P no longer stands for “party”

Long ago I accepted that I could no longer drink two pitchers of beer, dance until 2 am, eat a fourth meal at Taco Bell, get up at 8 am for class, followed by work and writing a term paper before hitting the bars again with no physical repercussions at all. (Just reading that makes me want to nap. Then again most things make me want to nap these days).

The hyperpigmentation on my freshly washed face, the fact that a third glass of red wine will surely mean a major headache in the morning and the random aches and pains for no reason are all evidence that I’m aging.

That said I haven’t been fully prepared to face reality. Case in point: I take my geriatric cat to the vet every six months, because I firmly believe in prevention and early detection, yet the reminder for my annual skin exam had been sitting in my desk drawer since last April.

I kept putting off the appointment until my mom called last week to tell me she had a mole removed and it was skin cancer. It scared me, but it also motivated me. I called my dermatologist the very next day.

A week later, I was at my own appointment and the doctor identified what she called an “outlier,” a mole that was darker than any others and a bit uneven. So off it went to pathology and I’ll sit for two weeks waiting for the results. It will be about the same time that my mom goes back in for her recheck.

While I wait, I tell myself the same things I told myself when my mother told me she was having a mole removed: it’s probably nothing and even if it’s something, skin cancer is easy to treat.

In all truthfulness a suspicious mole doesn’t cause me a lot of concern on its own, but it seems symbolic of a new stage in my life. The party days are over (for the most part). The prevention days have begun. A decade ago, that switch would have really scared me. How very uncool to worry about medical issues and health!

I’ve been on this earth for nearly four decades and I certainly hope to be on it at least another four. To do so means I can no longer take my health for granted. It means going for routine care even though I hate seeing doctors. It means not ignoring the little things that could become bigger issues.

Prevention may not sound cool, but it’s definitely powerful.

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