What’s Up, Doc?


The internet is a wondrous invention, providing entertainment to billions of people across the globe. Mostly, this entertainment is provided in the form of videos of dudes being blown by midgets. But the internet is a source of valuable information as well, a tool that we may use to enrich our minds and, indeed, our very lives, or at least it is until you stumble across WebMD and quickly freak yourself out, convincing yourself that you are dying of ball cancer.

I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, a hypochondriac. I don’t worry about catching a cold, or the flu, or anything like that. Good thing too because I’ve got three kids, and they are to contagion what Taco Bell is to explosive diarrhea. But I don’t get all Howard Hughes, spraying disinfectant on everything in sight. I don’t even use the wipes they put near the carts at the grocery store. I am a motherfucking wild man.

But I do not like it when my body does something unexpected, and at the age of 43, I’ve found that my body does many unexpected things. A couple of Thanksgivings ago, my right ankle spontaneously sprained itself. I didn’t do anything to it, I was just sitting there when all of a sudden my ankle started to hurt, and then started to swell. By the time the night was over and everyone had once again agreed that maybe having Thanksgiving with strangers would be a better idea next year, I couldn’t put any weight on that foot. At the E/R, the doctor took a quick look at my ankle and said, “Wow, you really sprained that thing. What did you do?”

“Nothing,” I responded.

“How old are you?”

“I’m 41.”

The doctor then gave me one of those “Ahhh” answers which translates to, “You are so old that your body is starting to fall apart, but my medical training has taught me that it is impolite to tell you so, so I’ll just say ‘Ahhh’ instead.” That fucker. I never paid the bill for that visit. (Stick it to the man!)

Arrrggghhh! Curse you, Greg! Now I won't have enough Dom Pérignon to stock the yacht!

Arrrggghhh! Curse you, Greg! Now I won’t have enough Dom Pérignon to stock the yacht!

Anyway, my body will do weird things, and because I don’t like this, I go searching for answers. This is where WebMD comes in. The WebMD web site has a handy little gadget called the Symptom Checker which they may as well go ahead and call the Worst Case Scenario App, or more to the point, The Pants Shitter. What you do is put in your symptoms and then the Symptom Checker tells you that you are dying. No shit. Here, I’ll prove it to you.

I just went to the Symptom Checker and entered in the following information:

  • Male
  • 35 – 44 years old
  • A hacking cough, made worse by lying down

The diagnosis? Congestive heart failure. Holy fucking shit! I have congestive heart failure! Aaaaaauuuuuggggghhhhh!

(Four and a half hour gap while doctors at the E/R laugh at me for going on WebMD again)

Sorry, where was I? Oh, right. Fucking WebMD. WebMD will tell you that you are dying at the drop of a hat. Some times I think they should just redo their entire home page to read “You Are Dying” in 72 point font. It would save people the hassle of entering in all of those symptoms. How frustrating is it to enter in your details (mild headache) and have to wait for the Symptom Checker to comb through its voluminous database of fatal conditions until it reveals that you are about to die from some terrible disease (spontaneous decapitation)? Fuck that, cut to the chase and just tell everyone they’re dying without getting all personal and making them type out irrelevant shit like age, or whether or not blood is shooting out of their eyeballs (yes).

Are my eyes bleeding? Yes, but technically it's not my blood... Hmmm, WebMD says I'm dying anyway.

Are my eyes bleeding? Yes, but technically it’s not my blood… Hmmm, WebMD says I’m dying anyway.

But I never fail to take WebMD seriously, and it always scares the shit out of me. Well, there was one time that I laughed at a WebMD diagnosis. I woke up one morning feeling ok but not ok enough to do anything productive, and because I have a firm rule of not wasting my sick days on days that I actually feel unwell, I called in sick to work. A few minutes later I looked in the mirror and noticed that the massive amount of weight training that I’d been doing was beginning to pay off. My neck muscles were fucking poppin’, bro! The only problem was that my weight training consisted solely of twelve ounce curls, and so I figured maybe I should see a doctor about that.

After I made the appointment, but before I left the house, I decided to sit down and scare the shit out of myself with WebMD. “Let’s see here, 35 year old male with large penis experiencing swelling in the neck… Hahaha, yeah, right! Lymphoma! Hahaha, I’m not falling for this shit again, WebMD! Hahaha!” And as anyone familiar with how much of a fucking wise-ass God can be can tell you, by the end of the day I was lying in the hospital, doped up out of my fucking mind on stress meds, while a doctor told me that I most likely had lymphoma. (Oh, and in case you disagree with my whole God/wise-ass comment, I should note that while I was going through this, my wife was busy getting laid off. Thanks, God!)

I blame WebMD for my cancer, and even though I’ve made a full recovery, don’t think for a minute that it has left me any less litigious than your ordinary, run of the mill American with a sense of entitlement and no qualms about abusing the legal system for personal gain. No, WebMD caused my cancer and I can prove it beyond the shadow of a doubt:

  • WebMD, though gross negligence, has let the so called “medical experts” allow Symptom Checker to dispense diagnoses that, while technically accurate, can cause extreme amounts of stress in users.
  • (To Do: Fill this in with damning evidence that stress causes cancer before the trial starts)
  • I used WebMD
  • I wound up with cancer

Therefore, WebMD gave me cancer! Not cool, WebMD! I could have fucking died, you know! You can expect my lawsuit to come fully equipped with a number containing a truly incredible number of zeroes on the end of it. And just because you have a stupid little disclaimer on the bottom of the Symptom Checker doesn’t mean that… Excuse me… I just felt a little faint there for a second. Hmmm… Hang on…

Fuck! Fuuuuuuuuuck!

Sorry, I have to go . I HAVE SCURVY!

WebMD strikes again!

WebMD strikes again!

20 Responses to “What’s Up, Doc?”

  1. My wife used to live on WebMD. She always bought it and wanted to run to the doctor for every ache and pain she had that WebMD convinced her she was about to burst into flames. I hate that site.

  2. Heather says:

    Wait, so was it right? Did you really have lymphoma??
    If so I may have to rethink my stance on “it will never happen to me.”

  3. I try to include several obviously mental opinions about every medical search I do, to establish where “way out on a limb” sits. It helps me to not panic so much.

    Today I diagnosed myself with ocular migraines instead of glaucoma or a detached retina.
    Plan to go in if it gets worse again. So I probably wouldn’t have gone in right away about a swollen neck.

    . . .

    Well I’d better get my eyes checked tomorrow after all.

    • Greg says:

      One of the funniest stories about someone reading about a malady and then freaking out involved a friend of a roommate of mine in college.

      Seems the guy had come down with a persistent cough. In college. Gee, I wonder how that happens? Anyway, after a while he decided to go to the student medical facility (we had “health care” through the university).

      So the resident who looks him over starts getting very agitated until he has to leave the room. Finally, he comes back in the room and solemnly informs the student that he has a very rare disease that he’d been reading up on the previous night. What are the odds? Then he gave the guy 6 months to live.

      The guy laughed (the “doctors” there were notorious for shit like that), walked out, and waited out the cough without help from the medical profession. Years later, he was still doing fine.

  4. Becky says:

    Ah Web MD. Creating hypochondriacs of us all.

  5. brennan says:

    I’d never heard of WebMD before, so I went on and typed in a condition I’ve had since a teen. Sometimes I stagger to the side when I walk. At first I thought it was being drunk but it seems I have Exceptionally Large Penis Syndrome. It suggested I take two porn stars and see how I feel in the morning.

  6. Rusty says:

    I don’t use WebMD, I have a family member who is a nurse. That’s good enough for me. Free advice that usually begins with “engorged swelling of the ego”

    On reflection that’s a little weird…

  7. Vesta Vayne says:

    I try to stay away from Wed MD. My mom is one of those that will look up every little ache and pain, and then become convinced she’s got whatever the hell it is symptom checker suggested. Before the internet, she had this gargantuan medical book that she’d look through.

    • Greg says:

      That would be the Merck Manual. My dad had that too. I can remember him combing through it when me or my brothers uncorked some odd symptoms.

  8. Jacky says:

    have you checked out pedmd? same thing for animals, almost always leads to death. great. never going back.

  9. KMo says:

    2 days after reading this have just been totally bitchslapped by the webmd karma fairy. No joke, mentioned a symptom to the doc thinking the response would be “oh no that’s nothing to worry about”, instead got a response involving the words aneurysm, biopsy and blindness and am now stuck in a week of bloodtests, scans and waiting rooms. Wouldn’t usually share such things on the interwebs but I am debating whether to blame it all on the blogs!

    • Greg says:

      I’d blame it on the Bloggess if I were you. She’s been talking shit about you behind your back.

      We’ll have some fingers crossed for you on this end. I’m sure it’s nothing, even if your irresponsible doctor thinks the right thing to do is perform tests. (Seriously, what box of Cracker Jack did this guy get his license from?)

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