Information Overload

There was a time this week when colors took on a new brightness and even my toddler's temper tantrums seemed heaven-sent. I suppose that happens when you're just waiting for something horrible to happen. 

A strange mole on my lower hip had been bothering me for a while, but I gave it a thought only in the deepest parts of the night when, lying awake, everything that crosses the mind takes on an ominous shadow. Then I casually mentioned it to my OB on a recent visit, and he asked me to see a dermatologist that same day. Within the course of a week, a doctor performed a biopsy and removed the wretched thing. And within the course of that same week, I convinced myself that I was going to die.
The night after I met with my OB, I woke up at 2 am, went straight to my computer, and looked up "malignant melanoma" on WebMD. Big mistake. From the images on the computer screen, I could tell no difference between a Stage 4 malignancy and a freckle. So, to my untrained eye, this thing was sure to be a killer. There I stood, in the wee hours of the morning, in my poorly lit office, performing semi-acrobatic maneuvers to take a look at this blemish on my backside and persuade myself that yes, death is imminent. 

When I shared the bad news with my husband several hours later, he hadn't yet rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. After he understood why I was suddenly seized with worry, he wasn't pleased. "You read too much," he said. "You know, those writers make it sound like it's worse than it is so you won't put off going to the doctor." 

"It worked," I said. I knew better than to tell him that, if I don't research, I won't know what to worry about ahead of time. Even without me going on and on, he knew he was in for a long weekend. 

So is it better to be too informed, or not informed at all? My husband purposefully veils himself in ignorance on certain things. I've known him to cut off his own leg cast in anticipation of a powder day at Vail. We were only starting to date then, or I surely would have told him all about what "the books" say about how a bone heals and all the dire consequences of laughing in the face of conventional medicine. 

Then I think back to the time my daughter woke up screaming, her eye swollen shut, just a few hours after the pediatrician's office assured me it was a simple case of pinkeye. But I looked up her symptoms in book after book until I found one that diagnosed it as something as serious as I thought it to be. Just based on this assumption, we took her to the doctor anyway. Sure enough, we had diagnosed the infection correctly and she was hospitalized for several days. A lack of knowledge could have resulted in blindness, or meningitis, or other things too scary to type out. My husband insists it was parental intuition, - just as much as research - that sent us flying to the hospital. 

Still, I like knowing what I'm going to face, and what I may someday have to overcome. I like knowing for whom I should pray today, because - for one split moment - I think I can almost sense what it must be like for those who suffer from a particular disease or condition or situation. 

So, I got the lab results the other day. Benign. Then I have to ask myself, "Just what was it I was so worried about anyway?"