Friday, January 30, 2015

A public service announcement

I haven't written anything this week on purpose. Most blogs are, by their nature, all about the writer, whether it be day-to-day events or the writer's opinions about something or other.

This week would have been awful for you to read and for me to write, because it was spent anticipating yesterday's date with my doctor. For a colonoscopy.

Now that it's over – and I'm fine, perfectly fine, thankyouverymuch – I'm here to say if you're 50 or older, it's time to schedule one. You may need to have a screening before you're 50, depending on your risk factors. Recommendations here.

I'm in the high-risk category, with a first-degree relative – my mother – having been diagnosed when she was 55. She had surgery and was fine for three more years, but the cancer spread and the last year of her life she endured six different types of chemo. She was four years younger than I am now when she died.
But being in a high-risk category doesn't mean you're always on top of getting these things taken care of, especially when you only have a catastrophic health insurance plan. I've known for several years that I should schedule one, but it's an expensive test, and uncomfortable, and it's much much easier to put it off than to it is to just make the damned call.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, a colonoscopy (along with many other screening procedures) is a covered preventive service under most insurance plans. Mine paid for 100 percent of the cost. That said, I probably would have paid for one had my insurance not covered it, because it has been a while since my last one. And because a friend's husband just got home from the hospital after surgery. For colon cancer. Found during a routine screening.

It's stuff like that that gets you to make the damned call.

I've had three screenings now, beginning when I was 50-ish. All have been normal. Each has been uncomfortable. If you know anyone who's had one, you've heard the prep is worse than the procedure and I won't disagree with that. The prep itself – drinking the mixture – isn't so awful, but the result of the prep is just evil.

Read up on it – Dr. Google has lots of advice on getting through it – and just get it over with. Once it's done, you'll be glad you did it. One more thing checked off the bucket list!

Finally, thanks, Obama … seriously … for making it possible for millions of Americans to get these screenings that help all of us stay healthy. Or healthier.

(And speaking of healthy: The nurse who was prepping me for the operating room was amazed that I don't take medication for anything. Combined with my normal heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen level and bloodwork, she said, "You're pretty darned healthy for a woman your age." I offered that I needed to lose a few pounds, and she said, "We all do, honey, we all do." Heh.)

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