Seizure, coma, death: the end process of all diseases. My husband Jonathan discovered the end results of disease in nursing school, where one of his instructors made the phrase seizure, coma, death somewhat of a joke. Me? All I had to do was be born the harm-avoidant, overreacting hypochondriac that I am. I can extrapolate any symptom or situation all the way to end-of-life processes. And I don’t need the help of nursing school to do that; I can do it all by my lonesome self.
Seizure, coma, death: it’s the place I always go. For me, the worst option is always the first option. Case in point?
While on vacation last month, I watched our four children wrestle Jonathan in the pool. Then a nameless someone (nameless because I don’t remember who, and even if I did, I wouldn’t announce it publicly) took one of our foam water guns and shot a stream of water quite forcefully into Jonathan’s eye. Immediately Jonathan ordered everyone to take a break, and he moved to the side of the pool.
I asked if he was ok. No, scratch that. What I actually said to him was this: “I don’t want you to go blind like that girl in Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken.” The movie, in case you aren’t familiar with it, tells the story of a girl who jumped from a high platform into a pool of water with her eyes still open. The impact damaged her retinas, and she later lost her sight. (Thank you, Disney Channel, for instilling in people a lifelong fear of blindness ever since the early 1990’s.)
Jonathan replied to my irrational comment with, “You’re a lot of help! You thought I had the plague last week.” Yes, it’s true. The week before, he had a nasty rash that we couldn’t identify. It could have been folliculitis, or scabies, or an allergic reaction. Initially, the doctor himself was unsure. But how did I contribute to the medical quandary? I told him he might have bubonic plague. Turns out, that rash was just a simple allergic reaction that cleared up with several doses of Benadryl and a slathering of hydrocortisone. No scabies, no bacteria — and certainly no plague.
My husband is right. I’m not a lot of help in these types of situations. I freak out internally. I become irrational. This much is plain: it’s a miracle I can even function with all these hypochondriac thoughts swimming around in my head.
I thought back to earlier that day when ocean water went up Nathaniel’s nose. I had managed to ask, nonchalantly, if he was ok. But internally I was thinking, “Oh no, he’s going to die! There’s some sort of bacteria or fungus in this water that is going to travel from his nose, to his brain, and I will lose my first-born child. I’m not ready for him to die! I won’t have the strength to go on living and homeschooling the rest of my children if my first baby is dead.” (Yes, those are real thoughts. I really do have thoughts like that.)
So back in the pool, I left Jonathan alone to rest his eye. Then suddenly I started laughing. Hysterically. He asked me what I was laughing about, and I told him, “Seizure, coma, death! I always go to seizure, coma, death!”
Then he told me, “Just keep your crazy thoughts to yourself. Don’t say them; they’re not helpful.” But I protested, “I HAVE to say them out loud. Otherwise I won’t recognize them for the ridiculousness that they are. As soon as I say them, I can let them go.” (Cue Frozen’s theme song. Let them go! Let them go! I won’t hold them back anymoooooooooooore!)
Sorry, where was I? Oh yes. Seizure, coma, death. Do you know what it’s like to realize you’re still a bit crazy about health things? Functional, yes, but still crazy. It’s a little awkward. Need more proof?
— If my pre-schooler is up in the night crying that her leg hurts, I worry that she will die from a blood clot. (Because 4 year olds get DVTs, right?)
— If my kids are wrestling and the little one cries that her chest hurts, I worry that her ribs must be cracked. We need to go to the hospital for X-rays right now!
— If my part-time helper has an extended cold, I worry that she has tuberculosis and we will catch it. What if it’s multidrug resistant??
Yes, these are real thoughts. They are not lasting thoughts, but they are my first thoughts. They are no longer obsessive, but they still exist. Let’s face it: I’m a seizure, coma, death kind of girl. And you might be too. So don’t leave a girl alone in the comments, share some seizure, coma, death thoughts of your own.
**Jonathan has since given me permission to voice my fears, as long as I give him permission to laugh at said fears.**