“Sure, I just ran outside through the grass, but this unexplained rash is new. I bet I haveÂ Pemphigus Vulgaris.”
“So what if I slipped on the stairs, my bones are probably brittle because of Osteogenesis Imperfecta.”
“My ears have been ringing more than usual. I know it’s MÃ©niÃ¨re’s disease.”
“I know it was snowing, but my hands are still cold. Off to the doctor for me, I’ve got Raynaud’s Disease.
“I have a new productive cough, but it just started after I swam at the lake. Oh man, it has to be Legionnaire’s Disease.”
Do any of these self-diagnosing tendencies sound familiar to my fellow nurses? Although I highlighted some of these conditions in jest, the reality exists that throughout nursing school we are immersed in a learning environment filled with obscure to some very common diseases that affect mankind.
Unlike a business degree, where discussions focus on economic recessions and ebbs and flows of the stock market, a degree in nursing following a passing grade in Pathophysiology brings with it a new world of worry- a world of diseases, conditions, and infectious processes that the graduate is now expected to treat. Somewhere along this transition and transformation from nursing student to experienced nurse the poor unlucky soul contracts EVERY SINGLE disease that she learned about in her NCLEX review book. Do not fear, my friends, it happened to me too. Perhaps it’s a nursing rite of passage, along with the letters RN behind your name comes a brief stint of the added middle name: Nicole “hypochondriac” Lehr, RN.
We’ve all been there…
Shortly after our exam on rheumatology, my roommate in nursing school awoke one morning at 6 a.m. and trudged into my room with complaints of not feeling well. “I just feel off this morning. My mouth is dry, my heart is racing, my head is pounding, and my ankle is suspiciously swollen.”
My attempts at de-escalating her thought process were futile, and I merely acted as her sounding board for the self-assessment she was performing. “Tachycardia… dehydration… pitting edema… pain of unknown origin. Has to be that autoimmune disorder causing degeneration of my joints that I just read about. I probably only have a couple of weeks left. I better tell Jen that I ate some of her Girl Scout cookies without asking, and I need to make arrangements to head back to Florida- Mom will want to see me…”
At that point I calmly reminded her that last night she attended our friend’s bachelorette party. Some Advil, a bottle of water, and her pillow started looking better than ever.