Friday, April 17, 2009

Well Enough Alone

Well Enough Alone by Jennifer Traig was originally published in 2008. My hardcover copy is 257 pages. In Well Enough Alone Traig, who wrote about her OCD in Devil in the Details , now tackles her hypochondria, as well as the history of hypochondria in general. I found it hysterically funny in places and almost wish Traig was still battling OCD and imaginary diseases (although some of the medical issues she discusses were actually real problems and not imaginary) so she would write another book about her experiences. Devil in the Details might be slightly better in comparison to Well Enough Alone but certainly both of her memoirs are very funny and well worth reading.
Very Highly Recommended

Synopsis from cover:
The good news is Jennifer Traig does not have lupus, multiple sclerosis, Huntington's disease, Crohn's disease, or muscular dystrophy. She discovers that she does not have SUDS, the mysterious disorder that claims healthy young Asian men in their sleep, nor does she have Foreign Accent Syndrome, the bizarre but real neurological condition that transforms native West Virginians into Eliza Doolittle overnight. What she does have is hypochondria.

Well Enough Alone, Traig's inquiry into her ailment, is not only an uproariously funny account but also a literary tour of hypochondria, past and present: the implied hypochondria of the Talmud, the flatulence-obsessed eighteenth century, and the malady's current unfortunate lack of a celebrity spokesperson. At the same time, Traig provides an intimate look at the complement of minor conditions that have concealed her essential health and driven her persistent self-diagnosis: the eczema, the shaky hands, and, worst of all, the bad hair. To her surprise, she ends her journey more knowledgeable than she was when she started out, a little less neurotic, and-one might say-healthier.

"I had my first heart attack when I was eighteen." first sentence

" 'I'm having a myocardial infarction,' I gasped, when I was finally ushered into an exam room. 'Heart attack.' I added, when this failed to produce a crash cart.
'I know what a myocardial infarction is,' the nurse said, casually taking my vitals. 'You're not having one.' She pressed a stethoscope to my chest.
'Well, it could be a stroke,' I conceded.
'You're not having a stroke.'
'I think we should run some tests.'
'Haven't we seen you in here before?'
'Once or twice.' " pg. 1-2

"What I did have was hypochondria, which meant that every other disease was inevitable. I might have escaped the heart attack and the Hodgkin's, but surely something serious was only a matter of time. I could not leave well enough alone, and one dengue fever was ruled out I would return with malaria." pg. 2

"I had relatives who couldn't breathe, and others who couldn't swallow, and a number who suffered from vague, lingering conditions that required me to forfeit control of the television when they came to visit and to please not wear the loud shoes." pg. 4

"They [hypochondriacs] are also outrageously expensive. It's estimated that they cost health-care providers billions of dollars in unnecessary tests, care, and procedures." pg. 6

"To qualify as a cyberchondriac, you have to visit a health site six times a month, a number I can easily hit during the commercial break of Trauma: Life in the E.R." pg. 8

"Because it rarely features reality shows about desperate tramps competing for a bachelor, I don't often watch the History Channel, but I'd find my way there if they ever aired a history of hypochondria." pg. 19

"The well-known seventeenth-century Jesuit poet Tommaso Strozzi claimed, in a poem, to have been cured of his hypochondria through prayer, and suggested that chocolate might do the trick for others. After much personal experimentation with fun-sized candy bars, I can report that this is ineffective, but all in all not a bad way to spend a morning." pg. 21-22

"Naturally, my family is embarrassed by nudism, the deliberate kind of nudity that implies an effort was made. It's fine if you're just too lazy to put on pants - we've all been there - but if you've artfully accessorized with a sun visor, a fanny pack, and a thorough basting of sunblock, well, that's just weird." pg. 38

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