by Cathy Jameson
That title above is the G-rated version we used to use here in the house. Change that last word to something else for the adults, and it’s the same message. Couldn’t figure something out? Google that stuff. Arguing with someone about something and needs facts to back up a claim? Google that stuff. GTS worked when we were out of the house also. With how readily available the internet is on mobile phones, long gone are the days of having to wait until you’re back home to look up information in a book. No need to trek to the library to scour the reference section for data either. One quick online search is all it took!
I’ve shied away from using Google, but this FB memory of mine reminded me just how much Googling I’d done over the years.
Me: Do you have any recommendations?
Nurse: No. You can do your own research. You know your child's needs.
Me: < stifles a smile >
! ! !
When you walk into a medical facility and you're not sure if you should open your mouth or not on certain subjects but you bravely go for it and the medical person sees that you, the parent, are a completely capable, competent human being who can GTS* on their own....all the yesses.
Me: < high fives self > ✋ < smiles > :) Okay. Thanks.
*Google That Sh!t
That day, I’d brought Ronan to a follow-up visit with one of his specialists. I’d made sure to look up a few things so that I could ask the doctor some questions. Technical in nature, I needed to know some of the vocabulary they’d be using in their responses. Some doctors may not see it the same way parents do, but being armed with knowledge, especially when it comes to understanding your child’s complex medical conditions, is smart. Thankfully, that specialist didn’t give me any grief for wanting to gather info ahead of time. The memory of that popped up on Friday morning last week, right before I took one of my other kids to a different doctor for some advice.
While at that doctor’s office Friday morning to discuss a minor medical issue of one of Ronan’s siblings, the doctor turned to me and started, “Well, you’ve probably already Googled it…” I wanted to cut her off and tell her that, “No, I did not Google anything yet,” but stayed quiet. Believe me, I usually do take time to look things up, but for some appointments, like this one, I actually want to get information from the doctor herself first. I didn’t interrupt her or tell her that I’d already decided prior to walking into the clinic that I was going to wait until after the appointment to GTS. Maybe it’s because Google isn’t the same search engine it used to be.
Maybe it was because that search would have nothing to do with autism or liability-free vaccines or seizures or mitochondrial dysfunction, topics I know pretty well already.
Maybe it was because this current situation included something I’d not previously encountered and honestly didn’t know where to start.
Maybe it was because I wanted to trust that what I was sharing about my child wouldn’t fall on deaf ears.
Like that earlier FB memory, I know that at certain medical facilities it’s best to keep my mouth shut. It shouldn’t be that way. And Lord help the parent who does dare mention that they did a quick Google search or asked for guidance online! They might as well book themselves in social media jail for a few days for even thinking about Googling medical information on their own.
Not that I need their permission, or anyone else’s for that matter, but I’ve smiled when one of Ronan’s doctors or nurses told me that when I get back home I can “Google it” if I want to. Oh, honey. You have no idea. I already have. I smile bigger when I hear them use words from my searches, too. Hearing certain phrases, treatment options, or reported statistics tells me that I, and they, are on the right page and ready to help my son. My favorite visits are when providers GTS with me right there in the exam room! Those kinds of medical visits, where parent and provider research things and collaborate together, are the best kind. By the end of those appointments, they’ve recognized, or reaffirmed, that I am not just a mom to a child with a disability but that I’m a capable, educated woman willing to learn and work alongside them. The icing on the cake is when they state, “Mom, what do you think? You know your child’s needs best.” Again, I don’t need it, but that validation is nice, especially when I know they really mean it.
Even so, I can’t believe that some of their colleagues are as completely sincere when parents like me come into their practice. I don’t feel like I can trust some of them or the medical industry 100% like I used to. One wrong word, one remark too many, and I’m the one who could ruin a good thing.
I’d like to whole-heartedly believe all of the medical providers that we to see. I’d like to trust them explicitly. I’d like to follow through completely with their suggestions. But I’ve been burned before and know that in some places, it’s best to proceed with caution. In those moments, I don’t smile as much or even at all. Those days, I prefer to take a Less Is More approach – less talking, more listening. Less trusting, more verifying. Less industry standards, more independent research. When it comes to mainstream medicine, to trust blindly, to follow everything to a T, and to buy into their one-size-fits all plan can have devastating consequences. It did for us. With the ever-increasing vaccine schedule, that devastation could affect other families for some time.
Where we can’t rely on Google to provide all the information they used to freely generate, other search engines claim they will do so without tracking users, without invading their privacy, and without removing “controversial” content. Just as long gone are the days of some people going straight to a book, a dictionary, or an encyclopedia to search for information, so are my GTS-ing days. Give me Duck, Duck Go and other search tools any and every day. So far, when I desire to know more, or when I need to prep for a conversation for an upcoming medical appointment, what I need is still at my fingertips. I’m grateful for that because as long as I breathe, I will continue to read just as much as I can.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.