In high school, missing a day’s worth of classes for a doctor’s appointment was awesome. In college, it was harder to find time for a health center appointment — even if you truly were sick.
Fast forward to adult life, when finding time for a doctor’s appointment is near impossible. News flash: Being a doctor is a job. And doctors work the same hours as (almost) everyone else with a job.
A lot of us are also transplants. We’re not living in our hometowns (or our home states), and our family doctors are hours away — welcome to the search for a new doc. Coupled with health care costs that are often now squarely on our own shoulders, I don’t think I’m alone when I say 20-somethings like to self-diagnose. Sniffly and stuffed up and a headache? Ummm… I’ll take some DayQuil and be fine. Burned my hand on the stove and it’s taking three weeks to heal? I’ll rub some more Neosporin on it.
And of course, helping us out in all things medical is the Internet. And specifically, WebMD. Google any symptom, and in that first page of results is WebMD, telling you it could be anything from a dehydration-caused headache to impending blindness.
Where were the classes in college that would teach us to be useful adults? To know the difference between a cold and swine flu? To know when a cut or burn required the ER and when you ought to suck it up and slap on a Band-Aid?
I’ve learned from my WebMD mistakes — including one Saturday morning trip to the ER when I was convinced there was a cockroach egg growing under my chin and was told (by a largely amused doctor) that it was a swollen lymph node. I moved on to plan B: My mom. I tell her my symptoms, she tells me what illness I might have and what medicine to take. Bam, problem solved.
On the other hand, I feel like I should eventually move away from calling my mom in a panic when I’m feeling under the weather. Because eventually, I’ll be the mom, and I’ll need the answers for my own kids.
In the mean time, Mom, I think I might have strep…