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Big surprise at my annual physical

By John Toth

The Bulletin

The day had come, and I wasn’t looking forward to it - my annual physical exam was scheduled for the morning.

I know it’s important, but I’d rather rearrange my socks drawer. I go every year and get a rundown from my primary care physician of what internal parts are doing well and which need some attention.

As I got older, I’ve learned to appreciate this annual ritual, although I still don't like it. In my younger days, when I thought I’d live forever and was indestructible, I skipped the physical a few years in a row and didn’t think much of it.

All that changed in my late 50s, when my wife, Sharon, bugged me so much about getting a checkup that I finally agreed.

It was the checkup during which the doctor urged me to get a colonoscopy, even though I was not experiencing any problems.

After two doctors and Sharon ganged up on me, I agreed. I did the awful prep, and the surgeon snipped out five polyps. I realized that the old John, who was supposed to be invincible, had left the building. Three polyps were on their way to turning cancerous.

The old john was replaced by the new John, whose aim is to live a healthy and active life as long as possible. Had I not gotten that first colonoscopy, I’d be on chemo fighting for my life right now or be dead.

I sometimes run into people around my age, who admit during our conversation that they have not been to see a doctor in many years, as many as 20.

I hope I never nagged any of them, but I also hope that I have convinced them to get a checkup and blood test, which would allow them to establish a starting point at where they stand health wise. If anything pops up, it’s a lot easier to treat it early than a decade from now.

If nothing does, they’ll have peace of mind.

I intend to be living up my kids’ inheritance a decade from now rather than giving it to the healthcare system.

I was sitting in the examination room, watching the doctor go through my records. I answered all his questions, but I don’t like to talk all that much when he does that because I want him to pay attention to what he is reading.

Then we chatted about where I stand health wise. So far, so good. My cholesterol level has been brought under control. Everything else was in the green zone. He ordered a new set of blood tests, and the examination was over.

I hope to see him again next year, but not earlier. We shook hands, and he left the room.

I went down to the lab and let the tech poke my arm. The results would be sent to me in a few days.

Overall, the physical was a positive experience, except for one part that is always awkward and uncomfortable, but very necessary. Guys who read this know what I’m talking about. I don’t want to go into details, just in case anyone is eating lunch while reading this.

I walked out satisfied that I am hanging in there and will be part of this world for a long time.

Then I read my latest blood test results. I was now officially classified as pre-diabetic.

I got the cholesterol under control, and now I have to worry about diabetes. That’s just great.

Then I remembered that one of my father’s legs had to be amputated in his 50s because of complications due to diabetes.

He died at 60, so there is no way for me to know what he would have died of had he not been a lifelong smoker, heavy drinker and the connoisseur of fatty foods - or if he had received proper medical care.

Now what? I made the mistake of going to the Internet and scaring myself half to death. Then I called the doctor’s office, and his nurse reassured me that the numbers were not too bad and that I should adjust my diet and cut out as much sugar as I can.

Maybe I should not have had those two plates of chocolate cake on my last cruise. But it was so good.

It looks like my sweet-tooth days are over. I was a sucker for sweets. I could just inhale them.

This is where I stand today. No added sugar allowed no matter what we buy - maybe 2-4%, but that’s it. Zero is the goal.

It’s been over a month since I have made this change, and I can honestly tell you, dear reader, I am just fine and feeling better without getting all sugared up. This stuff is in most of our food.

I read the product labels now more carefully than ever.

I quit caffeinated products decades ago without any problems (except for some headaches initially) and have not missed the world’s most popular stimulant. I did the same thing with sugar.

I’m done. How sweet it is.


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