A few words of warning if you ignore health checks! 38



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So you have reached the ripe old age of 60 and are feeling very healthy, but you find you cannot reach your toes as easily and you are puffing going up the stairs. Now, if you are not going to bother getting any tests done, let me tempt you with a few recent stories on medical checks for 60s and over.

There was my cousin who received a bowel test kit from the government at the age of 50 years (as we all do) and he left it on the counter in the kitchen. He had a new girlfriend that was a nurse and she started to nag him after a couple of weeks because he had done nothing about it. She wanted to know why he would not do this simple test. Even though he considered himself the “He” man of all time, finally he gave in and sent off his specimen to the appropriate place. When the results came back in, he was dismayed to find he had bowel cancer. The panic to get into specialists and have the appropriate operation followed.

Then I had a brother I found that had been adopted at birth. He had been interested to know what illnesses ran in the family and I told him some of the siblings had haemochromatosis.  He just seemed to brush it off as too difficult, until I heard from him again some years later. Having lost his business and home in the Bundaberg floods and finding himself single all of a sudden, he phoned me to ask what it was I had told him about his blood, as he was getting checked out. It was a genetic blood disorder for ferritin (too much iron in the system rather than the blood). This chronic genetic disorder had all nasty complications if allowed to get out of control. He had very high levels detected and is now on the road to stability.

There was another relative of mine who had been seeing an eye doctor every year because he had Type II diabetes. He had been paying $330 for each appointment only to find that he was perfectly healthy. He stopped going at 55 years old, figuring that where he got his glasses was giving him the same sort of tests. But were they the same? 5 years later he went to Big W for an eye test for glasses. They had some new machine there that you paid an extra $50 to find out the health of your eye. I do not know why he paid the $50. The optometrist advised him he had a growth on the back of his eye and he needed to see a specialist. Two specialists later it was found he had a medium size melanoma inside his eye that needed immediate treatment to save his life.

It is never fun to be told you have some form of cancer and the treatment is often a long road of horrible drugs and hospitals. One friend is currently lining up for an operation for bladder cancer while the other is having chemotherapy for a breast lump. It affects all the family and emotions are often delicate. But we can help ourselves by doing the regular testing and getting to know our bodies and look for problems before they arise.

At 63, my aunt was found to have critical calcium levels which were picked up on a simple blood test. Having found it hard to remember to take tablets, she changed her tablets to a mint chewable form and now remembers them every night.

My friend John went for a heart check because of swollen ankles and puffing only to find his heart was running a little fast. Now there are records of his ECG kept by his doctor and he is able to compare his results if his condition gets any worse.

So what sort of tests should we be regularly undertaking to ensure we are on track with our health at 60?

  • Breast check and mammogram
  • Bone density scan
  • Eye check for glaucoma
  • Prostate exam
  • Bowel cancer heck
  • Chronic disease check including heart
  • Type 2 diabetes check
  • Sun cancer check
  • Audiologist
  • ECG

Even diet and exercise levels as well.

These are just a few checks and if you want to know more, have a look at your health insurance site and see what checks they recommend for your age. Furthermore, don’t throw out those old X rays or evidence of past problems as I recently had to dig out 10 years of X rays to take to the specialist so he could see how fast an illness had developed over the years.


Do you have regular health checks? Have you had a check that saved your life? Tell us about it below.

Gill Johnston

  1. Gill…..wise advice! I was having annual eye checks then missed a year due to looking after ill parents. When I finally got around to it a year ago, I discovered I had a cataract in each eye. However, one was extremely large& the opthamologist told me if I hadn’t had it removed then & left it, I would have lost the sight of that eye! My regular mammogram & ultrasound detected a breast tumour too, before it was late. So, yes, it takes up time however these annual checks save lives……very important.

  2. To all the blokes out there. As the Doctor will say just before he inserts a finger into where the sun doesn’t shine. ” Try to relax.” Regular health check ups are vital so make an appointment today.

  3. Eye checks are bulk billed why was this man paying these prices. Sorry to pick on one aspect but cost is often what stops people as it did him!!!!
    Yes check ups
    Pap smears
    Breast exam
    Mole checks
    Eye checks
    To quote old saying stitch in time saves nine.

    2 REPLY
    • Some optometrists do an extra check with another machine . I paid $60 for it at OPSM . Stupid of me being pushed into it as I regularly see an ophthalmologist .

    • Specsavers don’t charge extra for what I think is the same thing but they have annoyed me with bad service too many times .

  4. You need a bottomless bucket of money to go to the doctor . Doesn’t matter what you have , they always order MRI’s , ultrasounds , blood tests etc . We are in private health cover and it doesn’t cover any of these . Oh , I forgot about the specialist that you always seem to need . Sorry to sound cynical but that’s the way it goes . How often do you go to the doctor and he or she knows straight away what is wrong ? Rant over .

    2 REPLY
    • I’m with you Pamela. The G in GP is supposed to stand for general, but most doctors put on their blinkers and only look at the tiny bit of you which is hurting at the moment. General checkups don’t happen. And as you say, they are very keen on expensive testing and specialist referrals.

    • All I can say girls is get yourselves a good GP who doesn’t over service because take it from me the time you don’t get checked is the time something sinister shows in your body! The trouble with most of us is ” it’s never going to happen to us” or ” I never get sick”. The cemeteries are full of people who thought like that. All that is needed is your BP checked from time to time and a full blood test annually and of course a Pap smear and Mammogram. Men need their prostate examined annually. Tests are generally only ordered if their is a need for further investigation considered by your GP……..

  5. Went to my Dr with a skin rash( hadn’t been for years, looking after sick parents) because of the length of time look my blood pressure it was 200/94 the rash saved my life, don’t be tardy, u can’t look after everyone if your dead!!

  6. I am having a lumpectomy today for a pre-cancerous growth in a breast duct. This was picked up on my routine Breast Screen bus exam a few weeks ago. It is easy to deal with now, but would have been a lot harder if not detected so early, so I urge women to have their mammograms regularly. By the way, I will be on the operating table as the Melbourne Cup is run!

  7. We are responsible for our own health, be proactive. Just do it. Doctors will only order CT’s, X-ray and MRI’s if necessary. I believe we have the best health care in the world. We are blessed to live here.

  8. recently my doctor has been keeping a close eye on my blood pressure because everytime my sinus and gastric was causing grief so was my blood pressure then I had a couple of funny turns (maybe heart) just went giddy and feeling lousy and having pain in jaw so doctor put me on blood pressure tablets and ordered a cat scan
    now I have less trouble but who knows if I was not getting it checked every time I had to go to the doctor maybe I could have had a stroke I’m 65 at Christmas family history terminal cancer and massive heart attacks so I do pay particular attention to them

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