Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary
Main Entry: hypochondriac
: an individual affected with hypochondria or hypochondriasis – a person can be said to be a hypochondriac when his or her preoccupation with health or disease is so intense that it disrupts normal living habits —People
Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary, © 2002 Merriam-Webster, Inc.
i know someone who can be best described as a hypochondriac. living a privileged life off the fat of his family’s enormous fortune, he has never put in an honest day’s work. the quest for self-improvement via financial gains has never figured in his earthly existence. lacking this focus, his mind naturally wanders and for the past few years he has been beguiling doctors all over town with a series of vague, ill-defined bodily annoyances which he terms ‘big problems’ . he never seems to be in too much of distress and yet he talks about nothing else. he has had recurrent throat infections for which he has been treated with an avalanche of antibiotics. he admitted that he has sent his phlegm in for microscopic examinations at least 50 times and each time they find some innocuous micro-organism, he will be duly prescribed antibiotics. he swallows these religiously but every few months his symptoms will recur and the cycle repeats itself.
he has a long history of mysterious chest symptoms for which he has undergone numerous threadmill tests. not surprisingly the tests have amounted to squat except to line the pocket of the attending doctor. to his credit someone did finally find some kidney stones and he went for a procedure to get rid of them. at the end of the treatment he collected tiny fragments the stones in his urine and demanded that the doctor run tests to see what minerals the stones were made out of! he is convinced that this piece of information will unlock the secrets of the universe and hence it is as significant as the holy grail.
god knows that i have tried to feel sorry for him but this is usually replaced in a split second by mirth and a keen sense of the ridiculous. if via some divine intervention he happens to read this, here is my advice : don’t be so preoccupied with dying that you forget to live! (i actually read this quote from an old copy of reader’s digest – oh the shame!).