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Offbeat.

My guess is that there is an economy to hypochondria and sick leave. It's probably an unspoken thing. If you see someone getting sick, you watch for the sick leave opportunity. If it is a matter of getting sick leave, then other people in the office will roll out similar symptoms on a staggered basis, so that everyone gets a turn to be sick, but nobody actually gets left holding the baby on his or her own.

How are you feeling? Everything well? You aren't sweating I take it. I hope your heart doesn't race if you exert yourself too much. Do you wake up knackered with a fear of a runny nose?

Welcome to the wonderful world of hypochondria, those imaginary diseases that make you run off to the doctor thinking you are about to kick the bucket. And by that, I don't mean the ones that afflict you on Sunday night, or the ones that hit you on Thursday and vanish on Friday at about five in the afternoon.

I got a scare the other day. My left shoulder seized up in agony. I immediately thought a blockage in an vein or artery or something. The right shoulder went the same way. I suspected lung cancer. I mean, your shoulders are high up in your chest. After a while I reckoned early arthritis.

Right now, after an examination of my back, which has knots in it that would make port workers envious, I'm heading towards the idea that I should find a different place to sit, and possibly sit straighter, instead of hunching like a vulture over the monitor ...

Which leads me to my eyesight. I could put on my glasses to prove to myself that I am not going blind, but I can never find them. I'm betting early Alzheimer's. The next glasses I get will be lime green instead ofcamouflage black, so that I can easily see them.

No, I won't go see a doctor. People who go to doctors or hospitals inevitably get booked off sick or die. Better just to hang around here with my paranoia. It's healthier.

Hypochondria is fun. It gives us something to worry about when we have had enough of worrying about the people on telly or what colleagues are doing. Without hypochondria, the world would be a much more boring place.

Now, with the internet, it becomes much more interesting. Instead of just being suspicious of doctors, we can Google symptoms and argue with doctors. "But have you checked modern genetics like on the BBC website? Maybe I'm mutating. Have you considered that?"

Personally, I hope these pains in my shoulders mean that I am growing wings. I'm not sure how I will handle changing shirts, and I will have to sleep on a giant-sized budgie roost, but it would be a cool mutation. I could charge people to look at them and I could audition for a part in the next X-Men movie.

Of course, hypochondria is not always great. Some people take the smallest symptom as an excuse to head off to the doctor, and that leads to blood tests and a whole day off, followed by more days off if the test works out for the hypochondriac. That means that everyone who gets left behind in the workplace ends up sick as well, with that faint feeling of nausea and the heart that beats a bit faster as the realisation sinks in that someone else is going to have to fill in and do the work.

My guess is that there is an economy to hypochondria and sick leave. It's probably an unspoken thing. If you see someone getting sick, you watch for the sick leave opportunity. If it is a matter of getting sick leave, then other people in the office will roll out similar symptoms on a staggered basis, so that everyone gets a turn to be sick, but nobody actually gets left holding the baby on his or her own.

The hypochondria that gets me the worst is the Monday malady. It's old now. If you do have a chronic problem with Mondays, take the next best thing and go for a different day of the week, or cut back on the Saturday evening blowout so your body has time to recover by Monday morning.

In the interests of maintaining economic productivity of nations, my suggestion is that doctors should double the number of needles required for Monday testing by doubling the number of tests prescribed on a Monday, as well as prescribing routine visits to proctologists. Medical funds can also do their bit by only paying if the tests lead to valid sick notes.

Maybe Monday should be declared International Good Health Day, with prizes for work attendance.

Hypochondria may have entertainment value, and it may be a way to score leave, but there are limits.

Pierre Mare

http://pierremare.blogspot.com
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Title Annotation:Community & Culture
Author:Mare, Pierre
Publication:Namibia Economist (Windhoek, Namibia)
Date:Nov 16, 2012
Words:820
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