The pain started in my back. I just woke up one morning, started to get out of bed, and screamed. Over the next few days the discomfort moved down through my hip and into my leg. After a week it had gotten so bad I could hardly walk. I, of course, was trying to tough it out.
While trying to put on a brave face, I wondered privately what horrible, debilitating disease I had contracted. Was this how my life would be from now on? How would I make a living? Surfing the internet I looked up everything from polio to muscular degeneration. Almost everything I found seemed to have at least some of my symptoms.
As the pain continued, it got hard to stand upright. When I could move about, it was with a pronounced limp. Once, my leg buckled and I fell. Sleep was fitful at best; I tossed and turned all night. The worries mounted along with the fatigue.
When I finally went to the doctor, it turned out to be sciatica. He explained what was wrong and assured me in a few weeks, at most, I’d be fine. Thanks to medications, acupuncture treatments, and massage, I started feeling better. Both my wife and I slept through the first night in what seemed like an eternity.
Along with the relief from the pain, came release from my worrying. As with so many things, my fear of what might be wrong turned out far worse than the actual problem. It also caused me to suffer needlessly as I delayed seeing the doctor. As much as I wanted help with my problem, I didn’t want to have my worst fears confirmed. It took symptoms getting far worse than necessary for me to seek help.
When I called clients to reschedule appointments, many shared similar experiences with me. It seems, among retirees some form of discomfort is almost universal. If a person hadn’t been troubled, his or her partner had.
Part of aging is dealing with pain and the fear of losing our health and independence. Often this fear is greater than the actual problems we face. As I turn sixty, I am learning that it takes certain kind of courage to deal with health issues earlier rather than later. I’m also discovering that, while a lot can go wrong, it doesn’t have to. Early diagnosis also means early treatment.
Aging in Place, it doesn’t happen by accident.

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About the author

Scott Funk has specialized in Home Equity Conversion Mortgage reverse mortgages for over a decade. He is a recognized Aging in Place advocate in his home state of Vermont. His monthly newspaper column Aging in Place has run for 7 years in 24 papers around the state. Scott is brings a lighthearted approach to his talks on Boomers, retirement and aging on purpose.