27 February 2012

It's not a tumor

I recently did an online search for mouth cancer on WebMD. A very serious thing to do, right? I've had a really weird symptom that I'm going to spare you from here and not describe, but it had been going on for over a year. I'd mentioned it to my dentist. He didn't have a solution that was last year. It seemed like it was getting worse so I resorted to the (scary music insert here) the internet.

Now, I don't know about you, but I can be a bit of a hypochondriac so I generally avoid medical websites and especially medical television shows. In 10th grade, I thought I needed to go to the emergency room by the time I got done reading the segment for science on how lungs function.

In college we had a campus nurse who jumped to drastic conclusions and it became a joke the whole time we were there. My inquiry over whether I might be having some appendicitis pains brought a suggestion of female organ cancer from the school nurse. A friend of mine with headaches saw the nurse who tried to get er to see the doctor because it might be an aneurism. Really? I was hoping you could give me some Tylenol. This was the 80s and Arnold Schwarzenegger was renown for a silly movie in which he said, "It's not a tumor." (Kindergarten Cop). So we took to saying this line a lot.

So when I went to WebMD, I was really concerned about my weird symptoms or I really wouldn't go there. I got nothing other than a confirmation that I have no symptoms of mouth cancer. I tried quite a few descriptions of my symptoms. Nothing.

In desperation after exhausting a few medical sites, I did a general internet search. It took me to a lay person blog. I will not link to it because frankly the discussion was disgusting. Hilarious but disgusting. In the end, I discovered hundreds of people on this website had the same problem. As a medically uneducated group, they'd come to the conclusion that they were allergic to teeth whitening toothpaste. I figured, what the heck? I'll try it. My symptoms were gone after a toothpaste switch avoiding teeth whitening options. Amazing - thought I'd have to live with this for the rest of my life.

The thing I find humorous is that probably without a serious medical study no one official is going to say, hey, some people have allergies and weird symptoms from whitening products. But a bunch of people can get together on a blog, complain and find a solution.

I have a friend who has kidney stones. She swears each month, ahem, they act up at a certain time. Doctors all say no way. Sure enough she found a blog -- hundreds of women saying the same thing - kidney stone flare up once a month corresponding with being a girl. So a consensus of people can affirm each other when medical science is not ready to talk. Interesting.


  1. The whole concept of being able to diagnose something by finding a bunch of other people with similar simptoms all around the world is amazing. It's hard to believe that in the not-to-distant path that possibility was barely conceivable.

  2. BTW, I had some trouble finding the "publish" button with the CAPTCHA verification words. It was hidden below the viewable area of the preview box, and I eventually got it by resizing the browser text (using "Ctrl -" and "Ctrl +").

  3. Anonymous5:47 AM

    Huh, this is a template so I wonder what could cause that. It's fine in Safari and firefox - could it be a browser issue?