What I had Examined
- Aches and Pains
I have read that when you reach age 50 you should celebrate with a battery of tests to see if you’re still healthy. So I made out my list of body parts to have checked out over the next year; heart, blood, colon, prostate, eyes, ears, teeth, skin, bones and ears. That’s a lot of stuff that can break.
That was January, 2011. By the end of the year the only things that I had checked out were my eyes and teeth. Pathetic. 2012 I hit it hard and made it through my list. Here is a run-down of what I had checked. I found a lot of good information from Mayoclinic.com and webmd.com. Also see my medical disclaimer below.
I have this tested every year, as my family has a history of high blood pressure and heart disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, the following levels will tell you how good or bad yours is. Mine has improved over the last couple of years due to increased exercise, a better diet and fish oil supplements.
Less than 200 mg/dl is good
200 to 239 mg/dl is borderline high
Greater than 240 mg/dl is bad
LDL (the bad cholesterol)
Less than 100 mg/dl is the level for people with risk of heart disease
100-129 mg/dl ideal for most people
130-159 mg/dl is borderline high
>=160 mg/dl is high
HDL (the good cholesterol)
Less than 40 mg/dl is bad
40-59 mg/dl is ok
>=60 mg/dl is good
There is some disagreement if this is valuable or not. The formula is to take your LDL (bad) divided by your HDL (good). That number/ratio should be 5:1 or lower. You improve it by lowering your LDL, raising your HDL or a combo of the two.
Less than 100 mg/dl is good
100 – 150 mg/dl is average
150 – 199 mg/dl is borderline high
>= 200 mg/dl is high
2. Prostate (PSA) Test
PSA stands for Prostate Specific Antigen. The test I took was done with my blood test. It is recommended for men between the ages of 40-75. A level of 4.0 ng/mL or lower is considered normal. Higher than that could require further testing for cancer. This is another test that has pros and cons. The pro being it could detect cancer early while treatable. The bad being it could give a false indicator. Your best best is to consult your doctor. I decided to at least get the test and see the results. I also had my doctor do the rectal exam to check for an enlarged prostate. The one-fingered rubber glove can send shivers down the spine of anyone.
Heart disease and high blood pressure run in my family so these tests were high on my list. I will probably have these done every couple of years.
I discussed this above. Your doctor may be able to detect signs of heart disease by looking at your blood tests.
A chest x-ray can reveal an enlarged heart, which could be a sign of heart disease.
Probes are placed on the chest and other parts of the body and your heart rhythm is measured and recorded over time. This is done while at rest and after walking/jogging on a treadmill (stress test). I was in too good of shape. It took forever to get my heart to the required rate.
A technician does an ultrasound of your heart and looks at your heart, valves and rhythm after the stress test. When I looked at the pictures I couldn’t make out anything. It looked like a wolverine choking on a fur ball.
These are the tests I had done. There are others if any of the above show signs of heart disease.
This is the one test I dreaded. A camera on a tube is inserted into your rectum so the doctor can look at your colon and check for polyps and other irregularities or signs of cancer. There is a lot of prep for this test leading up to the day before your exam. I took a drink called Movi Prep. This basically does unspeakable things to clean you out…unbelievable. Don’t plan on going to work that day, unless you have a portable desk you can move into the bathroom.
When I arrived at the hospital, I was asked a lot of questions and asked to undress and put on a gown. Funny thing as I undressed behind a screen, a huge wind came through the vents and blew the screen open just as a nurse walked by. All I could do was say, “hey how’s it going?”
I was wheeled into the operating room and told to roll over on my side. The IV was put in my arm and I counted back to like 98 and was out cold. I woke up what felt like five minutes later and it was all done…painless. My mind was out in space. I had to have my wife drive me home. The pictures of my colon reminded me of Carlsbad Caverns. Since mine came out ok, I don’t need another one for ten years…yeah!
I generally see an optometrist (OD) every two years at the local For Eyes store. They do general testing for things like eye movement, reaction to light, visual acuity, refraction testing (which is better this one or that one?), and the Glaucoma puff of air test.
I have not been to an Opthamologist, but I don’t have any troubles with my eyes except for being near-sighted and far-sighted.
I did switch to multi-focal (combo of regular lenses and bifocals) lenses a few years ago and really like them.
This is one test I did not schedule. My hearing is generally ok but I know I’ve lost some of the “highs” in my right ear from playing loud music. I started wearing ear plugs at my band’s practice.
Years ago I went to an Audiologist after I went swimming and couldn’t get the water out of my ears. It was starting to hurt and nothing I tried worked. The doctor stuck a tiny vacuum with a camera in my ears and sucked out the wax way down deep. You would be surprised how much is in there, even if you clean your ears often. After he was done, I could hear like I was in high school again (ok maybe my parents didn’t think I heard real well back then either).
I go to the dentist twice a year and have had clean check ups. The last couple have been really good. I made it a habit last year to floss every night and bought a water pik. Both have been great at bringing my gums back to health. They are now a nice shade of pink, no swelling and no bleeding. I also add a tiny bit of mouth wash in the water pik and it keeps my breath fresh. I also purchased a dental pick and mirror from Amazon and gently scrape the plaque off my lower front teeth.
Here’s to being over 50 and still having all my teeth!
I went to a Dermatologist and had the full-body exam done. You strip down to nothing and the doctor measures and examines all your moles, freckles…A young nurse comes into the room to take down all the notes. I’m not sure who was more embarrassed the nurse or myself.
I was told I had one mole that should be cut off and sent to a lab to check for cancer. I also had the option to have the rest of them cut out or frozen off. I had one on my back frozen off to see what it was like. I think it cost me about $75, after my insurance. The doctor sprays liquid nitrogen on my the mole and bandages it up. After two weeks the mole comes off and the skin is like normal. Worked great. The mole I had cut out was not cancerous.
This was a great exam…highly recommended and enlightening. Lesson learned – wear your sunscreen, hat and sunglasses often.
I scheduled an appointment with a Neurologist. The doctor placed several electrodes all over my body that were hooked up to a computer. He then sent electric impulses and noted the reaction. This test wasn’t painful, but it really freaked me out. Your body parts jerk and twitch from these impulses and my thoughts turned to Nazi torture. Luckily the tests were clean and I won’t have to come back here for a while.
10. Aches and Pains
This was the one area of my health that I felt needed attention. I don’t know anyone over 50 that doesn’t have some aches or pains. I was no exception. Years of playing sports, playing several musical instruments, sitting at a computer all day and being in a car that rolled down a mountain road have all taken a toll on my body.
The pain culminated last year in my left arm. I could not sleep at night or concentrate at work. I started seeing my normal doctor and we went through the battery of tests on my heart and nerves. I went to a Chiropractor and that didn’t help. Finally I went to one of the best Orthopedic doctors in the Chicago area (found in the Chicago magazine annual review of doctors). An MRI revealed that one of my neck vertebrae had herniated and was pressing on a nerve that ran down my left arm.
The options were therapy, a shot of cortisone into my spine or surgery. I opted for therapy and it worked. I still do my exercises and also purchased a custom pillow that has a dent in the middle to keep my head tilted back. I also take frequent breaks from my PC and purchased a great guitar strap for my heavy bass.
The last pains I had were in my right knee and ankle. I figured it was just old age or from playing hockey. My doctor suggested foot pads in my shoes and alternating the back pocket of my pants where I put my wallet. Yes there is a curse to having a fat wallet. The combination of the two suggestions cured my pains. I have since converted to a thin wallet/money-clip that fits in my front pocket and have stopped wearing the foot pads. I think the wallet alone was causing my issues…amazing.
In summary, I would highly recommend all men over 50 years old to have these tests completed. Take nothing for granted. Do your own research. We’ve worked too hard to get to this age. Let’s not destroy it by neglecting our health. Keep these tests on your “to do” list and get them done. Don’t procrastinate.
The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice, or delay in seeking it, because of something you have read on this website. Never rely on information on this website in place of seeking professional medical advice.