by Pettus Read
While recently lying on my back in a surgical center waiting for a routine colonoscopy to be performed, I got to know real well a group of acoustical tile ceiling panels located over my surgery cart. As I lay there with nothing on but a hospital gown, a thin sheet and somewhat of a smile, I had time to reflect on what turning a half century really means to a man.
The reason for taking this routine exam all began back in January after taking an annual physical. After my doctor, who happens to be younger than some of my underwear, completed checking me out from head to toe and finding nothing out of the ordinary, he made a statement that to this day still rings in my ears. He said, "Everything looks okay, but you have reached that age."
"That age!" Does he not realize that my reaching "that age" is the reason he has employment. I understand that my being "that age" is due a lot to his help, but I have worked hard to get to "that age." My investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off and my secrets are safe with my friends because they can't remember them either, all because they have reached "that age" also.
Our discussion continued on about my health as he made final notes and closed the medical file that contained all of my medical history. Then in a low voice that I'm sure he reserves for using not only for his patients but during tee time on the golf course as well, he said, "You are now over fifty years of age and I'm suggesting you have a colonoscopy."
Then he proceeded to explain how a colonoscopy is performed. That in itself made me wonder if making the grade of being 50 was worth it. However, after considering the dangers of not having it done, I agreed to the test.
In the United States alone, 106,000 people will be found with colon cancer this year. Colon cancer this year will kill 57,000 people in the United States and is the second leading cause of cancer death. But, with early screening, over 90 percent of those detected with early stages of cancer can be cured.
Those figures alone were enough to convince me to have the test. Screening tests are used to spot a disease early, before you have symptoms or if you have a history of that disease. If you are over the age of 50, colorectal screening is a good idea. Screening for colorectal cancer means it can be found at an early curable stage, and it can also be prevented by finding and removing polyps that might eventually become cancerous. There are several tests used to screen for colorectal cancer. Just talk over with your doctor which is best for you.
The test itself was not all that bad, but my life had now gone from being a party-animal to being a over-the-hill guy who has a party and the neighbors don't even realize it. When you have to wake the guest up when it is time to go home, you know your party is less than exciting.
Of course, I never was much of a party animal. In fact, my idea of a really good time is eating two hot dogs at the tractor-pull rather than one. I do live somewhat on the dangerous side you know.
The good part about being over fifty is people no longer view you as a hypochondriac and think your ailments are real rather than in your head. It is also good to know that if I am ever in a hostage situation I'm more likely to be released first.
There are some scary parts about a colonoscopy though. They do put you under and you wake up about 30 minutes later fully clothed and ready to go home. My concern was who dressed me? When I went in that room for the test I was only wearing what God gave me in the first place, and to wake up with all my clothes on sort of shocked my modesty level.
For your family and your own health, take the test. It could save your life and give you the opportunity to hear the words "you're of that age" even more often.