Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Burden of Too Much Information

We older folks get a lot of unsolicited lifestyle advice. We are, after all, the biggest market segment in most Western countries. Among the many areas of our body that don't work quite as well as they used to are our bowels. Our parents were encouraged to keep them 'regular' by the makers of patent medicines. We are exhorted to do the same by ingesting lots of fibre by the makers of grocery products. And today's medical profession gets to weigh in by laying on us a guilt trip about submitting to an unpleasant process called a colon endoscopy, or colonoscopy for short, to check that we don't have cancer polyps.

After many years of ducking yet another invasive body intrusion I finally succumbed to my GP's pleas to try it 'just once' and booked in for one. She insisted I would henceforth be too old for another to be done. I gave in because a family pal just got diagnosed with advanced colon cancer and it's the second most frequent killer disease nowadays. In addition there is some suggestion that bowel cancer did in my grandmother (when she was 94).  As the newspaper article I link to above infers, the 'prep' is tough on an old person. The day after I still feel like I've been hit by a truck.

My test found two polyps, one of which might be cancerous, plus a diverticulitis. I know about those things, having spent years in the drug biz. I know too that my bowel is the one thing about me that seems to have always worked just fine. Now I have a couple of months to sweat till the surgeon can see me in our overstretched no-private-medicine government-funded medical monopoly.

Most old folks die of something else than a gut cancer starting at my age.  Worrying that this just might not be true for me is yet another psychic burden in an era of too much information.

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