I’m dying. No seriously. I looked it up on the internet.
You’ve heard the expression, "A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing".
A few weeks ago, my husband (he begged me not to name him) was washing the dishes when he suddenly cried out in pain. He had, by the strangest of circumstances, somehow managed to drive an uncooked spaghetti noodle under his thumbnail. Ow, indeed. Since I couldn’t actually see the noodle under the nail, I figured the noodle was now somewhere in the middle of the meat of his thumb, and therefore suggested he go see his doctor the next day and get on a course of prophylactic antibiotics before things got worse. He ignored my advice, at which point I suggested that maybe he should soak it in hot water. Say, for 8 to 9 minutes. Until al dente.
Two nights later, at 3 a.m., I awoke to the glow of his blackberry as he lay there in the dark, frantically googling ‘nail bed infection’. He was in his doctor’s office hours later.
There’s a name for it. Cyberchondria. According to a recent Globe and Mail article, cyberchondria is ‘hypochondria on metaphorical steroids, its effects amplified by the staggering number of disastrous outcomes the Web can provide.’ In a Microsoft study released in late November, researchers discovered that after typing ‘headache’ into a search engine, ‘caffeine withdrawal’ and ‘brain tumour’ came up with the same frequency. As the article suggests, the Internet truly is the hypochondriac’s perfect storm.
Needless to say, it is the physician who bears the brunt of this ignorant and undiscerning application of "Dr. Google’s" expertise. You’ve seen them; the ones in the waiting room with their printouts clutched in their hands, ready to storm their doctor’s office with a proclamation of impending death. They’re the real reason your GP is running behind today.
My husband is on antibiotics now, but still has tenderness and numbness in that thumb. Which should at least slow down his Google searches for a few more days…
Jennifer Hartman, guest blogger