The Dreaded Un-informed Internet Diagnosis Syndrome


“That’s psychosomatic bullshit…hon,” a stranger writes to me. Theforummessage is forwarded to my email account while I’m away from home, so the first few words pop up on the screen of my smart phone while I’m sitting in a meeting.

Whoa. What?  Hold on.

At first convenience,I double check the stranger’s name and the conversation she’s replied to that is betweenone other person and me.It’s not a private conversation because of the forum we’re on,but it’s obviousthe discussion is between two people in what’s always been a friendly forum.   At first, I thinkthis stranger is replying to something else, someone else.  It can’t be related to my conversation about an allergy of mine to e-cigarettes with a friend who has a related issue with “passive vaping.”

Oh, but it is.  She proceeds with a long and personal attack on me for being pro-Big Tobacco (if you know me, that’s funny)when e-cigs have helped her break hersmoking habit and how dare I try to take them away from her. Huh? A friend of hers, also a stranger, piles on with multipleinsults to my intelligence for obviously not doing any research to know how much bettere-cigs are and that e-cigs can’t possibly be causing my allergic reaction.

I’m reading these attacks and thinking,What the hell? All I said to the person I’d been talking to what that I’d been verysurprised that I’d gone into a full-fledged asthma attack at the first whiff ofmy date’s e-cigarette.  I later learned that this isn’t uncommon and that if the vaping fluid isn’t properly mixed, it can irritate the throat.   That answer made perfect sense why I reacted so strongly.

But someone who knows nothing of me beyond the fact that I had a respiratory reaction to an e-cig justdiagnosed a serious condition I’ve had since 2005 as all in my head because I obviouslyhave politics against something she’s a fan of.Huh?  Since I had a 6-month bout of tracheitis in 2005,with me bedridden for a month and unable to talk for three whole months–I’ve been super-sensitive to chemicals that Ibreathe.  I’ll include nicotine in that.  And the floor wash that Best Buy used to use.  And cheapcheapcheap incense.  And certain perfumes.  And–bad surprise on a theater date with seats near the stage–fog machines.  And now, sadly, e-cigs or at least the ones that a certain person uses.  The official diagnosis–by a doctor I paid, not an Internet meanie–is allergy-induced asthma. There’s nothing quite as scary as your throatclosing up and you not knowing if you’re going to be able to get another breath again, ever.  It is a terrifying experience, and I try to stay away fromany known irritants to me.

My physician tells me that it is specifically the glycol in e-cigs andsomefog machines that causes my throat to constrict…right before I go into embarrassing coughing spasms on the floor that, well, end a date rather quickly, night ruined.

But there’s no need–or even possibility–of defending my medical diagnosis to “Hon.” Poor thing.  She suffers from the dreaded Un-informed Internet Diagnosis Syndrome.   She just can’t helpher poor, lil’ pea-picking heart.

Ah, but it must be the day for other sufferers of Un-informed Internet Diagnosis Syndrome.   I’m in an online conversation with a friend diagnosed with Celiac Disease when someone who’s heard of, not even read, some study with a population smaller than the typical number of people who crowd into my officefor a staff meeting.  My friend and I are immediately lectured on how there’s no such thing as being sensitive to gluten and we’re just part of a diet fad.

Poor thing.  He doesn’t know either of us or any of our history.  He doesn’t know about the two years of detox diets to isolate what was causing specific flu-like and arthritis-like problems for me or how the side effects immediately come back if I eat gluten even though I don’t have Celiac Disease.  He doesn’t know that doctors have followed my case for almost four years and advise me to avoid gluten where I can, as well as all grain, bread,wheat flour,etc.

But he can’t help himself in dispensing advice to people he’s never met and knows nothing about…and Gods willing, will never meet.  He, too, is a sufferer of Un-informed Internet Diagnosis Syndrome.

Yep, we’ve all seen it.   Some smart-ass with an opinion about what’s really going on in our lives that we’ve spent years, money, time, and pain getting to the bottom of with our physicians only for a stranger to give a quick quip of an answer of what’s“really“ wrong with us andhow we can fix it in 30 seconds by shifting our mindset to agree with them.

You know how you run into realphysicians online and they generally won’t give you a diagnosis online without first meeting you, discussing your symptoms, andmaybe even running some tests because the real physician doesn’t think he has enough facts to determine what’s really wrong with you?

Yeah.   That.


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