Getting Old(er)

That's a good idea of how I felt at time, just a little amuck amongst the sea of medical stuff. In June of 2005 while thinking about retirement I decided to get a complete physical. I found an excellent family physician who is an excellent listener and better explainer. While doctors write complete information in your file, they rarely give you a full explanation. She literally walked me through the results of every test including reading the specialists' comments. And when she schedules an appointment for an hour, you get her attention for the entire time, not a few minutes, diagnose, prescribe, and on to the next patient.

Anyway, she ran me through a battery of tests for someone of my age, some I haven't had in years, ok decades, and some I've never had. It was both an education on medical technology and myself. And so I'll explain.

The first and obvious test was the blood test, and in my case, two, as the cholesterol test had to be redone because I ate to soon before the test. Needless to say I have a slightly higher than normal total cholesterol but a lot higher than normal good cholesterol, meaning the ratio was good. This means it's serious but not that serious, just something to watch each year.

The second were a set of tests on my heart, and here is where it got really interesting. The first was the common EKG test where they stick those sensors around your chest and record for a few minutes. The next test was a heart ultrasound, those test normally done on pregnant women, but now used for hearts. You literally get to see your heart on the monitor, every beat, each chamber, the blood flow, and more. They can add colors for parts and make a 3D view. And they record it on DVD.

The other part of the heart test was a 24-hour monitor. Over the years I've discovered my heart rate gets ahead of itself, racing faster than the body can deal with. So they put me on a 5 sensor 24-hour monitor and have me stress it by running. It records continuously and when downloaded produces a continuous chart of every second of my day. And sure enough, it showed when I stress my heart, it races to over 180 beats in seconds and within minutes returns to normal. She explained it that my brain has an extra connection to the heart accelerating it faster than normal.

The third test is the one no one likes to talk about, a colonoscopy. I had one in the early 1980's for a condition from the intestinal flu going around at the time. But since then, the technology has significantly improved, where they use fiberoptics and video recorders, and yes a DVD of my entire lower intestinal tract. There's a whole column there - ok, yucky, and so I'll leave it at that except to say I'm ok.

In the end my physician sat down with me and went over every test, every specialist's results to her, and every advice she could give. The answer? Just like the cardiologist said, "There's nothing stopping you from doing what you want, so go have a life." What could be better to someone at 55?

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