Too Many Things at Once: A Dilemma for Seniors

May 11th, 2010 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Some days seem to offer too many things to deal with at once for elders.  Today is a good example.  Following  a month of dealing with what may have been a virus, I am discovering that it appears to be subsiding, just in time for the scheduled colonoscopy that was ordered while undergoing the discomfort of daily diarrhea.  This lands on the same day as an eye appointment to correct lenses that seem to work better with a magnifying glass.  Is this the way it is as we move into the seventh decade?  Is this what we can expect in our senior citizen years?  Is this the joy of growing older?

Why can’ t we schedule one thing at a time?  Can’t the body recognize that too many appointments with too many physicians can create an unnecessary overload?

However, that is sometimes the way our bodies are.  With no explanation, there just seems to be a plethora of ailments and attacks and inevitable collisions.  Who can say why? With all the inconveniences and unexpected maladies, we have to adjust and look for means to cope.

Aging brings with it the desire for some normalcy.  We discover that normalcy is another appointment with another physician who specializes in what “may” be our  “problem.”  Time was that a general practitioner was the salvation of us all.  A trek up the stairs to “Dr. Welby” was about all it took.  A cursory examination, maybe a prescription, and off you went.  Soon the symptoms subsided and you were normal again.

Today we are in a physician chase, going from one to another to be sure we get specific attention to specific complaints, often requiring a battery of tests and the use of expensive equipment, which, of course, has to be paid for.  No wonder medical costs have soared.  Every time you are referred to another physician, you will be put through their routine, which brings with it more appointments, more tests, perhaps even other referrals.  If you are facing a life threatening illness or disease, of course all of these steps are critical to your well being.  And, of course, if getting at the bottom of your ailment is the desired goal, you will allow pursuit of it.

Without identifying the medical center, I went through a field of tests with every major physician of every major stripe.  Back and forth, up and down and there was no major identifiable malady or cause for further exploration.  I had had, what in the jargon is “a complete sweep.”  Several weeks later, quite apart from this center, my family doctor discovered that my PSA was elevated, a fact that the well known center identified, but did nothing to flag.  Within the course of a few more weeks, I had gone to a urology surgeon (not associated with the Medical Center) who identified, along with the opinion of another urologist in another city, that I had Prostate Cancer.  Now, how is it that with all the sophisticated, must-have examinations that I had “enjoyed” previously this detection did not raise any red flags?  The rest of the story simply discredits the Medical Center and affirms the need for a second opinion, no matter what!

So, when facing the rigors of aging and the suspicion of possible diseases and illnesses the rule is be thorough and curious and demanding, and allow yourself the uncomfortable, but necessary, procedures for getting at what may cost you your life, if left unattended.

Too Many Things at Once may wear us down, but being attentive is just a major priority as we age.  Taking as good care of ourselves as we do our cars and our lawns and our golf clubs moves to the top of the list.  Having no one else to blame if a discovery is made too late is reason enough to pay attention.  When a physician announces, with the credibility of tests and an authoritative tone, that you have a life threatening disease, there is nothing that takes the place of putting all your energy, commitment and personal welfare to the fore.  Hearing the C word or being told that you have one or two choices, the time comes when every other demanding agenda in your life takes second place.

Sometimes having too many things at once is better than having no options at all.



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