What happens when we get sick in the South? Below is an excerpt from last week’s column on It’s a Southern Thing (southernthing.com) Click here to read it in its entirety, or click the link at the bottom.
I recently learned I am suffering from several debilitating disorders, including Mad Cow disease, leprosy and a herniated disc. At least according to the internet, which is my diagnostician of choice. My doctor hates it when I use WebMD. She thinks her years of studying and training make her a better diagnostician. Well, sure. But she’s not as quick. I’d have to wait two weeks for an appointment and then I’d have to wash my hair and put on clothes to go to her office (I’ve learned anything else is frowned upon)
When you’re suffering from a variety of life-threatening symptoms – fatigue, aching joints, sudden urge to urinate – and you know they could not possibly be caused by the 10K you just power-walked after years of inactivity, you need to find the cause right away. Like before bedtime. So you ask the internet what it thinks. More often than not, it thinks you’re dying. Then, when you do call your doctor to ask for the cure for smallpox because you have come down with it, she is not happy with you, even though you have obviously saved her a lot of time and trouble.
I’ve found doctors feel similarly about drug commercials. Only last night while watching “Murder, She Wrote,” I discovered I have irritable bowel syndrome and myocardial infarction. I’m not too worried because treatment is readily available in the form of a drug whose name I can’t pronounce – if I can handle side effects like peeling toenails, bloody stools, swelling of the tongue, cankles, bad golf swing and impaired ability to make Scrabble words. But really, as long as it doesn’t cause an allergy to chocolate cupcakes or Chris Hemsworth movies, I’m OK with it.
Maybe the commercials and online doctoring wouldn’t be as distressing if the ailments were described in Southern terminology. Down here, we have a way of phrasing things so as to cushion the blow a little, like we don’t just come out and tell Aunt Earline her dress is ugly and doesn’t match her shoes. Instead, we might say, “I just love how you don’t care what other people think.” Then we’d bless her heart behind her back. (There’s more to my column, y’all, but it technically belongs to It’s a Southern Thing, so click here to finish it.)