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Susan Orlins

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Worrywart as Repository for 10 Unnerving Scenarios

Posted: 08/16/10 09:36 PM ET

1. Ever since beginning my blog, Confessions of a Worrywart, I've become a repository for friends' and family members' unnerving scenarios. Just last month my youngest daughter called from Minnesota to say she was reading a review in a Duluth newspaper of The Hypochondriac's Handbook: Syndromes, Diseases, and Ailments that Probably Should Have Killed You By Now. "I wouldn't have even read this article, Mom, if it weren't for your blog."

If I tell you the more gruesome afflictions my daughter reported, I'm afraid you'll move to a different post instead of this one to distract you from whatever it is you ought to be doing right now. So I'll mention only foreign accent syndrome, where the sufferer talks in a foreign accent. (*See 2 especially disturbing examples at the end).

2. This book review came on the heels of an email from my oldest daughter, who thought projectile trash in cars might be blog-worthy. "I read," she wrote, "that anything in the car (trash!) can become a projectile. Even unseatbelted people can be projectiles!"

3. My middle daughter contributes as well to my diversified portfolio of worries. She publishes a weekly newsletter that includes summaries of articles citing devastation to China's environment, like "Giant China Algae Slick Getting Bigger." She also video-Skypes me from Beijing and we worry together about her tropical fish, who are acting sluggish.

4. Susan Katz Miller, who writes a blog, On Being Both. . . Notes From a Hybrid Universe, blames her tendency to worry on her Jewish half. She emailed a list of worries I immediately identified with, which included burglars getting in through the doggie door, a troublemaker watching as she retrieves her hide-a-key, and the porch ceiling crashing with someone aloft on the hanging swing.

5. An offering from another writer friend went like this: "My mom's favorite anti-theft device while traveling was to leave a beat-up old trike in the driveway, as if some child had just ridden it. It worked: We were never robbed blind while away from home. (It was also effective, as my husband will point out, as an anti-asteroid defense -- the planet was never destroyed by an asteroid in all the time she used the trike.)"


6. My friend, Joan Liebmann-Smith, author of Baby Body Signs, is a wellspring of medical information. I socked away her recent Huff Post article "Using Your 5 Senses to Make Sense of Your Baby's Body Signs" so I can protect my unborn grandchildren when the time comes. Even her upbeat emails come with warnings, for instance one about research that consuming alcoholic drinks may be good for bones. "But," she admonishes, "don't drink and drive!!" (as though I ever would).

7. Environmentalist, Diane MacEachern, author of Big Green Purse, is a member of my writing group, so I get to read breaking news about things like 6-year-olds who need bras.

8. Annie, my high school pal, keeps me awash in worry. Her exclamation-point-laden emails have subjects like "Yet another concern!" and, though they sometimes offer old news, I love how enthusiastically she worries, e.g., "Avoid plastics rated 3, 6 or 7 at all costs!! So Scary!!"

9. (TMI ALERT) My friend, whose bedbug infestation introduced me to a morbid fear, wrote, "In the checked airline luggage of planes, bedbugs can jump around and infest. To protect yourself, wrap your suitcase contents in clear, sealed bags, and spray the suitcase inside and out with 'Steri-Fab.' The truth is you could get bedbugs anywhere, even in the movie theatre! If you think too much about it you'll go mad!"

10. This influx of disaster scenarios emails arrives not only from family and friends but also from my family's friends, who now alert me to catastrophe. My daughter's classmate thought I'd like to have the link to Oceana, a site that warns "Offshore drilling will NEVER be safe!"

Something else began to happen after I took the moniker of Worrywart. Throughout the day, I'll say to this buddy or that, I'm worried about such and such, and he or she will answer, "Blog about it!" This isn't all bad. My worry mind has now found some relief, distracted by the task of sorting through all the chilling dangers loved ones have suggested I write about. Given that one of my unnerving scenarios is to run out of things to write about on my Confessions of a Worrywart blog, I welcome your comments about additional unnerving scenarios.

*Stoneman syndrome in which the bones fuse together, and another condition in which maggots or larva crawl out of your skin.

 

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