Class, it is high time we have reassembled, having taken an extended spring break during which I am certain you have all spent your time to good advantage studying for the final exam and writing your term papers. Earlier, the Curmudgeonly Professor resolved the problem of how to remain stubborn and, for that matter, how to be successful at becoming more stubborn tomorrow than you are today. Thus, we can now move on to another subject of great importance in the daily scheme of things. We are going to discuss the principles of how to be a better hypochondriac.
Being an economist and not a physician, you may object to my lack of professional expertise on this matter. In that regard, your objection has merit. I do not even know the dictionary definition of hypochondria, let alone the psychiatric and medical means of diagnosing and treating whatever hypochondria is. On the other hand, I have more experience in being a hypochondriac than all of the physicians and psychiatrists put together.
Physicians are prone to make quick decisions (in only a few seconds, according to the learned analysts) about a patient when the patient sits in front of them and begins to recite their litany of woes, aches, pains, worries, symptoms, and other complaints. Is the patient just making up all of this stuff, or does the patient actually have something wrong with them? Probably the law of averages says that the patient is just fine, thank you. In the patient's mind, however, is this looming and lingering specter of fear and doubt. "What if there is really, really something wrong with me? And, what if that thing that is really, really, wrong with me is really, really serious? And what if that really, really, serious thing that is wrong with me could be ultimately fatal? And, even though the doctor told me I am just fine, what if my doctor just got tired of listening to my whining and needed to get rid of me so he or she could see the next patient on schedule? What if my doctor misdiagnosed me and I really do have something serious? Should I go get a second opinion? And what if my doctor, who has seen me for many years, just mistakenly assumed that, since I have been fine for decades, I am still fine now, when actually the Big Calamity has struck me now and he or she just couldn't see it and didn't believe me when I said I was probably about to croak?"
Thus, we can see that a hypochondriac is never well and will never be well. Otherwise he or she could not be a hypochondriac, whatever a hypochondriac is. I have been a hypochondriac since I was a little boy. Early on, I thought my heart palpitations would kill me and, one time, I stayed awake all night to see if I would still be around the next morning. In high school, our family doctor told me that, if I wasn't careful, I would end up being a lifetime hypochondriac. When I took my physical exam for the infantry during the Korean War, the examining cardiologist said I had "psychoneuroses with a psychogenic cardiovascular reaction." Therefore, I was unfit to be sent to the Korean War where I probably would never have survived, as in the case of too many of my classmates. So I asked the University of Wyoming health service physician what that meant and as near as I can remember she said it meant that my heart was just fine but that I was nuts, or something like that.
My wife has often said she should have been a doctor and that she is not my nurse so, if I have a complaint, go see a doctor. Do not ask her how life has been while living with a hypochondriac for centuries. I have asked her if she would have married me anyway if she knew what a hopeless jangled case I was, and her answer is not reassuring.
The bell is about to ring, so we will continue this discussion during a later class period. Meanwhile, focus on each tiny ache, pang, ping, pain, hallucination, or other manifestation of your approaching entry into immortality and see how far you can blow them up into a wholly irrational fear. You may even want to visit your physician in the meantime to make sure you will be around for the next class period. Class dismissed.