During the month of March, colons, bottoms, and screenings come up in all kinds of polite conversations. That’s because it is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Sadly, when April arrives, colon talk stops. Don’t let that happen. Have the conversation. Know if a close relative had colon cancer…and the age of diagnosis; its important information. Talk with your doctor about screenings and when yours should occur. Don’t have a family doctor? Get one. There are resources on Medical Self-Care to help you in your search. Not sure about your insurance coverage as a State of Idaho employee? Call Blue Cross of Idaho Customer Service; have your membership card in hand. We all have colons; take care of yours. If you have “screening procrastination” and need inspiration, check out The Bottom Line Poetry Contest entries and winners; 28 creative employees entered the contest. Visit the Your Colon webpage for more resources. Get screened.
I spend lots of time in September/October getting the house ready for fall and winter. As I was struggling to clean the rain gutters this weekend, it occurred to me I should be putting equally as much time into fall cleanup and winter prep for my body…you know, a little medical self-care. At the very least, I should have a plan. Do you have a winter plan? Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Dust off your fitness club membership
- Check your walking shoes for a good fit
- Locate your walking hat, gloves, and flashing safety lights
- Call your walking partner; set a date
- Refresh your sunscreen (yes, you still need to wear it!)
- Get your cholesterol and glucose (blood sugar) checked
- Have your blood pressure checked
- Write down your weight and waist measures; measure against them every 1-2 months
- Get a flu shot!
- Check your immunizations…shingles, tetanus, pneumonia
- Schedule your preventive health checks: teeth cleaning, PSA, mammogram, pap smear, colonoscopy
- Stock your pantry with high energy foods
In the course of our conversation at a meeting, I was stunned to learn that my table mate had suffered a stroke. She was all of 34. She looked “normal” – she was bright, conversive, and appeared to be in reasonably good physical condition. Imagine my shock. You see, I know about strokes. Old people have them. In fact, my Dad died from one. Way back in my memory, I knew younger people could have one but somehow I had chosen to ignore that fact. This conversation brought it back, front and center. No matter what your age, you should know the warning signs of a stroke. This woman did and that’s what saved her from a lifetime of disability, or worse – death. How about you? Do you know the warning signs? Take a minute to get in touch with your blood pressure. Know your numbers and understand what they mean. Record your numbers on a tracking sheet that you can give your doctor. If your blood pressure tends to be high, buy a home blood pressure monitor. If you are uncertain how to use it, check out the online instructional video. You’ll be a pro in no time. Remember how to spot the signs… F: Face Drooping A: Arm Weakness S: Speech Difficulty T: Time to Call 911
Your colon is a critical part of your plumbing system. After so many years, you need to have a look at the pipes to be sure everything is working well, check for general wear and tear, and find anything that could cause a future disaster. Just like the pipes in your home, it’s easy to put off an inspection and it’s never convenient when the system goes down. No one likes surprises. So, do yourself a favor. Read the Screening Guidelines. Get checked, if it’s your time. Use the resources on Your Colon. Read Straight Talk About Colon Cancer. As a friend of mine says, “Colonoscopies are like plungers. It’s better to get one before you absolutely need it.”
In 2011, Idaho had the lowest breast cancer screening rate in the United States. More than 1/3 of Idaho women over the age of 40 did not receive important breast cancer screening. Girls, GIRLS, GIRLS! Get in the game. If you are over 40, read the guidelines, get screened. Grab your Blue Cross of Idaho ID Card and call the Customer Service number on the back; ask about your preventive screening coverage. Don’t put it off. When you finish reading this post, make the call. Early detection literally means the difference between life and death. I know it’s uncomfortable, inconvenient, and takes time. So does cancer treatment; I know. You may think you have better things to do, but really you don’t. Being last isn’t good. Make your appointment. Now.