Today's Topic:
Miss Diagnosis

"Where does it hurt?" The doctor asked.

I showed him the spots on my shoulder and upper arm that were causing me trouble. As he examined them and had me move my arms into different positions, I took the opportunity to ask a couple questions.

"Do you think this might be the symptom of a heart problem?"

"I doubt it."

"Could it be torn muscles near my rotator cusp that will result in intensive surgery and months of recovery?"

"No. You have full range of motion."

"Do I have Lupus?"

"Uh, no."

He stepped back and stared at me. There's a good chance my doctor thinks I'm a hypochondriac. What he doesn't know is that I work in an office full of women. It's like having fifty moms, each and every one suggesting a different neurotic notion to accompany the symptoms I describe to them.

I'll be in line for a potluck, and I'll unconsciously rub my arm.

"What's wrong with your arm?" one of them will ask.

"It hurts."

"You better get that checked. My friend had pains in his arm, and he died the next week!"

My eyes get big.

Another lady chimes in. "My cousin started complaining about shoulder pain, and the next week, the doctor came back with a diagnosis of testicular cancer. Boy, did that come as a surprise to her!"

Within minutes, I'm casually excusing myself from the line and returning to my office where I can call the doctor and move my appointment up.

My doctor has a new "patient treatment" form that the nurse has you fill out while waiting. One of the questions is, "Were you injured at work?"

I answered, "No, but I was subjected to several dozen paranoid rants based on a single physical ailment. Does that count?"

We now return to the part of the story where I'm still asking the doctor questions. I'm ticking through the possibilities in the order they were presented to me:

"Do I have fibromyalgia?"


"Am I pregnant?"

"I didn't test for that"

"Is my nose going to fall off?"

"Yes. I mean no."

"Is it possible that I was bit a spider whose venom will cause me to age so rapidly that not even the highest quality ointments and creams can hide the effects?"

"Not likely."

"Am I going to grow a third arm out of my torso?"

"That only happens to one in a hundred people."

"Am I..."

"Mr. Smith, I hate to interrupt you, but I think it's just your arthritis acting up." He scribbled out a prescription and hurried me out of his office.

Back at work the next day, one of the women in the office asked me how it went at the doctor.

"Good," I answered. "He prescribed..." and then I named the medication he gave me.

My coworker's face turned pale. She didn't say anything, but the look on her face said, "You poor thing. I hope you've written your will."

"You know," she said, adopting a tone of gentleness, "my friend was prescribed that medicine and..."

"Hey, guess what!" I broke in. "I was just kidding! I'm fine! Look!" I demonstrated how my arm could move freely. I started doing jumping jacks. "Okay now. I gotta go!"

Her face looked puzzled as I sprinted down the hall.

As my wife and I were eating dinner that evening, an announcer came on the TV and said, "Experiencing mysterious pains in your arm? It could be the result of deadly mold in the walls of your home. Not only will you require expensive surgery, but so will your house! Find out more on Fox News, coming up next!"

"Uh honey," I asked, "can we watch Family Feud instead?"

Sometimes it's better just to ask the doctor.