• After some hours of repose, I was gently informed that there was nothing wrong with me at all, and sent on my way with a box of highly satisfactory painkillers. (MOODBOARD)Source: MOODBOARD
Medical authorities the world over say we waste time and money on unnecessary treatments. But men need to be more pro-active in seeking medical advice and support. Middle-aged hypochondriac and recent colonoscopee, Ian Rose, has a hard time juggling these messages.
By
Ian Rose

28 Oct 2016 - 4:02 PM  UPDATED 31 Oct 2016 - 11:30 AM

These are confusing days for a middle-aged male. Traditionally, we geezers are pretty slack when it comes to heading to the doctor’s, waiting until our prostates, hearts or minds are near explosion before making that call. We need to get better, goes the refrain, at reaching out.

Lately though, the word is that more restraint should be shown in treating those (men and women) who do.

Earlier this year, 13 leading Australian medical bodies released a list of 61 tests that doctors should think twice about before administering, as they are usually a waste of time and money. And this week the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges in Britain presented its own litany of interventions we don’t need.

The bottom line is that, when it comes to poking, prodding, scanning and drugging, in terms of our collective health and the sustainability of public services, less is decidedly more.

Talking of bottom lines, it is hard to accept that the colonoscopy I recently endured may have been pointless.

I felt so valiant at the time, lying on my side on that gurney with my pants around my ankles. The laxative binge of the previous evening may have left me groggy and traumatised before the sedative even kicked in (a final fragment of memory: the jovial voice at my rear inquiring “OH, does that HURT?”, to which I roar “Of course it f****ing does!”, into the thickening fog...) But I glowed with a sense that, in allowing a small camera to be stuck up my bum, I was doing the ‘Right Thing’.

Talking of bottom lines, it is hard to accept that the colonoscopy I recently endured may have been pointless.

I have some family history of bowel cancer, alongside one or two charming digestive idiosyncrasies, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Also, I think I may be developing hypochondria.

It’s not just that I’m getting on in life (though intimations of mortality grow daily shriller as the descent into my late forties steepens), but also because I’m so pathetically suggestible, and there’s just so much terrifying information out there.

How suggestible am I? Here’s how much.

Snip decision
A year on from his vasectomy, Ian Rose reflects on the tie that binds, and wonders what happened to the mystery semen-sample.

A couple of years ago, I had a doozy of a headache. Three days straight of what passes for searing agony to someone of my paltry pain threshold. I’ve never suffered from migraines and had no idea where this thing had come from. So I went to see my doctor, who assured me it was nothing to worry about, but, just as I was leaving, pointed out that, if I started to feel nauseous, I should get myself to the hospital, mumble, mumble, mumble, meningitis.

Within 30 seconds of leaving the surgery, my stomach began to turn somersaults. Five minutes later, I was leaning against a wall, sweating and retching like the lead in a particularly gritty anti-drugs campaign. By the time I reached the emergency department, I was more or less certain I was going to die, and wondering where Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy should go on the funeral playlist.

I was rushed into isolation, asked a bunch of questions, given blood tests and thoroughly examined. I may have had an x-ray, I can’t quite recall (which could, now I come to think of it, be a sign of early onset dementia). After some hours of repose, I was gently informed that there was nothing wrong with me at all, and sent on my way with a box of highly satisfactory painkillers.

Come 2020, I may as well just set up camp in front of the triage desk.

So if I’m suggestible now, what’s it going to be like in the not so distant future, when a network of sensors is uploading the most minute of fluctuations in my personal bio-system, the tiniest variance in my brain chemistry, to some addictive app on my smartphone? Come 2020, I may as well just set up camp in front of the triage desk.

When it comes to undue pressure on public health services, and that culture of placatory intervention the medical authorities have been banging on about, people like me, with our precautionary colonoscopies and rush to panic and fear the worst, are part of the problem.

So does that mean, when I think I might be a bit crook, I should revert to type, channel my inner male reserve, just grin and bear it? Like I say, these are confusing days.

The next time I’m feeling under the weather and contemplate a check-up, if I’m not crippled by indecision, then it could be by guilt.

There has to be something I can take for that, right?

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