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LOWE

Deciding whether to take your health concerns to a doctor or try to solve them on your own sometimes is a difficult dilemma.

My wife complained of uncomfortable, labored breathing last weekend. She said there seemed to be pressure on her chest that almost smothered her a couple of times.

At the onset, she didn’t feel her situation called for us to call 911. Instead, she consulted a couple of quick sources: Google and her mom. Suggestions to explain her symptoms ranged from “perhaps not serious,” to “very serious, indeed.”

We considered our options. I say “we” and “our” because 50 years of “in sickness and in health” has made us that think that way.

It was early Saturday morning—not the most convenient time to seek professional health care. The temptation was to simply remain at home, rest and monitor the situation. Maybe her problems would go away.

Although my college transcripts do not list a single medical class, I tried to think like a doctor. I asked her, “How would you rate your level of pain this morning?”

“Now? Or at 2 a.m. when I first got out of bed?”

“Both.”

“It’s about a ‘6’ now, but earlier it was at ‘8’.”

She said most of the intense pain seemed to have passed.

I couldn’t think of any other questions, and I couldn’t begin to evaluate the situation.

Excuses were offered to avoid going to a hospital:

The “E” in “ER” is for “emergency.” We didn’t want to waste time and energy on something less than a sure-enough emergency.

Why risk being exposed among the sick where something not worth catching might be caught?

Then there would be the cost—far more than the price of a senior cup of coffee at McDonalds. Still, you don’t wait to replace an old, leaky roof until it rains in the living room.

These excuses were only attempts of denial. So, we went to a hospital.

Having chest discomfort in an ER waiting room is somewhat akin to having an express pass in a crowded amusement park. We were quickly called from the waiting area and sent to an examining room.

Blood was drawn, x-rays were made, a CT scan was administered, EKGs were recorded, a stress test was accomplished, and a variety of doctors and nurses asked questions and made notes. It turned out to be an overnight stay to accommodate all the tests and observations.

Finally, she was discharged in better condition than when she had been admitted to the hospital.

My purpose in sharing these thoughts about my wife’s experience is offered as an example to make this point—if you have serious health symptoms, don’t try to avoid doing what needs to be done. Seek the expertise of professionals who can provide you with important treatment and care.