Adventures In Preventative Health Exams After 50

Cynthia Bailey, MD|October 28, 2010

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.

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