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.
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.
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.
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.