As we all age, there seems to be more and more physically “that we need to keep an eye on in our lives.” A few more trips to the doctors, a suggested test to be done or a few more trips to the lab. Patients have expressed this over and over to me as the years pass by.
How many times have we heard that doctors and nurses make the worst patients? I will say we aren’t necessarily the worst patient in a hospital bed but we sure know how to turn a “blind eye” when it concerns our own health care. Time-and-time again I have joked with other nurses about testing that my personal doctor has suggested and my response and theirs have been…”that’s not happening!!!” Do we want this for our patients? Certainly NOT!!! So why do we put off testing and stretch the time frame to the limit? Besides, the fact that we know so much of what something could turn out to be, we tend to side step finding out if we are okay.
Admittedly, I have to say that in the past I was one of the worst when it came to procrastination, yet I know that there are many standing shoulder-to-shoulder with me in the health care field. There are even ones much worse then us in dragging their feet! I, for one, at 50 was approached by my doctor about having what my dad used to call the “Roto-Rooter” test done. Medically, this meant it was time for my colonoscopy. Yes, I was 50 but there had been no issues in my family for me to get on the “merry go round” and pull the “golden ring!” I did not want to do it and held out for the following three years.
It seemed to be the topic of conversation, however, EVERY TIME I went to see my physician; and, of course, I told her I would get it done (thinking to myself “maybe in 10 years.”) Then, one evening sitting around a campfire sipping on some wine, our son looked at me and said, “Mom have you had a colonoscopy yet?” That was a shot out of the dark and to my recall no other campfires….had that topic EVER COME UP! I do not lie to my kids and told him that no I had not yet. “When are you going to have it done Mom?” What was with this 30 something kid and his interest in my COLON? Come to find out that his wife’s mom and dad had their’s done and now I was in the “cross hairs” to be done next. Well after he had poured me my third glass of wine, he had my promise that I would have it done soon. Later, I recognized I had been set up! Pretty sneaky don’t you think? Well my appointment was booked, the prep was completed and there I was laying on the hospital bed waiting my turn. One of my friends in the department even gave me the thumbs up and said, “piece of cake” as words of encouragement. Next thing I knew, my husband was standing over me on one side of the bed and the doctor was on the other side talking about something involving a large mass. I was still a little groggy, but then it clicked that they were talking about me. NO, this couldn’t be!!! I had no symptoms, I hadn’t been sick. No, this was a mistake. It was no mistake, though, and the large mass had to come out ASAP.
Well, my appointment was booked, the prep was completed and there I was laying on the hospital bed awaiting my turn. One of my friends in the department even gave me the thumbs up and said, “Piece of cake” as words of encouragement. Next thing I knew, my husband was standing over me on one side of the bed and the doctor was on the other side talking about something involving a large mass. I was still a little groggy, but then it clicked that they were talking about me. NO, this couldn’t be!!! I had no symptoms, I hadn’t been sick. No, this was a mistake. It was no mistake, though, and the large mass had to come out ASAP.
The surgery went well, and I was extremely blessed that there was no cancer, BUT what if I HAD left it go longer. What if that conversation around the campfire had never happened, and I was still continuing on the path of procrastination? I learned my lesson; and I hope if only one or two of you react to this true story, that you take care of your health. Yes, I am getting older, but now I am much more prompt in getting my tests done.
EARLY PREVENTION is the best cure; and we, as health care providers, must stress this not only to the patients we care for but to our fellow nurses. Next time you are doing an assessment, don’t forget to ask them when they had their last colonoscopy. Talk to them about the importance, and even share my story if you must. If it saves a life, then I am very glad that I have shared this with you!!! It really is a question that is not asked enough when we do our nursing histories. Start asking and maybe save a life!