Remind me never to Google my physical idiosyncrasies when I’m already suffering acute anxiety.
The good news is that I’m steadily eliminating the range of medical problems I have to deal with. Got my gyno ish cleared up, so that’s a relief. I’m still going through a bout of panic disorder, which is exhausting, but at least I now know everything south of my brain is in good shape.
The cautionary tale comes in when I visited the podiatrist with two complaints: one, a plantar wart that’s been in the same place for years, and two, a little dark mark under my toenail that I was stupid enough to Google while I was already struggling with panic attacks.
The problem is that if you put “bruise under toenail” into Google, the first thing that comes up is MELANOMA. There are three basic types of skin cancer. Two are called carcinomas, and they look gross and can leave very ugly scars if they go ignored for too long, but they’re generally not life-threatening. The other is called melanoma, and that is the type of skin cancer that can kill you dead. If you Google for any scenario that could be causing a bruise-like mark under a toenail, the first thing you’ll see in search results is MELANOMA.
Spoiler alert: I do not have melanoma. Sometimes, a bruise is really just a bruise, and one under a toenail can take a really long time to clear out.
However, while my podiatrist was already about 90% sure it was just a bit of dried blood stuck under the nail and nothing to worry about, I could not shake the risk that I had cancer spreading to my lymph nodes, so he had to take off my toenail to do a biopsy.
(This is actually not as bad as it sounds: he pumped my toe full of enough lidocaine to kill a small mammal, so the procedure didn’t hurt, and one small toenail on one foot turns out to be trivial in its absence.)
I’m gradually getting the panic disorder under control through a combination of improving self-care and psych meds, and the toenail will eventually grow back. The thing is: there was never anything to worry about. That little bruise really was just a bruise. You wouldn’t know that from asking Google, though.