At the dinner table her parent’s would talk about their day at work. Sara’s mother who was a nurse’s aide talked about a poor boy that crashed his skateboard resulting in a broken arm and a girl who fell off of her bike embedding gravel into the palm of her hands, knees, and arms known as “road rash” which her mother had to painfully scrub out; the girl’s screams were heard throughout the emergency ward. Her mother had cringed at the girl’s howls and she had to bite her trembling lower lip to keep from crying but she did her job. Sara imagined it was her sitting there in pain and thought that the sound of the scrubbing would never leave her. Every headache she had Sara was terrified that it was caused by a brain aneurysm, the girl like millions of others was so afraid of dying (Thanatophobia)and being in pain (Algophobia)but sometimes especially lately Sara thought death would be welcoming if it wasn’t for the inevitable pain and fear of the unknown. There were days she struggled to walk out the front door for fear of being run over by a car or on cloudy, stormy days fear of being hit by lightning (Astrophobia).  If only she was lucky enough to die in her sleep, of a gas leak, or instantaneously by a brain aneurysm the news reported like that young hockey player did.

Her mom said it wasn’t always cases of injuries there were also many cases of infections most predominantly the flu or food poisoning filling the emergency room with hacking coughs, high temperatures, red runny noses and eyes, non-stop diarrhea, and puking. Once again Sara imagined herself with a raging fever feeling like death warmed over packed like sardines with other infectious patients and shivered at the unpleasant thought. She already had a fear of needles (Trypanophobia) which she got payback for, was freaked out by blood (Hemophobia), worried that any skin rash she developed was a skin disease (Dermatophobia), and overall she had the worst fear of diseases (Panthophobia). Her dread of all the medical ailments made her a hypochondriac a person with a continuous belief that they are ill even when they aren’t. Although whether to seek medical aid or not was quite a dilemma for Sara because she was frightened of doctors (Latrophobia) and even more scared of hospitals (Nosocomephobia) because of her mother’s horror stories.

Illustrated by: Jason Hendrickson


And because of her mother’s stories of salmonella and food poisoning and the fact that a bad case of it happened every so often over the years in the school cafeteria, Sara always brought a bagged lunch feeding into her paranoia and phobia of germs (Mysophobia), meat (Carnophobia), and poison (Toxiphobia). Those fears led to her becoming a vegetarian, as well as taking a shower twice a day and washing her hands between classes and every hour at home which led to yet another state Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Sara saw the lunch lady as enemy #1. How could she serve tainted meat and spoiled milk that would cause food poisoning and be dangerous for young children or those with compromised immune systems? Maybe if she had a taste of her own medicine? Sara had seen on a true crime re-enactment on television that this guy’s girlfriends poisoned him by putting eye drops in his beer because he repeatedly cheated on her. She noticed the woman always had a large bottle of chocolate milk so she dumped eight bottles into it and the woman got terrible stomach ache so she went home. Her body temperature decreased, there were swings in her blood pressure, she had blurred vision, as well as tremors and bleeding until 6:00 a.m. when she wasn’t moving or breathing.

Illustration by: Jason Hendrickson