@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
It must be hereditary. Maybe it’s a side effect of my parents OCD/anal retentiveness. Though my folks are hardly hypochondriac’s. And if you asked me, I’d say my sister should be far more concerned about germs and disease (actually, my sister once told me I was really bumming her out when I ranted about the dangers of the Zika virus). While my brother is easily one of the boldest and bravest people I know, he is perhaps the only person I know more anxious about disease than myself.
As a kid, I don’t remember being particularly paranoid about getting sick, though I was riddled with middle ear infections, which I still regard as some of the worst pain because it’s not so easily alleviated. I would just be clutching my ears in the fetal position as pain radiated through my head. Once, I had a bad ear infection while on our boat as a kid, and as ear infections can throw off your equilibrium, I miss stepped and fell from the dock, scraping the shit out of my right leg, getting a blood clot and a mark that is still there today.
When I was in fifth grade I missed two weeks of school because of mono, that my pediatrician misdiagnosed. I hated my pediatrician, because I was so tiny growing up, the doctor insisted I would be a legal dwarf and encouraged my mom to put me on growth hormones, which my mom refused, knowing late blooming was hereditary (Mom was right. All three of of her kids grew after high school.).
By the time I was in my teens, I was obsessed with diseases. I would find myself reading chapters about disease in my biology text books that weren’t even assigned. My best friends parents were pharmacists, and very intelligent people whom I’d ask questions about illnesses and the drugs to cure them. If I wasn’t so squeamish, and didn’t have an affinity for writing, a medical profession might’ve suited me in another life.
After reading “The Hot Zone,” I became terrified and paranoid about Ebola, and I would share my fear of the organ liquidating nightmare at parties when I got high. Really, I am quite a drag. But I think I became a full blown hypochondriac from working in a nursing home for four years. That was it for me. When a stomach bug or flu spread throughout the home, I almost always got it. Especially the first couple years working there. Keep in mind, I am and was even more so an adrenaline junky back then. Death itself didn’t scare me. But how you die does. I had it in my mind I would die fast, violently, and relatively young. But the key word there is fast. Not slow, not weak, not sick, not in a hospital.
My fear of disease sometimes, if not often, prevented me from hooking up with people. I remember being at parties in college and running STD statistics in my head, playing a game in my mind about who is most likely to spread something to someone. Forget about kissing, I didn’t even want to be touched.
Once, I was in a doctors office getting routine blood work done, confessing all my hypochondriac fears, and the doctor said to me, “we all get something eventually, if we’re lucky.” Which is a really weird thing for a doctor to say. But I also once went to the doctor to get checked out what were just two bug bites on my bikini line. Hahahaha!
When I was using online dating aps, it did amaze me how little people worry about diseases. If it were up to me, I’d have a link on my online dating profile directing people to WebMD, but it is already hard enough convincing people I’m the good kind of weird. It’s like everyone subscribed to that doctors ease about STI’s! I once had a guy message me, straight up, asking to meet and hook up. I replied with, “I’m not trying to be an asshole. I’m genuinely curious. Does that work?” He replied, “sometimes.” I got a similar message from a pretty good looking guy that he was not interested in relationships, only hooking up. Sure, that made him shallow, but at least he was honest, so I was honest with him too. I wrote back, “sorry, but I am a hypochondriac and I am too worried about disease.” I’d like to remain STD free, thanks.
I am thoroughly convinced the apocalypse will start with some sort of super flu that will wipe out enough of the population to throw everyone in a panic, causing government to crumble, infrastructure to collapse, etc, etc. I also think that could happen in our lifetime. So, yeah, you could say I’m a little paranoid. I wear surgical masks on planes if I suspect someone sitting near me is ill. Yup. I’m that girl. You might wonder how someone like me lives in New York City, which is a pretty disgusting city to be honest. I do carry anti-bacterial gel. But I have to think about not thinking about it constantly. I’m better than I used to be. Let’s just say that. But I guess my love for the city itself outweighs some of my (mostly irrational) fears.
I used to love violence and gore in movies and television when I was younger. Actually, it’s quite alarming to me now how much I loved horror movies and violence as a kid. Because now, I can’t always watch it. I have averted my eyes many times watching Game of Thrones and there was a time I would have loved all that. I think the turning point for me with blood tolerance was after the tonsillectomy that almost killed me. Pints of blood hemorrhaged from my face, and if you’ve ever lost a lot of blood (especially from your head) there’s a certain metallic smell/taste imprinted in my memory and since I go dizzy at the sight of blood. I’m a pansy. When I was a kid, playing sports or whatever, I’d fall and scrape my knees and elbows, and would keep going, blood dripping from my wound, and I’d shake it off like it was nothing.
There are many times, I wish to abandon my life, and live in a simpler world, in a shack on the beach in South America or something. There’s still temptation in such a fantasy. Why not? The ocean is my first love, and the idea is romantic to a recluse like myself. But I won’t leave western medicine. My brother, upon returning from Nicaragua, came down with Dengue Fever, which he was hospitalized and quarantined for as doctors struggled to find a diagnose for days. He was down in Florida, with my family, as I worried in New York. It was scary as Hell. That’s the type of thing you could die from if you don’t have western medicine. Nicaragua has been crossed off my travel list. I wouldn’t mind dying by, say, falling off a cliff, or getting my head bitten off by a shark (if I get eaten by a shark, it’s my hope the shark bites my head clean off), but I do not want to die of a mosquito borne illness. Fuck that.
In conclusion, we are all probably going to die because of an illness. Also, people really hate it when you bring up statistics about disease, especially at a party, or something where people are trying to keep the mood light. But I would like to end on one important note: if you are an anti-vaxxer you are so fucking stupid it’s unbelievable.