Growing up, I never had access to basic healthcare. If you are sick, you have to grin it or bear it. In the case of my mother’s methodology, you have to swallow whole garlic gloves and bear it. Believe me; I swallowed a lot of garlics in my young childhood years.
So as an adult, it was a natural progression for me to take medical advice with a lot of grain of salt most especially since I survived much of your every normal list of childhood maladies without any medical intervention. I had mumps, measles, chickenpox, undiagnosed acute respiratory illness etc. My mother also did not think that it was prudent to have me vaccinated at the nearest health center. So I basically survived your basic laundry list of common children’s diseases via the natural prowess of my immune system and sadly with whole cloves of garlic.
Thus as a grown up, I became a medical student from the university of Google. I do acknowledged that doctors worked their way through 10 years of medical study and I will never in any way equate to their storage of knowledge and wisdom. Also, in case I do need emergency medical surgery where my guts and blood are already spilling on the pavement, my best bet will still be a medically certified doctor. However, beyond that, I do feel biased towards my life experience of having never needed a doctor while growing up. Plus I was partially raised to question almost everything in life which unfortunately includes medical advice. Whenever I go to the doctor, I always needed to know more than what the doctor is saying. For every one sentence that my doctor advised, I needed a whole essay. To write the essay, I asked Dr. Google to fill in the blanks.
Dr, google never failed me. We were the best of friends for a very long period of time. At least for the last ten years, he/she has held my hand over every cold and flu and tummy aches. He/she was my medical Genie of wonders…………..until recently.
My Dr. Google metamorphosed to become my official book of nightmares.
It all began around the first trimester of my second pregnancy. I had few incidents of minor spottings or bleedings. The circumference of the bleeding was very minor, hardly the size of a decent one dirham coin and mostly opaque in consistency. But I wanted to make sure that this was indeed harmless and that I need not worry. Of course, I immediately consulted my trusty Dr. Google.
At first everything was fine. Most pregnancy sites about first trimester spotting reassured me that this was normal. I had all the checks in their laundry list of what consists a normal first trimester bleeding: brown colour, insignificant volume, and most importantly absence of any pelvic pains or labour like symptoms. I should have stopped right there and then but my insatiable need to be thorough pushed me to read even the comment sections of the articles.
Then the horror began.
One mother who, by definition, had a normal and harmless bleeding still lost her baby after the 4th month. There was no heavy bleeding, the spotting was brown and there were no pelvic pain. Yet after she went to the doctor for her ultrasound, she found out that she had already miscarried the baby. Another mother who was also told not to worry ended up in the emergency room because her harmless bleeding was in fact a symptom of ectopic pregnancy. Another mother also discovered that after 8 weeks, her previous harmless spotting was in fact an indication of an empty sac growing in her uterus.
This list of horror stories went on and on and on and on and on. It seemed to me that everybody who had a harmless first trimester bleeding ended in Greek tragedy. All the unborn babies died and nobody seemed to have survived. Then there was the blow by blow description of the bleeding that happened afterwards the miscarriage. I felt weak at the knees. According to Mr. Google and his army of commentators, there was no hope for me and I am most definitely going to miscarry. I almost felt that the bleeding and miscarriage would immediately begin right there and then while I was reading the article.
For the remainder of my first trimester, Dr. Google made me walk around on eggshells while holding a very active bomb. I felt genuinely scared. Aside from the fact that I was already exhausted from the excessive vomiting, nausea and lack of appetite; the fear of negative possibilities wore me down even further. I was henny penny waiting for the sky to fall down on her. Fortunately, the doomsayers were wrong and my first trimester went by without any untoward incident.
By my 4th month of pregnancy, I went back to my OB-GYNE for my check up and ultrasound. The baby looked good on the monitor and showcased a very strong heartbeat. The size was healthy and true to form for a fetus on its 4th month. The whole family was very happy because the baby seemed to have surpassed all the previously presented negative possibilities by Dr. Google. My OB-GYNE seemed very pleased herself and she went on to write down my prescribed prenatal vitamins for the coming month.
But just at the very end of the consultation, she told me that I have a low lying placenta. I was aghast. My whole body deflated from the positive energy of the past few minutes. I was familiar with low lying placenta. According to my previous “research” on google, a low lying placenta is a prelude to placenta previa. It was in fact the last thing I ever wanted for my pregnancy. Placenta previa cannot be prevented nor cured and all you can do is wait, pray and hope that it will resolve. If you are the type of person who craves some sort of control over your life, this was definitely pure torture.
Unable to calm my nerves, I immediately asked Dr. Google about placenta previa as soon as I reached the comforts of my own home. None of the articles seemed promising. They all echoed the sentiments of my OB-GYNE. Time was really the only thing that can resolve the issue and I just have to wait. Finding no answers, I reached out to the comment sections. Wisdom from the experience of other moms who went to the same ordeal might shed some light and hope.
I should have just kept my eyes on the main article.
The comment section was filled with blood stained gore. You could literally feel the blood seeping out from the monitor to drench out your whole consciousness.
There were women after women who bled. Some bled at 5 months. Some bled at 7 months. Some bled a little. Some bled a lot. Some reached the home run of 9 months only to die bleeding while giving birth. Some gave birth successfully only to become a vegetable. Some survived but lost their uterus and all the hormones that came with having a uterus. Some went through an emergency C-section to save the baby. The main article about placenta previa has mentioned incidences of placenta resolution but it seemed to me that from the personal experience of other women, everybody just bled or died!
I was very scared. A hole opened up below me and I fell down towards an abyss. I kept falling and falling and falling. I wanted to gain back the reigns of control over my pregnancy. I don’t want to be the hapless damsel in distress who just waited. I decided to seek out support groups for placenta previa in Facebook. If there are other people who could help me, finding legitimate placenta previa survivors might be the way to go.
In the first group I found, their most recent post was of condolence towards a fellow member who just died that day from placenta previa. I cried. This was the icing from the cake of horrors in the realm of google search.
Since that fateful day, I have severed ties with Dr. Google. My husband and I decided that the best way to go about my pregnancy is to know less about it. Ignorance is bliss. In my case, it is also peace of mind and a life lived without fear. Compared to placenta previa, Google might just kill me sooner with a heart attack.
And nobody wants an epitaph that reads, “ killed by Google”!