How a Google Search Can Go So Very, Very Wrong

I consider myself a fairly savvy gal. At the very least, I'm sharp enough to conduct a thorough Google search to figure out anything I don't know, then speak authoritatively on the subject. Or maybe that's just being bossy. Whatever.

The search for medical symptoms is my favorite Google search. It has kept me from driving my children at warp speed to the pediatrician for life-threatening situations like a minor bump to the head or a hangnail. Other web searches might have convinced me I had a brain infection. I maintain we still can't eliminate the possibility.

In all seriousness, trusted medical sites are wonderful for symptom checking and probably keep scads of folks from getting something worse than they started with by sitting in a doctor's office with the really sick people.

It does, however, cause a bit of friction when I have diagnosed myself with something, only to discover from a medical professional I have something else entirely.

Take for example the time several years ago when I went to the doctor with a self-diagnosed ferocious spider bite and left with the shingles.

"I can't have the shingles, I am only 34 years old! This, my friend, is the result of a baseball-sized arachnid lacerating my face with its hairy fangs! No I didn't see the spider, it attacked me in my sleep!" 

Sad to say, apparently some lucky folks can indeed get the shingles before they are 80.

Then there was the time a few years ago when I went with high blood pressure, only to discover my blood pressure was dandy, but I had a nodule on my thyroid which would require a biopsy.

"It seems my thyroid is fairly close to my jugular vein, so I am really not comfortable with a giant, knife-like needle being jammed into my neck. Here's a $20 bill, just diagnose me with high blood pressure per my original suggestion and we'll call it a day."

The doctor would not accept my bribe and insisted on a CT scan. Turned out I didn't have to have the biopsy that would have likely ended in my throat being slashed like the woefully trusting girl in a horror flick, but I have to regularly visit a specialist who not only draws blood every single time I see her, but also mainly treats patients who are 97 years old and use a walker, oxygen, or both. I always feel self-consciously over-mobilized when I'm at her office.

Last year I visited the ENT, who informed me I have a quite deviated septum, and had I ever broken my nose?

"If my nose was broken, it was probably by the giant spider that attacked me AND gave me the shingles. And, I couldn't have a deviated septum! My nose is very straight!"

Apparently the septum situation is why I can't do a sinus rinse without waterboarding myself.

Then just last week, I went to the doctor to get a refill on my apparently-not-high-blood-pressure medication, and asked for something a little more high-octane for my allergies, at least until the pollen decreases to a three-inch coating on my car.

"Seriously? No. No, I do NOT have a sinus infection. This is ALLERGIES. I have no FEVER. I feel FINE."

She insisted I take a prescription for an antibiotic, and thank heavens, because about 6 hours later .... well, perhaps I had a fever and maybe I wasn't feeling so fine anymore.

So, I am officially willing to concede actual medical training may supercede my internet research. Which frankly makes me cranky.

Then I get a text from my sister asking what the doctor said during my visit.

Me: I wanted some sweet allergy meds, I ended up with a freaking sinus infection.

My sister: Are they going to cut out your uterus?

Me: I have checked Web MD and it definitely doesn't recommend a hysterectomy for a sinus infection." 

I think this text conversation explains so much. And should make you thankful you aren't exposed more often to our texts.

Amy M. Dawson is a humor writer and public relations strategist who thinks it should be illegal for doctors to ever say "now that you're getting older ...". She blogs about work and life at


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