I must have forgotten about my severe head injury   2 comments

I hate to steal what I like to think of as one of the original medical fear-mongering sites, but www.webmd.com (“Better information. Better health.”) is just too good to pass up.  Before I even get to their symptom checker, the main page has a convenient list of some of the most common ailments that you’re probably suffering from, so you probably don’t even have to go through the process of clicking the parts of your body that bother you to confirm your self-diagnosis of cancer.

However, if you’re still not sure that you’re one of the “80% of Americans” whose back pain can be explained as one of “lower back pain, middle back pain, or upper back pain to low back pain with sciatica,” you can always go make sure with the handy symptom checker that tells you the most likely debilitating causes of your concerns.

I was horrified to discover that, as a 25-34-year-old male, the most likely cause of apathy and mild agitation, if not a side effect of medication, is dementia resulting from a head injury.  I’ve been feeling apathetic and mildly agitated today.  If I don’t remember my head injury, it must have been pretty brutal.  I’d better go to my primary care physician… or maybe I should call an ambulance since I might be hemorrhaging and not even realize it!

In seriousness, though, for the generalized “symptom” labeled “Dislikes changes in daily routine,” the only 2 possible causes given are autism or Asperger Syndrome.  Seriously?  I hate changes to my daily routine, so WebMD’s input is that I must be autistic?  It really is astounding how narrow and pathologized everything is on this site.  If it’s there, it’s there in relation to the myriad diseases or traumas that might be causing it.

In short, if for some reason you haven’t seen WebMD’s symptom checker, you really must.  It might save your life to discover that your headache is indeed a primary indication of a malicious brain tumor.

Posted September 17, 2010 by wdorner in Uncategorized

2 responses to “I must have forgotten about my severe head injury

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  1. This is a PERFECT response to this assignment. I tried it out and entered my own ailments/symptoms. I was at once impressed and scared by the outcomes. How to interpret all the choices of possible results? Do I have osteoarthritis or a brachial plexus injury? And how will I respond to this self-diagnosis? I think it’s at once an incredibly helpful and cool resource and a big fat invitation for self-diagnosis-gone-awry.

  2. On my first read, I thought you had suggested that “a 25-34-year-old male [*is*] the most likely cause of apathy and mild agitation…” I was about to say that range was about 10 years too high, and that the 15-year-olds really have a corner on the market. It reminds me of a delightful little sign my late grandmother had hanging in her kitchen: “Insanity is hereditary: you get it from your kids.”

    I have to confess a great deal of excessive self-awareness in all this talk of self-diagnosis. A very large number of my friends have been diagnosed with a very large number of chronic problems for which they have received a very large number of very effective prescriptions. With Chad (my bipolar husband, for those of you who don’t know), he literally can take a pill when he’s feeling down, take a different pill when he can’t sleep, and take another pill when his head hurts. I’ve often complained out of jealousy that there’s nothing wrong with me (so they say), and that therefore I’m forced to deal with all of life’s little problems without the benefit of modern pharmaceuticals.

    I’m being snarky, but I’m serious. Other friends have stomach problems, heart problems, thyroid problems…and they all pop pills to make things better. I felt left out.

    A couple years ago, I taught two students on the autism spectrum. One had out-right (but high-functioning) autism; he was simply a delight to have in class. The other was insanely brilliant, had Asperger’s (and about every other acronymmed behavioral disorder discovered to date), but was a royal pain to deal with. Trouble was, I understood exactly what led her to behave the way she did…I reacted the same way when I was in fourth grade. Granted, she was in ninth, but I could sympathize.

    When I attended training classes on working with ASD students, instead of thinking, “Oh that’s interesting,” when learning about their traits, I would think, “Wait. That’s not normal?” I started wondering whether I was more like them than I thought.

    So here I sit, convinced that I have low-grade, undiagnosed Asperger’s, and I’m not sure whether it’s me desperately seeking something “wrong with me” so I can have a label to blame for my social awkwardness, or whether I’m simply being hypochondriacal.

    Sorry for the tangent. Your “daily routine” comments got me thinking. And I’d better have my swivel-y seat available again today. Just sayin’. 🙂

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