Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Who? Me? Let me Google That!

Last night, my hubby and I had a bit of an argument. Well, it wasn't really even an argument and definitely not a fight. It was more of a disagreement. Actually, it was him calling me a hypochondriac and me taking offense.

You see, I take the statistical bullet in other random areas of health, too. Remember how I said a couple of posts ago that I was thankful for my health? Well, that's because I have had some really random things happen to me healthwise. I think we have all had our weird health things, but I do seem to get some of the more random. Obviously, this whole infertility thing has been a bit odd. But there have been other times, too.

When my husband and I first met, I was diagnosed with a rare bladder condition in which the walls of my bladder basically had ulcers. It was a very painful condition, which required several medical procedures, a strict diet, and daily medication. Unfortunately, I also ended up experiencing kidney reflux as a result of this condition, which meant that I had several kidney infections over the course of our early relationship. Luckily, I was able to get the condition in check and with some slight diet modification consider myself "cured" of that.

Three years ago, I had some chest pains and shortness of breath. I let it go for a few weeks, but it seemed to be getting worse. Of course, Dr. Google returned all sorts of prognostications, including heart attacks, anxiety, and pneumonia. I didn't have a cough or fever, so I ruled out pneumonia, and actually figured it probably was anxiety. An chest x-ray revealed that it was pneumonia - or Walking Pneumonia, actually - but it was actually pretty serious. Despite several courses of antibiotics, the pneumonia wouldn't budge and the x-rays got cloudier. My symptoms kept getting worse and because my immune system was already compromised, I was a target for any and all illnesses. I was a pretty sick puppy. It took about six months, but when summer came, I ended up getting "better" until the fall, when it came back, and this time with a vengeance. I ended up in the hospital because my oxygen saturation was so low and had to have a lung biopsy and sinus puncture, where they discovered that I actually had a fungal infection, which is why the antibiotics didn't work and why it seemed to clear up during the summer. Once I was put on a course of anti-fungal medications, I was fine.

I tend to rely heavily on Dr. Google in times of medical need. Whenever I have a health-related question, the good Dr. seems to provide a bevy of beautiful answers. I do tend to self-diagnose based on what answers come back. It's not like I think "hmmm, I have Disease XYZ," and then google that disease and then miraculously have the symptoms. No, I have the symptoms, which puzzle me, and then I Google them and the diagnosis comes to me.

So, is this hypochondria? Of course, I Googled hypochondria and this is the first definition that popped up (courtesy of Wikipedia):

Hypochondria (or hypochondriasis, sometimes referred to as health anxiety/health phobia) refers to an excessive preoccupation or worry about having a serious illness. Often, hypochondria persists even after a physician has evaluated a person and reassured him/her that his/her concerns about symptoms do not have an underlying medical basis or, if there is a medical illness, the concerns are far in excess of what is appropriate for the level of disease. Many people suffering from this disorder focus on a particular symptom as the catalyst of their worrying, such as gastro-intestinal problems, palpitations, or muscle fatigue. The DSM-IV-TR defines this disorder, “Hypochondriasis,” as a somatoform disorder and it is thought to plague about 1-5% of the general population.[1] Hypochondria is often characterized by fears that minor bodily symptoms may indicate a serious illness, constant self-examination and self-diagnosis, and a preoccupation with one's body. Many individuals with hypochondriasis express doubt and disbelief in the doctors' diagnosis, and report that doctors’ reassurance about an absence of a serious medical condition is unconvincing, or un-lasting. Many hypochondriacs require constant reassurance, either from doctors, family, or friends, and the disorder can become a disabling torment for the individual with hypochondriasis, as well as his or her family and friends. Some hypochondriacal individuals are completely avoidant of any reminder of illness, whereas others are frequent visitors of doctors’ offices. Other hypochondriacs will never speak about their terror, convinced that their fear of having a serious illness will not be taken seriously by those in whom they confide.

Hmmm. Some of this does refer to me, but I think that most of it does not. For example, if a doctor told me that I do not suffer from an illness, I would believe them and move on. I would not say that I am disabled by my avid interest in Dr. Google and am definitely not disabled by it. I am a frequent visitor to my infertility doctor, but I haven't seen any other doctor since March for my annual physical. Before that, I hadn't seen my primary care doctor since the previous March for my annual physical. I definitely don't avoid doctors, nor do I go excessively.

But do I protesteth too much?

Here is a new term to me, also courtesy of Wikipedia:

Cyberchondria is a colloquial term for hypochondria in individuals who have researched medical conditions on the internet. The media and the internet often contribute to hypochondria, as articles, TV shows and advertisements regarding serious illnesses such as cancer and multiple sclerosis (some of the common diseases hypochondriacs think they have) often portray these diseases as being random, obscure and somewhat inevitable. Inaccurate portrayal of risk and the identification of non-specific symptoms as signs of serious illness contribute to exacerbating the hypochondriac’s fear that they actually have that illness.

Uh-oh. I definitely do research things on the internet. Huh. Could my husband have been half-right?

I still don't think so. I still believe that a hypochondriac is someone that does not have anything wrong with them and believes they are sick regardless. Sometimes, I actually do have things wrong with me and I happen to like to educate myself on what could possibly be wrong. When I am feeling healthy, I don't stalk the internet, looking for diseases that could befall me.

Is denial the first sign?

Hmmm. If I knew how to do a poll, I would make one.


Anonymous said...

I don't think you're a hypochondriac. It's smart to use whatever guides and research materials (the internet, books, those who have gone through the same experience) to guide you in life - be it for health or a bevy of other things.

I always think of my paternal grandma as a hypochondriac (God love her though). If I call and I have a bit of a frog in my throat, she's like "ohhh Alison, you need to get that checked out, you could have [insert random sickness of the month here]. And she's always sick or recuperating from something. She recently had surgery on her knee because it was "clicking" when she walked, and she ended up having her whole knee replaced!

So basically I don't think you're that dramatic and you're not out seeking an illness. You're just trying to give a name to the way you're feeling, and that is a-ok I think. :)

Fertilize Me said...

It's good to be aware of your body and health and i do beleive that Dr. Google has some helpful information. We all just have to try our best to remain logical and grounded ..which at times can be hard when feeling overwhlemed. If you do not feel it as an unhealthy research tool. I say go at it ... lord knows i do

Samantha said...

It doesn't sound like your a hypochondriac to me, but given some of your experiences, you probably tend to move more quickly to the worst-case scenarios because you've been there in several cases, not that long ago. It would make anyone jumpy about vague symptoms.

I think the Internet is a great tool for medical information, but it does tend to bring out more obscure diseases and make them sound as likely as the more garden-variety ones. Coughing, fever, stuffy nose--is a cold, the flu, or... anthrax!! Maybe your husband just doesn't want you to worry so much and he feels your Googling is contributing to your worry.

Melissa said...

Seriously, aren't we all just a little bit borderline hypochondriac? Especially in the midst of this infertility nonsense!
I cannot believe all you have been through, medically, thank goodness you made it through all that. :)

Anns said...

I don't think you're a hyperchondriac, I think you're a woman of the 21st century and we are lucky to have the luxury of not having to strictly rely on Doctors who don't necessarily get back to us on time, or medical science which has been known to overlook things.

If your research generally pulls up pretty close or bang on info, then I say google away. I know I will be.

infertility just sucks said...

You're not a hypochondriac, you just have Google Ninja Skills.

Being educated about all of the possibilities makes you a better patient. You understand the processes and possibilities and can talk on a higher level.

After air conditioning, Google is my next favorite invention of all time.

Geohde said...

The trick to googling information is always to examine the source pretty closely. There's a lot of rubbish out there,


Searching said...

I'd vote for no, you're not. So sorry about those crazy illnesses! Bladder ulcers? Lung fungi? Biopsies? Good grief!! I hope you are able to stay well and healthy until you are very, very old (and then I'd like you to be well, too!).

Ally said...

I am such a weirdo when it comes to self-diagnosis. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing in my hands. I am embarrassed to admit this, but I'm one of those people who convinces myself I'm dying everytime I get sick so, by the time I get to the doctor, I'm practically hyperventilating because I just *know* I have some weird tropical disease. My sister, who is a nurse, makes fun of me for this. :)

That being said, I fully support your web-based self-diagnosis. It never hurts to be prepared!!

Anonymous said...

I vote no.

I have had my fair share of illnesses, surgeries, strange stuff and odd reactions. Well, probably more than my fair share. I think when you have had strange things happen, as you have, it makes you more aware of your body and everything that happens with it. Besides, TTC teaches you to pay attention to every twinge, gurgle etc. We are tuned into our bodies way more than the rest of the world.

I think you are perfectly fine. When you start posting things about having a rare form of polka-dotted avian gastrointestinal hemmoragic fever or something equally as far fetched, then you will have a problem. :)

jenna sais quoi said...

Deffo not a hypochrondriac- although all the stuff we have to swallow and inject into ourselves for IF probably doesn't help!

Better to get it checked out than talking yourself into it being nothing. One detatched retina later, I learned that lesson the hard way!

Polka Dot said...

I don't know that you're a hypochondriac or not, but I know my husband is. And this is how it goes -

*odd pain* *google* *odd pain* *google*

I need to see a doctor.

*odd pain goes away in 2 days*

Or ...


I need to see a doctor.

Really ... one cough and he's sick and need to see someone, even if it's just a friggin cold. And he'll get some weird pain - you know how sometimes things just hurt for no reason? - and then he'll google and google and suddenly be convinced he has something serious.