Doctor’s appointments more often than not involve getting up at the crack of dawn to then be put on hold and endure Westlife’s Greatest Hits before you’re eventually through to Barbara who can only offer you an appointment in the next fifteen minutes. Cue running around like a headless chicken just to arrive at what resembles a TB ridden hell hole and have to wait around for a further 40 minutes. Cheers Barbara.
Why put yourself through all of this when you could stay in bed for an extra hour or two, click on to Google and diagnose yourself? Who needs a Medicine degree when you’ve got NHS Direct?
Having two parents that work in the NHS, a mild obsession with American hospital dramas and an over active imagination has led me to become a self confessed hypochondriac, much to the despair of my poor friends and family.
Past hypochondria induced episodes have included the predictable ‘“this isn’t a headache it’s a brain tumour” panic as well as a day spent in A&E for a “broken arm” – what turned out to be a swollen elbow from a drunken stumble the night before. I will forever be indebted to my dear housemate who accompanied me to the MRI on that Sunday afternoon (but in my defence it really did hurt quite a lot).
It’s not totally our, or rather my, fault that illness related anxieties have become so out of control. With countless health forums and search engines at the click of a button it’s a wonder we haven’t all lost our minds and convinced ourselves we have flesh eating bugs that are consuming our bodies from the inside out.
Irrational as it is we all do it. Don’t tell me there wasn’t an inkling inside you that thought you might have Swine Flu during the 2009 pandemic or that appendicitis hasn’t crossed your mind when you’ve experienced an identifiable stomach pain.
As much as trawling the web for answers can add fuel to fire, at the same time, it can also put many of your worries to rest and be less of a drain on NHS resources. So next time you’re sure your body has become the site of a medical mystery get yourself on symptom checker and think rational thoughts – nine times out of ten it’ll save you from a needless and rather embarrassing visit to your GP, trust me.