I am very not a hypochondriac. I have a solid policy of ignoring things until they go away. I once couldn’t bend my knee for three weeks because I couldn’t be bothered going to the doctor after an ice skating incident. It’s fine, though. It’s fine now.
Anyway, because I do this, and because I know I do it, I do sometimes worry that I’ll end up ignoring the one thing that will kill me. This means that occasionally, when I’ve been a trifle ill, I’ve veered wildly between dismissing my symptoms as nothing and planning what I’ll say on my deathbed.
So here are a few times in my lives I’ve been genuinely convinced* I was dying.
Malady: Common Cold
Every time my mum flies anywhere she has to take sinutab. She has a sinus problem, and if she doesn’t take anything her ears hurt like a mother. I do not have this problem, normally; as the altitude changes and the cabin pressure adjusts I get a couple of light pops, if that. But one time everything was different. The destination: Melbourne. As the plane rose into the air above Christchurch I became aware of a twinge of discomfort. Slowly it grew. The pressure in my ears was pressing right into my head. I was convinced that something was going to burst; how could it not?
I managed to refrain from crying aloud for my family to bury me at sea, as I waited for my ears to begin pouring forth blood. Anyway, that was the first indication I had that I had a pretty rubbish cold.
Malady: General Anaesthetic
A couple of months ago I donated a cycle of eggs. Not particularly scary in itself, but the experience was not without it’s moment of imagined danger. That danger came in the form of an obviously derange anaesthetist. He popped in the needle and everything was fine. He secured it with one of those big square bandages. He prepared to torture me.
That man pushed the plunger down so fast it felt like a pregnant hippo was stamping on my hand. Not only that, he put three different solutions in. Which is probably normal, I don’t know, I’m not a professional at understanding medical procedures. But it freaked me out at the time, especially when combined with the dread of him jamming them each into me as hard as he was doing.
Malady: Stomach Bug
It was opening night of Jeeves and Wooster starring Stephen Mangan and Matthew Macfadyen. Jamie was reviewing it and as one of my relationship perks, I’m his plus one, although due to a mix up we’re not sitting together. I’m sitting somewhere in the vicinity of both Tamsin Greig and Caitlin Moran.
A few days earlier I’d had what I thought was a twinge of indigestion. That didn’t go away. It wasn’t constant pain, just every so often I wished I didn’t actually have a stomach. By the day of the play, I was very much gritting my teeth for a good five minutes out of every hour in an attempt not to fling myself on the ground and scream aloud to the skies, “aarrgghh, I die, I die.”
Jamie noticed something was wrong when I didn’t drink my wine. “Maybe go to a doctor,” he said. I compromised by using the symptom checker on the NHS website.
And I haven’t died yet, so.
**But, yes, a little bit really