Life is too short to be swished around in the panic that we may have contracted every ailment that we read or hear about

It was during the time the H1N1 scare had last hit and we were on a routine visit to the kids' homeopathy doctor. Our family stuck blissfully out like sore thumbs – clad in summer casuals, sans socks, masks, jackets, sweaters, not even (gasp!) woollen caps for our two sub-four-year-old kids. Once inside the doctor's room, I burst out into my usual babble about the silly paranoia — everyone was going around stifling their sneezes, carrying hand sanitisers in their pockets and thermometers in their laptop bags! The doctor smiled wryly, took out his fresh face mask saying, “It's always better to err on the side of caution…” the rest of his speech was all muffled because of his mask.

Wasn't that the month during which most of us were scuttling for chest X Rays at the slightest sneeze and the combination of a stuffy nose, an itchy throat and more than one trip to the loo meant that we could start writing our will? And before we dismiss it as just a one off, there's always more — dengue, chikungunya, malaria, hernia, cervical cancer, Alzheimer's and dyslexia. You suddenly realise that your three year old has a problem distinguishing the small alphabet ‘b', ‘d' and ‘p'. He hates writing, he'd much rather play or paint — a potential dyslexic? You forget names of two school mates within a week and you seem like you've packed your bags for Alzheimer's.

Are we as a generation becoming overly clued in to diseases — psychological, physical or emotional? And are we unconsciously at least, nursing these ‘potential' diseases of the mind, unnecessarily at that?

“I went around for a whole month believing I had some fatal stomach ailment and fervently swallowed all available over-the-counter and alternative medicines!” says Kamini Shah who works as a media consultant. “When I finally went to my doctor, she confirmed it was a mild case of stomach ulcers, prescribed some pills, and made me promise that I'd change my eating habits; no skipping meals or eating junk food, and lots of fresh fruit and water.” She adds smiling, “I slept more peacefully that night knowing that I was, after all, not going to die so young from some terminal intestinal ailment.”

“There was the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that spread in our office about a month ago,” says Sanjay Mohan, who works in a software MNC. “One of our colleagues was diagnosed with it and was told to go in for a mild corrective procedure. For that entire week almost, each of us took turns in feeling a tingling sensation in one arm, with numbness and swelling,” he adds laughing, “CTS had become a common lunch room abbreviation, discussed and debated. People brought in information about medication, exercises and other treatments for it.”

Priya Mascarenhas laughs, “We women anyways always have the pregnancy scare, if nothing else! A few days late and I can feel all the symptoms — queasiness throughout the day, nausea in the mornings, swelling in my legs and a whole lot of other symptoms.” She adds, “And till my body proves otherwise, I plunge into my usual hyper-ventilation mode around the life altering changes the new addition would bring and even where the funds for school and college education were going to come from.”

Maybe it's because there is information floating around so easily, mostly unwanted, mainly unasked. And most of us want to allay the smallest suspicion that the tiniest symptom brings with it. Often, all we probably need is just a good check of reality from family, friends, or (if needed) a doctor to negate the worry. Heaven's gates will always seem like they are calling. Just ignore the mania and let the tunnel (and the light at the end of it) keep waiting, till it's your real turn.

Till then let's not give up on the smaller joys — watching a movie without the mortal fear of your neighbour sneezing germs into your trachea; digging into a cholesterol-loaded burger and topping it up with some sinful chocolate dessert (once in a way!) or even sleeping in an open outdoor jungle camp (without the mosquito nets or insect repellent creams). Life as it already is, is probably too short for us to add in the worry of hand sanitisers, masks and digestive pills to the drill. Here's to health and happiness!

No pill or test can be a substitute for a healthy lifestyle – with exercise, good eating habits and a lot of laughter thrown in

Its good to be aware but too much information and you will easily experience at least one the symptoms and from there on, the paranoia starts gripping

If you finally are down with something, be cheerful and think positive –a spoonful of sugar and a forkful of positivity will help down the medicine and send the virus scurrying