Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Dangers of Googling Your Symptoms 

It's no big surprise. I already know I have occasional problems with ear wax. Yes, yes, I admit it. I also have to have my ears shaved whenever I get a haircut and they like to trim my eyebrows, too. Let's just get it all out in the open right up front. My body is turning high-maintenance on me.

But let's get back to the earwax for a minute though. I've recently been experiencing another "episode" and wanted to decide whether I should rush to the doctor immediately before rupturing an eardrum, or if I could wait a day or two before rushing to the doctor with a ruptured eardrum. So I did what any self-respecting modern hypochondriac would do -- I typed my symptoms into my browser's handy search bar and let Dr. Google do all the work.

I expected a page that said something like "Earwax? Eh. See a doctor in a couple days and get that cleaned out." Or maybe at worst, "If you have three of the following 14 symptoms, you should rush to the doctor immediately so you don't rupture an eardrum in the next day or two, otherwise, eh..."

What I got was the hypochondriac's worst nightmare:

Medical News Summary: Brain tumour misdiagnosed as ears wax

A man sought medical treatment from four different GP’s after suffering persistent headaches. All of them told him it was a wax build up that should be removed. In frustration he went to an emergency room where a large brain tumour was immediately discovered and he underwent surgery as well as radiotherapy. The cancer returned three times and within two years he had died.
Thank you SO much WrongDiagnosis.com -- what a fabulous web resource for the symptomatically suggestible. Like most hypochondriacs, I just knew this would happen to me some day.

Now I'm almost afraid to go in. Maybe I'd rather not know. Maybe I'll just hold off on that office visit until there's a big bulging lump pushing out under my ear and consciousness is slowly fading -- whether due to a huge tumor or waxy buildup will have to wait for the coroner's report.

But rest assured, I'll try to keep blogging right to the end. I only regret that I probably won't get quite the publicity my exotic condition deserves, since -- just my luck -- somebody else already got linked for dying from it.

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