A fine line between educating yourself and making yourself crazy.

When I first found a lump, before I even saw my GP, I became a googling fool.  With each progressive test and referral it became a near obsession.  I’m sure I’m not unique in this. In fact, although I never mentioned my nocturnal forays into the darkest reaches of the internet to my doctors, they all said something to the effect of  “don’t spend all your time on the internet” “try to stick with sites that give accurate information” (I was given a pre approved list at this point) and later on.. “don’t listen to well meaning friends who have been through chemo. Their experience won’t necessarily be your’s” (and hasn’t that been the truth?!). But just like when a woman becomes pregnant for the first time and wants to immerse herself in stories of pregnancy, labor and motherhood.. you can’t always filter the information so all  you hear about  are the great experiences, perfect patient/doctor relationships, spouses and family that support without fail and happy endings.  Even while inwardly cringing and wondering at the motives of a person who will share tales of 36 hour labors, nurse Cratchets that took glee in their misery, babies who cried 24 hours a day for 2 years straight.. you still can’t help listening.  And researching. And comparing.  Since my diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy, and impending radiation I have clocked plenty of google time. I’m not sure why I continue to and what I expect to find today that I didn’t find last Thursday.  

This isn’t new behavior for me.  Even before I had access to the internet.   There was a time that I worked as a medical transcriptionist out of my home. I worked for many different disciplines, including cardiology, family medicine, obstetrics, ENT and later psychology and psychiatry.  When I started out I would recognize myself in the patient’s list of symptoms.  The more unusual and obscure the more likely I was to be experiencing the same thing.  I didn’t bother to see a physician regularly during this time.. I had the power to diagnose myself!  I would type along, anxious to get to the diagnostic part of the report and find out exactly what was wrong with me.  Of course nothing was wrong with me and I knew that, but it was easy at times to “go there”.  Compare yourself to someone else based on a handful of similarities.   If have the same diagnosis and treatment plan as another patient and she terribly sick with the chemo, will I be?  If I’m not does that mean the chemo isn’t working? What if it’s the wrong dose?   If someone with my exact diagnosis who did the same treatment has a recurrence 3 years down the road, is that my future?  Why is my hair coming back while still on chemo while someone else’s has made no appearance 3 months after stopping? I’m sure that means mine is going to fall out again, right?  

It’s honestly crazy making, but on the other hand, comforting in some way or we wouldn’t do it.  Btw.. I stopped trying to diagnose myself about the time I switched from medical to psychiatry.  Now I only diagnose friends and family.

Sunday funnies

Ever since I was a little girl I have loved reading the newspaper. I always start with the comics and work my way to the front page, Sunday being the holy grail of funnies!  Some old favorites have come and gone and some should have retired years ago, but I still read them. After I spent yesterday watching the entire Mildred Pierce miniseries (over 5 hours!) then choking down some bland chicken chow mein for dinner, I went to bed early feeling a little rocky and the feeling lasted all night. Not really sick, just blah.. I hate taking antinausea medication because it makes me sleep the day away. But I hate feeling sick even more. When I got up I decided to try and settle before I took anything. I honestly couldn’t tell if I felt sick or hungry so I tried eating.  It took me over 40 minutes, but I ate a muffin and a cup of coffee and was starting to feel okay. While playing fast and loose with my gastric juices I read the paper. I started out with a little Garfield and Peanuts, Hi and Lois, For Better or Worse.. all the old favorites. Then bravely ventured through the paper, finally making my way to the front page where much speculation is being made of Senator Olympia Snowe’s decision not to run for reelection. I have the greatest of respect for Olympia and wish her the very best.  There was yet another heartbreaking article about a little 20 month old girl who disappeared from our small community just before Christmas.  There is much speculation about what happened to her and very few answers.  A lot of mudslinging amongst family members and other members of the community. Sad, sad stuff. Of course to get to the front page I had to take a stroll through entertainment and sports, local news and the editorials.  On the entertainment front I am anxiously awaiting Mad Men! The wait has been far too long. I check out the new movie reviews weekly, but don’t ask me why. I rarely agree with the critics.  Sports? meh..Then I tried to read the editorials but honestly how much more can be said about the GOP vagina monologues that has not been said already?   Rush? Really?  It would be funny if it weren’t so damn predictable and distasteful. As much as I miss the funny papers of my youth, I’m really not interested in a one way ticket back to the 60’s.  Thanks anyway, boys.