The Internet is bad for me. I’m an obsessive worrier, and I’ve only gotten worse since the advent of search engines. I often think that if someone got a hold of my web-search queries, I’d end up an international laughing stock. Among the best last week: “Can you become addicted to nasal spray?” “Affects of eating slightly brown guacamole,” “Can Tums cause kidney stones?” and “My cat ate cellophane.”
Now, in my defense, I am battling a sinus infection and nasal spray provides the most immediate relief, but I’ve heard it’s easy to become dependent on it. I noticed the guacamole had turned a little brown around the edges of the container only after I devoured a big scoop of it on a fajita. I frequently suffer from heartburn these days and pop Tums like they’re candy, but I’ve heard overdoing it on them can cause a calcium buildup that leads to kidney stones. And my cat did eat a bit of cellophane packaging she dug out of a discarded box while I was putting together a new piece of baby furniture. I just wanted to make sure she would be OK. Nothing wrong with that, right?
Since bringing my daughter into the world, I’ve become an Internet hypochondriac. I can’t help it. Any time she gets a bump, bruise, rash, scratch or even a slight discoloration, I pounce on Google like I’m getting paid to drive up their web traffic.
Oddly enough, I don’t Google the big stuff such as high fevers, viruses or stomach upset. I immediately call our pediatrician. But for the little things — things I know would reduce the pediatrician’s receptionist to giggles if I called about — I stick to the World Wide Web.
I should probably find a way to break this habit. I usually end up scaring myself when I read about the symptoms of some terrible, rare illness that strikes approximately .00000000001 percent of one-sixteenth of the world’s population only on odd-numbered years when a harvest moon occurred exactly one and a half weeks after the autumn equinox. And then I fret about said illness for days, sometimes weeks.
This phenomenon began when I was expecting my daughter in 2011. I would Google my pregnancy symptoms to make sure they were “normal.” Occasionally, I worried my symptoms weren’t pronounced enough, so I looked into that, too. At some point during my third trimester, I was constantly concerned the baby was kicking too much or not enough.
This eventually led me to a website that suggested creating fetal kick-count sheets. I began to keep records of my unborn baby’s activities on Post-It notes, on which I would scrawl dates, times and kick-intensity levels before inevitably losing track of the tiny scraps of paper.
At any given time the month before my daughter’s birth, scribbled charts of various sizes and colors could be found scattered on my desk, in my purse, pockets, car and in random places around my house. Every once in a blue moon, I still run across one of them. That’s a blue moon — not a harvest moon. I just thought I should clarify since it is an odd-numbered year and all.