Surviving The Highs And Lows Of Being A Hypochondriac

Surviving The Highs And Lows Of Being A Hypochondriac

Yes, I'm the kid that cried wolf...56 times to be exact.

"Mom, I took my contacts out today because they were bugging me and now they're all swollen and red. Can I go to the eye doctor? What if when I get there they tell me it's an overgrowth of bacteria from my contacts. WHAT IF THIS BACTERIA IS THE ONE THAT MAKES YOU GO BLIND. I need to see a doctor, my eyes are itching now too! It's possible I may be blind when I wake up tomorrow."

These are the exact words that came flying out of my mouth the other night to my parents. My father just stared at me in confusion as I was interrupting his new favorite show and my mother simply looked at me and said one word... "hypochondriac."

My names Joelle and I am a hypochondriac (well, an undiagnosed hypochondriac). I am the friend who will constantly call you to tell you she's dying. I'm also the girl who has a thermometer on her nightstand because she has to check her temperature every night before bed. These are thoughts that pop into my head about every 10-20 minutes *no this is not an exaggeration.* I am in the constant belief that I have a slight fever and it will turn into a plague the following morning.

I have an anxious mind when it comes to my health. I have lost a significant amount of family members to cancer as well as other diseases so it's no surprise I am a health freak. Almost two years ago I was diagnosed with a stomach disorder that when left untreated, can lead to esophageal cancer. Knowing me, you could understand that the second the doctors told me this I was ready to eat protein shakes for the rest of my life.

My everyday life is a constant job in itself. I am either researching newly found outbreaks or insisting that the birthmark on my cheek is growing. It is not a typical day for me unless I'm calling my mom telling her I'm dying of a new bacteria they found eating people's organs. Yes, I am the child that gives my mother multiple heart attacks a day... P.S. I'm sorry mom.

My mother hears it about as much as my boyfriend does. I'm pretty sure he loses his mind daily over how often I tell him I'm dying. He is a slight hypochondriac as well, he just won't admit it. I told him about my recent encounter with my eyes, and he is more persistent on me seeing a doctor than my parents. This could also be due to the fact that I drive my parents up a wall 145 times a day with this.

Being a hypochondriac is exciting and exhausting. I'm constantly learning about new medicine in the works; however, I have made myself physically ill from worrying about a disease I thought I had. On the bright side, turns out I don't actually have Ebola.

This is my way of slightly apologizing to all my friends and family for the constant text and calls about my near death encounters. On the upside, I have kept all of you on your toes and alert of new diseases! You're all welcome.

I guess it's no surprise I'm entering into the medical field as well. Future MD in the making. I promise I won't overthink your symptoms, but I will never under play them as well.

Cover Image Credit: Joelle Giudice

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What You Didn't Know About Concussions

Some surprising facts.

Your helmet smacks the helmet of the player you’ve been talking smack to the whole game. Your body bounces off of his and falls to the ground. You black out temporarily and when you come to, the team doctor is standing over you. Your head is pounding and you’re extremely dizzy. You have a concussion, but what does that mean?

Concussions are something that, according to NPR, affects one in four Americans in their lifetime. That is not something that we can ignore. Through research, I have learned a lot about concussions. I am going to talk to you guys about what concussions are, what the recovery from a concussion looks like and how we can avoid them. "Concussion" is a word that a lot of us have heard thrown out in regard to football or maybe even car accidents, but how many of us actually know what it means?

According to the Mayo Clinic, “A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that affects your brain function. Effects are usually temporary but can include headaches and problems with concentration, memory, balance, and coordination.” In English, it simply means that your brain has a bruise.

Your brain, to put it simply, is made of Jell-O and is floating in a liquid known as the Cerebral Fluid. When the head is shaken or suddenly hit, the brain moves in the cerebral fluid and will actually hit the inner walls of the skull. Because the amount of force that caused the brain to move in the first place can be varied, so can the severity of the concussion.

It is these injuries to the brain that cause the symptoms of the concussion and it is actually the symptoms that are called a “Concussion,” not the injury its self. A side effect of brain injuries is brain bleeding, so it is recommended that even if you don’t think your concussion is a serious one, you still see a healthcare professional.

Worst case scenario, they send you home, best case you just saved your life by seeking medical attention. To diagnose a concussion, doctors will look at a number of neurological functions including vision, reflexes, coordination, and balance. Other factors that could betray a concussion are increased irritability and confusion.

The typical concussion patient is typically recovering for as little as a week or it could take as long as a couple months. Because the injury varies so much from person to person, there is no set recovery guideline. Some people can do some things while for other people that may the main straining factor.

According to the same Mayo Clinic article from before, the first thing that the doctor is going to recommend is that the patient lay in a dark room with no light, no screens, and no books. Doing this gives the brain a break. Reading and looking at screens and other things cause strain on our brains which is something the patient would want to avoid when he or she has the diagnosis of a concussion. I

n some cases, doctors may even recommend that the patient take time off from work or school in order to shorten the amount of time that the brain is being used to think and minimize strain. Doctors may even recommend that patients discontinue any strenuous physical activity as not to cause undue strain on the brain. In extreme cases where the concussion is taking too long to heal, doctors may prescribe the patient medicine. Typically, they will prescribe medications to treat symptoms such as headaches, depression and memory loss.

Concussions are an injury that can be avoided in most cases if the right precautions are taken. The two main causes of concussions are car accidents and playing sports. In a car accident, concussions usually stem from another injury such as whiplash according to One way to reduce the impact of an injury such as whiplash, and
therefore reduce the likelihood of concussion, is to make sure that your headrest is adjusted properly. Wearing a seat belt can also prevent concussions. When not wearing a seatbelt, the head usually hits the windshield which would surely cause a severe concussion.

Playing contact sports severely increases your risk for a concussion, but there are lots of preventative measures that can be taken to dramatically decrease that risk. To no one’s surprise wearing a helmet significantly lowers the chances of getting a concussion. Sports that require athletes to wear a helmet, such as football and lacrosse, increase the players' chances of avoiding concussions severely.

Surprisingly, wearing a mouth guard can also minimize the impact to the head. According to, mouth guards put the jaw in a position that distributes force and, if the mouth guard is the right thickness and fit for the wearer it can actually absorb some of the shockthat might come from a hit to the head.

Concussions are serious injuries and should be treated as such despite the fact that there may not be any outward signs. I told you what concussions were, how to recover from them and how to prevent them in the future. It is now one week after you got a concussion in the big game, but thankfully you knew to recognize the symptoms and get help so you will make a complete recovery from your concussion.

Cover Image Credit: Performance Health Academy

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10 Struggles That Give You A Peek Into The Mind Of A Dyscalculic

"Can you remind me what 9x7 is?"

When most people think of learning disabilities, they automatically assume that an individual has trouble with reading or writing. However, for many, this is not the case. Many people have mathematics-related learning issues, more commonly referred to as dyscalculia.

Dyscalculia is defined as a "difficulty in learning or comprehending arithmetic, such as difficulty in understanding numbers, learning how to manipulate numbers, and learning facts in mathematics." I have struggled with this learning issue since about the time I was in second grade, so I can account for this first-hand. Often times, people who suffer from dyscalculia may not understand simple topics.

Even the smallest amount of math is an automatic overload to the brain. Simple math problems may seem extremely difficult to them. If you're wondering how math looks like to these people, take a look at my hand-made simulation to see what it is like to be dyscalculic.

1. "Can you remind me what 9x7 is?"

2. "160/5... Ok, so, I have to start with long division... I don't know how many times 5 goes into 160..."

3. "I can't do 120 x 5 in my head... can I use a calculator?"

4. "562-428... I have to carry the 1 to the 10ths place, but I still don't understand the process of regrouping. Wait, where did you get the 9 from?"

5. "24x^2+25x-47ax-2... Where did 122^15 come from? This is all completely random, IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE"

6 "5^9=? 4^8=? 6^7=? 7^2=14..." Teacher: "7^2=49!" "I don't understand..."

7. 896^2x725+634543FX0944734G67903S4039683907K0/7904750-9437590^143S475 "This is a huge overload... I can't do it."

8. "18/1/6=3/4+18=22... huh?"

9. "Everyone else finished their worksheet in 10 minutes and I'm only on the second problem trying to figure out this long division. I feel so rushed! Wow, I must be one stupid person..."

10. "I paid $52 and the shirt I bought was $26... so I get $16.44 back? No... $24.83 back? No, that's not right..."

What did you notice? What do these all have in common? Here's the answer: many numbers are mixed up, many are completely off, there is a lack of understanding as to where certain numbers come from, and many are rushed. These various complications represent what a person with dyscalculia may experience on a daily basis.

Whether it be math class or paying for bills/items/groceries, mathematical problems are difficult. But remember: this doesn't mean we're dumb. It just means that our brains learn in a unique way. Many individuals with dyscalculia excel in the arts, music, reading, writing, sports, and so on. We all have our own different types of intelligence.

I have also attached a link for a dyscalculia simulator that gives a better experience here. Please check it out!

Cover Image Credit: Alexa Rosenzweig

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