In the beginning, "hypochondriac" wasn't a sneering pejorative. In fact, it wasn't even a noun. As an adjective, it referred to the upper abdomen, in the general vicinity of the lower ribs, and various spiritual descendants of Webster will tell you that it still does. But this particular zone was believed, in days gone by, to be the seat of melancholia, and over the years the term has undergone more than its share of lexicographical mutation, until nowadays everyone understands "hypochondriac" to denote someone with a pathological obsession with health, or the perceived lack thereof.

In which case, I've got it.

Allegedly, a couple of dozen people read this section every week, and one or two of them might actually remember that a couple of months ago, I was the, um, guest of a local hospital, which undertook to discover if I was in fact having a heart attack, or something entirely different. Twenty-three hours and three thousand dollars later, it appeared to be the latter — though what the "something" might be was yet undetermined.

Even before this incident, though, I was apprehensive. Part of it, I suspect, is the aging process at work; body parts don't function quite as neatly as they used to, and even if it's normal, it's still scary. But I don't handle "scary" well anyway, and it's a particularly bad match for my ongoing case of Jack and Diane's Disease.

Things progressed — or regressed, depending upon one's perspective, I suppose — and nowadays every little twinge seems to add to the worry load: is this a symptom of Something Horrible, or just another reminder that I'm not as young as I used to be? So far, Something Horrible has yet to transpire, but sooner or later it must, as it must for all of us. And what I really wonder about, I guess, is this: Will I even care when it does?

The Vent

#191
1 April 2000

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