Sometime back I wrote a post about how I felt that my general health was declining after I delivered my third child at the age of 41. There were a few things that I noticed changed drastically in terms of my physical appearance and strength after I gave birth: I was tired all the time, I suffered from constant backaches, my joints cracked and my muscles ache when I made sudden moves, my body felt heavy and I got out of breath doing simple tasks.
I usually do a physical exam every year on my birthday month. A practice I started since I was 30 years old. The tests that I do religiously is a breast and cervical exam to detect breast and cervical cancer. I didn’t manage to do a full physical exam when I turned 40 due to my pregnancy so I decided to do one last month.
Seeing that I had a lot of health concerns, I decided to list out all my worries and also did some research to see what other types of physical exams I should consider doing seeing that this would be my first full physical post 40th birthday. Suffice to say that I shocked the doctor with my long list (she must have thought that I was a hypochondriac with my long list of questions lol) Anyway, after much discussion with the doctor, I ended up doing a detailed medical check-up.
The results: The good, the ‘not so bad’ and the ugly truth
I’ll start with the good news first:
I was suffering from GDM (Gestational diabetes) during my last pregnancy. I had this during my second pregnancy too but it went away after I gave birth. The doctor did tell me that there was a chance that my diabetes might not go away this time around post pregnancy due to my age. Thankfully, my blood sugar level came back normal and I am in the clear. Diabetes is something that I really fear and want to avoid badly. My father is a diabetic and his siblings who have passed on, all died due to chronic diabetes.
Most of my other results also came back clear. So phewwww!!!
Now the ‘not so bad’ news:
The doctor said that my results were not so bad and pretty much expected for a 40-something female. To be honest, I was comforted to hear this knowing that there are other 40-year old females who are in the same boat I am. Anyway, after all the prodding and pricking, these were the doctor’s diagnosis:
Cholesterol: Test results indicated that my cholesterol was “borderline” but that I should not be concerned at this stage. She provided the usual exercise and diet advise including a recommendation to start taking red yeast as a supplement. I haven’t had the chance to research on this yet but once I do, I’ll share whatever information I gather on this blog.
Plantar Fasciitis: Ok. I struggle to remember this and honestly, I don’t even know if I’m spelling it right but I mentioned to the doctor about the pains in my feet and heel every morning… well, it is Plantar Fasciitis. I’m still trying to understand what this is but my doctor explained that the condition is common and all I needed to do were some exercises before I take my first steps in the morning. I’ve been doing that since I got the diagnosis and thankfully, the pain does seem to be subsiding.
Bad eyesight: I used to be able to tell people that I have perfect vision, now I can only tell people I HAD perfect vision. I’ve been struggling with night time driving and reading for the past year and have been delaying doing an eye exam. Finally checked my eyes and as expected, I need glasses. The only comfort I take in this is that I had to shop for new glasses and ended up with a beautiful Kate Spade frame. I’m rocking the new Kate Spades by the way.
Not so bad right?
I also consulted a specialist on my joint and muscle pains and they told me it’s nothing serious. The reason why I am experiencing pain in my knees could possibly be due to my carrying the baby weight during the pregnancy. I also had severe and constant pains on my left shoulder blade and after further checks, I was told it is most likely because I rarely nay, NEVER exercised and sat in front of the computer for long hours.
I’m currently undergoing sessions with a chiropractor to improve my backaches and muscle pain. I’m still feeling the pain but I’m feeling much better now compared to how it was a month ago.
The ugly truth, I realize after doing my medical exam, is that I need to commit to a healthier lifestyle. If I’m feeling terrible now, I can’t imagine what it’ll be like in my 50s, 60s and so on. God willing I live that long. Gone are the days where I can eat anything and never exercise but still feel and look good. The high metabolism levels I had in my youth is GONE. I’m no longer a nimble 20-year old but a 40-year-old who’s walking around like an 80-year-old. AND I seriously need to start hitting the gym.
I’m glad I did a full medical check-up, even though I had to see a few doctors to make sure I got everything covered. It’s forced me to re-asses my current state of health and create a plan to improve my overall well-being in preparation for the next stage of my life.
If you are in your early 40’s and you haven’t done a medical check-up yet, please do yourself a favor and go see your GP. It doesn’t matter if you have a health concern or not.
By the way, are you aware of the medical tests that you should be taking once you hit the big 4.0? If you’re not, don’t worry… I got you covered. Before I met my doctor, I basically listed out all my health concerns and did some research. I’ve compiled a list of basic medical tests and procedures every female who turns 40 should consider taking. It’s not a long list but you can use it as a point of discussion with your doctor and they will recommend the best test for you.
These are some of tests that you can consider discussing with your GP. Your doctor will advise which is necessary for you once they’ve reviewed your medical history.
- Mammogram – what I’ve read so far is that this is a MUST for anyone who turns 40. Where I’m from, the Malaysian government actually gives you a free mammogram check-up voucher on your 40th birthday. A mammogram helps with the early detection of breast cancer.
- Breast check – test to also detect breast cancer. I do this every year without fail since the day I turn 30. A trained professional will be able to detect any abnormalities that may have been missed by the mammogram or if you’ve decided not to do the mammogram. In addition to this, you should do a self-breast check on a monthly basis.
- Pap Smear and pelvic exam – this procedure is to detect cervical cancer and should be done every year. I have been doing this test yearly since my 30’s as well.
- Pap Smear plus HPV test and pelvic exam – this test should be done at least once every five years or as required.
- Blood cholesterol test – this procedure will help measure amount of total cholesterol, “bad” LDL, and “good” HDL cholesterol circulating in the blood.
- Blood pressure check – measures blood pressure, an indicator of heart risks.
- Fasting plasma glucose – blood sugar test, diabetes indicator.
- Eye exam
- Dental exam
The list I’ve compiled were collected from a few websites. I’m not a medical practitioner, so please use this as a guide and a point of reference to discuss with your GP. Please feel free to print the guide as a checklist by clicking on this link: Health Screening Checklist
As you grow older, there are other tests you should consider adding to the list. You can view the full list of tests and procedures in WebMD’s website.
In the meantime, stay healthy and be happy.