Warning: If you happen to be 1) Jewish and neurotic 2) prone to having bouts of anxiety and/or 3) tend to be a hypochondriac, do NOT do what I did last nite. I watched Monsters Inside Me (MIM) on Animal Planet. It’s the cable TV show in which random people living nice normal lives start to feel “achy and slightly feverish” and end up on life support fighting off deadly flesh-eating bacteria 24 hours later. If they are lucky it is not that but some other horrid illness more uncommon than a reasonably priced and competent divorce attorney. Even worse, the doctors who are first consulted on Monsters Inside Me uniformly are “at a loss” to explain the cause of the bizarre presenting symptoms which, like Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) in the movie The Fly include curious pathogenic changes such as body parts and distinguishing facial features, ie. fingers, toes, nose, ears, etc., turning into mush or falling off without warning.
Did I mention that I am a Clinical Psychologist who is Jewish, anxiety prone, and a bigger hypochondriac than Woody Allen? Dont worry, I am absolutely fine when working with clients. In fact with all their tsuris (Yiddish for mess of personal problems) I tend to feel better about myself. However, since some of the more common anxiety related dreams I hear from my patients are ones in which teeth or fingers are missing or fall out, I really dont need to be reminded about new antibiotic resistant bacterium that “ravage ones body” and turns its victim’s liver into putrid foie gras. Any TV show that repeatedly uses lurid descriptions like “his eyeball protruded from it’s socket” or “his brain was riddled with fusiform bacteria” is generally not going to bolster my legendary late-nite appetite let alone help me fall asleep. Dont get me started about my insomnia, either. In fact, if you really want to lose some weight after the Holiday season is over, just watch Monsters Inside Me all day and night for about a week straight. There is a very good chance you will reach your goal weight if you dont first trigger bipolar mania, intractable OCD or paranoid schizophrenia.
I have known ever since my freshman year at college at the University of Colorado, Boulder that I suffered from a bad case of pre-med student syndrome, the psychological affliction in which one comes to believe they suffer from every disease they read about. This is especially true of the Black Plague and other impossible to pronounce fatal afflictions on Wikipedia. Watching episodes of House only makes matters worse. Case in Point: The untoward side effects of seeing and hearing Monsters Inside Me last night are as follows: a now absolute fear of the outdoors as well as any kind of mud, swimming in any freshwater lake or pool, and the need to avoid any life-form smaller then ones nasal passages, period. Camping is out, hiking is now a big no-no, and swinging on a “rope swing” anywhere near active mold spores, rotted wood or raccoons is completely verboten. Hiding in ones bed indoors is the best preventive measure one can take, but first one must carefully wash all linens, bed sheets and check the mattress several times for bed bugs and deer ticks. Better yet, burn everything and start anew at Marshalls, TJ Maxx or Target. A trip to Costco in a Hazmat equipped mini-van for a large pallet of kleenex, antibacterial soap, a mountain of alcohol swabs and a four pack of mercurochrome is the closest thing to a safe and fully antiseptic shopping trip. Dont forget to wear a surgical mask and thick rubber gloves. Why? Because other store customers and employees are walking petri dishes of H1N1 infection, SARS, and community-acquired MERSA. I must also remember to never touch paper money if I want to make it to Easter/Passover without coughing up bloody sputum. American currency is apparently hopelessly contaminated by deadly microbes, trace amounts of illegal drugs, infected blood, contaminated bodily fluids and gram-negative bacteriium waiting to jump off Washington’s likeness and onto my fatty liver. Ok, enough said. You get the idea. I dont want to belabor the point or get anyone unduly paranoid… like I am now. If you need me I will be in my office calmly listening to my clients or at home in a fetal position taking my own pulse and having my cerebrospinal fluid tested for hidden anomalies. What me worry?
Here’s some additional information to heighten the latent anxiety: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/16/drug-resistant-bacteria-deaths-_n_3936820.html
Cliff Mazer, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist and writer living and working in Atlanta, Georgia. He blogs on WordPress under the name CaptCliff at https://captaincliff.wordpress.com. This weekend his three grown sons are taking him to a cabin in North Georgia for his 60th Birthday. Help me. Contact: 404-932-7193