Don't worry, part one

I have an occasionally nerve-wracking relationship with my body. I feel a little guilty about that given how many people I know in chronic pain or with serious long-term medical conditions, since I'm in excellent health and my body has always worked just fine. Still, I'm one of those people where "me" doesn't feel like my physical form, and my physical body occasionally does baffling things without much warning. And when that happens, I get very nervous until I understand them, and tend to assume the worst.

Sort of a borderline hypochondriac, except that I don't invent things, just worry about things that show up that I don't understand.

The Internet is wonderful for understanding medical conditions, and has helped a lot with easing me through moments of panic. However, it is notably lacking in one thing. There are very few sites devoted to explaining all the things that aren't wrong with you, or that at least aren't nearly as serious as you might at first think.

For example, today I noticed a hard bump under my arm near the middle of my armpit that was tender to the touch and felt like a hard, round swelling under the skin. If you do a search on the Internet, you will find many, many sites that will confirm this to be a swollen lymph node, one of those things that's usually harmless but might warrant a trip to the doctor (and has cancer associations, so it can be particularly scary).

However, I happen to know, just from one past experience which freaked me out, that I can, in fact, get pimples in my armpit. I know this because the last time I had exactly these symptoms and was worrying over whether it was a swollen lymph node, the bump turned into a red swelling in the skin, formed a head, and eventually healed exactly like a pimple. I've yet to find a single site out there that will tell you this, and some will say that if your lymph nodes are red and tender, you should go to a doctor.

I'm going to give it a week or two and see if it turns out to be another pimple, since that's way more likely.

I started, some time ago, keeping a medical log so that I could remember things like this for which the Internet is decidedly unhelpful. I think I'll start posting about a few of those, to throw them out there in case a search helps someone else who has the same tendency.

Here's another: If you suddenly develop a grey-black object in your vision, something that looks vaguely like an insect or cobweb but which doesn't go away and which moves around when you move your eye, don't panic. You're almost certainly not going blind, and you almost certainly don't have a detached retina. You have what's called a floater. They happen to some people and not to others. They're perfectly normal and usually don't indicate a deeper problem.

If it's the first time you've gotten a floater, you might want to make a appointment with an opthamologist to peer in your eye and double-check, but unless you have dozens of them, are seeing bright flashes of light in your peripheral vision, or have vision loss, it's not an emergency.

Yes, they're incredibly annoying. Yes, they can go away, but more likely they'll come and go or be noticable or not noticable depending on the brightness and the weather. You can sometimes get them out of the center of your vision by rolling your eyes a few times. Yes, billions of people get these and just don't appear to ever talk about them so that everyone can experience the same initial panic for themselves.

First of an occasional series.

Posted: 2007-04-12 21:18 — Why no comments?

Last spun 2013-07-01 from thread modified 2013-01-04