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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

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Like rain on your wedding day

Last week I found a suspicious mole on my side, which I knew was malignant. What else could it be? Everything's going swimmingly; therefore, I am dying. That's logic. Or is it irony?

Scott and I were watching television when I found it. I don't know why I was feeling myself up. Clearly the television wasn't entertainment enough. I had developed this scabby, crusty thing on my side a few months ago, and then I forgot about it--if only she had taken care of it when it was first discovered, she might have had a chance--and there I was on the couch and I revisited the mole and it was significantly larger and crustier. "Holy crap, I'm dying," I told Scott. "Look."

He looked. "I'm sure you're not dying," he said.

"How do you know I'm not dying? Do you have a medical degree? Can you positively tell me this isn't cancer? Don't lie to a dying woman."

"If you're so worried," he suggested, "go see a dermatologist."

I knew he would say that. We've been married ten years, and he's become so predictable, with his calmness and his rationality. It's unbearable. But it was 9 p.m., and I needed answers. I needed answers right then and there.

"The Internet!" I cried. "The Internet will provide reassurance!"

"Alice, do not," Scott commanded. "No. Don't. No google. This will not end well."

I opened my laptop.

"Stop it. Close the laptop. This is just going to scare you. Stop."

"You don't understand. This time the Internet will provide useful information. I am sure of it."

"No. The Internet will only give you lies and panic. Stop."

But I googled, people. I googled the shit out of this mole. Scott feebly protested but I kept it up—I googled "crusty mole" and "mole that peels" and "mole that's suddenly larger and also I just moved and I'm almost 40 and never had a skin check and my name is Alice Bradley please tell me I'm not dying." I googled and I googled and I googled some more.

And the Internet told me that I was almost certainly nearing death. It was too late for me. I was not long for this world.

"I guarantee you're fine," Scott kept saying.

How does he know? the Internet asked. He's just trying to shut you up so he can go back to watching his show. Which, by the way, is nearing cancellation. I can tell you all about that, if you just google. Stick with me, you poor dying creature. I know everything.

"You must marry again," I wept all over Scott's shoulder. "Promise me."

"Oh my god, you are so insane," he answered.

He's going to regret saying that when he knows the truth. The truth that I have shared with you. There is no space/time on the Internet. I know all and see all.

I went to sleep that night knowing that I might not wake up the next day, but then I did, which was nice. I made an appointment with a dermatologist because I'm crazy but not that crazy. The bottom line is that I am whiter than anyone, and I should have started having my skin checked years ago. And now she would go for her skin check, only to discover that it was Too Late.

Only it wasn't too late. The dermatologist looked at the mole and declared that it was nothing, or rather that it was something but an insignificant something, some kind of keratosis something-or-other.

"I hate to tell you how to do your job," I told him, "but if you'll just google this, I think you'll see that it's quite serious indeed."

Then he started bragging about his experience and his medical degrees, I don't know, I wasn't listening. It was sinking in: I wasn't going to die after all? What? Scott didn't have to marry again?

"So you're telling me I don't have cancer?" I said, and he said that's right, you're fine, but come in every six months because you're crazy-pale and your family history is etc. and also SPF whatever everyday and broad-brimmed hats blar de blar.

And when I ran outside to call Scott to tell him he didn't need to look for a potential wife I was mowed down by an out-of-control delivery truck carrying a shipment of high-SPF sunscreen.

Well, no, I wasn't. But if I had, that would have been irony.

Reader Comments (75)

Oh this was so funny! Except my husband gets ME to google his hypochondria . . . I just tell him I found something innocuous even if I didn't. It's better for everyone that way.
March 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElaine at Lipstickdaily
Google is totally my enemy, too, but mainly when I'm trying to find out what's wrong with my kid. I've made a lot of gratuitous doctor appointments for her, I think.
March 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney
I have to delurk to tell you that this was one of the best posts ever--from the title, to the panic, to the googling, to the very end. Thanks for reminding me to get myself checked!

March 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLiz
thats so funny bc im dying of a cancerous wierd skin-thing i just found too. only, i havent seen the dermatologist yet. im content just to wallow in my own hypochondria... don't need some "medical professional" to remind me I'm just having hysterical skin cancer...
March 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlicia D
Nice to see you in fine form again.
March 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTJ
I had a crusty mole on my side 10 years ago. My dr said "it's probably nothing" but took it off just to be safe. Guess what? Melanoma. Off to Impressive Cancer Facility for Big Surgery. I am so very lucky that he removed that spot even when he thought it was nothing.

Not to fan the flames of worry - but get a second opinion or have it taken off "just to be safe". It's no biggie to have something removed (at this point in my life I've had 10+ other 'spots' taken off - all 'clear' of anything bad).

Doctors don't everything.
March 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterM
Delurking to say this post was hilarious.

I'm a pediatrician who gets annoyed by people who come in with their "Google Degree" and won't believe when I tell them something different than what they've read.

And at the same time I've been known to google my kids symptoms or my own all the while knowing exactly what will come up since I've studied "limp in toddler" and know every hit will be leukemia. And then still being scared by what I read. :)
March 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlice
Dr Google is merciless with zero bedside manner. They should be censured.

I have learnt to always put the words "common cause" into the search-line and then the results are much more reassuring.
March 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeather G
I'm not the only one!!!I'm a Maureen McDonald... so I'm in the same boat as you. I do go in for skin checks regularly and what I assumed was a death sentence always turns out to be just some nasty age related thing -- growing old sucks.My husband also begs me not to google when something weird is going on with my body. Call the doctor, is what he says. He's right, but the laptop is right there and it's free!
March 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMaureen
Yes! Real irony! How I've missed it. Well done.
March 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSumo
This made me laugh very hard, thank you very much.

When I do this, I tell my husband that when he remarries (we have 3 little kids), she HAS to be sweet. I don't care if she's even that smart just as long as she is SWEET to my kids. Sort of the same standard I have for my dog--she's not too clever but she's as sweet as pie. And that's how we like her.

Keep up the good work!
March 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertxmomof3
I'm glad you got it looked at, and I'm also glad it was nothing.

When I was 24 I noticed a mole that seemed not right, and went to the dermatologist - he removed it and another, both of which ended up being "abnormal" and would have become melanoma. It's scary stuff and I get my skin checked every six months now. It's definitely worthwhile to get looked at even just for the "feeling" that something's not right.
March 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
I have to say that that Alanis Morrisette song really bugs me..."Its like rain on your wedding day, its a free ride when you have already paid, its some good advice that you just won't take....its like a fly in your chardonnay...its meeting the man of your dreams and then meeting his wife...its like a traffic jam when you are already late....isn't it ironic"No, actually, none of the things in her song are ironic. They are just unfortunate, or annoying. Being hit by a truck carrying sunscreen after worrying you had skin cancer IS ironic. Writing a song called "isn't it Ironic" and have no idea what irony is isn't ironic, it is just dumb. Nice to know this was a hit once upon a time. Glad your spot turned out to be friendly.
March 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKristin
March 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterelaine
I am extraordinarily glad you are okay. I am perhaps just as glad that you have Scott.

Google is not a hypochondriac's friend. Take it from me - every time I forget something I am looking up early onset alzheimers and whether I might be the first ever 40 year-old to have it. It's not pretty.
March 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMom101
Oh yeah...a couple of yrs ago I consulted Dr. Internet about some symptoms that led me to be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN I had advanced Rhuematoid Arthritis. I sought a second opinion from my regular dr and he told me it was only a "raging case of mono"; my husband told me then and there I had to choose. It was Dr. Internet or him. I hate ultimatums but I chose him because I am not sure that the courts would side with me in our divorce and I would get stuck single parenting our preschoolers.
March 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLinda
Alice, you are so much like me when it comes to these things! Hilarious!

DH had one of those on his back and I kept nagging him to get it removed. He at least had our doctor look at it regularly and she said it was nothing every time but measured it and pronounced it benign. Finally she said why didn't he just have it removed so I'd quit nagging him about it? So he did, and she was right, it was nothing.

Then I got a similar thing on my back (and it was in a spot where I couldn't examine and obsess over it personally) so I asked her about that one. Same thing. These keratoses things are nothing to worry about unless they bleed and stuff as the previous commenter said.
March 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMauigirl
i'm sure it's nothing. really.but if it doesn't clear up, or if it changes, you should have it biopsied. if your dermatologist doesn't want to, change doctors.i almost had to force my dermatologist to biopsy a little mole on my eyelid and it turned out it was cancer... even though she said it would probably be nothing.(it was basal cell, and not life threatening. i had it removed and all is well. you can read about it on my blog if you want.)
March 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbeyond
Ha! Been there! I went to my doctor (who thankfully is also my friend and feels perfectly comfortable rolling her eyes at me...but in a very professional way) with the mole that I had found on Friday after the doctor's office was closed for the weekend, of course. I was sure my leg would need to be amputated from the knee down (I learned that the back of the calf is where most women have malignant moles, thank you google). So, of course, I asked her if she had ever amputated a leg. She scoffed. Of course. Piece of cake. Does it every day. But then she told me never to ask her to put a worm on a hook. Really? Last week, when I was sure I had hip cancer (or strep throat, which it actually turned out to be), I asked her if she had ever amputated anyone from the waist down. Fortunately that's not necessary when you have strep throat. Whew!
I really enjoyed this blog, especially as i can relate to having such worry some outbursts myself. This blog however is nothing in comparison to myself thinking i had madcow disease and a few months later being taken to have an MRI scan because i was convinced the dizzy feeling i was experiencing was something deadly.

Great blog it tickled me no end.xxxxxxx
March 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJosephine
In our house we refer to it as "Dr Google"Who needs a general physician anymore?
March 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjessica
OMG. This is sooo funny. Funny only because it's so true. I hope you live a very long life. We need humor like this! Well, at least I do. :)
March 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPurva Brown
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LOL You sound exactly like me, except I'm worse now that I'm swollen with an 8 month baby in my belly! Thanks for brightening my day, you made me realize how absolutely crazy I sound - considering I just got my hubby mad at me for being said crazy...
April 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie
Very funny! thanks for this entry i enjoyed raeding.,

by: sphin
April 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdermatology upland

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