Last fall, I noticed a nagging, sharp pain in my right shoulder, which I attributed to relocating a potted fern that weighed roughly 200 pounds. I fertilize a lot. After two weeks of lifting nothing heavier than a fork, my shoulder still ached. Friends suggested arthritis, bursitis or neuritis. The internet convinced me it was something much, much worse.

I decided it was time to call in a professional, my family physician, Dr. Wisnewski. At my appointment, I gave him my complete list of symptoms and documentation from WebMD. He nodded that little nod that doctors do when they are buying time and praying that your disease wasn’t discussed in medical school the day they skipped.

He instructed me to raise and lower my inflamed arm and shoulder numerous times while I made distorted faces and groans. Four “uh-huh”s later, also translated as “It’s coming back to me now,” he asked if I had brought my bag. I knew it; he’s operating today. I won’t even have time to go home and pack that cute nightgown I’ve saved for five years for a trip to the hospital.

“I didn’t bring a bag. I had no idea you’d put me in the hospital today,” I choked.

“It’s not your suitcase I want to see, it’s your purse,” he replied.

“Is money all you doctors care about? I’ll have you know I have very good insurance!”

He drew closer and through clenched teeth said, “Ms. Blanco, I want to see inside your purse.”

“Doctor, don’t you think this kind of behavior is a little sick? I’ve heard of foot fetishes, but women’s handbags?”

With one eye twitching ever so slightly, he picked up my purse, opened it and began lining up the contents on the exam table. One by one, he removed my personal effects: my billfold, checkbook, two pairs of glasses, makeup case, comb, brush, small hair spray, key case, flashlight, small mace (this is the big city), metal tape measure, notebook, 5 ballpoint pens, cell phone, iPad, packaged dried fruit and nuts, envelope of expired grocery coupons, water bottle, assorted medications from corn pads to Advil, scissors, nail clipper, corkscrew, gum, assorted candy wrappers, paper clips, emergency sewing kit, safety pins and 95 cents in loose change.

“You’ve got a worse case than I thought,” he said.
“Case of what?”
“But what does it mean,” I inquired nervously.
“Quite simply, it means you have a fear of not being prepared for anything and everything. Therefore, to combat that fear, you carry most of your possessions with you in your purse. The total weight of your bag resting on your arm and shoulder have led to this condition. I’m afraid your prognosis is not very good. Few women ever fully recover. The lure of those enormous designer handbags is just too strong. Not to mention finding yourself one day without a corn pad, paper clip or your tape measure. Now that would be a tragedy,” he grinned.

I knew I had two choices: seek professional counseling to deal with my advanced prep-a-Scout-a-phobia, or find a large, attractive bag with wheels – oh, I already have one of those. It says Samsonite. Never mind.

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