Scott Keith
Freelance Writer


stethoscopeTurned 50? Time to See Your Doctor

by Scott Keith

You’ve just turned 50. Lucky you! Perhaps you are battling the mid-life blues and believe the perfect cure is that nifty, but rather pricey sports utility vehicle at the auto dealership down the street. Or you may be dipping into your dwindling checking account to pay for your daughter’s wedding.

Is a visit to the doctor’s office for a physical examination on your “must do” list? If the answer is no, you’re not alone. Men often delay visits to the MD, but after age 50, it’s critical that you and your doctor engage in a brutally honest dialogue, even if it touches on such squeamish subjects as prostate and colorectal health.

I decided years ago to schedule physicals regularly. I don’t have a family history of disease, but I need my doctor to keep track of my vital stats, just in case an odd or abnormal lab result catches his eye. If I develop a symptom, I confess that I rush to a medical website to calm my nerves. Of course web surfing for this purpose can put you at ease or scare the pants off of you. That’s why I need to schedule regular one-on-one sessions with my doctor.

At age 50, my doctor started screening my PSA levels. Hey, prostate exams aren’t full of laughs, but your doctor needs to keep track of potential problems. These exams can catch a cancer in the early stages. Testing your PSA involves a simple blood draw. And while you may want to flee to the clinic hallway upon seeing the “gloved” hand, it’s a small price to pay and will provide your general practitioner with valuable clues.

Then there is the subject nearly everybody wants to avoid – the dreaded colonoscopy. Again, age 50 is when you should start talking with your doctor. Screening begins years earlier, if there is a history of family colorectal disease. My doctor gave me little wiggle room. He insisted I undergo the procedure when I turned 50, and I’m glad he did. Normally, I love to procrastinate, but I wanted to get the colonoscopy over quickly.

The procedure went well. The hospital staff eased my jitters, and I was given ample sedation. The rough part was the day before, when I was allowed only clear liquids to consume. You are given a concoction that cleans your pipes. Do not schedule any nature walks the evening before the procedure!

My doctor did not find any abnormalities, but these procedures can yield clues, such as polyps that need to be removed. These growths can lead to cancer, so the earlier you’re screened the better.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men need routine exams and screenings that include “high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases and cancers of the skin, prostate and colon.”

So if you’ve turned 50, consider that SUV, or ponder the chances of online dating, but schedule that trip to the doctor’s office. It’s the simpler, gentler way.

Article appeared in the May 2007 Edition of Star City Health, a specialty publication of the Lincoln, Nebraska Journal Star Newspaper.

Photo by Adrian Clark: Adrian’s Flickr photo



2 Responses to “Health”

  1. Hi Scott,

    This is a fabulous and really important article. As you know, I work with a lot of business men (and women) who do not pay much attention to their health until things go very wrong. I am thrilled that you are writing about this and teaching us all ~ men and the women who love them ~ how to think about health.

    BRAVO! Linda

  2. Thank you for the kind words Linda. If I can help at least one guy realize the importance of doctor visits, I’ve done my job. -Scott Keith-

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