lifestyle

The one thing you shouldn't do when you think you're getting sick.

Despite how tempting it may be, step away from the keyboard.

On my lunch break a few months ago I happened to look down at my legs, and noticed I was covered in ugly blue bruises.

It was weird, because I didn’t remember falling down any flights of stairs or getting into any street fights at the time.

But I shrugged it off and went about my day. Until, a few hours later, I had a nose bleed.

And then, like any self-respecting 30-something, I Googled my symptoms on my smartphone. And there it was: Leukemia.

I almost gave myself a heart attack to go with my new leukaemia diagnosis. I went into full-blown panic mode, picturing surgeries and tests and hospitals.

“Like any self-respecting 30-something, I Googled my symptoms on my smartphone.”

I sent my husband a terrified, garbled text and I booked myself an appointment with a real-life doctor after no more than a glimpse at the search results.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by the National Home Doctor Service (13SICK), but all opinions expressed by the author are 100 per cent authentic and written in their own words.

And then, I remembered what had happened the night before when I got up to get a drink of water.

It was the middle of the night and I was completely groggy – having kids will do that to you.

My eyes weren’t even fully opened as I stumbled to the kitchen, and I managed to collide with both the couch and the dining table on my way. Hence the forgotten, mysterious bruises. I have also been susceptible to nose bleeds for my whole life, so it wasn’t so suspicious once I knew the bruises were caused by my own clumsiness and not a horrible, deadly disease.

Feeling more than a little sheepish, I called the doctor’s surgery to cancel my appointment. I sent my husband a second, shame-filled and apologetic text. And that was the very last time I relied on Dr Google.

“And when it’s my kids who are sick? My panic reaches the next level. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve dragged them to the doctor after scaring myself due to my Google habit.”

Because it was far from an isolated incident, my friends. Oh no. Over the years, I had been a prolific patient of Dr Google. You could even say I was addicted. And when it’s my kids who are sick? My panic reaches the next level. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve dragged them to the doctor after scaring myself due to my Google habit.

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Once my daughter had pins and needles in her thumb which I thought were odd, so I turned to the internet – only to learn she apparently had diabetes.

Another time, my son had persistent stomach cramps – pregnant, according to Dr Google.

Itchy skin? Pregnant AND diabetes.

Indigestion? Stomach cancer.

Insomnia? You guessed it – bizarrely, also cancer.

But after that terrifying, ridiculous leukaemia diagnosis? I was done. Out. Finished.

“I vowed to never trust a soulless search engine when it came to medical advice and instead trust an ACTUAL doctor.”

From that moment on, I vowed to never trust a soulless search engine when it came to medical advice and instead trust an ACTUAL doctor. Strange, I know, but you know what? I haven’t experienced that moment of sheer panic you get from Googling the most generic symptoms only to be met with the most extreme, dire diagnosis in months. And it’s blissful.

Of course, if my kids suffer from serious symptoms like respiratory problems, broken bones, dehydration or scary rashes I will take them to a doctor or hospital immediately.

But if they come down with everyday illnesses like coughs, colds, chicken pox, hayfever, temperatures of ear and throat infections, I no longer freak out and start typing madly, imagining the worst.

These days, I trust my gut. I don’t fret and start Googling over the slightest sniffle.

And I don’t drag the kids to casualty just because it’s after hours, either. A lot of doctors offer weekend and holiday hours and there’s also the National Home Doctor Service for out-of-business-hours worries – which is great for my peace of mind.

These days, I know that if someone I love turns up with bruises and a nosebleed, it’s probably just bruises and a nosebleed.

If your GP is closed, National Home Doctor Service is available. We’re Australia’s largest network of home visiting doctors. If you or a family member is not feeling 100%, just call and a fully qualified doctor will visit. It’s convenient and it’s bulk-billed, so you won’t be out of pocket.

We’re available on weeknights, weekends and public holidays. To arrange a doctor to come to your home after hours, make the call on 13SICK (13 7425) or visit homedoctor.com.au