Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Joys of Aging

By Annette Dashofy

As you are reading this, my hubby is either about to have, is having, or has just had his first colonoscopy. My hubby also hates, hates, HATES when I include him in my blogs or worse yet, blog ABOUT him, so we’ll leave him out of it from here on. Instead, we’ll just discuss the joys of getting older.


As we age, there are certain “milestone” birthdays that trigger doctors’ test-giving endorphins. At thirty-five, I was told I had to have a base-line mammogram. After forty, I had to get one every year. Lately, it’s become every six months and other, newer, more accurate tests have been added to the curriculum. This month, I had a magnified mammogram, a BSGI test (mammogram with radiation) and I’m having a needle biopsy to remove some calcification which no one thinks are anything, but they don’t belong there. Oh, joy.

Did you catch the keyword there? Needle?

Why are there always needles?

Still I’d rather have all this done than go through the prep for a colonoscopy. We won’t go into details. You can probably figure it out.

Apparently the fiftieth birthday is the one where the medical profession has designated as time to screen your colon. Guess which birthday the person in the first paragraph (who shall remain nameless and not mentioned in any form online) recently passed. Actually, he put it off a year, so add one year to that BIG birthday.

I, on the other hand, intend to remain 49 for several more years. Not because I’m vain. But because I don’t want the doctors to get that gleeful look in their eyes as they pull out the prescription pad to order that twenty-gallon drum of toxic sludge that does horrific things to your body.

No, no. I am NOT turning 50 this summer. Absolutely not. Where would you get such an idea? All of my earlier medical charts must have my year of birth wrong.

And if they don’t buy that, well, they’ll have to catch me first. I’m pretty fast for an old broad.


Jay Speyerer said...

My doctor ordered some tests for no other reason than the fact that I turned 60. That's profiling, and that's wrong.

Annette said...

Jay, I hadn't thought of it as profiling, but now that you mention it...

Progress report: the somewhat crabby patient is in the procedure room awaiting his turn.

The hospital provides these cool two-way radio things that you clip on you shirt and they keep you posted without you having to stay in the waiting room. Pretty cool. I need one to clip on my mom when we go shopping.

Joyce Tremel said...

I just had a physical last week because I hadn't had one in at least five years. (In my defense, I do get my yearly gyne exams.) When the PA told me I should get a colonoscopy, my response was "when hell freezes over." My older sister, the retired nurse started nagging me about it last year and I told her the same thing.

Cynic that I am, I think they order this stuff purely for the cash.

For the record, I'm perfectly healthy. The EKG was perfect, my blood pressure was 118/56, and my cholesterol is lower than my kid's.

My colon can wait.

Annette said...

Update: the procedure is over and I'm waiting to talk to the doctor.

And, Joyce, I am definitely with you. If we put it off long enough, they will CERTAINLY come up with a better way of doing things.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Annette. All I can say about getting older is, "It beats the alternative."

Jenna said...

Colonoscopies are no big deal. I started them around 30. Now, my insurance won't cover them until I'm 50, so I can't have any more for a few years. Personally, I think that's wrong. If you're willing to go through that, as a purely preventative measure, and you're paying your (outrageous) insurance premiums every months, they should let you do it and pay their share.

I'm with Will. It beats the alternative.

Karen in Ohio said...

My first colonoscopy was in my mid-thirties. It really isn't a big deal, and I'm usually out for mine, or at least in such deep twilight sleep that I can't recall a thing. The prep is unsavory, but it's not that bad. Childbirth is way worse.

And you know what else is worse? Having colon cancer and dying a horrible death from it. Just saying.

My husband dragged his out for so long that his doctor's office finally scheduled one and ordered him to go. He's super healthy, almost 60, and takes no pills, can do hard physical labor all day without taking a nap, and sleeps well at night. Well, the joke was on him. He turned out to have diverticulosis, and it's a good thing they caught it when they did, because diverticulitis is no fun.

This is a guy who eats a ton of fresh fruit, and nearly always has a salad, plus he eats fiber cereal for breakfast. But he still does not get enough fiber. Frankly, I don't think he drinks enough liquid, but that's me. Once the condition crosses over into diverticulitis you can't eat anything with seeds, not even a tomato, without excruciating pain.

So get the procedure, Joyce. You won't have to have another one, if all goes well, for ten years. But it's good to know you don't have something sinister lurking deep inside your body that could take you down, and painfully.

This is your colonoscopy public service announcement.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

I'm not sure why I'm writing this, but in 1981 I lost my Father to colon cancer. Over the period of 6 months he wasted away, going from a muscular 175 pound ironworker to a 110 pound skin and bones invalid.

I've been on the three year plan since I've been 45 years old. After 4 exams I've had one polyp (spelling?) but the image of the fraile man that died at the age of 56 burns in my memory. I know what I went through and I don't want my daughters to suffer the same thing.

Joyce, if not for yourself, think of the people around you who love you. Do it for them.

Annette said...

Okay you guys have made a good point.

Progress report: All is well. The only thing they found were hemorrhoids. And we knew about them. We're home and the patient has crawled back into bed to sleep it off.

As for the prep not being bad? Hmm. I watched him turn several shades of green while trying to get the stuff down and he even threw up a couple of times. I guess it depends on what stuff they give you.

I don't want what he had.

I don't want colon cancer either.

Let me get over watching what he went through and we'll talk again.

Annette said...

Oh! And I agree that getting older beats the alternative. I'm just saying that I'm going to fudge the numbers a bit.

Joyce Tremel said...

Thanks for the public service announcements, but I'm still not doing it until I absolutely have to.

Childbirth was a breeze to me--and I had two nine pound babies. I always say I'd rather deliver a dozen babies than be nauseated for even five minutes. And I've only had anesthesia once (for oral surgery) and I hated that, too.

Patg said...

I finally did one this year after several years of nagging from doctors. It went well at first with the stuff 'ya gotta get down', but the day of, I fainted twice and threw up too. If I lost 6 ounces from not having solid food, I gained two pounds from the stuffing that came the day after.
They did find a pallop (sp), so I guess it was worth it, however insurance is weird. Covered all the procedure with nothing but a co payment, but I got hit with all the lab bills.
my verification word in bumpr.

Sara said...

Does hubby appreciate that you mentioned him and hemorrhoids together in the same post?
Now *that* could shorten your life expectancy!

Annette said...

What Hubby doesn't know won't hurt me.

queenofmean said...

I've had a couple of colonoscopies & agree the procedure is the easy part. It's the prep that's bad. I always joke that the directions tell you to stay near a bathroom. I think they should say to stay IN the bathroom.
I haven't had any major health problems, but with the age thing over the past few years, I don't believe there is a part of my body that hasn't been poked, probed or tested.
Can't agree more that I prefer getting older to the alternative.