Obsession with illness isn't healthy

By Cari Rosen, August 12, 2010
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I had never really understood the phrase "enjoying ill health" until the child turned two - and became a raving hypochondriac.

Nor had I realised quite how bad things had become until 3 o' clock one morning when I rushed (well, staggered) to her aid after hearing her sobbing: "Ring the doctor, ring the doctor."

As it happens on this occasion, her call for medical assistance was based solely on the fact that Squeak Squeak (her toy mouse) had fallen out of bed. However, this is but one example of her ever-growing preoccupation with matters of health.

She traps her finger in a book: "Take my temperature. I need medicine."

A day under observation? Temperature taken regularly? What’s not to like?

She stubs a toe: "I must go to 'hosdibule'."

She sneezes: "Little bit of pink medicine please. We better visit the doctor."

I have no idea how all this started, although my husband attributes at least part of the blame to the fact that I spent most of my pregnancy glued to re-runs of ER.

Wherever this obsession stems from, it now comes as no surprise that the child's favourite plaything is her medical set, her favourite pastime a game of "doctors". While her contemporaries treat their dollies to "picnics" and other wholesome frolics, in our house soft toys are lined up three times daily to be "cured" with massages and medicines, regular doses of lotions and potions.

In terms of medical know-how she clearly has a lot left to learn - I am constantly forced to explain to visitors that the reason they have just been stabbed in the calf with a small plastic implement is because they are having their temperature taken. And beware any "patient" who doesn't emit a convincing "boom-diddy-boom" as she approaches with her stethoscope.

It is perhaps ironic that when she is in robust health her pleas for medicines, tablets and nurses last from dawn till dusk ("I am a little bit sick after all"), yet when she is actually under the weather she is the most exemplary of patients.

A nasty bout of chicken pox passes without complaint, coughs and colds are met with stoicism and good humour. Though she is, perhaps, the only child who weeps when she has to leave the doctor's surgery.

The highlight of her first (and only) holiday abroad was, I am given to understand by everyone who has come into contact with her since, not feeding the chickens, roaming the stunning countryside nor even sporting her new swimming armbands on the only occasion it didn't actually rain… but the day she got concussed.

To spare myself unnecessary trauma I shall not go into too much detail but shall summarise thus: Bed. High. Floor. Hard. Head. First.

And so to the paediatric department of the local (albeit not actually very local at all) hospital where we establish that: a) yes, it is indeed concussion and b) it is a very long time since my French A level and packing an English-French dictionary would have been a good idea.

Once the child has regained her senses and done with the vomiting she is happy as larry. A day under observation? Doctor after doctor? Temperature taking as regular as clockwork? What's not to like?

As the day draws to a close and we are granted release there are tears aplenty. The child cries because she doesn't want to leave. And her mother weeps with relief and prays that it will be a very long time till we see a "hosdibule" again.

    Last updated: 3:31pm, September 3 2010