Web MD

Can someone reassure me that this, whatever this is, will not kill me?

Since I don’t have the patience to wait for any qualified advice, against my better judgment, which is already somewhat questionable, I just went on WebMD to check my symptoms, which are mainly: 1) unidentifiable weird bite/sting thing on my hand, 2) slight pain emanating from said bite/sting thing.

The WebMD symptom checker questions alone scared the bejeezus out of me.

One of said terrifying questions: “Have you been bitten, stung, or had contact with a poisonous spider, scorpion, or puss caterpillar?” First of all, how would I know if I’ve been stung by a poisonous spider, scorpion, or puss caterpillar? Isn’t that WebMD’s job, to tell me if I have been stung by a poisonous spider, scorpion, or puss caterpillar? And also, PUSS CATERPILLAR?

Another probing question: “Do you have a blister, painful sore, or purple discoloration at the site of a bite or sting?” Well, yes – I mean, this thing looks pretty blistery, and it hurts. So I clicked on the “yes” button, which brought me to another series of questions, one of which was: “Have you had a blister, painful sore, or purple discoloration at the site of a bite or sting for 24 hours, but you do not have any other symptoms of illness?”  I think so? Has it been 24 hours? I don’t know! Probably? I clicked “yes.”   I was shocked by the results.

For once in my life, WebMD told me that I “may wait to see if the symptoms improve over the next 24 hours.”

Wait, what now? “Wait to see if the symptoms improve?” Does. Not. Compute.

LITERALLY every other time I’ve had even the tiniest twinge of illness or pain, WebMD has told me I’m dying.  It has either flat out said, “You’re dying,” or it’s said something like, “You’re probably dying, but call an ambulance and rush to the emergency room just in case some talented doctor there can work magic and pull your quickly dwindling life from the jaws of death.”

Now that WebMD’s telling me I “may wait” to see how things develop, I don’t trust it.  I don’t trust it one bit.

I should make it clear here that I know better than to go on Web MD, but I just have no self control.  I have a long history of diagnosing myself with diseases that I don’t have (various types of cancer, immune disorders, tropical diseases, and psychiatric illnesses, to name a few), under the terribly off base and alarmist guidance of WebMD.  The problem is, I’m a bit of a hypochondriac. And I’m always open to suggestion.

The worst part of my WebMD addiction is that on the rare occasions where I have actually been seriously ill, and WebMD should have been like, “Red alert, red alert, get thee to a healthcare provider,” it’s led me completely and totally astray.  For example: remember that time I had typhoid fever?  So, I was feeling horrible – sweating, shivering, no appetite, piercing headache, body aches, weakness, and joint pain.  I felt like crap on a cracker, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t the flu, because, for one thing, I wasn’t coughing and, for another, the flu has never made me lose my appetite before (I’m a hearty one).  So I went on WebMD to see what other terrible illness I could have been suffering from.  I put in my symptoms and WebMD diagnosed me as suffering from – wait for it! – pregnancy.

I re-entered my symptoms, omitting certain things each time, rephrasing, tweaking, and every time the results popped up: pregnant, pregnant, pregnant.  When I dragged myself into my nurse practitioner’s office the next day, white as a ghost, sweaty, and barely able to hold myself upright, I croaked, “I’m concerned that I may be pregnant.”  She looked at me like I was insane in the membrane and then said, “Yeah, pregnancy doesn’t look like this.”  (Unless you’re having Rosemary’s Baby, I guess). I was relieved. Because if being pregnant feels like being deathly ill with typhoid fever, I ain’t never having kids.

Anyway. I should know better than to trust WebMD but I’m addicted to it.  Checking WebMD compulsively is in itself a sickness. I wonder if WebMD has that particular disorder in its catalog of horrors. I’m scared to find out.  I don’t want to diagnose myself with anything else for today.


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