Cold dread mingled with an absurd sense of validation at having my fears confirmed
I never should have Googled it, I know, I know.
Dr. Google is evil and pessimistic and out to brand his patients with the most frightening maladies known to mankind. His prognoses are grim at best, hair-raising at worst. If he’d have it his way, we’d all be limping about, wheezing and gasping, and looking death in the face.
There’s a good reason Dr. Google is a pariah within the medical community, with physicians warning their patients to stay away from him. But the patients don’t heed those warnings, because they have a need to know. And Google boasts endless fountains of knowledge.
Which brings me back to the reason I googled.
I’d had bloodwork done, and was notified that the results were in. I was told I could have them sent to me, or schedule an appointment to review the results with a doctor. Email it over, I said, because as I mentioned, I have this need to know.
The first page looked routine enough. I know this because the lab considerately includes a reference range next to each result, so I can know if something is off. (Why do they do this, I wonder? Is it for people like me who attempt to decipher their results without having a clue what they’re looking at? Or is it for the doctors, who should know this stuff without helpsies?) The lab also helpfully bolds any number out of range, so I don’t miss it. Which I didn’t.
There were a couple of figures, mostly in the same category (I think?), that were elevated. Not as in borderline elevated, but as in skyrocketing, not-even-in-the-reference-range ballpark high. I made an urgent mental note to look into it, and promptly got swept up in more pressing matters.
The next day, as I was researching something unrelated, I remembered. I input the info and waited.
Dr. Google did not disappoint.
The specific element that was ridiculously high was the biggest medical indicator of one particular condition. A debilitating condition, and a chronic one.
Now, I’m not the sort of person who’ll swallow anything whole, much less a life sentence from some anonymous online presence. So I rephrased my question, entered different keywords, accessed reputable websites. My search became ever more frantic, as I cast about for some vestige of hope.
Alas, there was none.
The numbers, all sources unanimously agreed, were indicative of something sinister. And, as further research confirmed, incurable.
Things clicked into place. Random symptoms I’d been experiencing, questions I’d had but never asked. It all made sense now.
I did the first thing any reasonable person would do at this point. I panicked.
Then I did the next logical thing, and booked a doctor’s appointment. The earliest available slot was in two days’ time. Two whole, agonizing days.
I spent those two days alternating between stark terror and blocking it all out.
I went about life as usual, if rather dazed. It felt like I was suspended on the cusp of something big. Somewhat like the day leading up to a close family wedding, or a long-awaited vacation. Minus the joyful anticipation.
My brain worked overtime, conjuring up images of people I knew who were suffering from the same disease. I tossed and turned at night, visualizing detail upon terrifying detail. I imagined how my most basic functioning would be affected, how much worse it would get.
I was terrified.
D-day finally arrived. I was oddly calm on my way to the doctor. Until it hit me again. The future diagnosis, the ramifications. I took a seat in the waiting room, took out my Tehillim and stared at it blankly. I knew I should daven, storm the heavens while nothing was yet final, but it was all I could do to mouth the words robotically, while my stomach turned somersaults.
My name was called, and I entered the doctor’s office. At last, the moment of judgement.
I watched as the doctor looked over the first page, then the second. His eyes widened. His mouth twitched. He studied some numbers, shook his head, turned back to review previous figures.
Cold dread mingled with an absurd sense of validation at having my fears confirmed.
I observed as he narrowed his eyes, perused the numbers again and again, and blew a loud exhale.
And finally, when I could take the suspense no longer, I mustered the courage to ask feebly, “What are you seeing?”
The doctor dropped the papers, looked up, and said, “A whole bunch of nothing.”
And just like that, it was over.
There were explanations afterward, about multiple markers, and an isolated high count that wasn’t worrisome. But the overall takeaway was that I was completely and blissfully fine.
I didn’t have some life-altering condition after all.
I could be a functional mother to my children. The children who wake me up at five a.m., who don’t listen to a word I say.
I’d have the energy to run my home, in my aging, too-small house.
I could continue strolling the streets, cold and rainy though they may be.
I wouldn’t have to deal with constant, excruciating pain, even as I deal with the myriad other pains of life.
I floated out of the office. The wonder of a clean bill of health.
Those two days were nightmarish. But they taught me a thing or two.
About the blessings I take for granted, and the minor grievances that are just that, minor.
And stay away from Dr. Google. You don’t need to know.
Take it from me.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 720)
Oops! We could not locate your form.