WebMD is a drama queen

Thanks to the Internet, becoming a hypochondriac is a lot easier than it used to be. WebMD is great for fanning benign symptoms into a malignant crisis in mere moments. With just a case of the sniffles and click of the mouse, WebMD will have you writing out your last will and testament.

There really should be a warning on the Internet. (Oh wait, I think there is.) At the very least Google should expressly prohibit the checking of medical symptoms online. You can start with a simple ache or pain and just a few clicks later, you’re convinced you have three different cancers, the Ebola virus and a broken coccyx. Forget hypochondria, the Internet can make a cyberchondriac out of a molehill – or melanoma out of a mole.

Impatient patient

I am not by nature a hypochondriac. What I am is impatient. I really should have been born rich for a variety of reasons — not the least of which being that I want answers when I want them. Not later this week, this month, or six to eight weeks after we have tried a myriad of other things, such as therapy and rest. I want a cure now, today, pronto. I am not what you would call a patient patient.

My first thought when I realize I am obsessively diagnosing myself with something dire and it is a Sunday is “well heck, if I were Madonna, I could see a specialist right now!”

Forget fame, fortune, a personal masseuse or the yachts. I just want the ability to have a specialists airlifted to my house on a weekend. Although, Michael Jackson had that kind of clout and look how that turned out.

Doctors orders

I have had a sort of chronic dull ache in my lower back for nine weeks now. I ignored it for six weeks and treated it — sporadically — for two. I’ve seen both a doctor and a chiropractor and both assure me I’m probably not going to die.

Still, the sheer amount of time (see: impatient) has me thinking I should be miraculously healed by now. So I hit the Internet to check out my symptoms and I think I’m terminally ill. Or I have arthritis. Or maybe a deformity of the spine that only afflicts males in their 20s. I probably have that. Don’t even get me started on my prostate problems.

To complicate my condition, I am also completely in denial about aging. I trot into the doctor’s office confused and dismayed that I feel stiff and sore each morning (and really throughout the whole day). I can’t understand why the doctor checks my date of birth and smiles a bit while breaking it to me — gently — that we must accept a few more aches and pains as we age.

Training

Smartaleck must be a course they take in medical school. I think it coincides with “How to write out a prescription so no one can read your handwriting.”

Two separate medical professionals have also pointed out, correctly, that I am a terrible patient. I lack follow-through. I’m scared of steroids so refuse to fill the prescription for Prednisone. I am not looking for something to make me chunkier and more irritable, thankyouverymuch.

Meanwhile, the chiropractor had me feeling a bit better — so I promptly canceled the next two appointments because the children needed me. Nothing says “good mother” like playing the martyr (said no one ever).

Instead I click away, I get all worked up and maudlin and teary eyed, then realize that I’m just being a big idiot and there are just as many symptoms that don’t point to ultimate early demise. These include the obvious “I sit on my tail too many hours a day and am woefully out of shape.”

Last year a 52-pound bag of dog food put me down for a week. Another culprit may be my woeful reliance on flip-flops. On the other hand that may just be a fashion crime.

Other than my bad back and being, well, oldish, I feel pretty much fine. Shouldn’t dying feel much worse?

I would ask WebMD, but frankly, I’m scared.

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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