From Our ReadersPaging Patient X, The Internet Will See You NowFrom Our Readers

Being a hypochondriac must have been a lot less stressful pre-internet. Before WebMD, Wikipedia and Google, hypochondriacs lived in ignorant bliss, unaware of the thousands of diseases that lay just a click away. I mean, imagine being unable to scour the internet for a diagnosis on the red swollen bumps that suddenly appeared underneath your tongue, the sharp pain in your armpit or the overwhelming fear that perhaps your stiff neck is actually caused by West Nile Virus which you contracted after being bitten by a mosquito on a particular muggy night in TX. (I’m drawing from personal experience here).

As a self-diagnosed hypochondriac, it’s easy for me to fall down the rabbit hole of advice that appears on Yahoo Answers, which I’m now certain is just some 12-year-old in Nebraska. But it’s on the internet, so it must be true!  And it’s not just illnesses I research.  After a brief encounter with a possum this past weekend (which I should note left me sprinting from my apartment screaming like a little girl), I passed the next hour sitting in my car waiting for the possum to retreat by researching the various diseases they carry and the ways in which they could somehow be transferred to me. And if you are wondering if I know how crazy I sound, the answer is yes.   I didn’t actually touch the possum or come within more than 3 feet of it, but I had to be prepared in case said possum somehow exposed me to a rare strain of BovineTB.  For future reference, if you should come into contact with a possum, don’t worry about rabies as possums are mostly resistant.  You can imagine my relief upon learning this.

I’ve come to realize that the Internet is fuel for my hypochondria.   You see, I come from a family of hypochondriacs.  I remember throughout my childhood my dad used to keep a Medical Textbook by his bed and whenever he had an ache or pain he’d lug his 10-pound book over flipping page by page until he had an answer.   It was such a tedious task, but now – thanks to the internet – within moments of seeing a red mark on my leg I can Google and come up with 6.5 million results in .15 seconds of all the possible scenarios from bed bugs to fatal diseases, going from link to link until I look down and see the red mark has disappeared and I realize it was actually from sitting too long in the same position (also a true story).  And in case you are curious, the possum eventually left, but not before pooping on my doorstep. Also, I haven’t caught BovineTB. At least not yet…

Image via Web MD

Brin Lukens is an East Coast transplant living in LA.  A lover of reality TV, awkward eye contact, and al fresco dining – she’s new to Twitter so show her some love.


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  1. Didn’t you find inspiration from, “The higher the buildings the lower the morals..”.

  2. I can totally relate to this. I’ve been called a CYBER-chondriac because of what I find on the internet. Every symptom I read, I have. Thank you for this! Just in time for my doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning!

  3. I am still laughing about the sitting too long part. I have done that so many times. I get up I look down ” What the heck is that?! Baby, look at this! What is wrong with me?!” only to have it disappear in minutes. Ha!

  4. I like playing around with the symptom checker, and putting a ton of random ailments in and seeing what it suspects I “have.”

    I guess I’m a bit of a hypochondriac, and I always google my symptoms even if it’s nothing big. More often than not I close the webpage in fear haha.

  5. I come from a long line of hypochondriacs and am now definitely a cyberchondriac. Somehow, no matter what my ailment, WebMD always suggests I might have cancer. And I always listen.

  6. Um, WebMD has sent me into a nervous, paranoid breakdown more than once. My boyfriend says I’m not allowed to use itanymore. He would like me to say to you, and anyone else who reads this: “Close out of WebMD. I mean it. You don’t have cancer. Stop it, you’re crazy.”

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