Counseling 101: Why Reading About Your Symptoms Online Helps

Having a doctor for a father came with a lot of perks. Dad would always take the entire family to various conventions worldwide, so I had seen more places than most people since I was a kid. Growing up, my siblings and I were famous at school for having a father who backed any party we had in mind. If he had time, he would even join the gathering and share some stories about his job, which the other kids found pretty cool.


Yes, I agree with all those kids – Dad was the best. He had always encouraged my sisters and me to follow the curiosity bug and make mistakes. If there was one thing that he forbade us from doing over the years, though, it was reading about our medical symptoms online.

You should have been there when my father learned that my sister used the internet to self-diagnose her dysmenorrhea. At first, Dad seemed impressed with all the medical jargon that she spewed. Then, when Dad asked what books she consulted, my sister was like, “Oh, not books – they’re from the internet.”

My father got so mad that he grounded my sister for a week – but not before taking her to a specialist to see what’s up with her menses. As it turned out, my sister had polycystic ovaries, not dysmenorrhea. On the way home, Dad said, “This is why I got angry when I learned that you are diagnosing yourself based on what you read online. Many diseases appear with the same symptoms; it takes a real doctor to identify which condition you genuinely have.”

From then on, no one spoke about online medical websites in our house. We respected our father’s views regarding the matter. Due to what happened to my sister, we also believed that Dad was 100% correct about not using whatever we find on the internet to diagnose our symptoms. Thanks to Dad’s work and network, we always had access to the best health services, so we never felt the need to self-diagnose again.


When I Had To Read About My Symptoms Online

There was a time when my college friends and I had the ambition of building our version of Silicon Valley in Alaska. The four of us went there with our suitcases and laptops, determined to make it happen. We seriously believed that we had all the requirements to fulfill our dream.

The thing was, the group immediately realized a few facts upon our arrival. For one, the house we rented was farther from the city (if you could call it as such) than expected. The only structure we could see in the distance was our landlord’s hut, and that was it.

Then, since the city was one boat ride away from our new town, we had to buy our food supplies and other necessities once every two weeks. It could have been a month’s worth of supplies if only two people went at a time instead of all four of us. But even then, there was not much to see in the city except for a small grocery store, a clinic, and a church.

Before I even embarked on this journey, I already took all my shots because I knew that medical facilities would be scarce where we would go. I was correct that the people with serious conditions had to be transported by air elsewhere for medical attention. Still, my worst fear happened when I caught the coronavirus in Alaska.


Why It’s Good To Look Up Your Symptoms Sometimes

In a normal circumstance, if I ever found myself in a medical situation, I would call Dad first, and then he would arrange for my hospital accommodations. In this case, however, all our hands are tied. Besides seeing COVID-19 patients as highly contagious people, Dad’s colleagues, who were experts on the subject, advised me to stay put once they learned that I was not suffering from severe symptoms. Even my father had no choice but to tell me to isolate and wait for the symptoms to subside.

Since my friends got infected, we decided to quarantine them in the same house we lived in. It was lucky that we had just refilled our groceries not too long ago, so we would have enough food for the next two weeks. The only annoying thing for us was not knowing the symptoms to expect, so I broke my promise to Dad and read about the COVID-19 symptoms online.

I realized that the medical websites had improved so much ever since my sister used them years ago. They had real doctors writing the articles now. Aside from that, they had medical reviewers, too. Hence, all the symptoms I read about were valid.


Final Thoughts

Learning about my condition – albeit online – eased my fear of the unknown. Every patient was different, but all the symptoms were there. More importantly, the medical websites had tips on what to do when you get to a particular stage of the illness. It was undoubtedly helpful in keeping me from needing counseling because of COVID-19.

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