Written by Shelley Plett Wednesday, 23 April 2008 01:39“Doctor to patient: I have good news and bad news. The good news is that you are not a hypochondriac.” —Unknown
Living in this age of technology, we can count on getting more information than is probably needed. I know there are fact hounds among us that seek the final answer to their question and will pick their way through every wrong explanation along the way to get there.
And all of those possible answers are there for the taking. We can no longer just give thanks to that one know-it-all who is happy to offer their enlightenment on every subject. (We all know one.) Now we have the glorious luxury of the Internet.
I constantly use search engines for work, research, entertainment and procrastination. But the one thing I wish I could stop myself from using it for is medical research. I’ve typed a lot of symptoms into search bars and if I was a true hypochondriac, I would have moved myself into a bubble by now.
Just for confirmation, I researched “hypochondriac.” I think I’m safe.
I liken randomly searching symptoms with watching too many reality shows. There’s enough real life drama. Watching it magnified tenfold and glamorized by scripted dialogue might just take me over the edge. Illness symptoms aren’t much different. On the Web, a kid’s tummy ache can suddenly become a black widow spider bite. Not necessarily something an arachnophobe wants in their head.
(That would be a self diagnosed arachnophobe who didn’t bother researching specifics. They might show pictures.)
I know better than to self-diagnose. It’s easy enough to overreact to common illnesses. Influenza has turned into a monster along with sunburns, mosquito bites, headaches and every other symptom that is attached to a common cold. But there’s so much to consider and it can be tough to interpret when chicken soup isn’t going to cut it.
I will assume it’s media-driven, but the number of ailments and epidemics that are reported seem to consistently increase. Alone they make for an interesting news story, but grouped, they are overwhelming.
Within my own circle, I’ve learned about three new conditions in the past few months: morton’s neuroma, pleurisy and mittelschmerz. I won’t detail them all, but let’s just say they all have strange names and are annoying and painful in their own special ways.
I guess I should mention that two of the three were initially, and correctly, diagnosed online. One of those was confirmed by a doctor in the end. The second was shrugged off by doctor No. 1, tested by doctor No. 2, then left as a mystery with no definite diagnosis.
Maybe at times, it can pay to be (slightly) paranoid and (a little) Google-crazy.