Doctors vs Google

I bet you didn’t know there was a war brewing and in some cases being actively fought between doctors and patients and Google. What is the fight over, you might ask? Let me explain because if you aren’t knee deep in chronic illness, battling symptoms that seem to crop up new every other day, and seeing more doctors than most have seen in a lifetime, you won’t understand.

The fight is three-fold. Doctors who feel that patients are looking up their symptoms and coming to them to validate a self-diagnosis. Patients who are looking to validate a self-diagnosis. And chronic patients who possibly know more about their illness than their doctors, who feel abandoned by their doctors to more and more medications because their doctor has run into a wall and no longer knows how to treat them. 

The advent of Google and innumerable medical sites that give information about thousands of diseases and illnesses, along with other sites and blogs that are dedicated to educating people about their illness have made huge differences in peoples lives. There are patients out there who have been blown off by the medical community, who could not find out what was wrong with them, who, with the information gleaned from these various sites, have been able to go to a specialist armed with this information and finally get a diagnosis and treatment. Doctors, to some extent, feel threatened. Signs like these are popping up in doctor offices everywhere. **

Google Doctor

It states that Google, and the sites it may take you to, shouldn’t be confused with a doctor’s vast knowledge built upon their education and their medical degree. Okay. I get that. I understand that getting your medical degree is hard work. I understand that there is a certain level of devotion required to the field which gives you the motivation to put in the time toward your education. However, when you possess all this vast knowledge, from degree to experience and you do not try to help a patient, let’s say by offering some kind of treatment or admitting that you’ve hit a dead end with them, and then directing them elsewhere, there’s a problem. Patients inherently want to trust doctors. What drives us to Google are doctors who shut us down, who tell us that they know best, as opposed to the person living with the disease and who simply aim to give us medication in order to “manage” the illness. Is it too much to strive for something more than being managed? Is it crazy to think that we might possibly get some semblance of our lives back? I don’t.

In no way am I trying to belittle a doctor’s work. I understand that there are people out there who try to out-smart the medical community, for perhaps their own gains. As a person living with chronic illness and pain, where much of my life is tied up to just trying to have any kind of normalcy in my life and just being able to live with as little pain as possible, the idea of someone trying to make it up is repulsive to me. The idea that someone seeking drugs would go to the hospital to fake an illness, while not surprising also repulses me and angers me. However, it helps to put the plight of doctors into some perspective for me. I don’t, however, believe that doctors should immediately condemn a patient for using Google until they’ve looked toward themselves first, for the problem.

In a lot of ways, I feel like the entire medical community is broken. This does not mean that there aren’t hospitals and doctors out there who do what is right, but with so many grievances from patients from prescription costs to doctors who’d prefer to give a terminal patient Tylenol to control their pain instead of an opioid because of this “opioid hysteria,” we have issues that seem insurmountable. A broken system where Big Pharma is reaping millions if not billions, and patients who are suffering from neglect from doctors who don’t want to admit they can’t solve a problem. I know these are huge accusations but I am not the first one to mention them and won’t be the last. I don’t have the answers either, but I am hoping someone out there will. In the meantime, Google is still my friend because educating myself on my illness means arming myself with valuable information that can help my doctor treat me. This is the only weapon I truly have in this war with chronic illness.


** I was sitting here drinking coffee this morning and BAM! I remembered I didn’t insert the image. That is Fibro brain for ya!

3 responses to “Doctors vs Google”

  1. Thank you so much! And I have gotten a new Pain doc! <3 Thank you for reading.

  2. I’ve seen a few images combating this with slogans along the lines of ‘Please don’t confuse your 20m presentation of my illness with my lifetime of living with it and my ability to read’ – its hard, I know my doctor wants to try and help as much as he can, but he just doesn’t have the tools or the funding to do so. Google does help, as do support groups online but I think, like with everything, we have to take all of it as opinion. I know how I feel, I know what helps me,but that may not always be the ‘medically correct’ thing, or even a thing that would help others. However, I’m always willing to learn and to try things that may ease the burden of this pain an exhaustion <3

  3. This is so timely. Not only am I chronically ill with multiple illnesses for years but developed a new issue a month ago that was written off as “coning down with something” by my rheumatologist who sent me off to a primary care with no urgency and no antibiotics as a precaution. (Painful, swollen glands on one side of neck, pain on one side of neck and swelling along jawline, again only on left side). A week to see PC, another week for ultrasound, still, oh just a couple of enlarged lymph nodes that appear benign, yet I’m feeling worse and the pain had become worse. It was a visit to my cardiologist that prompted a sense of urgency when she saw my facial swelling and I’m seeing a head and neck doctor on Tuesday to go over my MRI results and hopefully find out what’s going on. What has been shocking is how I had to fight to get antibiotics prescribed, the lack of communication between offices, the zero sense of urgency in getting anything done despite me being immunosuppressed and at risk for all sorts of problems, and lastly dealing with insurance to get things approved in a timely fashion. Igt truly makes me wonder how many people have gone misdiagnosed or undiagnosed for too long because of things like this or worse, died waiting to get answers because of things being dragged out. It’s truly disgusting and frightening all at once.

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