Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's Not a Tumor

I was friends with a girl in high school who acted like she was on the brink of death at least once a week.

While she did have one (minor) genuine physical ailment, for the most part, it was all exaggeration and moaning on her part.

It felt like every other conversation we had went something like this:

"Kristy, look at my eye.  Do you see my eye?"

"I see your eye.  It's definitely there."

"Do you see all that inflammation and pus?"

"I guess so."

"I have bacterial conjunctivitis.  I went to the doctor [who either hated her because she wouldn't leave him alone or loved her because she helped pay for his boat] this morning, he took one look, and sure enough:  bacterial conjunctivitis."

"So... you have pink eye.  Don't touch me."

Having a school nurse for a mother often came in handy with my dealings with her:  I was hard to impress when it came to medical ailments and rarely doled out any sympathy.  (Hey, Mom, remember that time I broke my hand, and it looked like a surgical glove that had been inflated and was all black and blue and nasty purple, and you were all, "No, you don't need to go to the hospital- oh, FINE, here's some ibuprofin"?  Have I mentioned that a time or twenty lately?)  Strangely enough, this only seemed to make her more desperate to impress me with the fact that her body was surely falling apart at the ripe old age of 15.

Well, if my relationship with my mom was training for that high school friendship, then that high school friendship was definitely training for my relationship with my daughter.

I'm starting to think Adelaide is a hypochondriac.

Every third day or so, she's coming to me with a different complaint:  "My left cheekbone feels swollen.  Does it look swollen to you?"  "My elbow joint feels a little loose today,"  "My stomach hurts,"  "My back hurts,"  "My knee hurts."

If I'm feeling generous, I'll give the ailing body part a cursory inspection, tell her to take a shower or go for a walk.  If I'm busy dealing with genuine emergencies, I'll tell her to lie down or to go do something worthwhile if she's that hungry for attention.

After arriving home from school yesterday, she spent most of the afternoon limping around, complaining of pain in her heel.  I finally had her lie down, took her sock off, and did a brief inspection.  It looked like a heel.  When I told her the shocking diagnosis, she asked if maybe I could call Grandma Lorri (AHAHAHA, like there's any sympathy to be gained in that quarter!) or look online.  I tried to explain the harbinger of doom that is WebMD and that there was no point in looking there, unless we wanted to convince ourselves that she has cancer of the heel or something.

In the end, she made do with a heated rice pack (we use those things for absolutely everything: headaches, stomachaches, cancer of the heel, etc), and seemed to be walking normally by bedtime.

I did feel a little guilty last night, wondering if six-year-old's could suffer from bone spurs or plantar fasciitis, thinking that maybe this time I should have done at least a little research before brushing off our daughter's pain.

First thing this morning, however, Adelaide announced that she had figured out what was wrong with her foot:  Growing pains.  I was relieved by this sudden but vague announcement, right up until she told me about her newest problem.

She jammed her right pinky finger while eating breakfast this morning.  Could I maybe have a rice pack ready for her when she got home from school today?

I guess it's cheaper than drugs.


  1. Maybe she'd rather stay with me.....where it takes the school nurse to convince me I should take my child to the dr :) Does that mean I'm worse than your mom??????

    1. It's a nurse thing. And my mom has long maintained that it's different when it's your own kid. I don't remember exactly how she puts it. Maybe she'll read this comment and enlighten us all.

  2. "cancer of the heel" :-)

    I've had this same issue at times. This might not work for you, but Emma does not like going to the doctor (probably because she's generally healthy, so it seemed like every visit entailed a vaccination). So, if she complains about something that seems spurious, I tell her "well, if it keeps up, we'll have to schedule a visit with the doctor to check it out". That seems to separate the real from the imaginary pretty well.

    1. She begs me to take her to the doctor. Or to the emergency room. I'm not sure if it's attention, she actually believes something is wrong with her, I'm a terrible mother, or what.

  3. i'm pretty sure i knew the same girl in high school. can you even imagine how rough it is to be friends with that girl now that there's webmd?!

    my mom's a big fan of webmd. one time, she diagnosed atticus with rheumatoid fever, and another time he apparently had cancer of the throat. i'm not sure how i made it to adulthood without having gone through chemo at my mom's request.

    as a result, i'm more in the same camp as you: come to me if you're bleeding ounces at a time or going blind. otherwise, deal with it quietly on your own.

    1. I think there's one of those girls in every high school. I haven't met too many in adulthood, thankfully. Derek sometimes says I'm not sympathetic enough, but I kind of think it's just a mom thing.


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