IMG_1064Imitation is said to be a form of flattery. Our nursing instructors must have felt proud by the constant array of compared symptoms and concerns we developed as we studied each body system. My hormonal headaches meant I had a massive pituitary tumor. My roommate, Debbie imagined she had bladder cancer while we studied Urology, then in Neurology she developed Brain Cancer. Girls across the hall cornered the market on gastrointestinal and respiratory issues. . . They even practiced talking as though trached.
I successfully avoided TB but did commission a hand-tooled fringed jacket from a long term TB veteran while on Pulmonary. Diane explored GYN issues when she seriously considered going out with a guy she met in the STD clinic. Ok, in truth many of us sought birth control at the student health clinic, in addition to valium, or a myriad of pain pills for sundry aches and pains. During Rehab the use of braces, crutches and therapy sessions always increased among our ranks.
I learned to speak in tongues during Psych rotation and enlarge my array of multiple personalities. Drug seeking and addiction issues were explored through our profound understanding of pharmaceuticals gained through incessant review of Medication/Drug index cards.
Some girls we saw occasionally in the shared bathroom/shower facilities were trend setters, gagging, purging after binging on cafeteria soul food. Lordy! Eating disorders didn’t have names at the time. These behaviors were ignored as screams for attention. What they got was more isolation. Nursing students didn’t get simple colds of flu; ours was sinus infections, strep throat and brain frying fever of unknown origin.
Dermatology rotation was another favorite of mine, comparing freckles, moles, zits, hives and any kind of rash, scrape or irritation. We could nitpick as well as any monkey. It was like the scene from JAWS where Shaw/Scheider and Dreyfuss compared their heroic shark scars. Our quest was to find bazaar skin eruptions from an exotic illness.
A cramp or muscle strain in the student nurses’ mind was always a break, torn tendon or ligament. It had to be at the very least a sprain. A sore joint had to be synovitis or fluid collection, rheumatoid condition or arthritis. I talked with a friend, a psychotherapist about the silliness we exhibited. She told me Florence Nightingale herself was a hypochondriac. She apparently ‘took to her bed’ for long periods of time in her later life. So I guess each of us with our vivid imaginations followed the behavior of the iconic Nightingale.
Thank goodness that once out in the real world the newer nurse gladly leaves the illnesses to his/her patients grateful to get out alive and in one piece.

One thought on “Hypochondria

  1. Madonna

    I sure can relate to this! Microbiology class was the worse! I was certain at one point a rare microorganism was devouring my GI tract. In truth, it was just a simple case of nausea.


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