I PRIDE myself on being a trooper.

At training for the Children's Panel we were told we'd pretty much have to be dead before they would accept us calling in sick to a hearing. The tutor told a cautionary tale of a women who broke her leg but still turned up, straight from the plaster room at the hospital, in a wheelchair. I view her as competition.

I'm hoping to spontaneously lose the use of a couple of limbs the night before a hearing so I can show up, do a stellar job and become the new benchmark for excellence. My problem is I take a masculine approach to illness. I ignore the issue until it can't be ignored any longer. I also have a fear of GPs. I'd rather suffer through a kidney ­infection until the pain becomes background noise than see a GP.

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It had never occurred to me to Google my symptoms until I read about cyberchondriacs: people who obsessively check their symptoms on the internet. Reading about people who obsessively check their ­symptoms on the internet has made me obsessively check my symptoms on the internet. Dr Google has become my new best friend.

It turns out I have a deep vein thrombosis. Either that or a charley horse. There's a throbbing pain in my calf that just won't go away. Occasionally it's joined by a bout of pins and needles.

I read online about a woman with similar symptoms to me. The woman, a nurse, was ignored by doctors until finally being diagnosed with a blood clot that started in her calf and ended just an inch from her heart. More search results say I could have an inflamed tendon or a broken bone. I'm pretty sure it's not shin splints as the pain's in the wrong place.

An article on a newspaper website suggests it might be vascular disease. That, or peripheral arterial disease. "Left untreated, this can result in gangrene and septicaemia, leading to amputation or death." I started off vaguely curious about what might be wrong. Now I'm at risk of an untimely demise.

Cyberchondriacs fear the worst and take to the internet to confirm their worries. I'm not particularly bothered to start with but come away from the computer feeling worse than ever.

I decide to take my charley horse worries to the GP after all, but spend 17 minutes on hold before being told the first suitable appointment isn't until June.

I think I might go back to ignoring my problems. The worry is making me ill.