Since I first discovered the internet I have been a big proponent of its value… that is, until I had an altercation with Dr. Google (the world’s first choice for medical help). Let me back up a bit, and explain a little of what caused my confrontation.


A few years ago, as I do every year (now, thanks to OHIP, it’s every other year), I visited my doctor for a routine annual physical. I went through the battery of tests of blood work, ECG, standard ultra sound, etc. and happily, the results all came back as negative. My life continued on its merry path until I stepped from the shower a few days later and noticed a small circle on my chest. I stared and panicked, wondering what type of infectious disease I had picked up. Then suddenly, I saw a second, slightly fainter ring, about the size of a quarter. Terrified, I could only surmise I had picked up a disastrous parasite on a recent trip to somewhere.


I searched my body, as best I could, and found a third one, quite a bit fainter than the first two. I decided to wait and see if they disappeared, and went about my routine; as much as I have one. I couldn’t stop thinking about my newfound malady and had to do something. I did what every North American would do: opened my iPad and immediately went to Dr. Google.


My instructors have always taught me respect for the medical community, and Dr. Google was no different. I waited impatiently as the internet did its thing, only to find I was out of range of Wi-Fi. Quickly I made my way to the library, ran to a vacant chair and logged on. In the address bar I typed ‘Small round circles under skin‘. The first response was it could be ringworm, but it added to have it checked by a second opinion (second to Dr. Google). I had seen enough. I was so careful in Africa, not to come in contact with the Ebola virus when I was there that I paid little attention to ringworm. Humans can catch it from petting dogs and cats, and I feverishly raced through my memories to see if I had come in contact with any furry animals.


Alas, I had suffered enough. I deal well with stress, but this was no ordinary illness. I had contracted a disease in a third world country, and I needed immediate medical help. I drove to my doctor’s office and pleaded with the staff to see my physician. The kind receptionist must have heard the urgency in my voice, or worse yet, seen signs of trauma on my face, for she immediately showed me in, to see my doctor.


Upon a quick examination I was asked a simple question, ‘Did I have an ECG two days ago?’ I nodded. ‘And did they use suction cups?’ I nodded … and froze.


“Really?” I asked, sheepishly. My doctor nodded with a smile, no doubt in response to my most embarrassed look. I guess it was similar to a visit two years ago, after I had a generous helping of red beets with supper. I panicked the next morning when I was convinced my life, as I knew it, was over.


Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on Rogers TV, the Standard Website or YouTube.