This was supposed to be the year of Wellness and Health, but it doesn’t seem to be working out that way. More like hellness and wealth, sans the wealth part. We started the year with an intent to blog about various ways to stay healthy in the workplace, and help influence a healthier workforce. However, early complications for our selected fitness expert put a screeching halt to that.

Despite that setback I have tried to lead by example nonetheless. Sort of. 

I try to take care of myself. I watch (mostly) what I eat. I go to the gym and work with a personal trainer. I drink a bottle of red wine every night so that the resveratrol can keep my arteries shiny and clear, and my liver cancer free. I’ve lost 50 pounds over the last couple years and have kept it off. I do what I can to be a shining example for the world, albeit in a very plain and unimpressive way.

I am, in at least one way, a “typical guy”. I rarely go to a doctor. I came down with Vertigo last February, and although largely recovered, it did lead to a doctors visit, where he pointed out it had been more than 5 years since my last physical. At that prior physical, he had suggested, since I was just 47, that we could skip “the finger”, and we would get to it “next time”.

And he wondered why I hadn’t been back in 5 years. Silly doctor. There wasn’t going to be a next time.

My silly doctor insisted that I schedule another physical, and he of course ordered a multitude of lab tests. During the Vertigo exam he did not like what he heard from my neck with his stethoscope, so he ordered an ultrasound of my carotid artery. And of course, he ordered the dreaded colonoscopy. 

People always make a fuss about those of us who are afraid to have a colonoscopy. They say, “It’s nothing, and you’re asleep. You’ll never feel a thing”. I have one simple response that explains the anxiety some of us feel: Complete strangers lay you out mostly naked on a table, render you unconscious, and snake a camera on a long stick up your butt. It’s prom night all over again. And you thought your drivers license photo sucked.

I know one guy who came out of his procedure with two black eyes. Ever the sensitive and inquisitive soul, I asked “How far up did they stick that thing?” The actual reason was much more mundane. They dropped him off the table in the middle of the procedure. I can’t help but wonder if that photo was available for purchase at the end of the ride.

Do you need further clarification? Seems like a big fuss when I am only 52 years old.

Doctors put far too much emphasis on looking for things that are wrong, if you ask me. I am generally in very good health. Why do I need a physical? A colonoscopy? And the despised prostate exam? This is the same doctor, who during the previously referenced physical thought he felt a “lump” in a very private area of my body. While it ultimately turned out to be nothing, it did lead to an ultrasound story that would make you roll on the floor with laughter if I was drunk enough to tell it. Why do I need any of this?

After all, I am only 52 years old. My father is 93 and still runs two businesses. His father got remarried at 96. Genetically we’ve got this. We’re good.

I have had a very busy year, with extensive travel and pretend make busy work. I ended up delaying and rescheduling my physical and all of the related tests several times. In fact, I finally went to the lab last week, and scheduled the carotid ultrasound for this week. My physical is this week as well, but I still have not scheduled the dreaded colonoscopy.

Not sure why I need any of this. I am only 52 years old. 

And then, Thursday night, my personal trainer, a good man with whom I have worked for two years and whose company I genuinely enjoy, unexpectedly passed away. He just turned 35 last month. I learned the news with a call from his distraught widow, who is 26 years old. They have been married less than 6 months.

Holy crap. I am 52 years old.

I’m on borrowed time. I have a wife. A mortgage. 4 cats. And inadequate life insurance. Time to “sack up” as they say, and do the right thing. I will be scheduling the dreaded but necessary colonoscopy today. Of course, there is no guarantee that when they ask when I would like to schedule it, that I won’t respond with “2019”. But to truly lead by example in the year of Wellness and Health, I need to get this done. 

That goes for the despised prostate exam as well. This week my doctor will be boldly going where no man has gone before. Ironically he does look a little like Patrick Stewart, the actor who portrayed Captain Jean-Luc Picard on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. I hope I don’t think of that and start to giggle during the exam. That is how ugly rumors get started.

It is important to remember that 50,000 people die from colorectal cancer each year. It is the 2nd leading cause of cancer-related death. The good news is, detected early, it is very treatable. If you are 50 or over, you owe it to yourself, your family, and your employer to pose for this photo shoot. 

Don’t be a Bob. After all, it is the year of Wellness and Health, and you’re better than that.

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