Why More Tests??

I had my annual physical a few weeks ago and my doctor proclaimed that I was in good shape, at least for someone my age. After I left, she texted me that she forgot to mention that she scheduled me for a colonoscopy. I then remembered an article I had read some years ago about a prominent doctor who said that when he turned 75 he stopped all diagnostic testing and would let nature run its course. He had too often seen the results of trying to delay the inevitable. At first, I was ready to cancel the test, but after a while I decided to go ahead and have it done.

Why am I even getting a colonoscopy?

After thinking about it, I decided that I want to know if I have cancer so that I can better plan for what is left of my life. If the test shows that everything is fine, then I can proceed with my normal life, at least for now. If the tests find cancer, then at least I will have a better view of when my time may come, but I will not likely approve any colon surgery.

My father died almost twenty-two years ago of colon cancer. He was two years older than I am now. I still remember the last six months of his life. He, upon the recommendation of his doctor, had his colon removed. After the surgery, he hated pooping in a bag and having to clean it up daily. Then about three months later the cancer was back, this time in his liver. He spent the next three months in and out of hospitals, robbing him of any quality of life. He died six months after the surgery, which I guess was normal.

That experience of the recent 78 days of acute trauma of my wife dying has convinced me that I don’t want to extend my life beyond its natural bounds. I am happy to spend my last days of whatever freedom they may bring doing what I want to do and then, hopefully only spending a couple of weeks in the death process.

I am just not one who fears my death. I have had a pretty good life, and just want to end it on my terms. I don’t know how you feel about it, but I am not willing to sacrifice one day of quality for maybe a month of just existing. It’s as simple as that for me.

6 thoughts on “Why More Tests??

  1. I agree. While some tests make sense, doing extraordinary things to prolong life is not my plan. Besides a diminished quality of life, I do not want to burn through large sums of money that simply delay the inevitable and leave my family less well off.

    I was told I should have a colonoscopy at age 80. I will likely pass.

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  2. If we let them the doctors will most likely give us tests they would not take themselves. I know it sounds terrible but the last few months of our lives can be the most profitable for hospitals and doctors. I agree with you RJ that life extension at the expense of quality of life is not worth it.
    I remember the story of the doctor given a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. He closed his practice that day. He went home and sought no treatment. Having watched someone die from this with all possible interventions I definitely respect the doctors decision.

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    1. I know the old saying that 80% of medical costs are for the last month of life. But, just try to use that illogical condition to make changes, and you are labeled as a death doctor. My wife was always uncomfortable about her death. She would not allow for advanced funeral arrangements. She struggled with the idea of hospice because that would admit that she knew the end was near. Her fear caused her more pain in the end.

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  3. I agree with you. You need to know but you don’t need to do anything about it. After my mom’s bout with ovarian cancer and then a traumatic brain injury, the doctors were worried about her heart. We said do nothing. She died five months later and it was a blessing. If her brain had been normal, she would have hated the way she was living.

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    1. Hi Linda and thanks for your thoughts. My wife put off the death process for much longer than I would have. She hated the suffering but feared death more, I guess. I hope I have the courage to face death when my time comes, and make short work of it.

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