Is it Hypochondria or Is it Age?

I sometimes wonder whether I’m a hypochondriac. At other times I think I must be one because of the very fact that I wonder whether I am.

Out of curiosity, I recently took a look at the Mayo Clinic Staff’s article about the symptoms of hypochondria. Most of them didn’t fit me at all–thank goodness–but several made me take a second look.

  • Worrying that minor symptoms or bodily sensations mean you have a serious illness.
  • Thinking you have a disease after reading or hearing about it.
  • Obsessively doing health research.

I’m not sure I actually worry about my symptoms, especially the minor ones, but I sometimes wonder  whether a particular ailment might signify something important. Although hearing about a disease doesn’t make me think I have it, it does put me on the alert for the symptoms.

I’m not obsessive about doing health research, either. But if I have a problem, I’m going to look it up on the Internet. As often as not, however, the discovery that my symptoms often signify something quite simple relieves my potential anxiety.

Even the Mayo Clinic Staff noted, “There’s nothing wrong with informing yourself. ” It’s good to be able to talk more intelligently with the doctor if a symptom appears worth seeing a doctor about.

So maybe I’m not a hypochondriac after all. Could it be that my health issues are simply the results of age?

My participation in our church’s nursing home ministry places me weekly in the midst of a group of very frail and unhealthy folks, most of whom are older than I am. Doing that for five or six years now, I’ve watched people deteriorate further and eventually die.

But even the ones who’ve kept hanging on for quite some time suffer conditions I hope and pray I never develop. Honestly, I’d be afraid to think I was developing any of their problems. If those are a part of aging, I’m not in a rush to get there.

I guess I’ll just have to be patient with those minor aches and pains than seem unrelated to anything else. I should look at myself in the mirror and accept the fact that age brings physical changes, and probably none of them are good.

I’d love to have your opinion on this subject. Please leave a comment.


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The Thin Line

The older I get, the less certain I am where to draw the line—the line between caution and hypochondria.

 I never used to think of myself as even a potential hypochondriac. In fact, to avoid becoming one, I was apt to avoid going to the doctor when I experienced symptoms I’d heard other people talk about because I didn’t want my doctor to consider me a copy cat.

That changed one week about fifteen years ago.

I’d been experiencing some chest discomfort in the early morning for several days. It always went away within a matter of hours, and it wasn’t that severe to start with.

But that day when I got to work, it got worse. Not drastically worse, but bad enough to make me feel I wasn’t up to coping with the day. I went down to the reception area and zonked out on a sofa. I would have felt embarrassed about having people staring at me as they came and went, but I didn’t feel well enough to care.

I finally gave up. No way would I be able to drive myself to the doctor, so I asked the receptionist to call the Rescue Squad. The EMT’s comments in the ambulance convinced me that I’d had a heart attack.

Three days in the hospital proved them wrong. Finally.

I came home with prescriptions for anxiety and acid reflux. No heart problems then or since. I still take omeprozole, but I no longer have a prescription for the anxiety medicine. I’m doing a better job of letting God handle that.

Even though my problem turned out not to be life threatening, it still needed to be diagnosed and dealt with.

After living though that little adventure, it was only natural that I would start paying more attention to anything my body tried to tell me. But before going to the doctor, I take advantage of the Internet to look up my symptoms and—more often than not—discover that they apply to lesser problems as well as to ones that are more serious.

One problem with my anti-hypochondriac efforts is that age seems to bring on certain symptoms that apply more to the aging process itself than to specific conditions.

With the increase in healthcare costs brought on by the implementation of Obamacare, my family doctor co-pay has risen from $10 to $30. And not even the cheapest of my medicines is free now.

So I can no longer afford to become a hypochondriac.

Please feel free to leave a comment about this post. I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to the top right of this page where it says, “Follow Blog by Email.”

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing” to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Because I’ve used up all of my songs, I repost a previous post each Wednesday. If you’re interested, please check that blog out here.

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