Birth of an Internet Hypochondriac

Most days, I’m a completely normal person, and I deal with minor aches and pains like a regular human being. And then every so often, the Google Fever takes over, and then this happens:

I start off with something minor, like a headache. Nothing to be worried about – headaches happen all the time right? I continue with whatever work I’m doing.

A couple of hours pass, and the headache is still here. It’s distracting me from my work, and I’m feeling restless, so to pass the time for 5 minutes, I google my headache.

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“It could be your eyesight,” Dr Google informs me.

Well, I am mildly short sighted, but I hate wearing glasses. Dr Google informs me that I might be damaging my eyes. Maybe my eyesight is worsening — I need to book an eye test. Click-click-click — glaucoma.  Oh dear, there’s a history of glaucoma in my family. Click-click — glaucoma causes blindness. Dr Google tells me that once the damage has been done it can’t be fixed. What!? I’m going to go blind?

Click-click — research blindness and ways to cope with it. Click-click. Consider sending Poppy to a seeing eye dog school in anticipation of the days I won’t be able to see. Realise that unless Poppy is a superdog with a super long life, she’s unlikely to still be around by that time. Moment of sadness as I imagine life without our Popmeister General. Click-click — the longest living dog died at 29. I’m cheered at the thought of twenty odd years with the Popnoodle.

I get a hold of myself — “don’t be ridiculous, you’re not going blind and Poppy isn’t dying. Get back to work.” I close out the windows, but wait, there is something I missed, telling me my headache could be due to stress. Well, I’ll click on that quickly – only 5 minutes. I mean, I don’t think I’m stressed, but there’s a test that will tell me for sure. I might as well take it.

Click-click-click.

Oh god! Apparently I am stressed! Maybe stress is getting in the way of my writing. Maybe it’s having other negative impacts on my body — everyone knows that stress is bad for you. Google stress. Click-click-click — nausea. Click-click- bowel cancer.

“Have you been bloated?” asks Dr Google. Well, yes sometimes. “Have you lost weight?” Yes, but I thought that was a good thing. “No, you could have bowel cancer.”

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Image from Flickr

Say what now? Anxiety and stress go through the roof (guess that test was right after all). Google bowel cancer. Click-click-click — horrific articles on cancer in general. But what about my headache? Click-click. What if it’s a brain tumour?I did smell burning toast once but no one else could smell it and there was no toaster on. Click-click. A brain aneurism? Click-click-click. Oh my god what if —

Luckily the Hubs calls at this point to say hello. I tell him that although it’s not even 10am, so far I’ve faced my inevitable blindness, signed Poppy up for seeing eye dog school, mourned her death, found out I was possibly chronically stressed, diagnosed myself with bowel cancer, and with a brain tumour, or an aneurism, or possibly both (if this was Grey’s Anatomy, it would definitely be both).

“Or maybe you just need to drink more water and take a paracetamol,” says the Hubs.

Oh yeah, that too. Why doesn’t Dr Google ever start by saying that? Honestly, it always takes you to the most extreme, awful illnesses. We have a little laugh at how ridiculous I was being, and after hanging up the phone, I close down google, get some water and get back to work.

But wait, on my way back from the kitchen, I notice that Poppy hasn’t eaten her food yet. That’s weird, she normally wolfs it down. Maybe I should check with Dr Google, just to be safe….

Click-click-click.

***

Full disclosure, I’m not *quite* that neurotic. I’m mildly more normal (but only mildly) — creative license in the name of telling a story and all that. Dr Google has diagnosed me with a number of serious illnesses, mind you, but thankfully I’m still the picture of health. Unless being a hypochondriac is considered a mental illness. Might have to google that… 😉

How about you, have you ever googled your symptoms? Do you find yourself turning into an internet hypochondriac? Or is it just me?

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38 thoughts on “Birth of an Internet Hypochondriac

  1. Google feeds our basic desire to follow each symptom to its worst case scenario end point. It’s the same with the noises your car makes. Sorry if I set you off down that path (but enjoy your new ride)

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    • Luckily I don’t own a car (or in fact a driving licence) but I’m sure I’ll go down that path once the day comes. I can imagine how easy it would be to start googling an odd clicking noise or something like that!

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  2. Haha, this is so true of Internet searches. I don’t spend too much time Googling my symptoms, but I’ve gotten caught up in an endless loops of links like that for other things, especially fiction research. You go to look up one thing, and before you know it, thirty minutes have passed. Ugh.

    Very funny post!

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  3. Funny and cute post. When I was in school to get a degree in mental health counseling, we all thought we had personality disorders! Yes, I’ve used google for identifying symptoms…and accurately. Fortunately I don’t jump from headache to brain cancer!

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    • I can imagine how easy it would have been to see personality disorders everywhere if that’s what you were studying!
      I don’t often tend to diagnose myself with cancer or life threatening illnesses, but I swear every time I look something up, irrespective of what it is, google turns up an article on cancer. It’s crazy! Luckily most of the time I do the normal thing and ignore them 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Google = evil. I’ve given up googling things. I’ve decided that from now on, I shall “Bing” things instead. I saw an article once that said “Bing” had more “natural” results, more insightful and less invasive on the privacy. It’s like organic food. I’m almost sure of it. I might have to check and see if Bing would tell me to take an advil and a glass of water for a headache… 😉

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  5. I haven’t laughed that hard in weeks! It’s definitely not you – I think this describes more people than you think (especially those with an overactive imagination). Great post 😀

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  6. Ah! Ah! Ah!
    You know, I think people who writes like us (I’m always a bit hesitant to call myself a writer) tend to overreact, becuase we always imagine what a situatio can be, and ‘because’ we are writers, we never imagine something normal.

    Then, as my sister told once to a friend of mine, if you have any symptoms, go to a doctor. Don’t google it, or you’re start feeling more symptoms you absolutely DON’T have 😉

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    • Oh definitely — an overactive imagination can easily make things seem much worse than they are! That’s not just for illnesses either — I’m forever imagining the worse for any given scenario.

      You should totally call yourself a writer by the way, since you write! Although I get where you’re coming from, it took me a really long time to call myself that too. I just make the distinction between a writer, and a published writer/author 🙂

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  7. I’m giggling at your googling thanks Celine! Just this morning on the radio they were talking about using google to check out health or un-health symptoms. Many times it can be useful. But I can tell you that my husband who is a medical specialist has patients who come to see him with arm loads of printed out material from google about their symptoms! He has a minor nervous breakdown when that happens! 🙂 BTW drink water at all times – headache prevention! Or eat a boiled egg – actually I think I read that scrambled is better – something to do with unscrambling – o never mind, just drink water and not too much coffee. Keep walking and looking and observing and writing and all will be well …

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    • Oh I can totally imagine how frustrating the internet must be for doctors. I always keep quiet when I do make it to the doctor’s as I’m pretty sure they don’t want to hear about my misguided attempts at a diagnosis. There’s nothing worse than people who know nothing trying to tell professionals how to do their job — whatever the profession!
      I’d never heard of the egg remedy (oh-oh, I feel a google search coming on!), I am definitely trying that next time I get a headache!

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  8. Haha, the perils of google! I try to avoid the medical searches but when I have I’m always amazed by the wide scope of possible diseases out there that I didn’t even know existed!

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  9. I worked for the Dept. of Health with a bunch of nurses and doctors. They always told us never Google our health conditions! When medical professionals look at symptoms, they have the education necessary to rule out things like cancer…we don’t have that knowledge, so we just go down the list and hone in on the worst thing!

    Stephanie
    http://stephie5741.blogspot.com

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    • I know I keep telling myself not to google symptoms, but I can’t help it — call it morbid curiosity. Luckily I’ve never taken my diagnoses seriously. I bet doctors have a really frustrating time with patients quoting Dr Google at them!

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  10. So funny! I have wasted too much time following this path but it is nice to know I am not the only one who gets lost on it sometimes. The only thing worse than Google is WebMD. And the only thing worse than WebMD is WebMD magazine, which is now somehow the only magazine that is stocked in my doctors’ offices. What happened to PEOPLE? Who thought that reading WebMD magazine would be soothing to anxious patients-in-waiting? I’m guessing the stress quiz is at the end of the magazine and the answer is always yes, you are stressed (because you just read WebMD magazine.)

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    • Haha — yes so true about those stress tests! I haven’t seen the WebMD magazine yet — I don’t think I could handle that level of medical paranoia in real life on top of on the internet. That would be enough to turn me into a proper hypochondriac!

      Also it’s very worrying if the trend is for doctors’ offices to move away from gossip mags — it’s the one positive thing about having to go to the doctor’s. I only read tabloids when on the plane, at the doctor’s or at the dentist’s, I’d be gutted if instead of gossip I’d have to flick through photos of skin conditions.

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      • Exactly! Going to the doctor’s office and flying these days involve approximately the same level of fun; the least we should be allowed to do is indulge in something mindless while we’re there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Just to let you know Faith I tried to click on your blog to say hi but it told me that it was a private blog. I thought I’d let you know in case this wasn’t on purpose as a friend of mine’s blog switched to private for a while without her realising 🙂

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