Thursday, July 3, 2014


So i was asking Grandpa, the retired Ob/Gyn, about the recently published study that says healthy women don't need routine pelvic exams.

His take on it was the same as probably most physicians who've found something at a very early stage and prevented problems because of a finding in a routine exam -- unless a woman objects, keep doing them.

This reminded me of a story he still tells, something that happened to him very early in his practice.

Back in the day, the elderly were not considered candidates for surgery most of the time.  The idea was that the anesthesia or the strain or whatever would kill them.  So when a nurse friend of his asked him to look at her mother, who was having severe abdominal pain, and he found a large mass on her ovary in the pelvic exam, he didn't want to do surgery.

"She's 81, she's lived a good life, it's most likely malignant but there's no use treating it at her age, take her home to say her good-byes," is what he told his friend.

The friend came back a week later and asked him to perform surgery to remove the mass.  "My mother is in horrible pain, I can't just watch her suffer.  Please, even if she dies in surgery it would be better than this," she told him.

Reluctantly, he did the surgery.  Back then, after any surgery, you stayed in the hospital about a week.    The mass was encapsulated, it was cancerous, they got all of it, she survived, they kept her in the hospital for a week, and then he sent her home with "I'll see you in 6 months for a check-up."  He fully expected her to be gone by then, if not from cancer, then just from age.

Ten years later, she had been coming to him every 6 months for a check-up.  This time, though, she told him, "Doc, I love you, you are the best doctor ever, but I won't be seeing you any more.  No woman who is 91 years old should have to undergo the indignity of a pelvic exam!"

He told her he disagreed but respected her decision, and she lived five more years.  Years in which she got to see her grandchildren grow and have kids of their own.  She never became an invalid and was sharp mentally until the end.

From her he learned that, if the person is all there mentally, and is mostly in good health, you can do surgery on the elderly and expect a good outcome.  Now, of course, people of all ages have good outcomes from surgery, and the thinking has changed everywhere.

From this recent study, and from what that woman said to him all those years ago, i think you should talk to your own doctor about whether or not to continue with a routine pelvic exam, until you are in your 90s.  Then you may pass at your own discretion.

Today is

Air Conditioning Appreciation Days begin -- Northern Hemisphere (around here, they last until Thanksgiving!)

Cherokee Green Corn Ceremony -- honoring maize goddess Selu with thanksgiving for the maize harvest; date approximate, as many towns set their own times to celebrate

Compliment Your Mirror Day -- remind your mirror how great it is to have an owner like you, and look at other mirrors to meet to see if they greet you with a smile

Dipolieia -- Ancient Greek Calendar (festival of Zeus as god of the city)

Disobedience Day -- internet generated, but if you have a bone to pick, use your civil disobedience today to let it be known!

Distressed Elves' Creditors' Pets' Day -- Fairy Calendar

Dog Days of Summer begin (according to the almanac, but not in all cultures)

Eat Beans Day -- bring the humble legume up to main dish status!

Fiesta del Fuego -- Santiago, Cuba (festival of fire, through the 9th)

Freedom Days -- Farmington, NM, US (the Four Corners region celebrates freedom and The 4th in a big way; through the 6th)

Grand Teton Music Festival -- Teton Village, WY, US (a summer celebration of classical music with the world's finest artists and in the spectacular setting of Jackson Hole, Wyoming; through Aug. 16)

Independence Day -- Belarus(1944)

International Bag Free Day -- working toward a plastic bag free world

Mescalero Apache Ceremonials and Rodeo -- Mescalero Apache Reservation, NM, US (a great way to learn about Native American culture, and including Apache Maidens' Puberty Rites; through the 6th)

National Chocolate Wafer Day

Ottawa Bluesfest -- Ottawa, Canada (12 days of fabulous music)

Red White and Boom -- Columbus, OH, US (the Midwest's largest fireworks display)

Roswell UFO Days -- Roswell, NM, US (tons of stuff for the serious and those who just want to have fun with the whole concept; through Sunday)

Stay Out of the Sun Day -- sponsored by Wellcat Holidays; for health's sake, give your skin a break!

St. Thomas the Apostle's Day (Patron of architects, blind people, builders, carpenters, construction workers, geometricians, masons, people in doubt, stonecutters, surveyors, theologians; against blindness, doubt; Certaldo, Italy; Ceylon/Sri Lanka; East Indies; India; Pakistan)

Tom Sawyer Days -- Hannibal, MO, US (frog jumping, mud volleyball, Tom and Becky Contest; parade, Tomboy Sawyer Contest, fireworks, and more, with the highlight being the National Fence Painting Contest; through Sunday)

Virgin Islands Emancipation Day -- US Virgin Islands

Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival -- Greensburg, PA, US (multicultural celebration of food, fine arts, handicrafts, and music from many nations; through Sunday)

Anniversaries Today:

Prince Alois of Liechtenstein marries Duchess Sophie of Bavaria, 1993
Ted Kennedy marries Victoria Anne Reggie, 1992
Idaho becomes the 43rd US State, 1890

Birthdays Today:

Moises Alou, 1966
Thomas Gibson, 1962
Tom Cruise, 1962
Montel Williams, 1956
Alan Autry, 1952
Betty Buckley, 1947
Dave Barry, 1947
Kurtwood Smith, 1942
Tom Stoppard, 1937
Pete Fountain, 1930
Ken Russell, 1927
Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher, 1908
Franz Kafka, 1883
George M. Cohan, 1878
Richard Bedford Bennett, 1st Viscount Bennett, 1870
Samuel Huntington, 1731(O.S. date)

Debuting/Premiering Today:

"ITV News at Ten"(TV), 1967
"Mister Peepers"(TV), 1952

Today in History

Hugh Capet is crowned King of France, the first of the Capetian dynasty that would rule France till the French Revolution in 1792, 987
Qu├ębec City is founded by Samuel de Champlain, 1608
Pitcairn Island is discovered by Midshipman Robert Pitcairn on an expeditionary voyage commanded by Philip Carteret, 1767
Norway's oldest newspaper still in print, Adresseavisen, is founded and the first edition is published, 1767
George Washington takes command of the Continental Army at Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1775
The Bank of Savings in New York City, the first savings bank in the United States, opens, 1819
The last pair of Great Auks is killed, 1844
Slaves are freed in the Danish West Indies (now U.S. Virgin Islands) by Peter von Scholten in the culmination of a year-long plot by enslaved Africans, 1848
Dow Jones and Company publishes its first stock average, 1884
Karl Benz officially unveils the Benz Patent Motorwagen – the first purpose-built automobile, 1886
The New York Tribune becomes the first newspaper to use a linotype machine, eliminating typesetting  by hand, 1886
World speed record for a steam railway locomotive is set in England, by the Mallard, which reaches a speed of 126 miles per hour (203 km/h), 1938
The biggest explosion in the history of rocketry occurs when the Soviet N1 rocket explodes and subsequently destroys its launchpad, 1969
First mention in the New York Times of a disease that would later be called AIDS, 1981
The Stone of Scone is returned to Scotland, 1996
Asteroid 2004 XP14 flies within 432,308 kilometres (268,624 mi) of Earth, 2006
New Zealand sustains a major earthquake, with minor damage reported, 2012
In El Paraiso, Peru, property developers destroy a 4,000-year old pyramid, 2013
In Belgium, King Albert II abdicates his throne to son, Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant, due to health reasons, 2013


  1. My first change in doctors never suggested a pelvic exam when I moved down her 6 years ago and my second doctor has not suggested it!!! My mother got cervical cancer so I guess I am going to have to ask for such a painful procedure.

  2. A pelvic exam is a small price considering the benefit it brings. Great story. Thanks for the read.

  3. I've always heard that cancer grows very slowly in the elderly so they often don't operate because of that. But pain is surely a different story. And this was a great story indeed.

  4. I would never presume to tell women what to do but these pelvic exams might be worth the bother and expense if they save your life.

  5. I've already had this conversation with my GYN.

    What a lovely post this is. Without surgery this lady would not have seen her great grand-babies. Just excellent.

    Have a fabulous day. :)

  6. Interesting post. A doctor told my grandfather he had a few weeks to live. He lived for years after that and even outlived the doctor. No telling.

  7. Holy cow! What a heartwarming story. That's one of the few cases I've heard where a cancer patient survived longer than 5 years. I bet it taught that doctor a lesson.