It was probably a lot easier to be a hypochondriac before there was the internet.
But that might not be entirely true – since in that time before search engines became popular, it meant going to a doctor with a list of symptoms for $150.00 a pop. Additional symptoms would mean additional visits and possibly some phone calls, which could eventually result in avoidance on the part of your medical practitioner.
These days you can save yourself a little money and do some of the work yourself by visiting any number of medical sites and plugging in the indicators to determine just what it is that ails you. Quite a few diseases have similar symptoms, so diagnose yourself incorrectly and you could see your life flashing before your eyes for absolutely no reason.
Most of these sites will tell you what steps you should take – one of which is to see a doctor, along with list of questions to ask when you get there, some types of medication likely to be prescribed, cures (if any), causes, treatment and likely outcomes. Some even discuss ways to manage a disease or condition using less conventional methods.
But that’s if you know what you’re looking for. Add to this wealth of information – that may or may not apply to your particular problem, are numerous TV shows that document rare disorders that befall about 1% of the population, but somehow you think you’re unlucky enough to get. After a while, the stories told in “Monsters Inside Of Me” don’t seem at all far-fetched.
It’s one thing to find out what’s causing those eruptions on your skin, but what do you do if your search has you convinced that you don’t have that long to live?
You’ll probably make some promises you wouldn’t ordinarily keep, adjust your lifestyle and modify your behaviour to make the most of the little time you have left. You’ll count your blessings every morning, revel in the sunrise instead of recording it and reach out to the person who you never really cared for and who cared for you even less.
An inconclusive diagnosis from the doctor or a clean bill of health is not the kind of news you’re really expecting, because there has to be a reason you’ve not been feeling like yourself. While keeping an eye on your current symptoms you find a few new complaints, so instead of going back to start over, you decide on a new practitioner so that you can repeat the tests you already submitted to, in the hopes that he can find something else.
A physical examination is a little nerve-wracking because you’re not entirely sure whether you want to pass or fail the test. You carefully watch the doctor’s reactions when you give the answers to his questions. Was that a good one? What does that nod signify? Should you tell him about your elevated heart rate now? The fall from the swing in kindergarten? The spill you took in front of the bank in ’93? When he says “Okay”, you wonder “okay to what”? He breathes while he listens to your heart beat… and says nothing. Is that a good nothing? Or a bad nothing? What does his blinking silence mean?
He finally speaks.
You listen intently.
He says he doesn’t see anything, and as he reaches for the form to indicate the tests to be taken, you pull out your mobile phone and open to the bookmarked page, because you’re ready…to make a few suggestions.