I wouldn’t call myself a hypochondriac. I don’t see rare diseases lurking around every corner, and I rarely take my kids to the doctor, or go myself, beyond basic check-ups. When I do get sick, I just soldier through as best I can. I have no other choice. I have two small children, and parents don’t get sick days. If you have ever had small children of your own, I’m sure you can relate.
While during the day I’m fairly calm and reasonable where my health is concerned, at night it’s a whole different story. At night, somehow, everything seems more dangerous. A crumb gets into my bed, and it feels sort of sharp when I happen to brush up against it with my leg. During the day I wouldn’t give it a second thought, beyond possibly retrieving the crumb. When it’s dark, however, I’m convinced the momentary sharpness was not in fact a piece of old cracker, but a spider. Most likely a black widow. Since I’ve been bitten, if I don’t seek attention, I will likely be dead by morning.
Photo Credit: Justin Ennis on Flickr
Even in my anxious state, I do recognize that all of this sounds a little far-fetched. It’s just far-fetched enough that I don’t want to actually go get help, because that would require me to (1) wake someone up, and (2) explain my irrational sounding fears to them. However, it doesn’t sound far-fetched enough to me that I actually stop worrying. Instead I lie awake debating. Do I risk sounding slightly off my rocker, or do I risk allowing the poison to spread through my system until I no longer have the strength to get help?
As my anxiety mounts, I become convinced that I can feel a pain in my leg. Is it imaginary or real? My internal debate intensifies. Sometimes I’ll go so far as to head into the bathroom and turn on the light so that I can look for signs of the bite. When I can’t see any I reason that a fatal bite would leave some kind of mark. But then I wonder if that’s true. What if it’s slow-acting? What if it doesn’t cause inflammation? I’ve never been bitten by a poisonous spider before, how would I know what the bite looks like?
Me, on the bed where I lie and worry
It’s not only crumbs and imaginary spider bites that get me in the middle of the night. A bump on my head earlier in the day can become a brain bleed or concussion in my late-night imagination. Now that I’m a parent I also exhibit midnight hypochondria behalf of my children. When Hannah complained that her leg hurt, was it a sign of something serious? When Jacob fell and landed on his wrist today, did he actually break it? And if I’m worried about the bumps I get on my head, you can imagine that I worry even more about my children, who bump their heads all the time.
In general, I eventually get too tired to worry anymore. I fall asleep, hoping that I will live to see the morning as I finally drift off. I always do – so far. But that doesn’t seem to reduce my midnight hypochondria. Because, after all, it only takes one fatal spider bite. The fact that it hasn’t happened so far doesn’t mean it couldn’t. As they say, just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. In this case, “they” are invisible spiders who deliver near-painless fatal bites in the middle of the night. It could happen.
Do you ever suffer from hypochondria in the middle of the night? Do you find that you’re more inclined to worry when it’s time to go to sleep? Tell me I’m not the only one!