The Blonde on the Prairie: Don’t Diagnose Yourself

Owie! If you’ve seen me at all this week you may have heard me say that word.

About a week and a half ago I began noticing it more than before. Though I noticed it before – I did that thing I’ve made myself so good at. I can justify most any pain in my body.

Pain is such a subjective thing. I can breathe my way through most anything and use my mind to forget about it for a minute. If I have a raging headache and squeeze my ear lobe my headache pain disappears for a spell because then my ear is taking up all the pain receptors. Just like I tease my cat – I tease my pain.

I decided to share with you what not to do. I never like to accentuate the negative unless it can save someone else. I just know that you read that sentence and now must read on because I wrote, “I decided to share with you what not to do.” What not to do compelled you to. You’re such a rebel. Just like when your own mama said, “Don’t eat the dough from the chocolate chip cookie bowl,” You just had to. Didn’t ya? Tee-hee!

Whatever you do – DO NOT spend too much time searching the internet for the reasons you’re having symptoms. That’s what doctors and tests are for. I honor my doctor and feel like I bother him too much with my diabetes needs already. I’ll do anything not to bother the doctor.
I began my Google search with simple search words. My first search was with the words, “Upper back pain.” I learned I could have osteoarthritis, a herniated disc, spinal stenosis or degenerative disc disease. The search results allowed me to click on each one of those ailments and read more. I didn’t deduce I had any of those awful things. Just then at the bottom of one website I saw the following warning: “In rare cases, upper and middle back pain may be caused by
other problems, such as gall bladder disease, cancer or an infection.”
I had already diagnosed myself, which you and I both know most doctors hate because we’re usually wrong – not always – but usually. I have the strong gift of discernment and I discern it’s my gall bladder. I should have quit there. But no! Just like you I had to keep going. I can deal with it being my gall bladder. Instead I kept entering more specific search words into my search for causes of my symptoms.

I entered the search words, “Intense pain between shoulder blades.” I learned it may be stressed muscles but I don’t have sore muscles. It’s an inside pain. I kept reading. Next I learned I may be having a heart attack. That news made my blood pressure go up. I could feel it. I diagnosed myself at that point with severe anxiety at that point. I don’t have time to have a heart attack right now. I didn’t have to worry about it being a heart attack for too long because I kept reading. It said something about “referred pain” and how pain that radiates into between your shoulder blades could just be liver cancer. I look awful in yellow. I rebuked that disease. Just the mention of it made me want to lose my lunch.

I kept reading and entering new words. One disease turned in to another and I was getting a medical degree very quickly without having to pay, do clinicals or practice on already deceased cadavers. I searched long enough to learn I may have testicular cancer and I’m not even one of you fellas!

As my anxiety grew from all that I had read and learned I called a doctor friend of mine to get advice. I explained to the doctor that I had searched long enough and deep enough that it said it was my testicles but it couldn’t be because I’m a girl. Laughter is good for doctors. The doctor laughed. I was asked a plethora of questions and was told if it is my gall bladder I’d have to have an abdominal ultrasound which I learned by searching is a noninvasive test in which a probe on the skin bounces high-frequency sound waves off structures in the belly.
Ultrasound is an excellent test for gallstones and to check the gallbladder wall, I learned. I was also told that may show nothing. If that’s the case I’ll need to have a HIDA scan. I searched and learned that this is a nuclear medicine test. They’d take me in to a procedure room and inject radioactive dye intravenously. It secretes into the bile. It said that “Cholecystitis is likely if the scan shows bile doesn’t make it from the liver into the gallbladder.” I didn’t dare search what cholecystitis is. Any diseases that end “cystitis” scares me to death. I want to live. So I kept searching. I learned from the doctor and my searching that I could have a series of other tests to finally diagnosis me.

I don’t want liver cancer, I don’t have the heart to have a heart attack right now and I don’t have testicles to fail me.

It feels like indigestion in my back and hurts worse after I eat. I popped some Rolaids and got no relief. I’m going to have to go to the doctor.


He’ll tell me it’s just gas.

If you are going to do a computer search of symptoms, whatever you do –DON’T search for “Reasons of constant smiling.”

You rebel. I just told you not to so now you’re going to –aren’t you?
Be prepared. It will show websites explaining joy.

I hereby commit to never searching my own symptoms again. Now I have every disease I read about including things I simply can’t have. I have to leave you now. I think I have neurofibromatosis. Maybe, just maybe it’s just a pimple though. The doctor. is in! Be healthy but don’t wait too long if you do have symptoms. I love you.

Ingstad lives on the prairie near Valley City and writes this column for the Times-Record.