Hypochondriac or just a High Maniac?

 

I have been a hypochondriac for as long as I can remember and that behavior never changed as I have gotten older. True story: When I was born, I actually burst out of the womb in a tiny yellow rain slicker and I immediately started questioning whether the birthmark on my right arm wasn’t actually a malignant melanoma? In grade school I wasn’t allowed in the nurse’s office because I would read the symptom posters on the walls and get convinced I had diabetes or whatever poster was up at the time. High School was worse because I had been gifted with a medical dictionary on my birthday, so my maladies weren’t just limited to the common diseases anymore. When I was in college, it was only a matter of time before I wasn’t allowed in the Health Services Office – but not for the usual reasons…This time it was different. 

In college, I refused to take classes on Mondays or Fridays so that I could have a more flexible schedule and so all of my classes were on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I didn’t really need a flexible schedule for a job or really any specific reason other than laziness, but it was the principle of the matter. During my second sophomore year, my 11:3o class on Tuesdays and Thursdays was Geography of something. Throughout the first two months, I only made it there on time twice which I thought was a pretty good start. The professor was from Africa with a very thick accent and she would constantly hold me after class to tell me that in her country they take education very seriously and would think it was disrespectful to show up late. I would say it was not going to happen again, and then continue with my pattern. She didn’t seem to be a big fan of mine and one day she actually attacked me in front of the whole class about the lateness. Granted, I was waltzing into the room over forty-five minutes after the class had started, so she might have had a point; what can I say, when I’m late – I’m late. My theory was that as long as you showed up before the class was over you weren’t really late, right? She apparently didn’t feel the same way.

In her super thick accent she started yelling at me “What are you doing? You cannot keep doing this!” At first, I didn’t realize she was talking to me and then when I did, I tried to ignore her and pretend as if she wasn’t, but that’s really hard to do when twenty other people are smirking and hanging on her every word. Also, she was yelling at me and no one else was talking so it was really awkward…”You think you’re mad – How do you think my 10 o’ clock teacher feels– I never make it to that one…” Before she could even respond to my sarcastic stupidity, I muttered “I’m sorry, it couldn’t be helped” I figured that would be the end of it and tried to take my seat when she came marching over to me. “This is disruptive and you come late to every single class – Why do you bother showing up at all?”

At this point, a normal person would have thrown themselves to the wolves, admitted they were wrong and apologized – but not me. Very softly I muttered “Listen, I’m really sorry – it couldn’t be helped because I’m sick. I’m sure you’ve never heard of it before because you’re from Africa and all, but I have a little something called Mono and that’s really serious. I feel lucky that I can make it out of bed and get here at all.” In my mind, I was celebrating how quickly that I had thought of that and how smart I was, figuring that she would apologize and see the error in her ways.  Of course, I was delusional and should have realized that she, and everyone else in the class for that matter, could see right through me and tell that I was lying. That’s when she really let me have it and for a second I felt like her strong accent fell right to the wayside so she could yell at me in perfectly clear English.

“Are you kidding me? I’ve been teaching for a long time and do you really think that you’re the first person to try and tell me that they have Mono? Of course I know what Mono is, I’m not an idiot – where’s your Doctor’s note?”

Once again, a normal person would have admitted defeat and let it go at that, but not me. “How dare you! What kind of a person do you think I am? I am so insulted, who would make that kind of thing up? I’m a sick person (ironically, this was the only true statement that I had made all morning) Do you think I’m crazy? Go to Health Services and ask them in there! How dare you question me?” Now as a side note, I was as positive as one of Maury‘s paternity tests that I didn’t have Mono and that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me except for laziness, but if I didn’t at least get defensive she would have immediately known that I was lying.

Sure as can be, she was disgusted with me and dropped it and I got the stink eye from half the class. The other half could have cared less about the scene I was making. The girl who sat next to me was just staring with that look of disgust that usually takes people getting to know me for a few months before it develops and I looked at her and then rubbed my stomach to motion to her that I was sick. She rolled her eyes to motion to me that I was an idiot. 

I got the hell out of there after class and ran down to the Health Services Office. I had actually never been down there before because they don’t prescribe anything besides aspirin and I had learned to self-medicate with my prescription for any malady: Imodium AD and beer.  (It worked every time and if it didn’t work I’d add a joint to the mix and be at 100% in no time.) Actually, that’s still my go-to remedy and you know what? It still works. Your stomach hurts? You take Imodium and you’re OK. You have a headache? Take Imodium, you’re OK. You break your ankle? Yep, you guessed it. Works like a charm.

I didn’t have faith in any of the people working in that Health Services office, but I needed to make sure that if my professor ever did check up on my stupid Mono story, there would be a record of me going there. I went in and really milked it for all I was worth. I was leaning on the counter, moaning, and generally trying to look as sick as I could (that was the only time my naturally albino-pale complexion has been a positive thing in my life) so they would think I had Mono.

The numbskull there had me lie down on the cot and tell her my symptoms so of course I laid it on really thick:

ME: I feel like it’s just too much. I have no energy to go to class and it’s just every day…It’s Mono, I just know it

HER: Are you taking any medications? Drugs? Alcohol?

ME: Not me. No way that I would ever do that. I’m here to study and I just wish that I could get out of bed and make it to class. Can you give me something? I just know it’s Mono

HER: We can’t be sure what’s going on until we run some blood and urine samples, but it’s probably not Mono…

ME: (interrupting) Of course it’s Mono. I know my body.

HER: OK, let’s run the blood and urine and see what’s going on and you can come back in a day or two for the results. It’s too soon to say what it could be or if there’s anything wrong with you at all.

ME: Oh, I know there’s something wrong with me (The only other true statement I uttered that day!)

After the urine sample, she tried to take blood and I got light-headed and had to lie down to recover while she got me a cookie and soda. That was the only real symptom I had the whole time I was in that office and it had nothing to do with Mono – it was because I am a major pussy and I pass out from needles! I left there feeling mighty victorious and went home to celebrate how smart I was.

I went back a couple of days later and as I was waiting for her to go over the results with me, I was laying it on thick again and had her go and fetch me some water just to make it look good. I knew that there was a better chance of her telling me that I was going to be Valedictorian than there was of her telling me that I had Mono, but I had to make it look real. She came in with her associate, shut the door, and pulled their chairs right next to where I was laying on the cot. They didn’t say anything and looked at each other and then finally:

HER: “It’s not Mono…” before she could get any further, I grabbed my chest and said “Oh my God, its Hepatitis isn’t it?” knowing full well that there was no way it was.

HER: “Why would you think you have Hepatitis? Have you been in contact with someone who has it?”

ME: “You never know…”

HER: We know what’s going on here and you know that you don’t have Mono. I think you’re a very depressed person and it’s very serious. We’ve seen it before and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

ME: (Hysterical laughing) Whoa sister, I’m not depressed. I may not have Mono, but I’m not depressed.

HER: Really, then how do you explain the tiredness, achiness, not going to class, the excessive sleeping, we ran your blood and urine remember? Your triglyceride count was through the roof which means you are drinking so excessively that it’s triple the count of what it should be. And the imaginary symptoms and thinking you have major illnesses is another sign. How do you explain the drugs in your system? This is depression, plain and simple. I know it when I see it.

ME: OK, seriously…I knew that I didn’t have Mono and joking around about Hepatitis is not funny.  I get that, but here’s what happened: I always come late and so I lied to my Geography Professor and told her that I had Mono so I needed a record of me coming here to be treated for it in case she checked because she didn’t believe me. I didn’t think she even knew what Mono was; she’s from Africa for God’s sake. There’s nothing wrong with me – I’m just lazy. I realize just how stupid this sounds as I hear myself say it out loud, but it’s really true.

HER: Really? Do you think we believe that? That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. What kind of person would do something like that? You’re depressed and you need to talk to someone. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I already called your father and…

ME: WHAT!!!! YOU DID WHAT??? ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? My father is a lunatic and that is the last thing you should have done. What about my privacy? I’m not fucking depressed, I’m pissed off. You’re nuts lady – I’m outta here!!!

Of course she called my father and he is a fucking crazy person to put it mildly: I have already expressed my wishes that he never be near me in a medical crisis and that is especially true when it is a fake medical crisis that I have just made up!!! This is how the call went after she asked for him and introduced herself:

HER: Sir, I’m calling about your son. I think he’s depressed. He came to the Health Services Office pretending to have Mono and we…

HIM: Lady, we’re all depressed, what do you want from me? The Mets are on – and then he hung up on her! Yep, that’s my Father! Good thing I wasn’t on a ledge somewhere…

I tried to go on my merry way and forget any of this had happened, but then I got a call from the Dean’s secretary a few days later to come to her office immediately. I had run-ins with the Dean on numerous occasions and had accidentally told her daughter that I thought she (the Dean, not her daughter) was a Fat Fuck just a few days earlier so I wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted from me.  (I didn’t realize it was her mother until I said “What is that Fat Fuck doing here?” and she said “What Fat Fuck?” And I said “What Fat Fuck? The Dean, who else” and she said “That Fat Fuck happens to be my mother!” and I said “That Fat Fuck is your mother?” and she said “Yes” and I repeated “That Fat Fuck is your mother?” which just made it worse. I don’t know why I thought she would be kidding, but I didn’t believe her. Needless to say, she did not think any part of it was funny. Also, it was in front of about ten people in the lounge, so she really didn’t think it was funny but it wasn’t like I could take it back at that point.
Needless to say, I had to explain the whole situation to the Dean because the hookers from the Health Services Office had gone running to her after my father hung up on her. Those bitches actually tried to block me from being able to register for classes until I went and saw a counselor so she wanted to talk to me and hear my side of the story. Talk about eating humble pie – thank God she knew I was an idiot. She knew that I was telling her the truth and she did threaten to make me go to the counselor out of spite, but did chuckle a little bit at the situation and said “Only you, anyone else and I would never have believed that kind of stupidity…and then we both laughed.

I ended up sweet talking that little African princess and she passed me but it was close. I had to lay on my charm and actually had to show up on time a few times…The lesson we learn here: The problem with health care is not the idiots faking illnesses to get out of something, but the crazy bitches that need to learn how to keep their traps shut!!!

As a postscript to this, a few months later they thought my aunt had Tuberculosis (seriously this time) and I needed a TB test immediately. Obviously I couldn’t go back into that Health Services Office after faking Mono and Hepatitis and tell those nitwits that I needed a TB test so I had to go to the local hospital for it. If you’re thinking of writing in the comments below about the boy who cried wolf – don’t! No one like a smart ass!

Someone help me – I’m afraid of turning into my father!!!

Unlike The Incredible Hulk who changed immediately, one of my greatest fears is that fate will sneak up on me and I’ll undergo a slow and painstaking transition into a heightened version of my father. Some people might think this is a compliment, but I’m not sure the world is ready for another one like him. To know my father is to laugh because he is crazy and hysterical (even if it is at and not with him), but for people that don’t know my father, let me explain.

This might as well be my father's Birth Certificate.

To say that my father is one-of-a-kind is to do a disservice to unique glacial formations created to bring beauty to the world. My father was actually created in another era from spontaneous combustion. He was one of ten children and called Baby Boy at the hospital. They literally named him Baby Boy. Every time he presents that birth certificate, there’s an issue. I guess if you have ten kids, who cares what you name them after a while, right? It’s not like you can remember all of those names anyway. We all think it’s funny, but The Department of Motor Vehicles never got as much of a kick out of it as we did.

Patience was never his strong suit either. How being the father of five kids that should have been caged and tranquilized at times didn’t teach him patience, I’ll never know. I don’t know how or why, but one of us always did something that would force him to clasp his hands outward with disgust while chewing on his tongue and chanting “You Kids…” For instance, “You Kids…Always go out of the house with a wet head-you’ll be barking like as dog”, You kids…think it grew legs and walked out on its own? “You kids…Always think I’m supposed to remember to come back and pick you up when I drop you off somewhere…”

I will say that my father unwittingly taught me the best quality that I possess: the uncanny ability to laugh in someone’s face. He didn’t teach me that skill outright, but he put me into situations which instilled in me a sense that it was something that just couldn’t be helped. Don’t even get me started on his car either, because it was crazy. It was a Navy Blue Diesel Mercedes that you had to plug in during the winter nights. Imagine how awkward it was to go over to someone’s house after dusk and have to ask them for an extension cord to plug it the car in with. That car was always a very sore topic with him anyway; Hit one gas pump and then two parked cars in the middle of the night looking for alcohol all in the span of one week and he brands you a bad driver for life…

  

  

Speaking of that car, anyone who knows my father can see where this is going. One day, my sister and I were sitting in it (more than most likely making fun of him) as he was adding more air to the back tire at a gas station. He was always convinced that it was “riding low” whatever that meant. Don’t you know that as her and I were dancing around and being stupid (No, we weren’t young kids – I was twenty and she was seventeen) my father looked away from the inflating tire to peek into the back window and yell at us to stop horsing around. No sooner did he turn back to the tire before it exploded in his face. BOOM!!!  Seconds later, we were immediately laughing hysterically, and then looking at each other with that knowing glance which said that in his version of this story – somehow this was going to be our fault. All of a sudden, this bald head launched up into my window like a jack in the box and screamed “IT BLEW!” as if we wouldn’t have heard the boom. Talk about thanking God for a strong bladder – those are actually the moments Depends were created for. Needless to say, we were steps away from walking home because he didn’t find it half as funny as the two of us did. His response (with hands were clasped outward and chewing on his tongue “You kids…Think everything’s a fucking joke…”      

  

My father always says that things aren’t made the way they used to be and he means it; Proof of this being the pair of brown pants that he has worn to every family function since 1978. When I said earlier that patience wasn’t his strong suit, I meant it. Those brown pants are his strong suit! Birthdays, Christenings, Backyard Barbecues, Anniversaries, or Card Games there hasn’t been one function that those pants haven’t been invited to. The OCD part of me likes a good ritual as much as the next guy, but when it becomes a uniform something is wrong. When actually confronted with this query, my father swears that he’s never worn those pants. Apparently, all the pictures from over twenty family functions in the past three decades while wearing the little brown knickers isn’t what he would refer to as “proof.”

This is actually the very first of many, many pictures of my father in the brown pants...

My wife actually owns the pants now, believe it or not. Two years ago, my family did a Secret Santa Yankee Swap gift exchange and my father (never one to be thought of as funny) really rocked the Yuletide Spirit. Not only was he wearing a new pair of brown pants, but he wrapped the classic brown knickers as his Secret Santa gift. My wife opened that box and did everyone a public service by taking one for the team and retiring their number. Now if only I could get her to stop wearing them when we go out…Apparently her and my father are in a sisterhood of the Jimmy Carter pants!!! Talk about a pair of pants lasting a long time! Hit me with an Internet High-Five below if anyone in your family has clothes that are older than you…  

One thing that my father has never been mistaken for is sentimental. One only needs to ask my brother Angelo to repeat the conversation he had with my father in January to illustrate this.

 Dad: “I don’t know if I told you this, but this year was the best Christmas I’ve ever had. Everything just couldn’t have been better”

Angelo: “Dad, I wasn’t even fucking there! What are you talking about? (Angelo was bedridden at home with the flu when we got together)

Dad: “Either way, it was the best one I can remember in a long time…”

He’s never been one to worry about feelings or to not kick someone when they’re down I guess…

I am omitting the incriminating and obviously embarrassing parts of his insanity for everyone’s benefit. Does anyone need me to tell them about my father’s uncanny ability to fart on command and he will do it no matter where or when it is? Your friends are in the house, there he goes. You’re in the church for a christening – oops, he did it again! You get the point – the less said the better. How about I put the next part this way? I’m not saying that this actually happened, but if it did – this is how I imagine his response to be: If he were to start selling illegal cable boxes (I’m not saying he did, just projecting here) and I asked for one to take with me to college, I imagine that he’d reply “That’s 250 bucks – we’re not doing this to make friends!” Shortly after that, I’d find out that he sold one to my friend Annie for 200 bucks. So much for a family discount!!!

How it doesn’t chafe a testicle I will never understand, but the waistline of my father’s pants rides so high that his belt could actually be mistaken for a choker necklace. Upon first glance, you scratch your head because you can’t tell if his shirt collar is sagging or if he just got an atomic wedgie…It defies explanation and just cannot be comfortable. I guess after all these years it must seem normal to him, but Oh God if it isn’t a conversation starter for the people passing by. My wife and I actually have an unwritten pact that if one day she sees me going to leave the house and my pants are pulled up past my nipples like his always are, she will euthanize me immediately!!! People wonder how I turned out to be so crazy – No need to look any further than the chap in the faded brown pants for the answer to that one…

Remove the glasses and jacket and this is my father!

As a postscript for this post, I promise that I will record an audio version as well because a lot is lost in the text. You need the inflection and overall, the insanity translates much better with audio…