An integral part about getting older is really being conscious about your health and well being. Let’s face it, you are no spring chicken and your body sends subtle (and no so subtle) hints this is the case. I know for me my hints come in the morning. Picture the sun starting to send it’s rays through your bedroom window. Your eyes start to flicker as you hear a faint tune of Morning Song by Grieg playing in your head (at least you wish because what you actually hear it that stupid alarm on your phone going off at 6:00 am in the morning!) I am sorry, let’s go back to the ethereal scene. You then smile thinking of how great it is to be alive, how you are going to just Carpe Diem the hell out of the day, and then you decide to sit up and hear CRUNCH! That will be the sound a few joints you have to rub while you desperately try to gather yourself out of bed! Yeah, that did not happen when you were in your twenties! That was a case of cold reality hitting you in the face like a bucket of ice water!
This comes with the territory. Joints not always responding like how you want, your body not really doing what you want it to do, and you wanting to find some relief in it all. You think, should I exercise? Should I eat better? Should I go to the doctor? Should I drink this entire bottle of wine I picked up from the grocery store on my way home from work (Riesling being the favorite.)? I am going with wine!
Although wine is good choice for any occasion, getting older means being more serious about how your body is functioning. Since this is all about being 40 (read the title), I personally met another health milestone I had to take care of. The dreaded mammogram! Now, the only reason why I call it dreaded was because I would listen to my mom describe to me in mitigated detail her experience with mammograms. She described the cold plates. The two plates coming together like a car compactor smashing your breasts together and squeezing your very existence making you regret being a woman! Also, the walk of shame leaving the room because you subjected yourself to this torture!
I had all of these thoughts in my head when it was time to get my mammogram. I first had to get over the whole I am actually old enough to be considered to get this done part. When I got through that, I had to get past all the stories and the building fear coming to roost in my throat! “Okay Cynthia”, I said to myself, “Put on your big girl panties and take this like a soldier!” I step in the lab where the machine is, follow the instructions of the lab tech, and went through all the different positions and squeezing. My conclusion was that the mammogram was not that bad. The lab tech was also very nice and walked me through everything because she knew it was my first time and I was a bit nervous. But can you blame me???
Accepting this whole mammogram business is all a part of being very aware of your age and health, at least it was for me. Leading up to the mammogram, my doctor and I had a chat about what women of my age should be doing in order to maintain their health and well being. Here are a few things women in their forties should be doing:
- Do regular check ups with your primary care physician to make sure they have a base line for your overall well being and can monitor any changes. This should be done at least once a year.
- When reaching your Forties, get a mammogram to make sure your breast health is in order. If the breast have no abnormalities, this does not have to be done for another 10 years.
- Do self checks breast exams. Feel for any lumps or bumps. If you feel one, see your doctor to check them to make sure they are not cancerous. Often time lumps and bumps can be a result of acne or just cyst that are harmless, but it is good to stay on the side of caution.
- Stay on top of your pap smears. My doctor said you should getting one every 1 to 3 years. Also if you are sexually active, make sure to get tested for any sexually transmitted diseases. Getting tested should happen every six months to be on the cautious side.
- Adopt a healthier way of eating and exercise. The older you get, the more you are subject to heart disease which is the number one killer of women but often times can be prevented by making changes in this area to keep your heart healthy and happy!
- Find a way to live a more stress free life. Pick up a hobby or do something for yourself to make you feel good! No one can be better to yourself than you!
Getting older is inevitable but it does not have to be a strain or something to loathe. The best way to embrace your age is to make sure your health is in order. I said it before, I am in better shape and my health is better now at 40 than at 30. That is only because I decided to take the necessary steps to get that way. It was not rocket science, it was just taking one step at a time. Remember, only you can make this life the best for you. No one else can do it for you. You only have one life to live. Make the best of it!