I looked in the mirror and saw that the whites of my eyes looked yellow. Yellow. Like a jaundiced baby kind of yellow. Funny, I thought, they were not yellow yesterday. Did my liver fail in the last 12 hours? Huh…I should Google that.

The overwhelming response from Google was that I am dying of liver failure and that my red blood cells are exploding left and right. My body is going to shrivel up and burst into dust any day now. Or it’s cancer.

Google is the post-modern Magic Eight Ball. You can shake the Internet and get far more specific answers than yes or maybe not. Need a recipe for how to fix a screwed up lobster bisque? Or how about how to find the phone number of your long-lost BFF from second grade? Did you get into an argument with your spouse over the correct use of a Spork? Do those jeans make you look fat? The answers await your curiosity and clicks on the Internet. And what better gateway to these answers than Google?

Unless of course, you are searching for anything health related. In which case, you get two distinct kinds of answers: You’re dying or you have cancer.

I remember when I was a kid that if I thought something was wrong then I would tell my Mom. She would look over my wounds or symptoms and then say well, let’s just watch it for a few days and see what happens. What usually happened was that I would live. If I was sick I would get better. If I was injured then I would heal. If I had hurt feelings then I would get over it. My Mom knew that I was not an interesting medical mystery. I was a regular kid. With regular problems and regular health maladies. No mystery there.

So why then, do I Google simple health related things and then spend 15 minutes having a panic that I had developed cancer or some rare disorder not seen since the Black Plague? The Internet is supposed to be this vast and wonderful world of information, and it is. Mostly.

Now that I am a Mom, I do not have the same ease with the Wait And See Game that my mother had. Every single bonk of the head requires my immediate response of checking the pupils for dilation. Every cough or sneeze earns a thermometer under the tongue and a game of 20 Questions. Rashes, bug bites, or croaky voices earn immediate calls to the pediatrician. I’m just not at ease with suspiciously looking unhealthy stuff. And frankly, I blame Google.

Maybe it is because my children are still young and therefore vulnerable to a plethora of standard fare childhood diseases and illnesses. Maybe it is because I’m an easily rattled person. Or maybe – just maybe – it is because I have Googled far too many weirdo health things that my hypersensitive Mom brain has raised screaming red flags over. Maybe it is all of that, but I cannot help but wonder to myself when will the ease of Mother Wisdom dawn on me? When will I look at my child and lovingly say Well, sweetie, let’s just watch it for a few days and see what happens?

It turns out that the new bathroom lights cast a funky glow when the sun is setting. It makes everything yellowish. Including the whites of eyes…apparently.

Sarah Cottrell

Maine-based writer Sarah Cottrell is the voice behind Housewife Plus at the Bangor Daily News and is a regular contributor to Disney’s Babble and Momtastic. She is a co-author in six books including...