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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Yes, I Bite My Straw, Don't Ask Me Why, Thanks

Everyone has their "things," so maybe try not to call it out with judgment.

Habits, ticks, nervous movements. Things that we do unconsciously. Almost everyone has at least one if not multiple habits and or obsessions if you will, that make up who they are. From tapping fingers to the overuse of a word or the little quirk in which one might roll their eyes a little too often.

These pieces of our personalities stem from various reasons, but that is not what I want to address. I would like to point out that people cannot often help the various actions that they have and the fact that you shouldn’t call someone out simply because they always chew on their straw.

As someone who has been called out for many of my personal habits, it can actually be a bit crippling. I often don’t pay mind to some of my habits or simply do them unconsciously and when someone points it out, it makes me more self-aware and it feels a bit judged. I often brush off the comments with ease or a snappy response, but in the moment, I also get a bit upset. Especially when I am asked about it repeatedly or when I am interrogated about a habit that in all honesty just developed and I can't tell you why I stare into the distance, bite my nails, or only eat bagels only on Wednesdays.

I know that people are naturally curious, and I’m not saying you can’t ask. My point is that people should be a little considerate before asking someone why they put a lot of salt on their food or why they might fidget so much. As I mentioned, our habits stem from various reasons, sometimes reasons people may not want to share or maybe they just developed it out of nowhere.

Pointing out people's habit might make someone insecure and no one likes to feel like an outcast, especially in today's society. Again, I get that people are curious, but just remember to be considerate. Try to ask politely or maybe not even ask at all. As I'm sure you’ve heard before, treat people the way you want to be treated.

If you wouldn't feel good about being called out because of your constant hair twirling, the guy who always looks down when speaking might not like it either. All in all, it’s the small things, we are told not to be judgmental and consider feelings, but maybe we don’t consider habits. The small things that make us, well us.

Things like compliments, good or bad stick with us and I think people forget that comments about our quirks also stay with us, and when you point them out it can make others insecure. So just remember that people's habits make them who they are, and we often times can't control them.

Cover Image Credit: catrific / YouTube

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What I've Learned That Cancer Cannot Do

I would never have expected that something as disgusting as cancer could be a learning experience that I could not have gotten anywhere else.

This past Saturday marked the two-year anniversary of when I finished chemotherapy. My "Chemo-versary!" Not only is it the two-year anniversary of when I finished chemo, but later on this year, it will be 10 years since my first surgery.

Prior to my first surgery and even during the past few years, I always viewed cancer as the end-all-be-all. That it would forever leave a negative effect on my life and that it would follow me around like a dark shadow pushing into every part of my life.

For some reason, I was, for lack of a better word, ashamed of all that I had experienced. I thought that people would see me only as the person that has cancer and that every time that I spoke about it, they would roll their eyes thinking, what else would we expect.

Over the years, I have come to realize and accept that part of that is true. I was right in thinking that there is no way to keep cancer from spreading into every part of my life. That is how much of an effect that it has made in my life.

That isn’t a bad thing or something to be ashamed of, though. I don’t think of it as a dark shadow anymore. I now see it as a light to follow that has guided me to who I am today and who I will become. I would never have expected that something as disgusting as cancer could be a learning experience that I could not have gotten anywhere else.

My Nana has a newspaper clipping on her refrigerator about what cancer cannot do.

When I first read that many years ago, I thought that it was kind of ridiculous. However, thinking about that prayer or poem that she has, it is absolutely so true and it has taken three cancer reoccurrences to teach me that.

Cancer is unable to cripple love, kill friendship or suppress memories. I am closer to my family and friends than ever before. The amount of love that I was shown from them and even from people that I didn’t know at all was absolutely amazing. I have a newer appreciation for my family and friends in my life, and there is no way that I can put into words how thankful I am for all of them — for every single person that has helped me through the past many years.

It cannot shatter hope, dissolve faith, destroy peace or steal eternal life. My faith is stronger than ever. Even though it was tested MANY times over the past 10 years, I know that God has a reason for putting me through all of it. I am studying to be a nurse because I want to be able to help kids and their families that are dealing with their own battles, just like the great nurses at my hospital helped me. I would not have even considered becoming a nurse if I hadn’t gone through what I had. I strongly believe that God used all that I had gone through to guide me down the path that He had set for me.

It cannot silence courage or conquer the spirit. I am who I am today because of the disgusting disease. I was brave and kept going because that was the only thing to do. I chose to not be a victim of cancer not just because I got through it, but because I didn’t let it stop me from doing what I loved and living my life. Since I was fortunate to make it out healthy, I am using my experience of battling cancer to make a difference. There is extremely little education and funding for pediatric cancer. We formed the Go for Gabs team and every year since my second diagnosis in 2010, my family, friends and I have done a different race or event to raise money to donate to pediatric cancer research.

I have no idea whether or not I will have to go through all of it again. If I do, though, I sure as heck know that because of all that I have come to learn about what cancer cannot do, I will add to that list that it cannot stop me.

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

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