Thursday, June 19, 2014

My 1st Colonoscopy Screening

Photo by Merfam.
This post is part of a three-part series on my first colonoscopy.  See this post about the risks and this post about the preparation stage

I know these are detailed posts, but some people have anxiety if they don't know what to expect. 

I took good notes so that I could be a tour guide.  

After people turn 50, they are encouraged to get a colonoscopy screening every 10 years.

Because I am in my early 50s, my general practitioner encouraged me to get a colonoscopy. People who have blazed the trail before me have talked about the discomfort and oddity of this procedure.

I am here to report that my experience was not that bad.

Sure, it was a bit unpleasant, and it was all consuming. But I read a great deal before, and I talked with a few friends.  Being prepared made it less of an ordeal for me. Plus I had no complication.  More importantly, the results told me that the screening found no polyps, no diverticulosis and no diverticulitis. Hooray!

The procedure itself only lasted 10-15 minutes, but I was in the surgical center for about 90 minutes before it was my turn. Here are the details from the day of my screening:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Aches & Pains

Photo by Telstar Logistics.
My husband isn't very mechanical. He prefers to spend his disposable income on books or computer equipment--not on his car.

So when his car starts to rattle, squeak or lurch, what is his solution? Does he take his car to the mechanic?

No. He simply turns up the radio.

Some people take a similar approach when their own bodies start to show signs of "engine" trouble. They don't want to see a doctor because they are afraid it will be bad news leading to extra expenses or even some time admitted into the hospital so that the doctors can really get a good look under the hood and put in some new parts.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Longevity & The Big Five

Photo by Rob Nguyen.
As a gerontologist, I frequently come across questions about what factors correlate with longevity?

Even in the popular press, I run regularly run across interviews of centenarians and supercentenarians who are asked, "What is the secret of living a long life?"

Their answers are varied and often include a claim that a certain food or beverage gives them super aging powers. 

While I am very charmed by interviews, I read evidenced-based research with a little more attention. 

There are a handful of studies that suggest the Big Five Personality Traits influence longevity. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Prep Not the Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy Prep Items 
It's the prep, it's not the colonoscopy.

I've heard that from many people who have had a colonoscopy. And now I know this is true. But I can also tell you, that the prep was only challenging for about two hours.

And because I read various accounts prior, I was ready.  It really wasn't that bad.

[Note: I am not a licensed medical professional. If you are preparing for a colonoscopy, follow your doctor's instructions, which might differ.]

Because I had a colonoscopy scheduled for Monday, June 9th at 9 am, I had instructions to start my prep at noon the day before.

Briefly stated, the prep took place in five stages:

12 noon to 3 pm: Three hours of ingesting of the majority of the prep items with fairly passive emptying of my bowels starting at the end of this stage.

3 pm to 5 pm: Two hours of active emptying of my bowels.

5 pm to 11 pm: Six hours of moderate emptying of my bowels.

11 pm to 5 am: Six hours of sleep.  (No liquids after midnight or until my screening was complete.)

5 am to 10:30 am: Five and a half hours of waiting in the morning (at home and at the surgery center) until my scheduled screening.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Gift of Years: A Review

Published January 1, 2008. 
Aging provides opportunities for growth, and Chittister describes numerous ways people can develop during late life.

Her book The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully is a series of meditations on the following topics:

Intro:The Purpose of Life, Regret, Meaning, Fear, Ageism, Joy, Authority, Transformation, Newness, Accomplishment, Possibility, Adjustment, Fulfillment, Mystery, Relationships, Tale-Telling, Letting Go, Learning, Religion, Freedom, Success, Time, Wisdom, Sadness, Dreams, Limitations, Solitude, Productivity, Memories, Future, Agelessness, Immediacy, Nostalgia, Spirituality, Loneliness, Forgiveness, Outreach, The Present, Appreciation, Faith, Legacy, Afterword: The Twilight Time.

I recommend just one chapter a week, taking one page a day and thinking about the implications of the ideas. The author doesn't provide a lot of specifics. The book is mainly a set of abstractions. However, they can bear fruit if readers generate their own examples.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Books about Dementia

Books by Mace/Rabins, Stettinius, & Shouse.
Even though my approach to aging is pretty broad, I have a persistent interest in cognition.

Not only do I read about healthy, normal, age-related changes to the brain, I also read about change caused by disease.

I am particularly interested in how dementia* changes a person's cognition and how caregivers respond.

[See this post about the terminology change favoring Neurocognitive Disorder over dementia.]

I have read more than two dozen books ranging from memoirs to reference books, and I hope to read many more. 

Here are some quick reviews of some of these books with links to longer reviews.  Most recent releases listed at the top of each category (aka reverse chronology). I heartily welcome recommendations of related titles in the comments section.

Last Updated March 2018 to add Carpenter's Healing Dementia (2017) and Agronin's The Dementia Caregiver (2016). 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The End of Your Life Book Club: Book Review

Published October 2, 2012. 
As a retired English teacher, I enjoy fiction that focuses on books. I even have a virtual bookshelf on Goodreads that I call "books about books."

So it wasn't much of a stretch for me to be drawn to Schwalbe's memoir, The End of Your Life Book Club.

Will Schwalbe and his mother Mary Ann Schwalbe are avid readers and have been so for their entire lives. They had often recommend books to each other and talked to each other about them a little.

But when they started spending a lot of time together in waiting rooms, their casual comments developed into a more purposeful act. They formed a book club of two.

The catalyst? Mary Ann was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given just six months to live. It was too difficult to talk about the end of her life. Instead, this mother-son pair found a way to talk about the most important matters about life.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Why Get a Colonoscopy?

Photo by Hey Paul Studios.
(Note: I am not authorized to give medical advice or prescribe treatment. This post is only for raising awareness of the issue and sharing my personal experience.  If you have a concern about your health, see your general physician or another licensed medical professional.)

Crap.  I have to get a colonoscopy. 

Actually, I'm 2.5 years behind schedule.  The guidelines are to have one at age 50, one at 60, and one at 70.  After age 75, the procedure can be a bit harsh on the aging intestinal system and is generally not recommended. 

A study published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine argues that those without prior screening by age 75 receive little benefit from the test.   

But I am far younger than 75.  I' guessing that the most likely outcome will be a discovery of diverticulosis.