JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Hypochondria

hypochondria

I am dying of colon cancer.

I know it, even though I haven’t been diagnosed as such. My doctor says I probably just have a muscle strain. But she’s wrong—I know she’s wrong.

This is how my brain works—and I loathe it. For the past several months I’ve been experiencing a dull pain in my left groin/stomach area. It occurs mainly when I do physical activity, but I’m aware of it many other times, too. I’ve been told it’s not a hernia or a strainer groin. So I have diagnosed myself—colon cancer.

Over the past, oh, 10 years, I’ve had them all: Colon cancer, testicular cancer, brain cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer. I’ve gone through numb extremities and trouble breathing (which I’ve been experiencing the past few weeks as well). I know I’m a hypochondriac, yet that knowledge in and off itself is not nearly enough. I still think about the latest disease, which is surely eating up my innards. Why, about two years ago I knew—knew—I was going through the early stages of Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

This obviously has nothing to do with sports, but it does have something to deal with my lifestyle/profession. Though being a sportswriter has allowed me the freedom and flexibility to watch my kids grow up, it also leads to much solo time, sitting before a computer, thinking lonely thoughts, plenty of time to google “stomach pain” and “numbness.” I also often think of the Kurt Cobain line, “Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not after you.” (He didn’t originate the thought, but it was in a Nirvana tune). I think, “Just because you’re an insane hypo doesn’t mean you have a crippling illness.”

Anyhow, I hate this about myself. Really, really hate. I love life, but bring down so many wonderful, fleeting moments by focusing on my impending illness and death. I drive my poor wife crazy, and fear passing such thinking onto my children.

Advice?