Tuesday, August 11, 2015
That Time Of Life
This post will be about some bodily functions and indelicate treatments of them. If you are offended by them you should probably not read further.
As I began to get older I knew there would be changes in my body and hopefully not as many in my mind. It happens to everybody and is the natural way.
For instance I read once that as a person nears the age of 40 he/she is more likely to need bifocal eyeglasses. Wouldn't you know it... the year I turned 40 I had to get bifocals.
For women and some men mammograms become a routine test. This is one of those necessary evils to try to catch any abnormalities in the breast that may indicate cancer. If cancer is found soon enough it is easier to treat and easier to beat.
During a mammogram the technician places the breast onto a flat shelf. The patient turns herself into a pretzel to pose in the proper position. Then another flat piece comes down onto the top of the breast and presses it flat. Apparently that enables the x-ray to see as much tissue as possible. Then the procedure is repeated with the other side.
If your technician is good there is little pain. Mostly it is uncomfortable and quite humiliating. And most of the time the results will show nothing of concern. Then you wonder why you even had to bother with it at all.
After a certain age men must begin having a prostate exam periodically. I know little about the prostate so I only mention it because I want you to know I understand that men have their own set of problems. I will let someone else write about the indignities of this type of examination.
When women become of child bearing age they also become of age for that most pleasant exam of all... the pelvic exam. We are placed on an extremely uncomfortable hard table and asked to lie down and scoot to the lower end of the table so our bottom is right at the edge.
Our feet are placed into stirrups to lift them out of the way. Those parts of our bodies that we have been taught to keep to ourselves are splayed wide open for anyone to see.
Then the doctor puts on plastic gloves with a bit of lubricant on them. He/she proceeds to delve into all places that are available for delving. While delving the doctor will palpate the abdomen to make sure all the parts are in place and that there are no extras.
Once while in this extremely flattering position the doctor asked me, "How old did you say you are?" I told him. "Funny... you don't look that old."????????????????
Another test they do is a Pap smear. While you are "in the stirrups" they use a combination of tools that look like medieval torture devices. The final outcome is that they snip a bit of tissue from your cervix. It is sent to a lab to test for cancerous cells.
As the test is performed the doctor will invariably say, "Okay, now you will feel a little pinch." That little pinch can feel like a little pinch or a full-blown cramp or something in between. Any way it feels you do feel it. But again it is better to know whether there is something there to treat.
I hate to even talk about a colonoscopy. It is by far the worst of these tests. You must not eat anything other than broth or jello (no red or grape) and drink only water the day before the test.
In the evening you must drink the most vile concoction ever introduced to mankind. Several doses of it. Then a little more. This stuff is a severe laxative designed to clean every last trace of anything ever present in your intestine. It works!
The following morning bright and early you report to the hospital for the procedure itself. You are given a sedative to relax you and taken to the room where the procedure is performed.
When the doctor comes in you are placed into what they call a twilight sleep. In actuality you are asleep. It just is not as strong as an anesthetic for a major operation.
Then the doctor uses a camera that is on a long tube and inserts it into the proper orifice. This tube also shoots air into the intestine to puff it up like a balloon.
So the doctor looks all around in a place that no one should have to see. If he sees anything interesting he takes a picture. If it is really interesting he takes a sample to biopsy. If there are polyps (which most often will become cancerous) he will remove them and send them for biopsy too.
Probably the most embarrassing part of this invasion comes afterward when you are recovering from the anesthesia. Because the intestine was filled with air that air must be expelled. The nurse must witness this expulsion or it does not count. And all this time you hear your mother telling you not to do it because it is not a nice thing to do. Mom makes it take longer.
Perhaps the final indignity for women is menopause. It is the cessation of menses. Women have a monthly cycle during the years they are able to have children. Menopause is the end of that cycle.
I was not particularly concerned about that time of my life. I had made certain that I would bear no more children years before, many years before. My mother had been through it with no ill effects. Both my sisters had surgeries that forced them into early menopause. Neither had any problems.
I expected an easy time of it. I was right. Genetics perhaps. I do not know but it was not as hard for me as I saw it was for other women.
At any rate my doctor began way before time to try to get me to take estrogen replacement. Now I know that estrogen is a hormone found in the body. I also know that too much of some hormones can cause cancer. I kept refusing that treatment. I felt I did not need it.
Once the doctor asked me why I did not want to take the nice little pills. I told him that I knew that tall large-boned females had fewer problems. I did not want it.
Finally he said, "Can you guarantee me that you are not going to have a heart attack?" I answered, "Can you guarantee that I will not get cancer?" I never needed the estrogen.
I guess the best thing I can say about all this gunk that I have subjected you to is know your own body. Get the necessary tests to make sure that if there are potential problems they can be treated before treatment will not help. I drink to your health!