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I woke this morning with a sensation of pins and needles in my left hand – specifically my thumb and the first two fingers. Two hours later it’s still there. I know what it is – it’s a pinched nerve somewhere and I rather hope that it will un-pinch soon.

Hypochondriac, moi?

Hypochondria: Two lumps?
Two lumps?

I’ve always been a bit of a hypochondriac. Essentially I am physically quite healthy, thanks to the genes I’ve inherited from my father, but whatever small things happen, I tend to fear the worst. On my mother’s side of the family several people have had problems with their spines as they grew older. Neck vertebrae develop a form of arthritis and pinch nerves that affect their arms and hands. That’s what I’m afraid is happening here.

Another explanation is that I have a touch of repetitive strain injury in my wrist. After problems with my right wrist a number of years ago I switched using my computer’s mouse from my right to my left hand. It could be my left hand is finally protesting.

Or, of course, maybe I just slept on my arm.

A twenty-a-day man

Hypochondria: Dad aged about 35 in 1957
Dad aged about 35 in 1957

My father was remarkably healthy right up until near his death. No, that’s not true. He smoked all his life. A twenty-a-day man, and none of your poncey light tar coffin nails, thank you very much. He smoked Player’s Navy Cut – Medium or Gold Leaf. Every time he went to the doctors in the last 10 years or so of his life – regardless of whatever it was that had taken him there – the doctor would try to get him to stop smoking. It didn’t work. “It’s not the bloody cigarettes, is it,” he would say to me belligerently. “It’s a rash.” Or, “It’s my feet.” Or, “I’m just feeling under the weather.”

It would, I’m sure, have given Dad great satisfaction to learn that the autopsy after his death showed he died of pancreatic cancer. No sign of lung cancer. Not that his lungs were a pretty sight (I’m guessing). He would have felt vindicated.

But, of course it was the bloody cigarettes, you silly old bugger!

I don’t smoke. I don’t drink – well, not that much anyway. Not as much as my father used to. I don’t get enough exercise and I overeat, especially when I’m anxious, so I’m overweight – though not as much as he was. Though, I don’t know – I take the same collar size as Dad now. 17 ½ inches.

The family gene pool

I started putting on weight – I mean seriously putting on weight – at the end of the 90s. That was when I first fell into a depression. Eating seemed to take my mind off things. I must have gone up in weight quite dramatically over a couple of years because I remember visiting my mother and overhearing her on the telephone. “He’s so big. He looks just like his father did, you know, later on.” Mum had already started going deaf and couldn’t judge how loudly she was speaking.

I’m rather hoping I haven’t inherited my mother’s genes for deafness. Mind you, she didn’t start going deaf until her 80s and her mind is still as sharp as ever. I’d like that.

Picking and choosing among my family’s gene pool.

Apparently it’s now possible to get a map of your own DNA so you can see what genes you’ve got, what probability there is that you’re going to develop this disease or that, what likelihood there is that you’re going to die early or live long, what risk you run of Alzheimer’s. But where’s the fun in that?

Hypochondria in a boat

There’s a classic book of English humour – Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) – that starts with hypochondria. Do you know it? The narrator/author Jerome K Jerome opens a dictionary of common ailments, starts reading and discovers that he suffers from everything. Everything except Housemaid’s Knee, if I remember rightly. He is a bit put out to find that he doesn’t have Housemaid’s Knee, considering he has everything else. He talks it over with his friends George and Harris, who also find themselves suffering from a range of illnesses. They decide they are overworked, and this is why they should go on a trip up the River Thames in a boat.

Where would we be without hypochondria?

The pins and needles in my left hand is still there, though not as much as earlier, but my left forefinger has started to twitch. I don’t know if that’s a good sign or a bad one. Maybe I should look it up.

Or maybe I should just bring this rambling to an end and go and get ready for work.

This article was written for the #Blogg52 challenge.

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9 thoughts on “Hypochondria”

  1. O. Gen kartläggning är trixigt. Nu går det fort att göra själva kartläggningen. Men analysen av resultatet tar tid. Men gener är ett intressant ämne. Hoppas du blev av med sockerdrickan i handen

    • Tack Pernilla. I switched the mouse back to my right hand and the pins and needles faded away. So that’s what it was. (Sockerdricker? Har inte hört det förut. 🙂 ) Genetic mapping is another of those tools that can be used for good or ill and everything between. Personally I’m fascinated by the news that the majority of all European DNA can be traced back to three distinct groups in prehistory, one of whom had dark skin and blue eyes. (See this article from The Washington Post.) If you’ve seen the original Conan film (with Arnold Schwarzenegger) from 1982, you’ll know that the evil Atlantean sourcerer was played by James Earl Jones wearing disturbing blue contacts. A black man with blue eyes. Someone had a premonition!

  2. Oh John, you can write about anything in an amusing way!

    Three men in a boat, Tre män i en båt, inherited that from my father together with some meters of PG Wodehouse. What else I might have inherited I have no idea of. The best things would maybe be fantasy and love of all animals. The not so good things would maybe be leading to illness. I can only hope for, and encourage, the more pleasant inheritance.

    Ah, and hypochondria. Who is free from it? You read something and you feel “no, I don’t suffer from that”. Or maybe? No! But should I test it? OK, I test it. And you phone. They don’t hade any time within a week or a month or two. And that is when you realise that this is SERIOUS. You are about to die. But you are brave and will hold out a week. Over felt that?

    • Thank you, Eva! The truth is Wednesday crept up on me (again) and I had to write about what was in my head at the time rather than plan. I’m glad you found it amusing.

      We inherit all sorts of things from our parents, don’t we? I was never very close to my father while he was alive. It was a relationship that was – in the modern sense – complicated. But the first time I saw myself on film, walking away from the camera, I saw my father. The same shape, the same walk. I even wear down the heels of my shoes in the same way.

      And yes, that brave holding out sounds very familiar. Though you’d have to ask my wife whether I’m very successful. 😉

  3. Skrattar gott, som vanligt, efter att ha läst ditt inlägg. När du skriver din bok ska du ha samma tonfall i boken, då blir det succé.

    Jag skulle aldrig vilja gentesta mig. Bättre att hoppas på att jag inte ärvt mammans alsheimer och gener för fetma (något jag dessvärre tror jag har) utan istället ha ärvt min 91-årige fars skarpa intellekt och fysiska form. Mamma finns inte längre hos oss, hon blev bara 82. Jag satsar på att bli minst 92, pigg, alert och klar i huvudet. När jag dör ska jag göra det över min dator när jag skriver den bästa bok jag någonsin har gjort!

    Ha en fin dag. Hoppas du inte har några problem med handen nu.

    Kram Kim 😀

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