Why Can’t We Get Out of Our Heads?

stuck in your head

Source: Google Images

About one month ago, I was bitten by a mosquito and the wound it left behind swelled up to the size of a grapefruit. And, no, I am not over-exaggerating. I sent a picture of it to my mom, who’s a nurse practitioner, simply to show her how large it had gotten. I wasn’t looking for her medical opinion. But she shared it anyway.

“That’s infected,” she said. “You could go septic if it gets into your blood stream. You need to go on antibiotics immediately.”

And the adrenaline rush ensued.

My hypochondriac self proceeded to stand in front of the mirror — fully naked, nonetheless — to make sure I hadn’t missed any other obscurities on my body. Of course, in this meticulous process, I did a self-breast exam. And I found what felt like a lump in the bottom of my left breast. It was tender to the touch. And I was nowhere near my last period.

Now, as some of you might know, I found a lump in my right breast last summer, and it turned out to be a cyst that is being monitored regularly. So even though I know better than to assume the worst, what did I do? I still assumed the worst.

I had a panic attack.

My fingers flew to my phone, and I immediately texted Ann Marie, my dear friend and founder of breast cancer advocacy group Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer. After about 10 minutes of back-and-forth, she threatened to hit me. I didn’t laugh at the time, even though Ann Marie’s point was a sarcastic, well-meaning “chill out.” But I look back today and chuckle at myself a little bit.

Why, in our society, is it in our nature to assume the worst? Is it because, even with our modern technology and medical advancements, we still feel plagued by disease? Is it because our culture has simply become too wishy-washy and prone to complaint? Would we not, hundreds of years ago, just sucked it up?

I think, for me, it’s recognition of the fact that there is something incredibly wrong in our world. We can’t pronounce half the ingredients in the processed foods we eat. We can’t decipher the mixed messages of our medical industry (i.e. one day doctors are reporting that caffeine is bad for you and the next it’s perfectly okay). Many of us feel like we can’t recover from illness without taking some form of drug, whether it’s over-the-counter or prescription medicine.

And the sad truth is: None of these things are good.

We have become a weak culture because of our modernization. Our food is giving us cancer; our immune systems aren’t as strong as they should be; and we’ve all become hypochondriacs. That’s why, when we find a lump in our breast, or a notch in our skull, or a mark on our skin that we never noticed before, we panic.

Last week, I finally had my bilateral sonogram and both breasts are absolutely fine. This isn’t to say that it couldn’t have been something. But the point is that it wasn’t something. (Although, I fully admonish doing self-breast exams, hypochondriac or not.)

In the words of Ann Marie: “Stop over-thinking it. Oh-em-gee, I’m gonna smack you.”