‘There was a hidden threat making me feel tired and out of breath’

Dec 09, 2018
Edward had a scan of his lungs to reveal the real cause of his illness.

Over the past few years I have grown a little older, a little overweight and added a few more little bugs to my system. When I was younger a few aches and pains never really worried me, but now I am 68 these few aches and pains are causing significant havoc with my lifestyle.

Every time I go to the doctor there seems to be a few more pills to buy, a few more specialists to see and a lot more dollars going leaving my bank account. To be honest I am very fortunate, I married a wonderful person and she is a nurse. My first port of call is always her when things are not so good.

I know a lot of other people my age are not as fortunate to have someone in the medical field, like my wife, nearby. That said, there are things we can do to alleviate the expense of these little ailments and sometimes the big ones.

The first thing my grandpa told me was “whenever I am sick get me a good surgeon and not a priest”. I think that we have a tendency to leave things to the last minute before we search out the miracle cure for our coughs and splutters, temperatures, aches and pains.

Recently I had a small problem, which turned out to be something major. Over a period of about three weeks I lost the desire to eat and my breathing became a little laboured, which was unusual for me as I walk quite a lot. It got to the stage where my wife said I should go to the doctor for a full assessment.

My GP is a female, she works at a small surgery and bulk bills. She is a very caring, professional person and when she starts to look she doesn’t stop until things are sorted. A lot of the time you get the opinion that a doctor who bulk bills will have you in and out and not really take care of you. But when the pennies count and so does my health, a good GP is a must. Seek them out and use word-of-mouth from friends so you don’t go to a time waster. A good GP does not always look to charge an exorbitant fee.

Because of my age there are a number of tests that are also bulk billed — CT scans and echocardiogram, for example. We have earned the right to these things at our age. Public hospitals are not what they used to be (well certainly on the Gold Coast); new blood in the registrars means great service and again no charges (except for maybe a pill at the end, if you need one).

My GP had bloods taken, thinking that it could have been my iron levels. When my conditioned worsened I went to the local emergency department. I had X-rays, CT scans, ECGs and more blood tests. Then the cardiologist suggested a scan of my lungs, since breathing was part of the issue. Imagine my surprise that there was a major clot in my pulmonary artery. I would think that many of us at my age would not associate a little difficulty of breathing with something so severe.

I am now on tablets for the next six months. The reason for my clot is not understood, based on my recent past history, and cannot be associated with anything I did recently, such as a plane flight.

This whole experience has highlighted though that the longer you wait when you have a problem the bigger the issue will become. The sooner you react to a possible problem, the quicker it will go away and the smaller the amount it will cost you.

We are getting a lot older with a shorter time to be here, so there are some advantages to acting quickly. If you are not sure then ask the professionals, and that should start with a good GP.

Have you ever had something you thought was a minor medical issue, turn into something serious?

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