Sir William Osler — whoever that is — said: "The desire to take medicine is perhaps the greatest feature which distinguishes men from animals."
Frankly I've reached the Age of Symptoms — by that I mean little aches and pains that I used to take in stride have suddenly become harbingers of dire consequences.
The passing of years has a lot to do with it, of course, but more than that we've been bombarded with so much medical information from newspapers and the Gloom Tube, that most of us are now amateur diagnosticians without portfolio.
When we were kids, it was a mark of distinction to have the most warts on your hand. Now it's a worry! Cancer maybe!
Now when I finish an outside chore, I analyze each tingle and twinge to determine how much longer my stay in this vale of tears will be.
Someone once said that the greatest curse of a college education is that it permits you to worry about things in all parts of the world. I've gotten so good at it that I can read the National Geographic Magazine and immediately catch diseases which have never been known outside the jungles of Borneo or the island of Madagascar.
Once I got carried away and tried to recapture my youth by stuffing myself with mulberries from an overloaded tree. I got a good old-fashioned stomach ache just like I used to get a half century ago when we youngsters stained our hands and faces purple, trying to out-eat the robins.
If we complained too much, it usually meant a dose of caster oil, so we suffered in silence until the next day brought blessed relief. Well now, at my age, I was not permitted the luxury of simple intestinal cramps (which we also knew so well during green apple season). I immediately thought of diverticulitis and followed that by conjuring up a series of complications certain to have me off to the Mayo Clinic by morning.
The old line that ignorance is bliss might be an exaggeration, but I'm not so sure that it doesn't have a bit of truth to it after all.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a firm believer in medical science and the importance of preventive care, but nowadays I'm afraid too many of us suffer from excess symptoms more than we do from the malconditions they're supposed to warn us about.
Frankly, though, I've got a bad case of "symptomitis!" Whatever it is, I've got it!
© 2009 Robert F. Karolevitz