"When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras" — A medical-school proverb
Without a doubt, there are some strange medical conditions out there: rare bizarre and deadly diseases which can mimic common or less-dangerous illnesses until it’s too late. And since every patient is a little bit narcissist and a little bit cock-sure, every patient will wonder if their “minor” symptoms could really be hints of a complex and shocking diagnosis that would make Gregory House take an extra Vicodin.
But there is a special group of patients who take those two magical thoughts (“The world revolves around me” and “I know more than the doctor does”), load them into their self-diagnostic shotgun, and go zebra-hunting: hypochondriacs.
"Hey, what if my runny nose and itchy eyes that only happen in the springtime are actually because of mustard-gas poisoning?" — A hypochondriac
"Shhhhh! Be vewy vewy quiet! I’m a-huntin’ zebwas! Hahaha!" — Elmer Fudd the Hypochondriac
What nobody addresses in the medical literature is: What if a hypochondriac becomes excessively worried that they might be a hypochondriac?
"Hey, what if my obsessive Googling of minor symptoms and excessive visits to the urgent care might be a sign of hypochondriacism?" — A meta-hypochondriac
So, I present to you: Dr. Cranquis’ Handy-Dandy Meta-Hypochondriacism Self-Diagnosis Aid! (With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy)
- If you are a male between 18 and 30 years of age, who came in to see the doctor by your own choice, and your complaint is NOT about a broken bone, a cut in your skin, or burning in the urethra… you might be a hypochondriac.
- If you are a female between 30 and 55 years of age, who has decided to seek a 2nd (3rd, 4th) opinion about your vague ___insert body-part here___ pain from an Urgent Care doctor because the last 2+ specialists “couldn’t figure it out”… you might be a hypochondriac.
- If you bring in printouts of websites listing “Diagnoses that your doctor will always miss” with your favorite choices already highlighted… you might be a hypochondriac.
- If your list of “medication allergies” looks like someone just copied-and-pasted the names of every antibiotic and pain medication known to man… you might be a hypochondriac.
- If you insist that the nurse add “water” to your allergies list because "Sometimes when I drink water, I cough, but I never cough when I drink soda"… you might be a hypochondriac.
This is not a comprehensive list. But you get the picture.
(To continue the Looney Tunes motif, this is what a disagreement between a doctor [Bugs Bunny] and hypochondriac [Daffy Duck] sounds like… it’s Horse Season! Zebra Season!)