Friday, June 16, 2017

June 16, 2017--Midcoast: Colonoscopies

It used to take at least a half hour before any of us would mention colonoscopes. Now we get to it right away. Even before we are served our first cup of coffee.

Just yesterday we not only talked about them but also bladder infections, melanoma, detached retinas, atrial fibrillation, shingles, abscessed molars, Hashimoto's Disease, and kidney stones.

And of course we share health insurance, doctor, and hospital stories. Few of them good.

My colonoscopy story was about my recent visit to a new internist. After taking my medical history and giving me a thorough examination, including a cardiogram, when he was done, he told me things look pretty good except for a heart murmur and my right hand tremors.

Ignoring that for a moment, I asked him about a colonoscopy. "I haven't had one in a few years," I said, "So maybe it's time . . ."

Before I could complete my thought, he said, "At your age we no longer recommend colonoscopies (he's a gastroenterologist no less) because no matter what we might find, at your age, you'll die of something else."

In a way that sounded good, but in truth, on reflection, not really.

I said, "I guess that gives me something to look forward to. Dying soon."

He doesn't have much of a sense of humor, or maybe his waiting room was full of patients and he didn't have time to schmooze, and so he barely smiled.

The cardiologist and neurologist he referred me too said pretty much the same thing--about the murmur, something else will get me before it becomes a problem; and the same for the tremor--"I'll write you a prescription for L-Dopa," he said, "And we'll hope for the best." He hardly needed to add, "that you'll die before . . ."

I stopped listening.

When I told the story to friends at the diner yesterday, one said, "This reminds me of a joke." We all groaned. Lou is not known to be a good joke teller. Undeterred though, he began, "Morty goes to his doctor who gives him his annual physical. When he's done, Morty asks, 'So how did I do?'

"The doctor says, 'Ten.'

 Confused, Morty asks, "'Ten what?' Years? Months? Days?'

"The doctor says, 'Nine, eight, seven, six . . .'"

Not that bad a joke from Lou.

And of course everyone either has a new set of hearing aids or is about to get them. And so there's a lot of breakfast talk about that.

"Why do we always seem to be talking about medical issues?" Rona wondered. We were driving to the pharmacy to get my L-Dopa prescription refilled.

"Isn't it obvious?" I said. "We're all getting on in years and stuff happens."

"Wouldn't you think . . ." she began.

"And don't forget that Maine has the oldest population of all the 50 states. And our county, Lincoln, demographically, has the nation's oldest residence."

The next time we were at Deb's Bristol Diner, when even before the waitress arrived to take our order, Jim began to talk about his diabetes numbers, I said, "Not to sound unsympathetic, but maybe we should try to talk about something not medical."

Jim who is not the sensitive type, without attitude, said, "What would you recommend?"

"Maybe a book or gardening or maybe Donald Trump."

He said, "I rather have a colonoscopy."


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