My name is Dave and I’m a hypochondriac.
Actually, that makes me feel like I’m sitting in a meeting of Hypochondriacs Anonymous. I’ve told the world before that I suffer from hypochondria in an early blog post (you can read it here) and I have learned to stop reading about illness and asking Mr Google about symptoms.
Sadly, a couple of weeks ago, I fell off the wagon and spent a week convinced that I was suffering from a major illness.
It all started when a work colleague who had been on a trip to Brazil advised me that I need to look at vaccinations for my forthcoming trip to that country. Now normally, I’m not too bothered about vaccinations because ultimately they protect you from all manner of nasty viruses that can wreak havoc with your body.
Being well travelled I am used to trips to the doctor to check on what he needs to inject me with. I don’t like needles but I look away as the nurse administers the vaccine before going home as if nothing has happened, with just a small pain in the arm.
I made an appointment and the young nurse told me that I should have Tetanus and Hepatitis A boosters but that I also need to have a vaccine for Yellow Fever.
“Now there’s something I need to warn you about with the Yellow Fever vaccine,” she said. “It can have side effects.”
My mind started working overtime and before I knew it, my imagination was running amok. I envisaged everything from keeling over in a rabid seizure to growing a new head and turning into one of those lizard people that conspiracy theorists think rule the world.
|I had a vaccine last week! Now look at me!!|
“What sort of side effects?” I said, trying to control my shaky voice.
In a nutshell she told me that one in ten people felt ill with flu like symptoms but there have been cases of people falling really ill up to ten days after injection.
“It’s alright,” she said. “I’ve never known anybody actually turn yellow, but if you do just go to A&E!”
She said this with a smile on her face as she stabbed me with what I now imagined was an alien virus from the Planet Tharg that would make me disintegrate into a mutant creature, like Jeff Goldbum’s character did in The Fly.
She then told me that my immune system would fight off the virus and in ten days I would be fine. But then it got worse. She decided to make casual conversation by telling me that I shouldn’t have the virus if I am ill or that people over 60 are recommended not to have it.
“I’M ONLY EIGHT YEARS AWAY!” I screamed. “AND I’VE GOT A COLD!”
I didn’t really. I smiled and nodded, feigning interest when all I wanted to do was rush out of the surgery screaming.
I drove home with my weird imagination in full control. I had a slight cold and, in my mind, my immune system was going to be fighting that instead of the Yellow Fever and I would end up turning yellow and being strapped to a bed in Intensive care surrounded by lots of armed men in Hazmat suits.
Could it get worse?
Of course it could. The second I got home, I was at my computer asking Mr Google “What are the side effects of the Yellow Fever vaccine?”
What followed was panic as I read all possible effects.
One in three people suffer from mild effects such as headache, muscle pain, a mild fever and soreness at the injection site.
One in 130,000 suffer an allergic reaction.
One in 250,000 suffer a condition that effects the brain and nervous system causing confusion and coordination problems.
One in 330,000 people can suffer a condition that effects internal organs which can in even rarer cases, actually lead to organ failure.
Guess which category I thought I was going to fall into?
Mrs PM had had a Yellow Fever vaccination about eleven years ago when she went to Nigeria with work and she had to have a booster this time. When I broached the subject with her, she told me that the vaccine caused her to bleed from the eyes for three days. No she didn’t – I made that up.
She suffered no ill effects whatsoever and told me in no uncertain terms that I was being a big baby.
The rational part of me agreed but the Hypochondriac fuelled by Captain Paranoia told me to expect the worst.
I became obsessed over the next few days. Remember that cold I told you I had? Well that got worse, and at work, I looked up yet more symptoms and worked myself up even more.
“Oh God NO!!” I yelled at my desk.
“What’s up?” asked my work colleague.
“Nothing,” I stuttered. “Just a stupid bug in my program.”
By day three, I genuinely felt ill. My cold had got worse, I had a headache and I had flu like symptoms, just like one in in three people apparently suffer from.
I got home and lay on the settee feeling sorry for myself – a bit like this guy:
Thankfully, the next day I felt a lot better and went to work with no ill effects.
That was a couple of weeks ago and I am now officially immune to Yellow Fever with a little yellow certificate to prove it.
I didn’t turn into Jeff Goldblum’s fly.
I didn’t grow a new head.
I didn’t turn yellow.
The only thing that was injured was my pride.
I pledge to you, dear reader, that I will never ever ask Mr Google again for advice about symptoms.
I’m looking forward to the next meeting of Hypochondriacs Anonymous.