Thursday, September 23, 2010


When I was in 3rd grade, I thought I had Herpes. I had some sort of clogged gland in my nether region, and I was convinced I had a sexually transmitted disease. I had sat on a toilet in Penn Station, on a class trip, and I knew for certain that I had contracted this disease, that would haunt me for life. I was afraid to tell my mother because I knew that she would be upset with me, for not hovering over the toilet, in a public bathroom, as she had always insisted. I had done this to myself, and this was my punishment.
After facing my mother, and confessing, she made an appointment for me to see the pediatrician. I had a male doctor, and was dreading the visit. I literally was shaking on the way to the appointment. I would have to tell him that I had Herpes. I just shuddered at the thought of having to be examined. I was in 3rd grade!! The only people to have ever seen me naked was my parents, and mostly, my mom. My mother and I waited in the exam room. When he came in, he seemed very serious. I was scared. He spoke directly to me, and not to my mother. He asked me what the problem was. I couldn't even get the words out. I looked at my mother, to fill in the blanks for me, and prompt her to maybe do all the talking, but she remained silent. He listened to me, unfazed, as I told him, the sad truth. I told him I had Herpes Simplex II. I had looked it up in my dad's nursing school books. I was infected, and would have this the rest of my life. Years of being a social pariah had already run through my head for days. I had already come to terms with never having children, or getting married. My life would be different. Not what I had been rehearsing for the last few years in my room, that was furnished with a play crib, and kitchen. My canopy bed post was my husband, and we would speak to each other in hushed tones, like the couples on the Love Boat did, when they were having the rail side, moonlit, kissing scenes,  and I would lick my lips, to look like I had lip gloss on. My bed post would be my only husband, and I had accepted this.
Dr. Dvorken asked my mother to leave the exam room for a moment, after he had taken a look at my Herpes. He sat down on his chair that moved around the room, and smiled at me. He asked me did I know how people got Herpes. I was not quite sure of the exact semantics of it all, but I was sure a toilet seat was the way. I remember how tender and kind he was to me. He told me that I had a clogged pore, a pimple, and it would take care of itself, without medical intervention. He told me not to read nursing books, or medical textbooks, again, and I should focus on being Erin. I should be the 3rd grader I was, and not to worry about this stuff.
I wish I could say I listened. As the years went by, I had a brain tumor, a tape worm, I was convinced I had leukemia. I even secretly wished that I had a terminal illness for a spell. I could see the flowers and cards surrounding me in my hospital bed. Maybe even a giant card made by all of my classmates, and signed by them, with a personal note from each. I came down with a really bad flu once, and actually thought I had bacterial meningitis. Or was it viral meningitis. Either was the one that gave you a stiff neck and a headache and fever, and KILLED YOU! I went to bed that night, and thought that I would never see morning.
This has not stopped in my adult life sadly. Through the years, I have diagnosed myself with every ailment, and disease, syndrome, and disorder. I was on a business trip in London once, and was struck down, so severely with food poisoning, I called my father and told him who had the spare key to my apartment in New York, and where my banking information was. I had it at the height of Mad Cow disease. Need I say what I diagnosed myself with?
A few weeks ago, I went to the emergency room. I had excruciating pains in my lower back. They were just awful. I went on Web MD, and suddenly, I had diagnosed myself with kidney failure. I made David come home from work early, because, I had to act fast. Once the kidneys fail, then all the organs go to hell. I had a cat scan, and blood work done. Final diagnosis: lower muscular back pain. Probably from picking up Molly incorrectly. Ugh....
Today, I read about a disorder. I know that I have this. It is called S.A.D. Seasonal Affective Disorder. The fact that this is a real disorder is mind blowing. It is seasonal depression. It is estimated that 10-20% of the US population may experience this. Women far outnumber men. It is a cyclical condition. The symptoms usually begin in the late Fall. Symptoms include: fatigue, loss of energy, social withdrawal, A CRAVING FOR CARBOHYDRATES, weight gain, difficulty concentrating, decreased motivation, oversleeping, irritability, anxiety, and feelings of sadness. Yup!!! I am experiencing each and every symptom!  This week alone I have used my slow cooker TWICE  to make gloppy, gravy laden, starchy meals! This time, I do not need a doctor to confirm the diagnosis. Apparently there is no cure. They suggest bright light "therapy". They also suggest that you avoid carbs, and caffeine, and get a good nights sleep. A healthy diet should be followed. I am also supposed to seek a spiritual connection, and reach out to loved ones, to lift my sadness. 
I guess I will sit in the sun today. No where to go, what with no car and all. I will begin my therapy. Yet Dr. Dvorken's words keep ringing in my head.
Just be Erin. Don't worry about this stuff.


  1. You have the blues my friend. I prescribe some cabernet or merlot, my favorites.....and some nice, crunchy fall leaves.

  2. haaaaaaaaa. so love this post. I self-diagnose constantly as well.
    Dear David, although you are only a bedpost, I believe that my sweet friend Erin is in love with you. Please be kind to her and speak to her as they do on LoveBoat.:)(my favorite part of your post)
    PS there are light-therapy baseball caps. I have wondered about getting these.-xo Darlene