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The Hypochondriac's Pocket Guide to Horrible Diseases You Probably Already Have Paperback – December 13, 2005

4.8 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dennis DiClaudio is a humor and fiction writer, an improvisational comedian, and works in the editorial department at one of the world's largest medical and scientific publishing companies.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (December 13, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596910615
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596910614
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,054,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert I. Hedges HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
Medical editor and improvisational humorist Dennis DiClaudio has written an amazing book. It is essentially a pocket guide to selected horrible, scary, and interesting diseases presented in a quirky, humorous way. These diseases are neatly organized by categories (autoimmune, fungal, genetic, etc.) and cover only the most unusual of dread diseases. Sure, the book covers some more commonly known diseases like leprosy, acromegaly, and furious rabies, but it really shines when discussing truly obscure maladies such as fatal familial insomnia, cyclic vomiting syndrome (which, while it may not kill you, will make you wish it had,) alien hand syndrome (which gets my vote for most unusual neurological condition of all time,) and amnesic shellfish poisoning, which will make you forget all about the prawns you just ate (as well as everything else, for that matter.)

While all of these diseases are horrible in their own way, the one I find to be the most singularly scary is candiru infestation. This is the nastiest thing I have ever heard of: if you swim in the Amazon or Orinoco rivers a small, slender species of catfish called the candiru, but better known as the vampire fish, likes to swim up your urethra and lodge itself in your urinary tract. This hurts a lot. Do not try to pull it out because (surprise!) it has rearward pointing barbs that unfurl like an umbrella that will make it more firmly ensconced in its new home, where it spends its hours running sharp grating teeth all over your most sensitive parts to make a meal of your blood. (Some men have decided to have an otherwise unthinkable type of surgical amputation to make the pain stop.
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First off, this is not a book for the faint of heart. It is, however, the perfect read for those with an off-the-wall sense of humor.

Mr. DiClaudio has compiled a list of forty-five of the most outlandish, obscure, and downright nasty diseases that you're likely to ever run across. Hopefully, on second thought, you'll never run across any of them, but in case you do, if you've read this book you'll at least be prepared for the horrid and totally disgusting ways with which you will suffer.

The diseases are broken up into categories, including Autoimmune, Bacterial, Genetic & Neurological, Idiopathic, Parasitic, Toxic & Fungal, and Viral & Prionic.

Although I found myself laughing hysterically at some of Mr. DiClaudio's observations, I sincerely hope to never find myself on the receiving end of these diseases. And, truth be told, I can't decide if I'd rather have worms living on my eyeball, having my flesh begin to decay while I'm still alive, or suffering from fatal familial insomnia (in which case, I'll never sleep again, and will probably spend my final waking hours wishing I had a disease as simple as worms living on my eyeball or having my flesh decay while I'm still alive).

Overall, a great way to spend a couple of hours. However, if you suspect you suffer from any of these forty-five diseases, you might want to actually see a doctor.
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Format: Paperback
If you have the nerve, and are into perverse entertainment, this is the book for you -- or someone who will appreciate midnight black humor with a glossy blue sheen. We're talking forty-five horrifying ways that Nature is out to get you, with plenty of gruesome details on how she will succeed, and the pitiful or nonexistent steps you can take to protect yourself.

The writing is excellent. The author has a way with words, content aside. It really takes talent to make me laugh out loud, all the way through a book, especially when what I'm reading is also giving me cold sweats and an irregular heartbeat. I couldn't put the book down, and now I'm afraid to move or breathe. Other people have to get their thrills on mountain tops -- me, I can sit right here, white knuckled, waiting for unspeakable dangers to come to me. I am now regarding my cats and coworkers with suspicion -- no, outright terror.

Three days ago, I had no trouble making the leap from tiny flickering pain in my head to malignant brain tumor. Now I look at that self-diagnosis as a sign of childlike innocence. Do you have any idea how many truly unspeakable, debilitating, and deadly diseases start out with a simple rash or swelling? Numbness, coughing, itching, of course headaches, the list of innocuous symptoms is comprehensive, and all symptoms seem to lead to blindness and loss of body parts.

I find the ailment Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva, where your immune system decides to replace your sore muscles with bone, particularly insidious, although I feel better about not going to the gym now. Another favorite: Fatal Familial Insomnia, in which you never sleep again. (It's now 2 a.m. -- I'm feeling perky, and worried.) Furious Rabies, Norwegian Scabies, very bad.
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Format: Paperback
I was in hysterics before I even left the book store. I read it aloud to my wife and sister who were totally disgusted with me. I think it must be read to oneself rather than aloud to others. Just be thankful if you don't have any of the 45 horrible diseases described in this book. Then stay awake wondering if you have any of the symptoms.
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