I hate, hate, hate being so body aware, something that has just happened since I reached the age of menopause. No, I’m not talking about my weight or my body’s appearance this time. I’m talking about the inside of my body. Every little twinge or ache or pain or gurgle sends me rushing to the Web to figure out what’s “wrong” with me.
My shoulder hurts and my left arm aches—dear heaven, I’m having a heart attack! Doesn’t it say right there on womenandheartattack.com that left arm pain is one of the first signs in a woman? Ohgod, ohgod, ohgod—take an aspirin, call 911… My mom died young of a heart attack…crap, I’m going to be right behind her…no, wait. Stop. Think. Could this have anything to do with lifting weights for thirty minutes this morning at the gym? Gee, ya think?
My head is hurting. You know, right behind my left ear, a sharp pain, no it’s throbbing—what if it’s a stroke? Quick, to the Web! Ah ha! Headache, one of the first signs of stroke. I knew it! Do a fast survey: vision is clear, speech is fine, no numbness anywhere…ohh . . . kaaay. (Sigh of relief here.) Dammit! Maybe it’s brain cancer—my dad died of cancer. Never mind that it was lung cancer caused by fifty years of being a heavy smoker and I’ve never smoked in my life, but… Nan! Stop. Think. Maybe it’s my springtime allergies. Or possibly too much wine with supper last night… Or maybe it’s just a plain old headache. Gee, ya think?
My calf is sore. I mean really sore, like painful, seriously painful. Upstairs to the computer. Googling “calf pain.” Oh great, I have PAD—peripheral artery disease. I knew it. I’m losing blood flow, they’re going to have to amputate my leg, just like Aunt Mae…crap. Oh, wait. Stop. Think. Could it be the cycling class I attended yesterday? Forty-five minutes of intense biking uphill and over the flats? Gee, ya think?
I’d be seriously worried about my “Internet hypochondria” if I was all alone in it, but one of my dearest friends—a fellow menopause fairy—does this, too. Dee and I are on the phone at least thrice monthly. Conversations start with, “Okay, so I have this pain…” And then we both dissect it, diagnose it, discuss it, and sympathize like mad. In the last year, we’ve both “suffered” from a veritable buffet of diseases, almost all associated with getting older.
So, Gentle Readers, are we alone in this phenomenon of too much cyber medical information? Do any of you ever panic at a twinge of pain, research it for hours on the Web, and then think, “Oh Lord, it’s the big one, Elizabeth…I’m comin’ to join you…”?