Google Is Not a Doctor

I remember clearly the first time I searched for restless legs syndrome (RLS) on the world wide web like it was yesterday. Knowledge about RLS wasn't as wide and vast as it is now, so Google told me I had a vitamin and iron deficiency and needed some iron and vitamin tablets.

Next day, I just walked into a pharmacy and picked up iron tablets, vitamin C, vitamin B12, folic acid, niacin, vitamin K, vitamin A, and cod liver oil. Paid for my loot and happily made my way home.

I thought they were just 'harmless vitamins'

I remember just how ecstatic I was that day. Not only did I have a name for the illness that had plagued me my whole life; now I also had a "cure." I set about taking my over-the-counter supplements religiously, and nothing happened.

But I was very determined not to give up. I took these supplements 2 times every single day for 6 months. That was when the first symptom of overdose showed up; I started getting these really bad stomach pains intermittently, then the nausea and vomiting followed.

I still didn't think the supplements had anything to do with it; after all, they were just "harmless vitamins."

I was diagnosed with gastroenteritis, but I didn't get better

I once again went into the pharmacy, grabbed some Pepto Bismol, and went home. Then my vision started failing, so I went to my optometrist and got new glasses. Then one day, I just collapsed in school and was rushed to the hospital.

My blood pressure was so high that I was kept for a few days. When the doctor asked if I was on any medications, I said no because, as far as I was concerned, they were just vitamins. They ran so many tests, and eventually, I was diagnosed with gastroenteritis, treated, and then sent on my merry way.

I still didn't feel better. If anything, I started getting much worse. I started losing weight. I couldn't eat. I started getting blood in my stools, my hair was falling out, and once again, according to Google, I was dying for sure.

My mom was gobsmacked at the amount of supplements I was taking

One day, when it all felt like that would be my last day on earth, I called my mum on the phone crying and telling her all that had been going on. I could tell she was terrified, but in that moment, she decided to put her mom hat aside and wear her nurse hat, and I am so glad she did.

She started asking me all kinds of questions: if I'd had unprotected sex, if I'd seen a doctor, what kind of tests had been run, what had changed about my lifestyle in recent times, what medications I was taking. This time I thankfully didn't leave out the vitamins.

My mom screamed through the phone and startled me. She was gobsmacked at the amount of vitamins I was taking, and the dosage and the duration I had taken them for. She explained that some of those vitamins react poorly to one another and that I was taking entirely too much. She told me to go to the emergency that very minute and let them know what was going on.

Google is not a doctor who can treat your RLS

At the hospital, I was basically treated like I had ingested poison. There were blood and urine tests, activated charcoal, x-rays, and some medication. The doctors were surprised I didn't have any long-term consequences. I am forever thankful for that.

It was a very traumatizing experience, and I have since learnt that Google is not my doctor. I'm also glad that there's a lot more educative and insightful articles on restless legs syndrome than there were 12 years ago.

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