With the Internet, everyone is his own doctor. My brother Steve has sidestepped medical school and a grueling internship. No need to risk malpractice suits or to slave long hours. It’s very simple. Steve typed, “foot pain,” into the computer and voila, instant medical diagnosis.
“I have plantar fasciitis,” he announced.
“The doctor told you that?”
“No, I found it on the Internet, but all the symptoms fit. It’s an inflammation of a thin layer of tissue that supports the arch of the foot. That’s why I have foot pain.”
I was confused, “Steve, I thought you were diagnosed with gout a while ago.” For the unfamiliar gout is a joint inflammation in the feet brought on by excess uric acid found in certain foods.
In layman’s terms eating shellfish and certain meats is a big no-no for the big toe-toes. Perhaps Steve’s love of oysters and barbecue pork was suspect. Maybe plantar fasciitis was a better fit since unlike gout it required no diet change.
I shook my head, “A medical degree from Google U doesn’t count. Why don’t you see a real doctor, you know, confer with a colleague on your medical findings?”
“I am and I’m sure he’ll give me something for it.”
“Oh, good, Dr. Google, and maybe he’ll treat it as a free professional courtesy call.”
That night, I researched “foot pain” on the Internet and along with plantar fasciitis there are heel spurs, ankle tumors, fallen arches, gout, arthritis, or diabetes, just for starters.
For me, the Internet offers more than research. It’s a tool for terror. I no longer explore the terminal possibilities to problems. Who needs to bed down with visions of flesh eating bacteria, or organs falling out, or elephantitis?
My brother called the next day. I had wagered my bets on gout.
“Tendonitis,” he said.
“Yeah, the doctor said plantar fasciitis was a good call, but I’m still wrong,” he said, puzzled.
Despite Dr. Google’s best attempts, the old adage still holds true: “Pay the money, get a professional.”
When happened the last time you self-diagnosed?