Take care of yourself
An inevitable part of getting older, I suppose, is paying more attention to my health.
Iím not a health nut by any stretch of the imagination. I live on coffee and red meat, and 30 years working as a journalist certainly hasnít benefited my resting heart rate.
Probably the best thing Iíve ever done for my health is not smoking. Lung cancer killed both my parents, and while some folks will tell you that Iím not especially bright, I am smart enough to leave cigarettes alone.
I turned 50 in September and at my next doctorís appointment a couple of months later, I was advised it was time for a colonoscopy because of my age and one other risk factor: I weigh more than I should, guilty as charged.
I got it scheduled for early January but because of some logistics issues I had to reschedule it for last week. I wasnít looking forward to it, of course. I mean, who looks forward to a colonoscopy? I was told, rightly so, that the worst part of the whole process is the preparation the day before.
Iíll spare you the details that Iím sure you can imagine. Iíll just say the prep for me consisted of a liquid diet the day before my procedure, plus drinking a gallon of an awful-tasting liquid that left me with a rumble in my tummy and kept me within very close proximity of my bathroom. Still, it wasnít as bad as I expected.
On the day of the procedure, my son Ryan rode along as I drove to Fayetteville. Once I arrived at the endoscopy clinic I checked in, then waited a short while until I was called back. A nurse hooked up an IV in my hand, and it wasnít long before I was wheeled to the ďprocedure room.Ē
There, a doctor explained the procedure and I signed a consent form. The next thing I remember is waking up to hear the doctor tell me about what he discovered. Turns out, I had multiple polyps, which he removed and sent off for analysis. Apparently, thatís not uncommon and isnít a huge cause for alarm, although Iíll have to be tested more often now.
I canít help but wonder, though, what might have happened if I hadnít had the procedure done. If the doctor hadnít removed those polyps, would I be facing cancer at some point down the line? I canít say for sure, but Iím glad I went through with the procedure. There was a little discomfort with the prep, but I didnít feel a thing during the actual procedure. And afterward, I slept all the way home while Ryan drove, then took another long nap.
More than 50,000 Americans die of colorectal cancer each year. I donít want to be a part of that number. I donít want you to be a part of it, either.
Please, if your doctor advises you to have a colonoscopy, do it. It might just save your life.