Monday, October 17, 2005

Dr. Bricks and Mortar, M.D. 

I have all the symptoms of a classic hypochondriac -- I know, I've looked them up. But please, don't feel sorry for me. Thanks to Google, there has never been a better time in human history to be a hypochondriac. For anyone whose life is essentially an endless series of symptoms and the occasional diagnosis, the ability to google* each and every one -- individually and in combination -- provides a candidate set of diseases and syndromes heretofore unavailable to all but the classically trained physician or coroner.

That said, one must keep in mind that even hypochondriacs can get sick. The important thing to remember in these cases is when to look beyond Google, to consider accepting some old-world, 20th century-style diagnostic support. While Google is great, still, technically speaking, it is not the same as going to medical school and operating on cadavers and all that.

I know, I know, I share your objection.

What if we show up at the Doctor's office with a thoroughly documented list of symptoms, but the doctor just didn't happen to read last Tuesday's easily googleable online-edition of "The Papua New Guinea Journal of Bacteriology" where a new and very rare tropical disease was discussed that has a strikingly similar profile? Well c'mon folks, that's what printers are for.

And yes, there will be that rare instance when the doctor furrows his brow, wondering what could be the reason for this visit so close on the heels of the last. And yes, two aspirin can't be the course of treatment for every rare tropical disease. But statistically speaking, I've found that so far it's worked out in about 99% or more of the cases I'm aware of.

So until Google gets the whole medical thing checked out and licensed to prescribe aspirin, I'll probably be keeping my bricks-and-mortar health professionals on the old speed-dial. Just in case.

Now if I could just figure out whether it's the medial collateral or anterior cruciate ligament that's going to need the surgery. I might be able to save an office visit.

* aside: do we capitalize google as a verb?

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: