Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The University of Google

While I love having the universe of information at my fingertips, I know what a dangerous thing it can be.  I can't tell you how many special education planning meetings I've been in when the parents and their advocates show up with a pile of articles they'd downloaded about autism or the best ways to educate a student with dyslexia, plopped them in front of the teachers as if none of them had any training and experience, and proceeded with the meeting as if via the internet, they knew everything and the school district staff knew nothing.

I'm always tempted to ask them why the teachers bother going to school to get master's degrees in special education, if all they really needed to do was troll the internet and download a couple of articles.

But honestly, I know where they're coming from.  I'm guilty of it myself.

Last week, remember how I thought that Josie had an ear infection?  She spiked a fever on Tuesday morning, so I took her to the doctor, they thought her ear looked a little pink, and prescribed some antibiotics.

But I couldn't get the fever down for almost 4 days, which struck me as odd.  Zeke used to have ear infections as a baby, and he never got bad fevers, and certainly after a day or two on the medicine, he would be fine.  But Josie kept spiking these super-high fevers.  And the medicine tasted disgusting, so after 4 days she refused to swallow it, and when we tried to force it, she puked all over Jason (nice aim, honey!).

Her fever broke on Friday, and then Saturday she woke up with a rash all over her torso and neck.

We were all, what the fuck?, so I busted out the computer and started looking up her symptoms on WebMD and and a couple of other sites.  Here's what I found on

This virus generally causes 3 days of high fever (often over 103). The fever then subsides, and the child breaks out in a flat or bumpy red rash, usually starting around the neck, back and chest, then spreading out. The rash lasts a few days to a couple weeks.
Dr. Sears Clue: Roseola is about the only virus in which the rash appears after the fever breaks.

Eureka!  Those were her symptoms exactly.  So I stopped making her take the medicine (it wasn't helping anyway, plus she had basically given us the finger on that course of action), gave her some lukewarm baths with corn starch to help with any itching, and let the virus run its course.  Which it did.  Another symptom is irritability, and she was a total crankypants for 3 days, but then yesterday she was finally back to her old chipper self.

Jason wanted to take her to the doctor, but the websites all said that for most rashes, and particularly roseola, there's nothing a doctor can do, so don't bother.  Who needs a doctor, with all their years of training and experience, right?

The magic of the internet has even worked on me, via this very blog.  A few months ago, a close friend of mine who is a regular reader sent me an email.  She had noticed that I had been writing quite a bit about being irritable and grouchy and stressed out, and posited that maybe it was the hormones being emitted by my IUD that were the problem.

And I thought, hey, maybe she's right.  Plus, during my pregnancy with Josie I had been on a different antidepressant than the ones I used to take, and was feeling generally like my meds needed some adjusting.  So, it took me a while, but I finally got organized and went to see a psychiatrist.  She put me back on my old medicine, adjusted the dosage to compensate for hormonal changes, and also gave me a new sleep medication that also functions as an antidepressant/antianxiety medication as well.

And you know what?  I feel great these days.  I'm sleeping, I'm not getting stressed out by the normal ins and outs of daily life, I'm nice to my husband and my kids.

I love the idea of my blog as a diagnostic tool.  God bless the internet.


  1. Poor little Josie! I'm glad you figured it out.

    I love love love having all this information at my fingertips at any moment. Although I am also quick to mis-diagnose myself with extreme and hysteria-inducing things, so I need to keep that in check.

    And (added) hormones make me nutso. I'm kind of limited in that way.

  2. that is so awesome!

    ps you know i can relate to the special ed parents, and i still hear about it often from D. understandable to a degree, but still infuriating!

  3. There are many times when a trip to the doctor is really about peace of mind rather than a cure. It is good to use the internet to help you determine if the ailment is worthy of a doctor visit or something that simply needs to run its course.

  4. Lisa - I think the added hormones were making me nutso as well, but the medication seems to be balancing it out, so all is well, thank goodness.

    Suz - the parents can drive me crazy as well, but then I think about how hard it must be to have a kid with a disability, and I try to cut them some slack.

    Mark - so true.