With the rise of the internet, people started exploring ways to get medical advice online. The medical community was initially humored by this development, thinking it is a cute way for patients to look up their symptoms before coming to see us, their doctors.
The next stage in our response was irritation. As more people flooded our offices, our emergency rooms, and our hospital wards demanding treatments and tests they read about online, and totally medically unnecessary, we started to get irritated at this whole situation including the many players involved, yes, even at the patients sometimes.
Next came total and absolute anger. Although I am not a pediatrician, I would get furious when I saw anti-vax posts and articles, and I still get irate when I see pictures of kids suffering and sometimes succumbing to infectious diseases that have almost gone extinct thanks to vaccinations. These medical dinosaurs are enjoying a resurgence thanks to the overall atmosphere of skepticism that is taking over the world and specifically the world of medicine.
I have no words or emotions to describe how I feel about the current wave of inaccuracies, falsehoods, made up stories, and simply lies being thrown around during this pandemic. I understand that people are getting bored, angry, frustrated, sad, and even hungry due to the current crisis, and I am in no way trying to minimize the torrential emotions people are experiencing.
For, in the end, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you prefer to believe the opinions of random “experts” just because they created a video on youtube with cropped pictures of people you see on tv. It doesn’t matter if you believe random numbers made up by “doctors” and refuse to take the word of hundreds of us on the front lines seeing the impact of this virus first hand. It doesn’t matter if you choose to treat one study here and there as the gospel yet dismiss hundreds of publications in peer-reviewed medical journals. It doesn’t matter if you want to convince yourselves that COVID-19 is “just like the flu,” because we will be there to take care of you anyways.
My colleagues and I will be there to treat you when all of these internet movie creators that convinced you this is no big deal are nowhere to be found.
It doesn’t matter; it just hurts.
Melhim Bou Alwan is an internal medicine physician.
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