I have to remind myself that I am not a doctor.

All my life I’ve been interested in medicine and will diagnose anyone who presents me with symptoms — whether they want me to or not.

I suppose it started when I was three years old and inhaled a peanut. I had to be rushed from our Grove City farm to the University of Minnesota. A doctor found the nut in my lung and removed it. I had to stay at the hospital for ten days to be sure I had no after effects from the experience. My mother said when she came to get me I did not want to leave. I had fallen in love with the doctor and hung onto him for dear life.

I do not remember any of this, but I figure that’s where my intense interest in medicine began.

I research every disease, ache, or pain that I — or anyone else I know — is suffering from. It’s a kind of game for me. I diagnose myself and if I need a doctor to confirm my findings, I will make an appointment. Most of the time I am right. They come up with the same result I did. I never tell them what I think I have so as not to prejudice their opinion.

One time, though, I was way way wrong. I found a lump on the top of my left thigh. I looked that up. I was horrified to discover that it could be cancer of the muscle which is very serious. I worried and worried.

A few days later, during a routine appointment with my gynecologist, I asked her, trying not to reveal my terror, “Take a look at this. What is that?” I held my breath as she reached out and rubbed the area. “Oh, that,” she said dismissively, “that’s just fat.” She looked at me curiously when I laughed out loud at her diagnosis. It definitely wasn’t cancer of the muscle. If it had been, by this time I would not be writing this or doing anything else.

I’m what some doctors hate: Someone who knows enough medicine to be dangerous and, yes, sometimes a pain in the butt. I ask a lot of questions about my own case but also about members of my family when they are ill. I’m the one who asks the doctor questions like: What’s his hemoglobin? Have you checked for a UTI? What drugs have you prescribed? Could she have pneumonia? I find — as I am sure most doctors do — that diagnosing is the most interesting and important part of medicine. It’s like detective work.

I am so glad when I meet a doctor socially who likes to talk about their work. That can have some drawbacks: I had dinner with a surgeon several years ago. I ordered calf’s brains and when my dish arrived, he pointed out the cerebrum, the medulla, and the cerebellum. Enlightening but not exactly stimulating to my appetite. Not to worry, I ate them with pleasure anyway.