I spent a week trying to figure out whether I was struggling with an allergy problem or a cold. The symptoms were a bit confusing. And what I wanted to have was an allergy problem. I didn’t want to be contageous. I didn’t want to be sick, not the kind of sick that makes you have to admit that maybe you weren’t taking care of yourself. And so I doctored myself.
After all, I am a doctor. Granted, I’m the kind that works with words and ideas rather than bodies, but still. I have analytic skills. I can read the Internet. I can delude myself about the color of drainage.
And so I spent a week trying to figure out what was going on inside my throat and chest. A week of somewhat fuzzy thinking and fatigue and of a voice that began to make me sound like a martyr for the cause.
Finally, I talked with a doctor, the kind that works with bodies. Who quickly understood the nature of the problem and the treatment. Who knew the problem from the inside as well as the outside.
In the meantime, who else did I infect? Will Nancy soon be dealing with the same symptoms? My coworkers? Did my lack of clear thinking and fatigue-induced crankiness affect the discussion our small group had on Saturday night?
What is the cost of my inability to acknowledge that I needed help to understand and treat my sickness?
There is, of course, in this story a parable for those of us who do the same thing to our souls, who are sick but don’t want to acknowledge it. Who are sure that we can handle the diagnosis and treatment ourselves. Who are using over-the-counter treatments that will fix nothing but introduce side-effects.