Saturday, October 06, 2018

The Soft, Deadly, Hands of Dr. Google

So on Thursday I had to go for blood tests. It's been a week of feeling weak. My primary contact has been with my primary health care team. So, oddly, going to get blood drawn was a wee bit of an outing. Rah!

When I was done, I was given a way that I could sign up to get the results on-line and was told they'd be up fairly quickly. They were. I had my blood drawn at 8:30 and the results were back in by 2:00. When I log in I see the tab for clicking on and viewing my blood work results. Alarmingly there is a big pictogram indicating that there was something wrong, or at least noteworthy, in the results.

My heart beating quicker than usual, I opened the tests. A few things were noted at the top. They were things that were a little low, but in reading the numbers I wasn't really concerned because they were just a wee tiny bit low. But then later on in the results, I see that something is higher than it should be, and to me, it looked like a goodly bit higher.

I don't know a lot of the words that were on the results but that didn't matter, I copied the name of the test and the reading that I got and pasted it into Dr. Google. Well, seconds later I wished I hadn't. Dr. Google basically placed a gentle, and surprisingly soft, hand on my arm and told me that I was going to die and that I would have a life of misery while waiting to do so.

I showed Joe what I had found and then started reading to see if there was anything I could do with diet or exercise or if there were prayers I could utter to slow my slow decline towards death. I spent hours. I had drawn up a list of foods that I could have and foods that I couldn't have. I was learning words that I'd never heard of before but I was good with that. I was in full research mode.

Then, my doctor called. His tone sounded casual but professional and he asked me about my infections? I'm thinking "Why are we talking about my infections, which are pretty much gone now, when he must have seen that my blood work had a little symbol, a picture of alarm, on it." So after we discussed that he started talking about my blood test which he said 'looked good.'

He spoke of the lows, I was right, just a wee bit low that should be watched but not really a concern. Then as he was preparing to go, I asked him about the test indicating hi. As he was looking at it on his screen, I could hear him scrolling, I was telling him about my research and my determination to try to alter my diet and what I'd found in my consultation with Dr. Google.

He told me that the number wasn't a concern. To give me an understanding he told me what number would be a concern, it was over 100, I was barely over 5. He then pointed out that the test could be quite variable and went over with my results from my last tests, none of which I'd seen on-line, and yes it had gone up and down and my number was lower than some and higher than others, but no where near the worrisome figures he'd mentioned.

I felt thoroughly calmed down. I thanked my doctor and wished  him a Happy Thanksgiving. We were done and I was fine. I wanted, however, to slap Dr. Google silly, but there is no way to really do that. Getting the results are cool, reading and understanding them is quite a different matter.

My doctor a long time ago bemoaned the use of Dr. Google, and I felt that he had adequately warned us about the dangers of internet physicians. But, guess not. Next time, I'm not sure what I'll do. Will I read the test? Probably. Will I wait for the doctor, the one who spent all those years in medical school, to interpret them? I really, really, hope so.


Unknown said...

Internet is dangerous when looking up health issues. It terrified me when I first got my diagnosis. Prognosis was 5-10 years, that was 27 years ago! I would advise that people urge on the side of caution when using any of the Dr Google type sites..
So glad you’re feeling a little stronger.

clairesmum said...

The nurse in me gently reminds folks that free advice may be worth exactly what you pay for it. Then I suggest a couple of websites that are reliable for general information - Medline and Mayo Clinic.
That information is helpful in understanding a bit more of what your MD will be talking about when you discuss results.
As a person, my. husband's unexpected biopsies from both cheeks after a routine dental checkup found 'something that didn't look right and wasn't there 6 months ago' started with medically sound sources of information..and led to me looking for the advanced care directives done years ago!
That week of waiting for biopsy results was a real 'eye opener', we are both old enough that the likelihood that some day 'routine' tests will find something 'really bad" and that our usual defense of "not likely at our age' doesn't hold true.
Glad it wasn't as bad as you feared. We human beings sure can scare ourselves....