As I write this, I’m convinced that I have pinkeye. To me, this is as horrific a thought as sitting through a screening of an Olsen twins movie. The numerous Internet sites that I’ve been to so far say that pinkeye isn’t life-threatening, a myth that I am certain my death will debunk. “What a horrible ending,” they’ll sniffle at my funeral. “To think that poor boy spent his last few days on this earth looking like he took 32 consecutive bong hits.” Maybe this is karma. I’ve had a couple of friends who’ve had pinkeye in their lives, and I have done nothing except shun them until they recover. I’d rather mud-wrestle with a leper than sit next to someone with one or, say, two pink eyes. I think it looks downright awful. This is the usual procedure for me when something in or on my body decides it doesn’t want to function properly. I’ve been a hypochondriac since I came backwards out of my mother. I used to think that it was my way of telling the world to kiss my ass, but now I’m beginning to understand that it was a defense mechanism against the millions of germs floating around in the delivery room.
When I was little, I convinced my family than I had every imaginable form of cancer. My leg fell asleep, and I was sure it was a melanoma. I felt a lump in my breast once. “It’s gotta be the big one,” I wept. One can imagine the terror in my eyes if a microwave was ever turned on in my presence. After my first semester at college, I came home devastated. The beer at school was fine — it was just that I was dying. I remember embracing my parents at the airport, looking into their unknowing eyes. What these two people didn’t know was that their youngest son, their fourth born, was dying of testicular cancer. I don’t think that most people can relate to this, but being an 18-year-old boy and speaking openly about your nuts to your mother can be a frightening experience. The doctor, of course, diagnosed my malignant lump as a vein, and I was left sitting in my room wondering if I had truly gone off the deep end. It was bad enough that I was making myself scared, but now I was getting my family involved with my balls. Getting sick is a fact of life. I see people do it every day. They get a cough, go to the doctor, and get medicine. Several days later, if it’s just a minor bug, they’re better. No sweat. This same practice doesn’t work for me. I get a cough, look up “cough” on the Internet, pull up 5,268,983 articles, and sift through every one, concentrating on the deadliest diseases. It may turn out that my cough is simply a minuscule bacterial infection, but I will convince myself that it is actually a precursor to a terminal lung condition, and I subsequently begin thinking about my will. Who’s going to get my credit-card bills? Where can I find a good home for my stuffed orange monkey? In the fifth grade, I was sick for four days. On Friday, I came back and a boy named Clarke said that everyone thought I was dead. I vowed never to be sick again. It didn’t work.
Several months ago, I had the stomach flu. It was easily the worst I’ve ever felt in my life. On the first day of its onset, I was bedridden, but I had to let the maintenance man into my apartment to fix my sink. As melodramatic as Halle Berry on Oscar night, I let him in, pointed him to the bathroom, and fell down on the floor. I couldn’t stand up. I thought I was going to bite it then and there, that my spirit was going to rue the fact that the last person to see me alive was Hector the Sink Man. I couldn’t think of anything more pathetic. Luck would have it that I had the strength to crawl back to my bed as a confused Hector watched. He asked me if I needed anything, and I said no, staring comatose at The People’s Court on TV.
I’ve looked at my eye in the mirror about 159 times. It seems like it might be just bloodshot…I’m not stoned, though, and if I were, both of my eyes would be bloodshot, wouldn’t they? It’s definitely pinkeye.
The only person who is more paranoid than me is my friend from college, Meg. We met as students in the London exchange program; she lived upstairs from my roommate, Andrew, and I. Meg is one of those people that carry 14 bottles of pills in her purse at all times. These are just her primary medications. She also has secondary medications, which she, if given a list of symptoms, can prescribe to you without a doctor’s note. Anytime I couldn’t find Andrew, I knew he was upstairs with Meg, eating pills and drinking wine, making up stories about how his pancreas hurt. If you look up “obsessive-compulsive disorder” in any psychology textbook, Meg’s picture is there, eyes wide open, checking under her tongue for bacteria. She told me once that her mother gave her plates that separated her food. These are the types of plates that you might find a 3-year-old eating off of. Meg got them as a Christmas gift because she doesn’t like her corn to touch her snow peas. If that happens, it might set off some type of nuclear enzyme reaction that will eventually lead to her slow, painful death. I’ve put 18 drops of Visine in my eyes, even though the directions say to use only one or two. If I had Meg’s big purse within reach, I could get something to make my eye turn white again.
I’m going to go ahead and call an ambulance to save time.
If you’ve ever seen Girl, Interrupted, you will know, as I do, two distinct things: (1) Winona Ryder is possibly the most deserving recipient of the Razzie Award for Best Actress Cast as a Robot; and (2) if you think long and hard enough, you can make yourself insane. In regards to body malfunction, this is definitely the protocol for me. It’s true — the pinkness could possibly be attributed to minor eye irritation. But what’s more probable is that I have pinkeye, and soon I’ll have pink eyes, and eventually my whole body will become pink and I’ll look like a giant pink crayon, and then I’ll just roll over and die.