To Google Or Not To Google

Google doctor is understandably every doctor’s pet peeve but let’s be honest – we’ve all done it once or twice. It is mostly harmful to the ordinary patient seeking medical advice; however, my condition makes me a not-so-ordinary patient and I often struggle with the question – ‘to google, or not to google?’

In the early days of my illness when all my doctors were saying was ‘Multiple Sclerosis’ I became so google-educated on this disease that I could have written a book on it. It was obsessive and ridiculously unhealthy research that consumed most of my time for close to a month. A little while after my scans testing for MS came back all clear, I vowed to stop compulsively researching illnesses that could explain my symptoms and let the doctors do their jobs finding it. Months passed and still I received no diagnosis, surely it can’t be this hard to connect the dots and form a picture? It wasn’t as though I only had a few symptoms to go off, I had a four page detailed list of my symptoms that continued to grow every week! But here I am, nine months on and still stuck in ‘medical limbo’.

I began to talk to others in similar situations to me, who each had different ideas of what my illness (or illnesses) could be. Now some people don’t like others suggesting possible causes for their symptoms but I however find it helpful when people make educated contributions to my health.

‘Have you heard of blah?’

‘Have you been tested for blah blah?’ ‘

You should look into blah-de-blah.’

People were throwing all sorts of conditions at me that I’d never heard of before. Each time I would debate – should I google them? I’ll just read one page on it, nothing more. It will be fine. I eventually talked myself into it and began to look into the things people were suggesting. Some of this was actually really helpful for me, some websites pointed out things that I had no idea could be symptoms and others put symptoms in words that I could use to explain them myself.

The more people I spoke to who had spent a significant time in ‘medical limbo’, the more I became convinced that google doctor was not totally useless and should be used to an extent in my current position. Most others that I spoke to revealed that if we don’t push for certain illnesses to be tested and ruled out – it doesn’t happen. A few times I’ve mentioned to a doctor that I would like to be tested for a certain illness and they’ve brushed me off because clearly I’ve used google doctor and am not qualified to make an assumption based on that.

Well here’s the thing – the fact that this is my body experiencing these symptoms gives me all the qualification I need to ask questions and state facts. The fact is my symptoms line up with these particular illnesses and I want to be tested for them, not dismissed because I don’t have a medical degree. If I don’t advocate for my health and my body then who will? If I don’t push doctors to go down certain paths then who will?

I’m not saying I am in any way close to being qualified to diagnose myself but at the end of the day no one else knows my body like I do and I have a right to express my thoughts and push for certain things to be ruled out. I have decided that it’s ok to google sometimes and educate myself on potential illnesses. However, I refuse to become obsessive again and convince myself that I have found my diagnosis. I will allow myself to briefly look into certain things to give me an idea of the kinds of tests I should push for but nothing more than that.

To google, or not to google is a very difficult question for me – my answer at this current point in time is to google, with limits and self control. I do understand the negatives of doing this but I think for me the positives out way them.

If you are a not-so-ordinary patient like myself, let me know what you think. Do you google? Is this helpful or detrimental? Even better, are you a doctor and what is your opinion on this? Is there a ‘healthy’ limit on using google in my situation? I’d really love to hear your opinions, whether they agree with mine or not.

7 thoughts on “To Google Or Not To Google

  1. That Silver Spoonie says:

    What a great topic! I absolutely Google my symptoms all the time. I know that it’s never good to Google yourself into an anxiety attack or become an actual hypochondriac, but I probably owe my life to the internet. I know that sounds melodramatic, but I never would have known that I had Lyme disease or acute Mold Toxicity if I hadn’t hit the Google machine! My doctor’s never would have picked up on it. Sometimes we have to be our own doctors, medical researchers, and advocates 🙂

  2. potsiechronicles says:

    If i’m honest, if i had not been having a google doctor moment, i don’t think i would have my diagnosis of PoTS. I know google doctor has a very bad rep with actual doctors, but when it comes down to putting your symptoms into words – like you said, it can be incredibly helpful. i relate to this post so much, and i am always asking myself this question. x

    • FindingRainbowsintheDark says:

      I read that in your post! You are so lucky your doctor actually took that seriously. Every time I mention some kind of illness that explains my symptoms to a doctor I get “oh so you’ve been googling huh?” And a lecture about not doing so haha!
      I’m glad you can relate to this! 💖

      • potsiechronicles says:

        Yeah, its lucky i managed to see that doctor, although i think him and one other doctor are the only people to actually believe me, as my illness is mostly invisible. I absolutely hate those lectures of ‘you cant always listen to google’ or ‘all in your head’, but we will stop the stigma one day! x

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