Two weeks after my first therapy session, I returned to see The Professor.
I was feeling more than a little apprehensive.
Because today was an important day.
Today was the day he would deliver his ‘verdict.’
About what was ‘going on’…
They were his words, not mine.
I knew what was ‘going on’ with me.
I had known for ages!
What was ‘going on’ with me, was I had a disease,
A dreadful, disgusting, debilitating disease, which doctors dismissed and wouldn’t take seriously.
Except for one ‘doctor.’
Dr Google was on my side.
Dr Google believed I was ill.
But Dr Google was biased…
Because Dr Google diagnosed me!
What’s the story?
The Professor finished tapping at his laptop then turned his attention to me.
“So, what’s been the story of the past two weeks?” he asked, adopting a hand waving gesture as if to conduct an orchestra, rather than therapy.
The story of the past two weeks had been quite a story.
More tragedy than fairytale.
And like any good tragedy, it featured heartache, yearning, worry and pain.
The sort of heartache, yearning, worry and pain usually felt when you lose someone important in your life.
Because since I’d last seen The Professor, I’d lost something very important in my life.
I’d had a huge loss.
Because I’d been through a major break up…
And as with most break-ups, it left me feeling terrible!
I hadn’t wanted the split.
But I’d had to go through with it.
Because The Professor thought our relationship was ‘unhealthy’ and said it should end.
Which was ironic, because I had hooked up with Google for health reasons.
I wanted my health back!
And because ‘real’ doctors wouldn’t help me with that, I turned to Google.
And I Googled and Googled and Googled some more.
I explored every crevice of cyberspace.
And wandered into the darkest, most doom-ridden recesses of the internet in my mission to get well.
But I didn’t find anything.
But I didn’t give up. Regardless of where I was or whatever I was doing, the search continued. From dusk till dawn and dawn till dusk, I kept at it.
On holidays, in meetings, days out and play-dates, Google was with me. Giving me facts, spurring me on. sharing information.
Even though it wasn’t always the right information!
Google didn’t always get it right!
Like the time Google told me about dysphagia.
Dysphagia is a swallowing and choking condition – which nobody would ever want.
But I had it!
At least I thought I had it.
Because Google told me about it and then I knew I had it.
I realised it was at the root of all my problems.
Because I had the symptoms…
Well, one symptom!
You see, I’m afraid of choking and often think I’m choking.
I can ‘choke’ on anything – or at least think I am.
Even though I haven’t physically choked since I was about six years old!
But because I have this choking issue, I thought I must have dysphagia.
And then I got dysphagia.
Which was inconvenient because I was eating steak at the time. And because I’d just found out I had dysphagia, I panicked and couldn’t swallow it.
Then panicked some more.
And then I REALLY did choke.
And because I had dysphagia, eating ‘chewy’ food was too dangerous so I quit real food. And lived on soup and porridge.
Until Google told me I had a different ailment.
And then I realised I didn’t have dysphagia after all, which was great as I was bored of soup and porridge!
So you can see how much influence Google had over me. Google was master and I was servant.
And over time our relationship became an addiction.
And I became an addict!
And while I wasn’t flooding my body with a substance of choice…
It was just as toxic.
Because it flooded my life.
And my thoughts,
With more things to worry about!
But I couldn’t stop.
And I didn’t want to stop.
Going ‘cold turkey’!
Until the day I had to stop.
And when I did, my health deteriorated and I felt even worse.
And the worst part was, I couldn’t ask Google why everything got worse!
Because Google had been banned.!
There was no going back.
I’d gone COLD TURKEY!
And it was fowl!
But I managed to do it and I kept my promise to The Professor.
And now it was over to him.
Time to see if I had a future.
Time for ‘the verdict’.
The Professor’s ‘verdict”
The Professor had been listening intently.
“Well Janie, everything you’ve told me confirms what I believe to be the issue.”
My heart was pounding.
Oh no, I was doomed!
Why would nobody believe I had a serious disease?
I felt sick.
I felt scared.
I felt doomed.
But The Professor carried on….
“When we last met, you said your symptoms began at hospital where you were told – in a negative way – you had an illness. You were frightened, but suppressed your fears and acted ‘normal,’
“That was a ‘traumatic event’ – which triggered anxiety and suppressing your emotions compounded the trauma.”
“So as a result you are extremely anxious about your health and symptoms which you think and worry about excessively.”
I felt tears start to well.
He was right.
The hospital event had been traumatic.
I had pushed my fears back.
I had felt anxious.
I still felt anxious.
About my health and my symptoms.
And most of all, my future…
The Professor continued,
“You had to stop Googling because it made everything worse. Googling fuelled your fears and you don’t need to Google diseases! You don’t have a disease.”
And then he gave his final verdict…
“You have anxiety. A specific type of anxiety called Health Anxiety Disorder.”
My head was spinning.
I’d never heard of it.
But yes, I was anxious.
About my health.
But anybody with a serious disease would be anxious about their health!
Unsure, I decided to Google later and see if The Professor’s verdict was right.
Oh dear. Maybe not.
Google and I had split up!
And then I realised something.
He thinks I’M A HYPOCHONDRIAC?
Was that what he REALLY just said?
I’m not a hypochondriac...am I?
Ok, ok, I know what you’re thinking.
And I don’t blame you,
Because suddenly I realised I had a lot to think about too…!