Saturday, June 5, 2010


This morning while making a quick sweep through my belongings in search of objects not ordinarily thought of when packing for an overseas trip (note: in three weeks I am heading to a small and apparently somewhat isolated French Mediterranean village, to escape, one would think, the exhausting clamor of the press and my fans), I found several bottles of expired over-the-counter medications, ranging from hemorrhoid creams to eye drops to painkillers, the most recent of which passed its sell-by date in April of 2001.

I am not, as my friend Barbara once put it, "a consumer of health care."  I have not seen my "regular" physician in seven years, not since I turned fifty, in fact.  I did make a surprise visit to the Duke Hospital ER just over a year ago, after a short series of fainting spells that had no immediate explanation.  In my mind, that visit constitutes a "checkup" (and, apart from the fact that I had just passed out three times in a row, I was, I was told, in remarkably good health!)

I have no prescribed medications--and I only irregularly take my megadose of vitamins C, B-complex, and I don't know what else.  I don't "watch what I eat"; it simply speeds past the eyes at rates a hummingbird could not keep up with (with some embarrassment, I admit I am known for how quickly I consume large quantities--to hell with the food pyramid--it's sort of a claim to fame, no doubt what I'll be remembered for when I'm gone).  I don't have a regular bedtime--but the alarm clock awakes me at 5:30 every morning to the cool sounds of mainstream jazz on WNCU 90.7 FM.

I walk the dog three times a day and dance around in my living room three or four times a week for exercise.  I masturbate at least once a day.  Then often I write up the accompanying fantasy for another blog--one which decent people like yourselves should not take an interest in.

So, no, I am not a healthy (or wholesome) man.  On a positive note, at least I am not a hypochondriac.  I wonder if "hypochondriac" has an antonym?  "Unneurotic" was the best I could find after a quick Internet search--a word my "check spelling" feature questions--and, intriguingly, I can find no synonym for "unneurotic."  (So what does this tell us about the state of the English-speaking world?)

"Hyperchondria" pops up on the Urban Dictionary ("never thinking you are sick even when you really are"), but elsewhere appears mainly as a result of people's not knowing how to spell "hypochondria."  I should point out that "hyperchondria" is a word that defies the logic and method of etymology, that gentle science of word roots and origins we English instructors persist in taking an interest in, despite its doubtful relevance in the modern world.

I am not proposing that the way I live makes a lot of sense, but it is the way I live.  Perhaps I have an irrational fear of healthcare personnel, even though I worked for about four years as a medical editor and writer.  (By the way, nothing I found out through the experience swayed me to the arms of the US healthcare system.)  For an atheist, I have gone to extremes in my faith in divine providence that most fundamentalists would shy away from.  My friend Ann thinks I am a closet Christian Scientist.

So I chucked the expired meds into the trashcan, realizing that all I really needed to take to France was toothpaste and deodorant--and I'll probably pick up some ibuprofen and Claritin, just in case I drink too much or come across something in nature or a sidewalk cafe to which I may be allergic but will never bother to request the tests needed to find out if an actual allergy exists.

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