It’s not quite 5 a.m. and I did not sleep much last night. I have the sixth of eight glasses of a powdered laxative and sports drink combination at my side as I write. My fast is almost 24 hours old. The stool softener helped the process, but the stomach cramps are annoying.
If you’re over 50, you recognize this as the “Hooray, It’s Colonoscopy Day” preparation.
There are things you do to stay healthy, standard stuff throughout your life. Eat right, exercise regularly, don’t smoke, don’t do illegal drugs, consume alcohol in moderation. Those cautions have been around as long as food, drink, drugs, tobacco and tempting comfy couches have existed. But we have other temptations now, such as the “digital heroin” of smartphone addiction, online gaming, relentless consumer spending. We don’t think of those as unhealthy because they don’t bring on a fever, chills or a cough. But they impact our lives negatively as well.
Then there’s the endless testing and checkups that increase as you get older. Blood work, screenings, vaccinations, mammograms. And body parts aren’t what they used to be.
Teeth crack and fillings don’t fill anymore and fall out. Bruising happens more easily. Cuts that used to heal in two or three days take a week now. And don’t get me started on sore muscles. I have more salves, balms and potions to fight this malady than my local drug store.
But the colonoscopy prep, although the protocol has changed in recent years, is still hard on an older body. But I’m grateful I’m not an older, sicker or diabetic individual, for whom this test is probably more torture than test. And having the test is better than finding out later that your colorectal cancer developed (as it almost always does) from precancerous polyps, easily detected and removed during a colonoscopy. Only two-thirds of Americans age 50 and older are up-to-date on their screenings. Are you? If not, get it done; if you’re underinsured, free and low-cost screening options are available. After all, I hate to drink this stuff alone.