Two weeks ago, I was worried that I might have a detached retina. Last week, I thought I was having a heart attack.
Neither fear was wholly unprovoked: I'm quite nearsighted and I have floaters in both eyes, which means I'm at a higher risk for detachment. The day after Easter I saw two quick flashes of light in one eye. Nothing else seemed wrong, so I forgot about it until a couple of days later when my peripheral vision seemed oddly blurry in that same eye. Granted, it was late and dark and at a bar, and the experience wasn't repeated. But those two events were enough to make me intermittently hysterical until I could get to my eye doctor a few days later.
Then last week I hopped into my car after a long day on campus. My left arm and shoulder felt uncomfortable, as if I had pulled a muscle, so I stretched around a bit at first one stoplight and then another as I headed for the highway. Then my chest started feeling tight, and then my other arm felt tight and a little tingly--and it seemed that first my right and then my left legs were becoming similarly tingly, as if they were falling asleep. I kept driving, trying to decide what to do, but by the time I got to the highway 10 minutes later I concluded that, eh: if I hadn't passed out yet, I probably wasn't going to.
I don't think I have a tendency toward hypochondria, but it's also true that I rarely have things to be a hypochondriac about: I've had maybe one cold in the past two years and nothing more serious. So maybe it's the unusualness of these two episodes that alarmed me.
Or maybe it's this: my grandmother has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. My father just turned 70. I'm dating someone new and thinking about how people always say that they want to find the person they'll grow old with--which is to say, the person we will watch die, as they will watch us.
That's not a terrible thing, necessarily. But it's still the best-case scenario.