Aging Well in the Gorge November 17th 2021

 Okay, I admit it. I have hypochondriac tendencies. I’m always asking myself if this dark lesion or sharp pain or tiredness is a sign of something serious; and whether I should make an appointment with my primary care provider?

And then when I do, they relieve my immediate concern for the visit but during the exam, I’m asked if I have experienced a variety of other symptoms. Now I have more things to worry about! It’s not easy dealing with your ailments – both real and imaginary.

So, what medical symptoms should you not ignore? In an article for UC San Diego Health, an academic medical center in San Diego, Scott LaFee identifies ten.

1. Chest pain: Extreme discomfort that feels like squeezing, pressure or tightness. May be accompanied by pain radiating down an arm, nausea, vomiting, sweating, or difficulty breathing.

2. Shortness of breath: A sudden feeling that you’re breathing faster than usual, without obvious explanation, and without good effect. Worsens when you lie flat or exert yourself. Wheezing or gasping.

3. Sudden intense headache: This is head pain, unlike anything you’ve felt before, peaking in seconds or minutes.

4. Unexplained weight loss: Losing more than 5 percent of your body weight without trying in less than six months.

5. Unusual bleeding: For example, rectal bleeding or black or tarry stools. Or bloody vomit.

6. High or persistent fever: Anything 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher warrants an immediate trip to the doctor, without exception. A low-grade fever (somewhere around 100 degrees) for several weeks with no obvious cause should also be checked out.

7. Sudden confusion: Or inexplicable changes in personality, aggression, or an inability to concentrate.

8. Swelling in the legs: Persistent, accumulated fluid (edema) in the extremities.

9. Sudden or severe abdominal pain: Centralized around the belly button. Sharp and unexpected.

10. Flashes of light: Bright spots, flashes, or other visual disturbances.

Most of my concerns are not serious: that dark lesion is not melanoma, feeling off-balance is not the result of a brain tumor, and fainting in the bathroom during the night is not because of a heart problem. Okay, that last one was a heart problem!

Knowing the difference between when to wait and when to see a provider is important. But I often remind myself there is more to life than unnecessarily worrying about the next medical problem. Instead, I can worry about something important: whether my favorite football team will win! To learn more, the article by LaFee is posted at under the HEALTH tab.

I periodically mention fall prevention because each year three million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries. I’ve done that, been there, and don’t want you to enjoy the same experience. (I now make sure I ALWAYS hold on to the handrail.)

To prevent falls, the CAPECO Area Agency on Aging and Providence Health & Services are partnering to offer a free fall prevention webinar on Monday, December 6th, from 1-3 pm. During the webinar, you will learn how medications, footwear, and home environment can keep you safe and on your feet. You can register by calling 541-506-3512 or by emailing

This singer, piano player, and songwriter famous for his over-the-top stage costumes was Reginald Dwight better known as Elton John.  I received correct answers from Jeannie Pesicka, Doug Nelson, Gary Van Orman, Steven Woolpert, Emmett Sampson, Gene Uczen, Dave Lutgens, Rhonda Spies, Keith Clymer, Susan Ellis, and Kim Birge this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.

This week’s “Remember When” question comes from the category “Classic TV Commercials”. What men’s hair care product used the jingle “. . . a little dab’ll do ya/Use more, only if you dare/But watch out/The gals will all pursue ya/They’ll love to put their fingers through your hair.” E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or leave it with a comb used by Edd Byrnes.

Well, it has been another week, enjoying the rain. Until we meet again, bad always looks better after it gets worse.  

“To know what you want to draw, you have to begin drawing it.” Pablo Picasso

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