A Health Conscious Female Looks at 50

I’m going to end up spending the majority of this month going for tests, not because I’m sick or there’s a lump, or fatigue, or sores that won’t heal, or a changing mole. Just because I’m turning 50.

I went for my annual doctor visit last week. {Excuse me, but if you’re a man reading this and you’re sensitive about these things, stop reading and go watch Sports Center. Not that I’m going to be graphic or gross, but some men want to continue to live in a dream world in which their prostate exam is the most undignified thing that could happen to a human. If you want to continue along those lines and don’t want to admit that women are the crash dummies of the medical field, stop reading now.}

This was a big doctor visit, because of this upcoming birthday. This was the year the doctor stopped smiling during our visit, stopped complimenting me on my good blood pressure and no longer mentioned that I have a runner’s heartbeat. She focused a lot on the negatives and the possibilities of things going wrong with my body.

“Have you ever had a full body scan?” she whined.

“Well, in what way?” I was pretty sure that when I was delivering my babies, I was completely naked when the medical students came trooping in and I think they all got a pretty good look.

The whole exam last week was just not the same as when I was in my 30s and 40s. Everything was so serious. I started to laugh for a few minutes over the sign the doctor had posted on the ceiling:

Why Husbands Shouldn't Take Phone Messages:


The Gyna Colleges called. The Pabst Beer is fine. I didn't know you liked beer."

But while I was laughing, the doctor cut in with: “Have you started to have night sweats yet? Mood swings? Do you bruise easily? Any blood in your stool?”

Oh, she’s a party in scrubs, this one.

So this week I have to make appointments to have a dermatologist look over every square inch of my body for moles that look suspicious. I have to have my blood, pee and poop all looked at under a microscope. (I’m thinking about leaving some tears, sweat and spit there while I’m at it, just to cover all the body fluids.) While I’m having my annual mammogram done, I have to have a bone density test. And the fifth and final indignity – I have to have a colonoscopy. I’m pretty sure most of these tests involve some fasting ahead of time, which at my age is brutal. Just brutal. I’m in no shape to stop doing anything, my self-discipline has shriveled up and disappeared, and I can’t go two hours without having some coffee with 2 percent milk.

The last six people that I told that I’m turning 50 responded by telling me the news that I’m going to have to have a colonoscopy. (Although the infantile people I hang with call it “the roto rooter.”) I actually considered just not doing it. They can’t make you have a colonoscopy. I know lots of people who are older than me and have never had a preventative or precautionary test done ever. They can’t force you. They’re not the boss of you.

But I made the appointment anyway. It’s in December 2012, but it’s on the calendar, so just shut up. By then, the melanoma and osteoporosis may require that I give up drinking coffee anyway. I’ll just call for the senior bus to pick me up and drop me there.

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