Monday 27 April 2015


As we all know, the Internet has had a profound affect on our lives in more ways than one can discuss in a mere blog, some positive, some very negative. What will surprise no one, and cause many to nod their heads in agreement, is that the Internet has created a generation of sofa-surfing pseudo doctors, or self prescribers shall we say. With a tap of one's fingers, a simple set of symptoms can turn a calm individual into a raving hypochondriac convinced they have a brain tumour, rare African disease, or are in need of a triple by-pass, STAT. I’m guilty as charged of course, and often spend far too long checking symptoms wondering if I’ve caught some rare affliction (or I'm just getting old) cause, well, the internet told me so. Taking this a step further, if at all possible, it has made parents out there more, ahem, involved in their child’s health and perhaps a tad kneejerk in their reactions to some very standard run of the mill childhood conditions.

Take the good old rash. When I was little, as I was allergic to poison oak (which is not found in the UK apparently and would’ve saved me a childhood slathered with cortisone cream), I spent years on end bathed in calamine lotion looking like a pink puffed up blow fish. How I made friends is beyond me. Yes, we’d go off to the doctor when it would get really bad (as my eyes would seal shut etc.), but for the most part, rashes were par for the course. Nowadays, if you type the word child’s rash into Google, your eyes will bulge and your head may explode at all the results that come back at you. It’s damn near frightening and will have you packing a bag and moving into the A&E at your local hospital. The problem is, whereas most rashes are harmless, some obviously need tending to, and when you see the gamut of possibilities out there, it’s hard not to appropriate the worst possible scenario to your child. "Omg, it's glandular fever with a side dose of the plague, ruuuuunnnnn!!!!"

Yes, I’m going somewhere with this. So this weekend, the mighty King had a rash on his face. It was itchy and splotchy all over his cheeks and forehead, but we figured (as calm, parents do) that it was just a rash, and we’d see how it went as the weekend progressed. We  of course headed out to a children’s book fair hoping that we would not infect the entire room of children with our son’s condition. He faired pretty well for the most part, but in my mind was not his usual self for much of the day. This is of course caused my husband and I to independently - and furtively - do some Google searching on rashes coupled with the other symptoms that seemed to be cropping up (or were they?). 

The next morning he woke up and the rash had spread to his legs, his face looked puffy and he was coughing, and looking pretty worse for wear. So, what did we do? What do any Internet savvy parents do in this day and age? Well, we rushed off to the hospital of course at 6am on a Sunday. Okay, so we had taken a few steps away from ‘calm mode.’ Of course by the time we got to the hospital – which for the first time in our lives was empty – the King was starting to regain some of his usual pep. By the time the doctor arrived and the King was on the bed waiting to be seen, he was dancing, making jokes and using the bed as a trampoline. The doctor looked at us like we were NHS bleeding, hypochondriac lunatics. We of course smiled sheepishly and explained the rash had spread (and well, on the internet rashes are baaaaad) and that Scarlet Fever was spreading across the King’s school (whenever a medical professional is looking at you like you’re nuts, just throw a disease out at them to show them that you’re in the know). Of course the King had no fever and by this point was singing to the doctor at the top of his lungs and trying to take his clothes off to show him the rest of the rash. Or let's be honest, the King just likes to take his clothes off.

Needless to say, we didn’t stay long and were sent home having been told that the King, wait for it…had a rash. And we should give him an antihistamine and see how we went. Gosh, thanks for that. Of course my literal, need answers at all times brain was not satisfied with that as I wanted to know where the heck this rash came from? And more importantly, what type of rash can I really worry about and hightail it to the hospital for on a Sunday morning? (The only answer to that is high fever and the meningitis glass test, apparently).  In the King's case, the root of the problem was not of a concern to the doctor at 6am on this past Sunday morning, as he seemed more concerned with trying not to laugh at us as my husband and I were trying to downshift from panic mode. 

As we left the hospital – both of us psychosomatically itching ourselves of course - in mild embarrassment, my husband mentioned that he could only remember going to the A&E twice as a child (contrary to the multiple times we have taken the King.  In our defence  many were legitimate visits). Okay, okay…so maybe we’re a generation of paranoid hypochondriacs, and maybe a rash is just a rash, but one thing is for sure…if I am going to get some rare tropical disease, thanks to the Internet, I’ll see it coming a mile away.

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