Technology and the medical industry have always had a happy, productive marriage. When technology advances, health advances; one germ-infested hand washing the other. Then technology’s greedy offspring (better known as the Internets) stepped in and made a big mess of everything that was once less accessible but more reliable– things like medical advice.
Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? The world wide web isn’t always up to no good with its pop-ups and misinformation hijinks; no, sometimes it saves lives!
Take this woman
. AfterÂ Stacy feltÂ a stabbing sensationÂ inÂ her neck as she enjoyed a cocktail,Â her Google results revealed sheÂ was experiencingÂ symptoms ofÂ Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of cancer. Even after a doctor misdiagnosed her, she persisted with her web-facts and eventuallyÂ received a biopsy. And Dr. Web MD was right! Because Stacy properly diagnosed herself, she was able to begin treatment early and is now in remission.
Â Then there wasÂ the toddler from FloridaÂ who was diagnosed by her mum’s online friend in Manchester. After Madeline Robb received pictures of the toddler’s first birthday, she urged Megan Santos from acrossÂ an ocean to seek medical help for her daughter, Rowan. Madeline had recently learned from a news article that the reflection in Rowan’s eye wasn’t one of sheer joy that she was a proud one-year-old– it was actually the early stages of Retinoblastoma, a debilitating cancer of the eye. Doctors say that though Rowan will lose her eye,Â the earlyÂ diagnosisÂ makes itÂ a lot more likely she’ll live to see another birthday.
Â But self-diagnosis isn’t all fun and games. Because of Web MD, I’ve had lupus, melanoma, a few pregnancies, and whooping cough [Ed. note: The only health issue I’ve ever had is that I can turn a cold into a flesh-eating disease. Nothing a good psychiatrist couldn’t cure]. Hypochondria and a lust forÂ instant gratificationÂ is aÂ combinationÂ from which no one benefits.
After a couple (many) brushes with “death”, I found a happy medium between being naive about potentially dangerous symptoms and taking everything on the internet at face value. Before wasting a co-pay and a sometimes impatient doctor’s time, I check out the iVillage
Â message boards, a place where both knowledgeable and paranoid women alike meet on common groundÂ to discuss various health questions, procedures, and symptoms. I know, it’s not a doctor’s opinion, butÂ reading the stories ofÂ someone who has shared your symptoms is a good way to either put your mind at ease, or spearhead that check-up you’ve been putting off.
So, long live the internet for bringing us LOLCats and somewhat accurate medical advice!