Monday, May 20, 2013

Would extensive medical testing in retirement explain my boyhood "male competitiveness" problems?; the "shame" barrier

On recent posts on my main blog, I have talked about my physical backwardness when I was growing up, in an era when such an issue had moral significance, particularly with respect to experiences like the military draft.
Although somewhat sickly as a child, I settled down as an adult and, although not very competitive physically, was very stable my whole working life, with few sick days, and the ability to deal with all-nighters when necessary for production support.
Since about the time of my mother’s heart surgery (in 1999, and she would live eleven years afterward, making it to age 97), I have noticed irregular heart beats myself and been treated for hypertension.  I have never had a complete heart workup, although I suspect I do have what some authorities call “stable angina”. 

On May 15, I wrote a post about the “trap” one can fall into once, under the Medicare system, doctors start pressuring patients into taking every conceivable test. 

However, at some point, I suppose that I will have to consider this scenario.  What if I wanted to work overseas in some humanitarian effort?  I would have to be much surer of my own health and stability.

Furthermore, given the “moral” cast of the issues earlier in my life, I suspect that I owe it to both myself and my audience to find out if there was a medical explanation for why I was behind as a boy.

Nothing unusual surfaced when I was a boy, or a patient art NIH (in the fall of 1962).  But in those days much less was known about the possibility of genetic, epigenetic or congenital issues, which could have been neurological (as related to the autism spectrum) or possibly circulatory and cardiac in nature.

Heart tests could involve the stress test (including nuclear), the Holter Monitor,  and echocardiogram.  As the YouTube video above illustrates, a certain threshold of “shame” may be crossed.    

Treatments that occur can include angioplasties, coronary bypass surgery (of varying degrees of invasiveness), aortic aneurysm resection, pacemaker implantation and value replacement.  The last two of these can sometimes be done with minimal invasiveness. 

Barbara Walters had major valve surgery in 2011 at age 80.  As one ages, the likelihood that something like this will eventually happen becomes greater. 

But the end result of all of this, which can take a lot of psychological commitment from the patient and keep him out of circulation for a long time, could be (in my case) and explanation for what happened when I was younger.  It could be necessary and worth it some day, although not now, until I get “done”.  Is this bargaining?

I make no promises, and no specific commitment as to time.  But I see how this could show up down the pike, beyond the visible horizon. 

See Sept. 3, 2011 post for Wikipedia source for second picture. 

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