I’ve spent a lot of time with Google in the last year or so.
When my doctor called to tell me over a year ago that I had a Carotid Paraganglioma, he had to Google the term himself.
Since then I’ve spent time reading about my diagnosis, trying to find out if there could be a genetic cause, trying to understand what exactly the tumor was, finding out where to get the best treatment. All on Google. I learned more than you’d guess plugging things in to that magic little rectangular with a blinking cursor. Had I not spent so much time researching with search engines, I wouldn’t have gotten to the doctor I needed. I wouldn’t know most of what I do about my disease. It was a powerful tool.
When I had the tumor removed in February I was told I had a ‘nodule’ on the other carotid artery. I was told that there was a good likelihood that this little nodule would grow into another full-blown tumor. I was also tested for two genetic mutations that might be the root cause of these tumors. As I waited (and waited, and waited) for those test results I found myself turning to Mr. Google again. I read and reread every article I could find about the genetic mutations involved trying to guess which one it might be. I Googled the name of my medical institution and “how long do genetic test results take?” I wanted answers and in the absence of the official answers, I tried to use my own resources to come up with something to satisfy my mind in the meantime. It didn’t really work.
Then I found out that I was negative for the mutations for which I was tested. Which blew my mind more than just a little bit. And that, ironically, led to more questions.
If I don’t have a genetic mutation, but it does look like I have another tumor what does that mean? Could I have another genetic mutation? How many people without genetic mutations have tumors on both carotid arteries? Does having bilateral tumors increase my risk for metastasis? See what I mean? Lots of questions!!
There’s a pattern to the searching and a predictable emotional spectrum that I experience when I do it. Initially I’m just curious about something. Then I’m finding all the different combinations of search terms I can think of. Then I try another angle. At some point I feel like I really must be on to something. By the end I realize that my questions don’t have easy answers. The doctors I see might not even have conclusive answers for me. It’s a rare and somewhat mysterious disease. Then, I realize what a thud: The answer isn’t on Google. I realize in these moments my search is futile.
Google doesn’t hold the answer to all of life’s mysteries or even most of life’s mysteries. An amazing amount of information exists on the internet and can be accessed by things like Google. It’s true. But some questions just don’t have easy answers that can be dredged up with exactly the right search terms.
Sometimes you have to wait to talk to the experts. Sometimes you have to talk to someone who can look at all the pieces of the puzzle and put them together. Doctors are good for that. I’m hoping to get a few more of those answers in the not to distant future from people with fancy degrees who know how to make sense of more of these things that I do.
But sometimes my questions are bigger than Google, and even bigger than folks with fancy degrees. I’ve realized with a start several times that the real question I was looking to answer was bigger than the one I was typing into the search engine. The real question I wanted answered on many days and late nights of Google Perusal was this one: Why? Why did this happen? Why did this happen to me? Why have so many other cancers and illnesses befallen my family? Why?
Google is NOT that good, Y’all.
Sometimes there just aren’t answers. Sometimes only God holds the answers. Often, they reside tucked into the folds of His essence so deeply that only He can see them fully. Only He can comprehend them. Only He can make sense of what seems senseless.
Moreover, while I can be lulled into thinking that seeking answers to questions like these has some intrinsic value, the reality is that the importance of my searching is minuscule in comparison to seeking after He who holds the answers my heart really needs. He is the answer to many of the most important questions and He whispers reassurances to so many others my heart asks: Is it all really ok? Really? (Yes. All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him). Am I alone in this? (I will never leave you or forsake you?) If all of this is so bad…. what does that mean about who He is to me? (For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.)
My brain, coupled with the wonders of the internet and Google are limited. Sorely limited.
God isn’t. And it’s Him I must seek first.