Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dr. Google

The internet is a wonderful thing.  You no longer need to keep a set of Encyclopedia Britannica in your house and continuously update it as the years pass.  You simply log onto the computer, pull up Google, type in your search and voila!  It's great to find out what the internal temperature of a chicken should be before you serve it, how late the Fred Meyer down the street is open, or what's playing at the movies this week.  Today, however, Ive been grappling with the idea of using Google to diagnose my children's illnesses.

I am extremely guilty of this, and I am not proud.  However, with things being the way they are in the medical field, it's difficult not to.  For example, when we were unsure whether or not my daughter had chicken pox (there was an outbreak at school and one Sunday we noticed some spots on her torso), we took her to one of those strip mall urgent care centers.  The "doctor" (I put it in parenthesis because she was a Physicians Assistant) on duty flipped through a book to find a picture of chicken pox, and used that to confirm that she did not have chicken pox.  We paid a $25 co-pay.  The bill to insurance?  $300.  I went home thinking I could have found better photos on Google Images for free.

So yesterday, after allowing my son to learn what happens when you crawl off a surface that is elevated three inches above the floor, I found myself consulting Dr. Google to find out if he had broken his nose.  There was some bleeding, but it stopped rather quickly, and he didn't seem any more upset when I messed with his nose than he is normally.  But I was worried, and rather than calling the advice nurse or going in to the doctor (because he's my second child, and who worries about such things with the second child?), I spent over an hour perusing baby and parent Q&A boards trying to glean a good answer to my question.  I didn't get a definitive answer to my question.  I wouldn't get that unless I actually took him to the doctor for an exam.

I did learn a few things about myself and Dr. Google, though.  Many of the answers on the boards strongly urged the parents to take their children in for an exam if they suspect the nose to be broken.  I realized that I didn't suspect my child's nose to be broken.  I realized that I simply wanted reassurance that I'm not a shitty mom who lets her kid hurl himself through space and time, getting a few bumps, bruises and nosebleeds along the way.  When I truly am concerned for my child's health, I take him in.  I took him to urgent care a few months ago because he had a fever that had lasted nearly four days.  I took my daughter in when I thought she might have chicken pox.  I took my daughter in when she ate applesauce and it came out the other end looking exactly like applesauce.

I'm not a shitty mom.  I just feel that way sometimes.  Thank you, Dr. Google, for reassuring me that I'm OK.

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