Adventures In Preventative Health Exams After 50

Today starts the countdown for my first colonoscopy!

I’ve put it off for 2 years but Dr. Oz’s near miss with colon cancer inspired me to finally schedule my own appointment. This little misadventure happens for me this Monday which means we all know what I’ll be doing on Sunday.

Funny that my biggest concern isn’t the prep on Sunday, it’s how I’m going to manage NOT to eat seeds for 4 days-beginning today.  Anyone who’s ever seen me eat knows that berries, tomatoes, flax seeds, and nuts go into my mouth all day.  I’ll bet that if I have any diverticuli they’re like little squirrel cheeks in the fall stuffed with a winter’s storehouse of seeds and nuts.  This is exactly what the gastroenterologist DOES NOT want to see so I’m off seeds and nuts for 4 days, probably for the first time in my life.  Hopefully I won’t pop (why does this word look like ‘poop’ to me as I edit this post-Hello Dr. Freud) some into my mouth before my brain stops me.

Good multitasker that I am, I’ve add to the drama and suspense of my colonoscopy by also planning to swing by the lab Monday morning and have my lipid panel and other screening blood tests drawn. Heck,  I’ll obviously be fasting so it’s the logical time to cross that off the to-do list as well.  But… I’m anxious about those results too.

I’ve always been so careful with my diet and exercise and have this fantasy that I’m in really good health.  Well, now it’s time to find out.  I may be faced with a total reality check next week.  I’m curious, apprehensive, and I’ll let you know how it goes.  My lawyer husband is taking time off work to drive me to all this as part of that ‘for better or worse’ stuff we recited 30 years ago.  You can bet he’s thrilled.  He’s also going to be home Sunday so imagine the fun we’re going to have.

Seriously though, medicine has made great strides in early detection of what used to be serious diseases.  For dermatology, annual skin exams save lives for those folks at high risk for skin cancer.   Gyn exams, mammograms, diabetes and blood pressure screening, bone density exams, full physical exams, prostate screening- they’re all important- especially after 50 when our chances of developing health issues starts to get real.  I’m practicing what I preach and finally getting this big one done.

In the mean time, I take comfort in learning from many of my patients that with a colonoscopy “the drugs are good”. I don’t need to be awake to “feel them blow all that air in there.”  Just yesterday another patient told me that when the anesthesiologist asks me if I want to hear, speak or feel my answer needs to be ‘NO’.  Right on, it takes a village and I’m grateful for all the advice of those who’ve gone before me.

So, happy birthday to me.  This is the modern day right of passage to middle age.  In 4 days it’ll be official, I’m over 50, hopefully I’ll get a clean bill of health and I’ll have my own first hand advice to give.

If you found this helpful, subscribe to my blog -- it's free. I write two articles per week on skin care and skin health and you can have them delivered to your email inbox. Get your skin care information straight from the dermatologist. Join my intelligent skin care revolution. Just enter your email address:


4 Responses to “Adventures In Preventative Health Exams After 50”

  1. Barbara Smothers October 28, 2010 at 6:32 pm #

    Hey there Cynthia,
    Welcome to the colonoscopy club. Now I have to ask, has Frank had one of these delightful tests done? If not, I think that he needs a turn at it. The worst part for Mark and I is drinking that awful, awful drink. I do not know how people keep from throwing it up. From what I understand, some do. ;o( I shudder thinking about it. And you would have to go and show a picture of that jug. I made my husband come in to see the picture of it, just to torment him a little. ;o) Anyway, I hope all went well and that you got a clean bill of health. Say hi to Frank for us. He has been such a good lawyer for us, but don’t tell him that, we do not want him to get a big head over my comment.

    Best to you,

  2. Cynthia October 29, 2010 at 7:40 am #

    Barbara, Funny you should mention Frank and his ‘need’ for a colonoscopy. I’m reading your comment in my kitchen, he is right here eating breakfast (with seeds and nuts that I covet) and I shared your ‘encouragement’. He does need to schedule his test and I love getting your support in reminding him of that. (I’m probably going to have to do the wifely thing and make the appointment for him :) Hmmm, before or after they knock me out might be a good time.) Mine is this coming this Monday so I’ve yet to have all the fun. The prep may scare him off. The jug alone is intimidating which is why I love the photo too.
    Cheers, Cynthia B MD

  3. Barbara Smothers October 29, 2010 at 6:52 pm #

    After you are done with this delightful adventure, be sure to tell Frank how much fun you had and that you are going to make him an appointment as soon as possible, so he does not miss out on all the fun you just experienced. Remember, spouses must share in everything, so as to understand what all one goes through. Ah, the colonoscopy experience is a must for everyone.
    Unfortunately, men do not have to experience the mammogram, which is such a shame, for I am sure they would love it as much as we do. Having a breast smashed and keeping a smile on ones face at the same time is such a challenge, yet if you are able to do that, you should be rewarded in some sort of wonderful way. Now tell Frank, the next time you go through such a trial, and I count the colonoscopy at an even higher level of a trial than the mammogram, he has to take you out for a dinner at the place of your choice and you get to have a very expensive bottle of wine, all to yourself. Yes, this is a must for all women, because men just would never understand. I have always said, if men had babies, there would only be one child per household. Afterall, women are much stronger than men in many things, especially when it comes to birthing. Well, I have rattled on enough. I will be thinking of you this Sunday, knowing that you will get through it like the trouper that you are. Cheers!

  4. Cynthia October 30, 2010 at 8:58 am #

    Barbara, I’ll pass that on! Treats are always good. Cynthia B MD