Once again, I found myself lying on my back in a surgical center waiting for a colonoscopy to be performed and getting to know really 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, a pair of socks and somewhat of a smile, I had time to reflect on what turning older really means to a man.
The reason for taking this exam all began back in October after taking an annual physical and getting a test back that just didn’t look just right. My doctor, who happens to be younger than some of my underwear, suggested I visit my gastrologist for a further exam and did say, “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.
My visit with my gastrologist led to a discussion about my general health. As he made final notes and closed the medical file that contained all of my medical history, he said in a low voice that I’m sure he reserves for his best patients, “It’s been a few years and you are at ‘that age.’ I’m suggesting you have a colonoscopy.”
Then he proceeded to explain, once again, how a colonoscopy is performed. That in itself made me wonder if making the grade of being “that age” was worth it. However, after considering the dangers of not having it done, I agreed to the test.
It is estimated that as many as 60 percent of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented if all men and women aged 50 years or older were screened routinely. In most cases, colorectal cancer develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can find precancerous polyps, which I did have, so that they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening tests also can find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best. There are several tests used to screen for colorectal cancer. Just talk over with your doctor which tests are best for you.
The test itself was not all that bad, but my life had now gone from being a party-animal to being an over-the-hill guy who has a party and the neighbors don’t even realize it. When you have to wake the guests 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 sixty is people no longer view you as a hypochondriac and thinks 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.
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.
– Pettus L. Read is editor of the Tennessee Farm Bureau News and Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org