Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Death by WebMD

The other night, I spent 15 minutes thinking I was dying because of the world's fastest appearing black mole, right there on my left arm. There are some people who may have noticed this small irregularly squarish shaped spot and thought, “Hmm. New freckle, I guess,” and then there are people who swallow hard, start to nervous cough, and hit the keyboard, fingers trembling as they enter,  “freckle.black.new.arm.”

But if you're on my team, #WebMDAlarmists, why assume it’s nothing when we can WebMD it and be told to get our affairs in order and make amends?  (By the way, search out “caskets.cheap” while you’re putting yellow post-it notes on who gets what from your necklace collection.)

WebMD  doesn't teach a gentle lesson — their target audience is not the common-sense kind. No, we are the ones who want to know, “WHAT ARE MY CHANCES?? Will I make it to my son’s high school graduation? I ask you, WILL I??”

The Internet is extraordinary and Googling is great. When I need to find out hours for the library, I check out my library’s website. When I need soccer cleats for my boys that won’t interfere with my Starbucks budget, I search for “family sports shoes. cheap.”  But WebMD, even if all you want is the low-down on pimple care, will offer you the serious ailment of the day. Because why not?
I want to break my online Doctor dependence — I want to go back to the land of watch and wait. It’s not a good thing when your kids start coming to you, holding out a scratched finger, asking you to “Google it, Mama — it could be worse than a paper cut!”

I need to start listening to what my twitching cheek muscles tell me, quit the WebMD symptom checker madness. They never tell you anything good. You won’t read a paragraph that begins, “Pshaw. You worry wart. It’s gonna be fine! No need for big toe amputation — most likely just a pebble stuck in your shoe.”

I like my life, I love my life. I don’t want it imaginarily cut short because of a sensitive ingrown toenail. The thing with me is that everything I read, I remember, and this “oh my god!” with each twinge of pain I feel is going to kill me. Until WebMD starts listing possible causes of back pain as “Bad Mattress” along side “Spinal Degeneration”, it's best for my sort to just stay off.

The voice I want to hear in my head from now on is not “Heeeeeere’s your death,” but the reasonable one that says, “Take it easy, let’s see what the doctor says.”

Why bury myself before I have to?

I will silently mouth to myself, that here and now, today is “Take My Life Back Day." I will begin by swearing off of WebMD. I need to, I miss the living in fatdumbandhappy land. I miss that.

Oh, and that suddenly appearing black mole with irregular borders? A small puff of wind blew it off my arm. Pizza crust remnant. I guess there's more than one reason for wearing long sleeved shirts to protect from skin damage.

* * *


  1. ha. self diagnosis via webmd....everyone becomes a doctor...
    seriously i think some things are written to justify a diagnosis of just about anything...enjoy your freedom day today

  2. WebMD and I have diagnosed cancer for me more than once. I no longer believe everything I read on the Internet.

  3. I have a bona fide college minor in fretting.

    I think the thing you need, my friend, is another slice of pizza, extra sauce.

  4. The last suspicious mole wedmd had me buried for was not a mole at all, but some other insignificant nothing (according to an actual in the flesh dr) It was just in a hard spot for me to see, so I guess I thought the computer knew better!

  5. In all seriousness, my husband knows that if I google anything health-related, it is a sign for him to 'check-in' with me about my anxiety because it usually means it is getting out of control. I swore off Dr. Google about a year ago and I don't miss it.

  6. I started having losses in energy and other things associated with andropause a couple of years ago. I mentioned it to my alarmist sister in law. She lives on WebMD info. In 7 clicks of her laptop, she had me diagnosed with 3 different forms of cancer. I said, yeah, you know, I'm going with my bi-polar disorder combined with middle-age...peace out..

    PS, if I pass away within the next few minutes tell my sister in law she was right.

  7. Yes. Yes. It's one thing to be plugged in and aware, but knowing how to balance our net-based knowledge with a calm-n-common approach is a two-edged sword that distorts the truth. Greatly entertaining post yet straight to the point.

  8. Last year, I went to the dermatologist pretty sure I had something awful on my arm. Newly appeared? Yes. Irregularly shaped? Check. Alarmed? Damn straight.

    I pointed it out to the doctor with a trembling finger and he said, "That? It's just an age spot."

    He became, simultaneously, my most and least favorite person in the world.

  9. I taught myself, a long time ago, to avoid WebMD, or google in general, unless I already suspected my diagnosis. This went on to bite me in the ass when a seemingly-mostly-benign "getting my foot run over by a shopping cart" left me with horrible pain in my foot. I thought it must be a broken toe, and since there was little that I could do about it, just wait. Looking back, with my diagnosis, the bump with the cart was, likely, coincidental, and I had a brush with gout.

    So I, really, don't have any good advice.

    I used to have a blue mole on the inside of my right biceps. The color, alone, was enough to put it on the "doctor must always check on this" list. Just last week, I went to check on it, to ensure that it hasn't moved or grown or changed colors, or whatever . . . but it's fully missing. Hmmmmm.

  10. Step away from the Internets... :)

    I am guilty of the same. I had a slowly growing something on my neck and I was convinced it was cancer so I started to pick at it which is probably the stupidest thing you can do. Thankfully it went away and I didn't have to spend the day at a doctor's office.

    But I'm glad that was just pizza crust. You will be here to tell us funny stories for many, many years to come, my sweet girl. XOXO



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