When you’re over 50, there are lots of things to be happy about. Being alive and healthy is one of them, but there are so many more, such as feeling confident in your own skin, having life experience and knowing what you want in life, having a sense of the bigger picture when things go wrong. There are some things that aren’t so great.
Last week, we were sitting on our deck, enjoying our breakfast. I was thinking about the week ahead and how much I was looking forward to it. Everything seemed to be falling into place. The kids are doing well. I’m on the last week of a medication I’ve been taking and I’ll be able to enjoy my wine again when it’s done. We’ve got tickets to a Broadway medley at the drama society on Thursday. I’m expecting a couple of good friends to visit while on their cruise next month.
The phone rang and I was reminded of one of those things after 50 that isn’t so pleasant. You’re supposed to have a colonoscopy. I never thought about this until about a year before we left Canada. I went to see the doctor and got my referral, did my F.I.T (fecal immunochemical test) and waited. At that time in Calgary, people were waiting 3 years for their appointments. There was a queue jumping scandal, with whistle blowers and everything! I didn’t really expect to get in that soon.
My FIT was fine. I waited and over the course of a very stressful year which I may already have described, we packed up and/or gave away the contents of our twenty-one year life in our home, sold our house and moved out of the country. Not long after, I received the forwarded mail from Alberta Health telling me the date of my colonoscopy, which was months away. I had to cancel. I was no longer living in Alberta or covered by Alberta Health Care.
I saw my doctor here and she made another referral to the clinic in Cayman. The gastroenterologist comes to the island once a month. I waited. I made some trips. I had foot surgery. Several months had gone by. I finally called the clinic and they didn’t have my referral. Perhaps it was lost. I saw my doctor again and she submitted the referral again.
When the phone rang last week, it was the clinic calling with an appointment for me, this Thursday. Thursday! By the time I finish my medication, I’ll be on the preparation for the colonoscopy. I’ll have to miss the show at the drama society.
Right now, I’m doing something I’ve never done, follow a low fibre diet! Then I’m going to take something that will make me poop out everything. I’ll be “cleaned out” for the scope. Yuck! To me it’s ironic that I have to stop eating fibre, then take something to help me get “cleaned out”. The other irony is that a high fibre diet is preventive for colon cancer.
I can’t take Advil or aspirin or anything related. Since I’m still on medication, I also can’t take acetaminophen. This has been a challenge. Not only has my neck been sore lately, likely from the break from swimming during my recent cold, but my foot is sore. My foot which recently underwent surgery isn’t sore. It’s doing quite well, as it should 3 months post op. My other foot is sore.
So these are the things, the aches and pains and unpleasant procedures that come with being over 50. The sudden deaths of friends rather sucks, too, but that puts it all in perspective. I’m happy to be alive and relatively healthy.
Tomorrow, I’ll have breakfast then I’ll be on a clear fluid diet until after the colonoscopy. I’ve stocked up on Jello, ginger-ale, iced tea and coconut water. How fortunate for me that I’m doing my procedure here, so I can drink fresh coconut water.
The other benefit of having the procedure here is the preparation. I only have to drink a 5 ounce solution of Pico-Salax twice rather than the copious amounts of Colyte that is used in Canada. The hours spent in the bathroom are probably about the same. It makes me look forward to my next foot surgery.
Oh, and I’ll also have to wait a few more days before I can enjoy a glass of wine. I’ve only been on the low fibre diet for 2 days and I’m already craving a salad with nuts and seeds and fresh fruit, or a nice vegetable stir fry. This might cure me of my addiction to the baguettes that I have to buy just because they’re hot and fresh.
No matter how unpleasant this all is, most of my friends and family over 50 have gone through it. It could be worse. I could be forced to watch another presidential debate.