Like many immensely self-involved people, I am something of a hypochondriac.
Every so often I convince myself I’m dying of some sort of obscure disease, the symptoms of which include, but are not limited to; pins and needles, tiredness (mostly at night), very straight eyelashes, a general feeling of sort of unwellness and the inability to put mascara on without opening my mouth.
I’m probably not dying. At least, not anytime soon. But, I do think it would be helpful if there was an app to tell me that. Something to reassure the over-anxious that we’re probably grand.
Most people, of course, would look up WebMD with their symptoms. This is very dangerous. On WebMD… you can browse symptoms. Browse them. Like, how you might browse shoes. You click on the part of the model that you think might be ailing you (let’s see what could be wrong with my chin today!) and it gives you a list of possible symptoms. Psychologically, this cannot be safe.
Can you be more suggestible about anything than your own health? If you scroll through enough potential symptoms you can convince yourself you have everything. Tenderness? Yep. Aches? Sure. And was your elbow always bumpy or is that a symptom? Before you know it, you’ve convinced yourself you have hours to live.
Perhaps you even start off with a symptom in mind. A sore throat, maybe. So, you look it up on the symptom checker. You click the throat of the diagram and scroll down through the possible symptoms.
OK, hoarse voice. You have that. Click. There are a lot of other symptoms there… Noisy breathing could be something, how loud should breathing usually be? Better add that, just in case. Ditto for swelling, who measures their throat regularly? There’s SOME pain. Definitely. You started off with a tickle in your throat and you now have Esophageal Cancer. Shit. Should you call in sick to work or just play it cool? When should you tell your parents?
This could all be avoided with the AmIDying? app.
Whenever you feel something coming on – something you can’t quite identify – you would input your symptoms into the “AmIDying?” app on your phone. The app would immediately send you a response to say “No, you’re not dying”. With one short interaction, your mind is at ease and you are Not Dying.
User: I have a sore throat, am I dying?
AmIDying: You’re not dying. Go to work.
Then you go to work, happy and safe in the knowledge that you are Not Dying and you know this for a fact because the internet told you.
Of course, the app would have the medical integrity of flat 7up, but sometimes all you need when anxiety sends you spiralling is someone to tell you that you’re Grand, you’re Not Dying, Everything is going to be Okay.
Thanks, phone. I needed that.