Friday, October 5, 2007

Lower East Side, Sept. 2007

You know, nearly every day I write something here that makes it sound like I have my act together. (I like to reinforce that idea, even for myself.) Well, today I have to burst that annoying bubble and make a confession.

I can be a hypochondriac.

I know, I know - I’m all about letting things be and facing the ever-changing moment. But this is one part of my life where I utterly fail at taking my own advice -- when my mind takes me so far out of reality I can’t even tell what reality is.

It started in seventh grade or so. A boy in my hometown died from a rare brain infection that he contracted swimming in one of our many lakes. I spent nearly every day in the lake in summer, and as a result I became terrified that I’d been exposed to this same malady. (My family still calls this the time I “got the amoeba.”)

I went through a similar spell over rabies when I discovered a sick squirrel in a vacant lot near my house. I came home and told my mom about it. She said, “You didn’t TOUCH the squirrel, did you?” And of course I had. I was terrified for days.

I still have this tendency. A swollen lymph node makes me wonder about cancer. I worry about HIV, even when I don’t do anything that would give me HIV. My asthma, which came back to life early this week, is at least partly stress induced -- and the more it flares up, the more stressed I get.

The best way to treat my asthma, I have found, is to take it easy. Watch a lot of movies, go to bed early, skip the gym for a couple of days. That’s what I’ve been doing this week, and it’s been working.

I don't like admitting that this part of me exists. But there it is. Really facing life means even facing the parts of ourselves we don't particularly like -- right?

I’m going to continue the relaxation trend this weekend by going to Ithaca with my friend David. We’ll probably do some easy hiking and eating out and exploring. A full report to follow on Monday! Have a good weekend!


  1. you funny thing
    you just need a little cuddle from time to time
    (but not from someone that has touched a squirrel in the last few years)

  2. I love it that you're willing to admit to certain ideosyncratic behaviors. It makes you even more adorable than you were yesterday.

    I'm glad you're taking it easy this week. Pod is right - wish I could be there to hold your hand in the most grounded, sisterly way possible.

  3. Awww, thanks y'all. I feel cuddled already. :)

  4. Steve, have a great weekend.

  5. oooh, i love ithaca!
    if you haven't already done so, the wineries around the finger lakes are worth checking out. wonder if any of the fall colors will be visible yet? have a good break from the city. :) LP

  6. I am right there with you bro, I have had some serious imaginary illnesses that have turned out to be just that. That is what ignited my post about fear. Admit it and move on. As you said, it's all about control.

    Your ashtma may be seasonal. I have had trouble breathing in the fall and winter at times but it always clears up.

    Enjoy the weekend.

  7. Oh, perfect post!

    I say just ACCEPT that part of yourself. Now, note that this is different from ENABLING it or allowing it to take over your life. When this kind of thing happens to me, I just tell myself "look, Jeffrey, if you are going to worry about every little thing in life you will never actually LIVE", and then I move on. Having a HEALTHY sense of ourselves physically is important, too - it is MUCH better to be a little over cautious than oblivious. I used to work in cancer research, so trust me, I know -- and trust yourself and your body.

  8. LP: I did try some of the local vino. Excellent! :)

    Gary: Glad to know you can identify. I felt so silly admitting this! It is indeed about control, and fear of the unknown and the uncontrollable.

    JDZS: You're right - while you don't want to obsess about your body, you do want to be aware of it!