You suddenly experience some persistent pain, so what do you do? Obviously, type it into Google and immediately become convinced that you have mere days to live. Apparently, Oprah Winfrey has been there, too. In an essay for the November issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, the media mogul shared the valuable lessons she learned from a recent brush with Google-induced hypochondria.
Oprah wrote that her health scare began on a regular Friday morning, when she suddenly felt some soreness in her neck while cooking breakfast. “The area under the left side of my chin felt tender,” she wrote.
“In the mirror, I could see it was swollen. By the time I finished making breakfast, the swelling had increased. It looked like a goiter that had come out of nowhere,” she said. “I immediately Googled ‘swollen lymph gland causes.’ None of the results was good.”
She made an appointment with an internist for that afternoon and spent the entire time leading up to the visit expecting the worst. “When I finally opened my mouth to say ‘ahhh,’ I was prepared for the doctor to say, ‘I’m so sorry, Ms. Winfrey, you have: insert terrible disease,” Oprah wrote. “What she actually said was, ‘I think your salivary glands are blocked. Go home, drink plenty of water, and try sucking on some lemons to stimulate your salivary ducts.'”
But all that Googling, Oprah said, left her in adamant disbelief that she could be healed with a regimen as simple as drinking water and sucking on lemons. She called another doctor, who inspected her throat over FaceTime and gave her the exact same diagnosis. Begrudgingly, she followed both physicians’ recommendations and returned to full health in two days.
In conclusion, Oprah wrote, she learned not only that trying to diagnose one’s symptoms on the internet can be wholly unhelpful, but also that she should be more thankful for her daily health.
“Our bodies are amazing. And too often we are not grateful for their perfect functioning, balancing bacteria and enzymes, managing blood flow, thrumming the sinus rhythm beat, beat, beat of our hearts day in, day out. As they say, you don’t appreciate your health until you no longer have it. Before this scare, I’d taken my salivary glands for granted. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’d never thought of them at all,” she said.
“Wherever you are in your life’s journey—whatever the status of your career, your relationships, your finances, whether you’re successful or struggling, happy or not—I know for sure that you need look no further than your own body to offer a prayer of thanksgiving. Truly, you are a marvel.”