I am now 77 and in pretty good shape. As I get older, medical care is becoming more and more important to me. The problem is, it’s very hard to know if consulting with the medical profession is going to help. Over the past several years, I’ve had some very successful interactions. More recently, things have gone downhill. Here’s the sequence:
About ten years ago, during a yearly physical, my doctor noticed that one side of the front of my throat seemed to bulge. Further investigation, by the ENT doctor I was referred to, indicated that one side of my thyroid was enlarged. The plan was to separate the two halves if possible, removing the swollen half. As it turned out, separation was not possible. The swollen half was ten times as large as the functional half. So, the entire thyroid was removed, and I spent one night in the hospital. I have been taking replacement hormone medication ever since. It’s cheap, costing a bit more than $50 per year with my insurance coverage. All in all, it was a quick and easy fix for what could have been a very serious problem.
A few years later, perhaps seven years ago, I developed skin irritations on my legs and arms. They were nickel-sized red, dry circles that I thought were hives. It turned out that they were not really hives, since they weren’t raised. I had them checked out by an allergist. My only real allergy was to dogs. There was no way I wasn’t going to be around dogs, but the allergist said not to worry. He prescribed three things. One was an inexpensive prescription salve for topical treatment; a $15 tube will last half a year. Another was a inexpensive nightly over-the-counter antihistamine. I’m now using a 300-tablet bottle of a generic of Zyr-Tec. Finally, he advised that I use a moisturizing cream after showering. I have been applying Vanicream at $15 for a one pound jar that lasts for a couple of months. As with the thyroid solution, I’m very happy with this one. It’s inexpensive and I don’t have to keep visiting the doctor. I can dispense with the salve with no adverse effects.
A few years ago, I noticed a bump on the outside edge of my right foot. It also hurt a bit to lean on that edge. I went to a foot doctor who x-rayed it. I had a bone chip. He gave me a pair of inner sole inserts with a notch cut out. Perfect.
Two years ago, I started to have a series of night-time stomach cramps. The cramps would come in surges over several hours. Burping always helped. Sometimes rubbing my abdomen would help. The spells got closer and closer together over a period of months. Three times, I ended up in the emergency ward. Eventually, I was referred to a gastroenterologist. I had my third colonoscopy. No problem was uncovered. He prescribed acid reflux medication. Within days I had another episode. Nothing recommended by the medical profession had any good effect. The occurrences became almost weekly. Finally, I did some research on the web. I had heard the term “probiotic,” but I had no idea what it was. It turned out that that was all I needed. No medical contact even said the word.
As I have aged, the skin on the backs of my hands has gotten fragile, bruising without even being struck. Also, lately, if I do strike them, the backs of my hands bleed very easily and take a very long time to heal. The only input I’ve gotten from the medical profession is that it’s something that happens with aging. More internet research. Living at 8,000 feet, I always put strong sunscreen on my face, neck and ears throughout the spring and summer. I never bother with my hands and arms. Well, it turns out that between the effects of sun and thin, dry air, this is what has affected the skin on my hands. I am now treating them with a collagen lotion and another anti-aging facial product, plus using Vitamin E oil on the cuts and sores. I make sure I have gloves on in the cold weather and I will certainly have sunscreen on them in the warm weather. It is definitely helping. No thanks to the medical profession.
Fifty years ago, a psychotherapist from the Indies, named Boxwill, advised me, “In the end, you have to do it yourself.” He was speaking of conquering psychological problems, but it appears it also applies to many physical ailments. What I don’t understand is that the solution to the last two of the problems I described should have been common sense to someone with medical training, kind of like the application of inner soles with a notch cut out to my bone chip problem. I guess common sense is not all that common.