Meditations For People Who Google Symptoms Too Much

There are people who notice a small round brown spot on their body and think “Hmm. Freckle,” and then there are people who swallow hard, start to nervous cough, and hit the keyboard, typing in “freckle.brown.new.stomach.”

We are the Web Doctor alarmists. Why assume it’s nothing when we can Web Doctor it and be told to get our affairs in order and make amends?  (By the way, search out “caskets.cheap” while you’re putting yellow post-it notes on who gets what from your necklace collection).

Web Doctor sites don’t teach a gentle lesson—their target audience is not the common-sense kind. No, we are the ones who want to know “WHAT ARE MY CHANCES?? Will I make it to my son’s high school graduation? I ask you, WILL I??”

The Internet is extraordinary and Googling is great. When I need to find out hours for the library, I check out my library’s website. When I need soccer cleats for my boys that won’t interfere with my Starbucks budget, I search for “family sports shoes. cheap.”  But Web Doctors, even if all you want is the low-down on pimple care, will offer you the serious ailment of the day. Because why not?

I want to break my online Doctor dependence—I want to go back to the land of watch and wait. It’s not a good thing when your kids start coming to you, holding out a scratched finger, asking you to “Google it, Mama—it could be worse than a paper cut!”

See, I’m going to start listening to what my instincts are telling me: quit the Web Doctor cray-cray. They never tell you anything good. You won’t read a paragraph that begins “Pshaw. You worry wart. It’s gonna be fine! No need for big toe amputation—most likely just a pebble stuck in your shoe.”

I like my life, I love my life. I don’t want it imaginarily cut short because of a sensitive ingrown toenail. The thing with me is that everything I read, I remember, and this “oh my god!” with each twinge of pain I feel is going to kill me. Until Web Doctor starts listing possible causes of back pain as “Bad Mattress” along side “Spinal Degeneration”, Ima gonna stay off.

The voice I want to hear in my head from now on is not “Heeeeeere’s your death,” but the reasonable one that says “Take it easy, let’s see what the doctor says.”

Why bury myself before I have to?  I hereby declare today “Take My Life Back Day”, and I will begin by swearing off of Web Doctor. It’s the only road back to a  fatdumbandhappy existence again.

I miss that. Now, please help me ignore this tender elbow pain I’ve been having.

Photo Credit: Dear, max via photopin cc

About Alexandra

Alexandra is a writer who has found the secret to getting rich as a blogger that she'll share with you for just $9.99. When not taking her checks to the bank, Alexandra blogs at Good Day Regular People about life as an overanalyzing mother of three boys trying to go unnoticed in her small town. The most important things you need to know about her are that the internet saves her daily and that she believes the most you can ask for in life is to arrive at the end of it all with your hair messed up, out of breath, and not throwing up. Alexandra is a contributing writer for TikiTikiblog and FunnynotSlutty.

Comments

  1. I’ve had doctors tell me not to look things up. “How come, Doc?” Yeah. They know. They know we’ll be ordering a casket and freaking out. ;) I still compared that funny, larger than usual raised “freckle” with 20 different Google images looking for Melanoma.

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  2. Ms. A says:

    So I’m NOT alone after all!

  3. Alison says:

    When I had that pain in my right side? I absolutely did WebMD it and convinced myself that I had appendicitis.

    For once, it was right. :)

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    • Alexandra says:

      See??? It is stories like yours, that make it dab near impossible to quit WebMD. (what if, what IF, WebMD is right and it is a detached retina???? and not merely a lens prescription adjustment??)

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  4. brian miller says:

    this is the scary side of too much information…we have so much at our fingertips now…and sometimes the symptoms, well we can convince ourselves most anything you know…

  5. Tender elbow? Are you going to join me in the Bursitis Club? It’s a rockin’ club. We take geritol and play pinochle.

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  6. The whole Web MD thing is a double edged sword. While it’s good to be educated, becoming obsessed with that tingle in your big toe may not be the best thing. There is so much cancer in my family that I have to remind myself to dial it back a bit and not constantly worry that there’s a tumor growing somewhere. All you can do is good preventative care, eat right, blah, blah, blah. So easy for me to say. This is why I make it a rule not to go to Web MD.

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  7. Andrea says:

    Bwa ha ha ha ha! The last time I quickly made an appointment for a suspicious freckle (that I noticed at 10 p.m.), I went to the doctor to learn that it wasn’t even a freckle. I admit that it did look much less alarming in the dr office lights than my kitchen lighting! Hmmm, I feel like I might have told you this before, but I am to going to google redundancy indications of illness!

  8. Amanda says:

    I tend to be a seeker of tragedy online. A few years back there was a spate of stories of missing moms. I followed every single one with crazed intensity. The sorrow was all consuming. I try to keep that in check now. Instead taking specific things to help motivate me to honor my blessings and to seek change in the world.

    I suspect Web MD would be an awful place for me.

    xo

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  9. Oh, I’m with you on this one. I actually thought about having my groom hide my laptop so that I couldn’t Google that kind of medical stuff. But then…well, you and I wouldn’t see each other, would we? So the laptop stays and I just need a tinge of freakin’ SELF CONTROL.

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  10. Helena says:

    “Google it, Mama—it could be worse than a paper cut!”
    ohmygosh I laughed, because I swear 3 years from now, Syndil will be saying this to Kurt. I need him to read this post and take the pledge!

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  11. Em:~) says:

    AMEN to that, sister! No self diagnosing via the web. It’s all speculation of the worst kind and then you have major anxiety until the next MD appoint. I’ve sworn off of it when my husband was doing research (job as a medical researcher) and started looking up MY symtoms. Mistake #1: Just because it’s medline, it doesn’t make it as anything more than science fiction until MY own personal, hand picked physician decides on a treatment plan, and no, it’s not cancer, sepsis or anything horrible I can thing of. That’s why they get PAID to treat us. They have history and do an H & P with each visit and trust that HUMAN, not whankerpedia!

    Just my two cents to try to curb anxiety any way I can!

    XXX0

  12. I’m kind of a fan – WebMD can be a very useful tool, especially if it can wither reassure you or prompt you to make an appointment to confirm or rule out your own diagnosis. But then, having spent a lot of my training at a hospital, may have a different take on it.

  13. Jenni Chiu says:

    Oh you are stronger than I. I don’t know if I could give up webMD… How else do I feed my anxiety? Wait – perhaps I’m addicted to my anxiety… I’ll have to look that up… and you totally have tennis elbow – I looked it up for you. Chances of survival are good on that one.

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  14. I had to quit cold turkey after my sinus infection became a brain tumor. I just don’t go there anymore. And I have the “appendicitis” symptoms memorized so I won’t be tempted to look “just a little.”

  15. Cecilia says:

    I LOL’ed the moment I read “WebMD” (surely you and I have met there??). In college I found these bumps in the back of my throat and I called the cancer hotline at 1 a.m. asking what the recovery rate was if found early. The woman asked if I was calling for my father and I said no. She asked me how old I was and started laughing. She said she was SURE I didn’t have cancer of the throat but that didn’t stop me from seeing the campus doctor first thing in the morning!

    Sad to say I am way too familiar with WebMD, the Mayo Clinic.org, etc….;-)

    Your tender elbow? Maybe too much WebMD surfing..?

  16. Hillary says:

    The problem with me is that I don’t trust my doctors when they tell me I’m good. I have symptoms that I’m sure are going to kill me even though I’ve been told everything’s fine.

    I need to take all my doctors to the therapist’s with me, so we can have a group intervention and rebuild some trust!

  17. Lady Jennie says:

    I love THIS: Why bury myself before I have to?

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