There is much shaming today about people who use Dr. Google as a medical tool. Whilst popular opinion is that we should not be turning to google for medical advice, however no one seems to be prepared to discuss why we are going there… And many certainly seem to be going there!
There are few people alive that have not turned to Dr. Google at some point in their lives. I know I have. And I don’t feel the slightest bit of guilt or shame about it.
There are a few benefits from googling our health problems that I would like to mention and discuss here.
Please note: This should not be interpreted as me saying we don’t need doctors or that we should diagnose ourselves. I think most people can differentiate and apply a certain degree of common sense. At least this blogger assumes so anyway.
So here goes.
1. Dr Google is always there – no waiting days/weeks/months to be seen by a doctor. If you have an internet connection than Dr Google is available.
2. Dr Google doesn’t judge! – no matter what topic you might like to research or explore, Dr Google is not going to belittle you or dismiss you. Never have I felt tired, annoyed and embarrassed when I Google a topic. Ever.
3. We don’t have to convince the Internet we are in pain or in need of help – if I had “…just [tried] and rest more and make sure [you] aren’t overdoing it…” as my very first doctor had told me, then i would not have pushed on further for answers. As I started googling all the things I was experiencing I became more confident that I don’t need to be dismissed and that I deserve to be supported and believed that something was wrong. Very wrong.
4. More experiences – for autoimmunes around the world, the Internet is awash with more real life experiences, practical help and understanding than any doctor I have spoken to. Ever.
5. Support – I personally have found greater comfort and encouragement from the millions of annonymous people on the Internet than I have ever encountered from a doctor or specialist. This is a huge help for those of us who have life long diseases and illnesses with no cure. We need help. We need ongoing support. And we need understanding. You can’t get that from a lot of medical interactions out there.
6. Side Effects and Medications – I have been able to access more practical advice and assistance from the internet than I have ever been given in a doctors office. After being handed a script and ushered out the door, there is little to no follow up or warnings given about what to expect and what to do when you encounter problems or side effects. Our only other option, when we are going through some worrying reaction, is to go off to ER and wait for days to be seen OR revisit your doctor when you can manage to get an appointment!
Even being able to put my mind at rest that some of the side effects are normal has been a tremendous help when I have been confused and worried.
7. More information – the internet can far surpass the doctors with the depth of knowledge about a great number of illnesses/meds/therapies/problems/suggestions/realities than any doctor, even specialist, will ever have. I am at the point now that I assume my specialist knows very little about the realities of chronic life and diseases and I must be prepared to do some educating each time I visit. This can be exhausting.
Many of my doctors seem completely unaware about many of the realities and obstacles caused by having a long term disease… But the internet will have mountains of information on many topics. Often it is a case of wading through a mountain of reading and sifting through what might be useful.
8. Empathy and respect – it is ironic that an inanimate machine could be a source of accessing more empathy and respect than someone who is flesh and blood and sitting in the same room as you.
It is a factor that still assounds me. Even 10 years later. Often the medical system is focused more of critical care/emergency medicine than chronic and progressive diseases. Doctors still want you to either get better or go away and chronic illness can often outlast doctors interest and willingness to stay the course with you. Dr Google won’t get frustrated, bored, desensitized or annoyed with you. This means SO much to Chronic suffers. More than perhaps doctors will ever realize.
As you can see, I have received many personal advantages and much more assistance over the years from Dr Google than any medical experts I have seen.
The internet has kept me informed, encouraged, aware, connected and more independent than anything I have gained from the medical profession. This is my experience.
It makes me suggest that the medical profession could learn a lot from people’s reliance on Dr Google and could maybe spend more time and effort asking themselves why people use the internet rather than looking down their noses at it. They might see some of the many gaps and challenges that chronic sufferers face.
I hope so anyway.