Googling illnesses a big mistake

Recently, I caught a mild cold. Now this would have been a normal thing, except that I am not a medical doctor and therefore could not remember if I was supposed to starve my cold or feed it. Also? I thought maybe it was allergies and not really a cold and I couldn’t even begin to know if I starved my allergies, fed them or if I should just take an allergy pill and stay away from the backyard for a few days.
So naturally, instead of doing something completely crazy and irrational like, you know, calling my doctor, I turned to the scariest place on earth for medical advice: the Internet.
Holy cow. That was a mistake.
First of all, I was immediately diagnosed with 129 diseases that covered my symptoms. Everything was listed there, from spinal meningitis to cat scratch disease to a lot of diseases that ended with “coccosis.” Strangely, no mention of a common cold, which obviously meant I should panic immediately because I was clearly going to die.
However, I am an optimist. Also? I suspect I am too mean to die, so I moved on to Google advice on cold treatment.
Yeah. That was mistake No. 2. The advice ranged from “drink OJ and see your doctor if symptoms worsen” to “my cousin had that and four days later we found him dead on the couch, still watching ‘Matlock’ reruns” to “they say my boyfriend died of gunshot wounds, but I’m sure he died of a cold before I shot him, so please donate to my defense fund so I can prove myself innocent” to my personal favorite “drink a lot of wine because it has grapes in it and everybody knows grapes cure a cold.” I think it goes without saying I found the wine advice to be incredibly helpful and I will use it even when I’m not sick as a preventative.
Sadly, though, along with the somewhat questionable advice were images. Holy cannoli, what the heck are these people thinking? Who puts pictures of gross diseases on the Internet? I mean, all I have to do is Google some symptoms for a cold, and I am treated to photos of rashes and infected throats and all kinds of disgusting disease stuff. Please, people. Those images should come with warning labels. Some of us are suffering with head colds. We don’t want to have our retinas burned out with images of rashes.
Plus, who does that? I mean if you were sick would you sit around and think, “Ooh, I’m so bored with ‘Matlock’ reruns, but this rash is so cool, I should take a photo and upload it so everyone on the entire planet can see how cool it is?” Um, no. No. Normal people don’t do that. Normal people do not share their rashes in any way, shape or form. We don’t pass them on to unsuspecting victims. We don’t upload photos of them to the Internet. We keep our rashes private.
Good Lord, people, it’s common courtesy. Nobody wants to see your rash.
Anyway, after my eyes stopped burning, I Googled medical advice, figuring that would take me to sites run by actual medical professionals. Turns out the term “actual medical professional” can be somewhat misleading. For example, I think of an actual medical professional as a doctor. Or a nurse. Or a physician’s assistant. Yeah. The Internet has other ideas. For example, under the Internet definition of actual medical professional, my dog could qualify, despite the fact that she walks on four legs, poops in public and didn’t even pass obedience school, let alone get a decent score on her MCAT.
And if you do get to an actual site, purportedly run by actual medical professionals who do not walk on four legs, you still get images. Let’s just say that if you are eating your lunch because you have given up on starving your cold, you probably don’t want to just pop onto one of those sites – visions of toenail fungus can put you off your food. Forever.
And after all of that, I decided to call my doctor. What a novel concept. Also? Turns out you don’t starve a cold or a fever. Who knew?

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