Medical Student Syndrome

"10:27 a.m.: Another fart"

I was once CONVINCED I had Boerhaave syndrome, an extremely rare condition where your esophagus is ruptured and acid and air spill into your chest, because my chest tickled after a small bout of coughing. I spent two hours in the dark, unable to sleep, listening to my chest with a stethoscope, and UpToDate-ing (our version of WebMD) the various ways in which I’d be dead before morning. I ran to the Emergency Room and told them I needed a stat Gastrografin Esophogram, stat as in: yesterday. The attending took one look at me and said, “Congratulations, you’re a cliché! Go Home.”

— Did you know that first- and second-year medical students tend to think “they’ve contracted whatever disease it is they’re studying”? Other revelations in this Slate story about doctors’ relationships to hypochondria over time: in a pre-WebMD world, Hans Christian Anderson carried around a note that said “I only seem dead” in case anyone felt inspired to bury him alive, and Charles Darwin kept “fart logs.” Everyone has secrets. [Slate]