Sunday, June 11, 2017

Hypochondria and My Acute Sense of Smell




I've alluded to Medical Student's Disease, AKA Second-Year Syndrome  or Intern Syndrome before in this blog. It refers to the state of hypochondria typically experienced by physicians-in-training in which we imagine we're suffering from about half of the illnesses we study. I've been at least as seriously afflicted with it as is the average medical school student.  I try to keep it to myself mostly because I have a vague idea of just how obnoxious it would be to others who would have to listen to my complaints. I have enough legitimate health issues that I don't need to compound my social pariah status by talking about the imaginary ones all the time.

When I was fifteen I had a somewhat serious kidney condition during which I underwent dialysis, and it took some time for my kidney function to return in full. If I develop an infection in my urinary tract, my kidney function is usually compromised. I thought I had the ability to determine when I had reduced kidney function by a smell I produced.  Any time I smelled the smell, I drank water by the gallon, stayed away from any medication that listed "impairment of kidney function" as a potential side effect or "do not use if you have kidney disease" as an even remote counter-indication, which is a whole lot of medications, and worried about who would give me a kidney when I inevitably needed one.

The problem came up again this weekend. I'm experiencing a minor health issue, but it's as minor as minor can be, and it has absolutely nothing to do with my kidneys. Still, the tell-tale smell was present. I finally mentioned it to the doctor who owns the home in which I have been living while in Canada. He sniffed me. "You smell like 'Tide,' " he told me, "the 'Spring- Reneweal with Febreze' scent. There's nothing wrong with your kidneys." He went to the laundry room and came back with a bottle of Tide, which he opened so that I could get a whiff of it. Yup. That's the smell that I thought indicated my kidneys were in their last throes of death. 

It looks as though I won't be requiring the services of a kidney donor in the immediate future.

4 comments:

  1. I am glad you are not dying at the moment although I think after we grow to maturity we are on a long downhill slide toward death. We are all going there, but hopefully with as little pain and discomfort as possible.

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    1. i don't plan to remain on Earth indefinitely, but I'd like to stay here in good health for a few more years, and, as you said, ultimately have a non-torturous death.

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  2. What do failing kidneys smell like?

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    1. I have no idea. I just thought that when my kidney function was low, my excretory system was causing my body to emit a peculiar odor.. Now I know it's just the detergent I have occasionally used.

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