If You Hear Hoof Beats Look for Horses, Not Zebras

Aging sucks.

That’s it, that’s the post.




No. Wait, maybe I should expand on that.

First, what is the headline all about? In medical school it is taught, so I am told, that when a doctor seeks to make a diagnosis he should look for a common explanation for the symptoms, not an exotic one. In short, look for horses, not zebras; not every case need be referred to Dr. House.


The last few days I’ve been jabbering on about my heartbeat, heart palpitations, symptoms, causes, treatment and addressing the roots. One thing I haven’t yet mentioned is a side complaint that I’ve found often comes along with the palpitations.

Chest pain.

See, for much of Saturday, along with the palpitations, I had a sharp, pinching pain in the left side of my chest…riiiiight beside my heart.

What does this have to do with aging? Well, when you’re 20 and you have a pain in your chest you think, “Huh, must have overdone it and tweaked a muscle or something.” When you’re in your 50’s you think, “Oh my God, heart attack, I’m gonna DIEEEE.”

Fortunately, with age also come experience and perspective. For instance, when one of the kids is sick, say with a cough and a fever, you don’t think:

Oh my God, Wuhan virus.

You apply the hoof beats principle and think:

Oh, poor little guy has a stomach bug of some sort. Get the Advil and cough medicine, check him in the night to make sure his fever isn’t too bad.

If I can apply that to your kids, whose lives you value far more than my own, and then consider that I just had a full physical with:

  • Blood work all perfect
  • Heart rate excellent
  • Blood pressure slightly elevated due to age and genetics

And further I;

  • Don’t smoke
  • Don’t drink
  • Exercise 3 – 4 times per week and am in excellent shape

Then, with the perspective of age and in consideration of the above, I remember that I’ve felt that same pain in my chest in the past and I apply the hoof beats principle. I think back and realize every time I’ve felt it I’d done something overly physical to cause some muscle tension.

And conclude, this sucks, but no big deal.

And then, in consideration it happens a lot more now than it did in my twenties, I must conclude further that:

Aging sucks.

There. Now THAT’S the post.