Open Thread

Open Thread Update: Is This Something?

The previous column went into the “something or nothing” game that starts as we age. Is that strange new ache a nothingburger…or more? It was reassuring to know that for some of us, it’s a pretty common feeling. Nice to know we’re not alone…

Thank you for sharing  “Is this something’. I thought I was the only one.

Thomas L.

…misery loves company, Thomas.

Also nice to know I’m not the only one that acid reflux pulled a ‘gotcha” according to Judy K’s comment., below.  The good news is sometimes those “gotcha’s” improve our quality of life….

“…diagnosis: sleep apnea; what a difference CPAP has made! That was the start of my “team,” and at 73 I’m surprisingly healthy, all things considered, but I sure get the “something or nothing” thing”

-Kenneth F.

…or something much more serious, as Reader Lisa B. reveals in her story in the comments.  We wish you a speedy and full recovery, Lisa, and thanks for your advice:.

“PAY ATTENTION AND TAKE ACTION WHEN YOUR BODY SENDS YOU SIGNALS!

-Lisa B.

Overall, though, it’s wise for us, as we get older, to maintain a realist attitude.  We’ll all be in a better frame of mind with Reader Susan H.’s attitude.

I feel if people “know” their body, when something unusual occurs, don’t ignore it. Aging has its ups and downs, which is upsetting. We all think we will be young forever, but body parts tend to wear out. Stay active, exercise and eat healthy!

-Susan H.

We’ll leave the comments open for a while so feel free to add.

The original column is below.

After I hit 60, my body started playing a game with me. It’s a guessing game called “Is this Something? Or is this Nothing?”

This game is played for keeps. Or not. It’s played when people of a certain age get a weird, new pain, or a strange cramp, or any change in how our bodies work.

Years ago, I’d take an aspirin and go on with my day. I didn’t even have a GP! Now I have an entourage: audiologist, cardiologist, dermatologist, endocrinologist, ENT, gastroenterologist, OB-GYN, opthalmologist, orthopedist. I’m a one person medical convention because now, sometimes what I think is ‘nothing”…isn’t. That’s how I wound up in the hospital for a week–twice–in four years. It was that difficult for me to accept that my body is no longer the well-oiled machine it used to be. I’m (gasp!) mortal. 

Is this something?

Last year I got a strange feeling in my chest while on a conference call. (Okay, I’ve had them before and my cardiologist had said it only was acid reflux.) I called his office, since it was time for a checkup anyway. The doctor on call told me to go to an urgent care center ASAP.  They took my vitals, did an EKG, and told me to get to an ER, stat.

Their reaction was enough to trigger a heart attack, so I dashed over. The ER saw me right away: six doctors, x-rays, ultrasounds, EKG, blood and urine samples, and six hours of monitoring my vital signs. Their diagnosis?

Acid reflux.

I guess I won that round, if you can call a $3000 hospital bill ‘winning.”

I was lucky, though, because it really was ‘nothing.”  Call it whatever you want – a close call, a narrow escape – I’m just grateful I’m okay and the diagnosis was a nothingburger…barely a bump on the road in my journey…unlike the ‘little cold” that sidelined me for more than a week. (It was not Covid, but still kicked my butt- and still is.)

But how about you?  Was there an incident that you thought was ‘something” – and it wasn’t?  Tell us about your close calls, misdiagnoses, or narrow escapes – let us know in the comments!

 

Virge Randall is Senior Planet’s Managing Editor. She is also a freelance culture reporter who seeks out hidden gems and unsung (or undersung) treasures for Straus Newspapers; her blog “Don’t Get Me Started” puts a quirky new spin on Old School New York City. Send your suggestions for Open Threads to her at editor@seniorplanet.org.

 

COMMENTS

7 responses to “Open Thread Update: Is This Something?

  1. The problem is when you have already had a serious illness, which I had at a relatively young age, it’s very hard to retain perspective. Especially as my original illness was misdiagnosed for two years and that could have made the difference between me living and dying. So I’m aware that now I am on the “worried” end of the spectrum when I have a new symptom of any kind. My strategy is to find a sympathetic GP who understands my situation and talk things over with her whenever I feel anxious.

  2. My experience with “Is it something or nothing” happened in 2004 when I began having strange sensations in my breast. They weren’t painful sensations, more like, “there’s something happening here that is different” sensations. I immediately contacted my gynecologist and booked an appointment. He immediately scheduled a STAT mammogram and subsequent biopsy. The diagnosis, Breast Cancer, Aggressive Cancer. My message: PAY ATTENTION AND TAKE ACTION WHEN YOUR BODY SENDS YOU SIGNALS!

  3. I feel if people “know” their body, when something unusual occurs, don’t ignore it. Aging has its ups and downs, which is upsetting. We all think we will be young forever, but body parts tend to wear out. Stay active, exercise and eat healthy!

  4. It’s good to hear from someone else who lived so long without even a GP and now has a medical team. Dozing at work forced me into the “system,” to save my job. Unsurprising (except to me!) diagnosis: sleep apnea; what a difference CPAP has made! That was the start of my “team,” and at 73 I’m surprisingly healthy, all things considered, but I sure get the “something or nothing” thing. Other age-related thing I didn’t think to expect: an ongoing stream of “team” replacements owing to retirements!

  5. Like you, I have been to the ER twice over the years for that pressure in the middle of my chest that turned out to be acid reflux.
    However, a few years ago, on a wonderful trip to the Canadian Rockies and Seattle, I got out of breath severely enough that it scared my travel companion. A visit to my Dr triggered a battery of tests that showed a congenital abnormality in my heart/lung connection causing pulmonary hypertension not diagnosed til I was 75. Something or nothing?

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