My Mom is one of the more paranoid people you’ll meet, examples of which are more numerous than I can count. For instance, she would never let my brother and me ride in the car together apart from her “in case you crash, I still have one of you left.” Nice to hear when you’re seven.
Anyway, I started feeling under the weather a few days ago, and my neck was a little achy. Just a cold right? Well, not in my mind. As a kid, my hyper-medically educated mother implanted the idea that those symptoms certainly meant that I irrefutably had deadly meningitis. Improbable, yes, but the circumstantial and freak diagnosis of 5 college kids when I was at school at UT Austin with it added just enough proof for me to be paranoid. For the rest of my life.
Nothing medical is innocuous to my mother; it’s always the worst possible scenario. It was never a sinus problem, it was a brain tumor. It couldn’t be a sore, it was flesh eating bacteria. Or Hunta virus, or Lupus. Or anything in Latin or “So and So’s” disease that she wasn’t specific about but it sounded dangerous and horrible and incurable.
As you can understand I start to get really neurotic at the minutest neck twinges. It never turns out to be deadly meningitis because, of course, I’d be dead or hospitalized, but no matter logic, I immediately jump to that. It’s amazing how mindsets like that from your childhood linger no matter if you want them to or not. I had a swollen lymph node a few years ago on the Buffy set, from a spider bite probably, and I SWEAR TO GOD I immediately thought: Bubonic Plague. It wasn’t, BTW.
The cold has traveled to my chest today, and I have a grody cough. Guess what I thought immediately this morning? That’s right, Tuberculosis, baby. Which is actually the one disease I wanted as a child. I know that’s weird, but I used to read all those turn of the century books like, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little Women and Anne of Green Gables. Invariably there was some beautiful, helpless, but innately GOOD girl who fell victim to “consumption” in those books, and man, did I want to be that girl. They always had rosy cheeks and coughed blood into little hankies and all the cute men were in love with those doomed ladies.
I don’t want it anymore. (Cross fingers I didn’t tempt fate.)