Right?

madhu said...

lol! how i wish my T3's were normal though.

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