Post #23 –  Wait I’m not dying?

Disclaimer – The following post is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or sickness. Please use caution if any parts apply to your specific situation and contact a health care professional for further advice. 

 

Halfway through December and I hope you have all your Christmas shopping done. I personally love the holiday vibes! Lots of drama these days surrounding the political correctness of anything and all things Christmas. Not even Rudolph is safe. Apparently, that show should be banned because of bullying themes. Or the song “Baby it’s cold outside”. Yes, this song is kind of messed up, but it also seems particularly edgy if you layer it into the context of what is going on in today’s culture. Are there certain lines and phrasing I wish were changed? Absolutely. But it can also be taken as a flirtatious ballad between two conveniently great singers and makes for Christmas classic. Regardless, I have this song on my holiday play list and will be sitting down to watch Rudolph again just as I do every year. To each their own 😊 Remember to follow with your email!

Part 1 – Wait, I’m Not Dying?

Medical anxiety at its finest. Some call it hypochondria. Some call it irrational thinking. I call it my everyday life. I’ve had it since I was little. Every time I don’t feel good or am in pain, there comes the “I am indeed, in fact, NOT going to die” realization. At least not from whatever it is I am panicking about. We all are actually going to die someday. The End! Good news blog of the day.

In seriousness, I do suffer from severe hypochondria and medical anxiety. Part of it was acquired through my complicated medical past. Part of it is just a mental health disorder. Rachel LOVES getting to talk some sense into me when I start sending out the invites to my upcoming funeral *cause of death, some ear pain and a cold*. Many of us battle with some form of anxiety. And that is ok.

I remember as my grandma was getting older, she was continuously in the hospital for different things. I heard the comment many times that she just “loved being in the hospital” because she always was needing to go in for something, sometimes little things that got people rolling their eyes. She got into a habit of going into the emergency room or calling for help when it was something that didn’t need to be taken care of until the next day or the next scheduled appointment. Eventually her health did decline significantly, and she ended up in the hospital for what ended up being her final time. She was in there for a couple months and I would make sure to go visit her every week or so. She LOVED the attention from the visitors 😊 *which didn’t help her from people thinking she wasn’t even trying to get better*, but I remember during one visit she seemed unusually sad. It was just me and her, and she said “Jarod. I don’t like being in here. I just want to go home”.

She didn’t have to go on. I knew how she felt. I got the same comments when I was struggling to find out what was wrong with me. “Jarod just loves doctor appointments. Jarod just loves being in the clinic.” Blah blah blah. NO. My grandma HATED being at the doctor. And so do I. I bet my grandma dealt with some of the same stuff I do with medical anxiety. It is a hard issue to overcome, and often times can feel impossible. Sometimes (a lot of the time) it literally takes Rachel telling me I am not dying, I am ok, I do not need to go to the doctor, you are being irrational.  *I realize this probably sounds extremely annoying. Even writing this I am thinking to myself how terrible I sound to live with ha ha. But I make up for it by being super calm and rational about things that probably should drive me crazy. I HAVE A LOT OF GOOD CHARACTER TRAITS GUYS!* The point is, medical anxiety won’t make sense unless you have experienced it. Depression won’t make sense unless you have experienced it. Panic attacks won’t make sense unless you have experienced it.

We ALL have “things” that won’t make sense to others who haven’t experienced them. Some people struggle to fall asleep at night and it promotes anxiety. Sleep anxiety. I have never experienced this. In fact I fall asleep too easily. I do not understand how someone could have troubles falling asleep. I love sleep. But that does not mean it is not real. Some nights I know I can’t read in bed because Rachel won’t be able to sleep if I do, and THAT IS OK. She knows the next day I will get even by asking her to look at the rash on arm and if I should get my will finalized with the lawyer.

To conclude, having anxiety doesn’t make you a freak. Being chronically ill doesn’t make you a freak. Being you doesn’t make you a freak. We are all God’s creations. If He thinks you are freak, you might wanna evaluate what is going on with your life. That being said, I can’t possibly imagine God is ok with putting pineapple on pizza. So maybe don’t do that anymore. Thanks.

 

Part 2 – Relative vs Absolute risk

One thing I do a lot (especially having medical anxiety) is reading up on my health risks from different foods, drinks, behaviors, etc. I also have my degree in statistics which means I have a soft spot for percentages and risk analytics. This is quite the combo. I care too much about every little health issue, but also understand exactly what the numbers say about those issues (and my chances of them being deadly).

A pet peeve of mine is when relative risk is confused with absolute risk (or is used without including both stats).

EXAMPLE:

*Data taken from www.cancer.org*

As some of you heard in the news recently, studies are showing that eating processed meats increases the probability of you getting colorectal cancer. The most recent evidence claims that if a person eats 50 grams of processed meat every day (about 4 slices of bacon or 1 hotdog), then they raise their probability of getting cancer by 18%. HOLY HECK. 18%??? I love bacon. This is not good news! (and ironically is all over every news station letting everyone know just how in trouble they are).

TIME OUT

Let’s take a minute to dissect this and get all the facts.

  • If you are eating a hotdog every day, all I can ask is WHY? Not even considering its health effects, can you not find anything that tastes better? Do you know how hotdogs are made? If you are eating that much bacon, then I am just jealous.

 

  • This 18% increase in getting cancer is called the “Relative” risk. It is the amount your chances of getting sick go up relative to if you don’t do the “bad” thing (in this case eating hot dogs). Everyone loves to yell out this number.

 

  • What is often under reported, and sometimes confused with relative risk, is “Absolute” risk. This is the actual chance you have of getting sick if you do the “bad” thing. Period. Not compared to anything else. The statistics I could find say that the average person’s lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is 5%. That means 1 in 20 people are expected to get this before they die. Per the study, this risk goes up 18% if you eat a hot dog every single day starting right now. That means 18% higher than 5%. That equates to 5.9%, or 1.18 out of 20 people.

 

  • So, for context, if 20 people ate their normal diet every day, we could expect 1 of them to get colorectal cancer before they die. Now if all 20 of those people ate a hot dog every single day for their entire lives, we could expect 1.18 of them to get colorectal cancer before they die.

 

  • Is this a big deal? Maybe. Depends on your risk threshold. For a town of 100,000 people, if they all ate hot dogs every day, 900 more people could be expected to get sick than if they didn’t eat that many hot dogs. *100,000 x .05 = 5,000 and 100,000 x .059 = 5.900* So even if they don’t eat the hot dogs, 5,000 of them will still get sick.

 

  • Example – Since 1870, there have been 20 confirmed people killed by polar bears. Let’s just say 20 people every 150 years. There are 7.7 billion people on Earth. You have a ROUGHLY .000000002 probability of being killed by a polar bear in your lifetime (20 divided by 7.7 billion). For “fun”, let us also assume 19 of those people were killed in Canada. Canada’s population is about 37 million people. Your probability of being killed by a polar bear in your lifetime in Canada is .000000513 (or 256 times more than in the rest of the world).

 

This means we could advertise this in two ways!

Relative Risk – “You have 25,550% higher chance of dying from a polar bear attack if you move to Canada!”   This sounds incredibly scary.

OR

Absolute Risk – “1 out of every 2 million people who move to Canada will die from a polar bear every 150 year.”  Way less scary and more realistic.

 

Where this can be real annoying, and sometimes even dangerous, is when people make life altering decisions based on “relative” risk without considering “absolute” risk.  Research and new information is always coming out, so it is a great practice to stay educated on issues that are important to you. All I am saying is the next time you decide not have that glass of wine because you aren’t going to be one those “idiots” who gets cancer from it, that’s fine! Just please be able to tell me you made your decision based on the absolute risk being too high above your risk threshold. Personally, a 5% “relative” risk is not going to stop me. *www.livescience.com*

Thanks!

 

Disclaimer- I was not paid or given any product/services for free. This review was made purely from my own will.

 

Thanks for reading! Please contact me for any specific topics, questions you want answered, or reviews you want!

Jarod Gunning – Dude with POTS.

polar

 

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