I’m not sure what hypochondriacs did before the Internet. I have just spent the better part of the morning reading doctors’ blogs, medical journals, and patient message boards trying to outsmart my problems. The “hypochondriac” part is wishful thinking, unfortunately. It seems I have what I’ve decided to call a non-trivial medical condition that is easy to diagnose but difficult and controversial to treat. Ironically enough, it has to do with breathing. For unknown reasons, my night time breathing is disordered, so I am frequently short on restful sleep. This compulsive research has not led me to any definitive answers – though I think I could pass the medical boards in sleep medicine by now.
I commented on another post yesterday that part of me feels like a rebellious teenager angry about being faced with adult challenges. Today I feel more like a panicky 10-year-old trying to eavesdrop, as the grown-ups argue over what is best for me. The patient message boards are even more depressing than the disagreeing doctors. For me the promise of mutual support is counteracted by my sense that people have shaped their entire identity around their medical condition. Many posters include a list of their diagnoses as part of their signature, as if it were a resume.
I just reread Sharon’s post yesterday on dealing with pain and it was very helpful. I’m reminding myself: don’t project, don’t feel hopeless, don’t generalize. I am trying to relinquish the add-ons. So meditation is essential for me at this point. I can’t be too busy or too tired – I need it to stay sane(er).