Wanted: A Primary Care Doctor

by Lila Lazarus

Adventurous, fun-loving, healthy, 50-something woman seeks intelligent, compassionate, patient, trustworthy and attentive primary care physician for a long-term relationship.

Hard to admit, but I don’t have a doctor. Last year, my general practitioner went “concierge,” meaning his services now cost an extra $3,000 a year— a retainer fee paid by some patients to avoid crowded waiting rooms and get more personalized service.

While that may appeal to me someday, for now, the extra price tag seems exorbitant for someone I see maybe twice a year. So now I’m in search of. And I’m not alone. One out of eight people are looking for a new doctor, either because their doctor retired or changed plans or because of the quality of care from the doctor or staff.

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Yes, I did that.

St. Joe’s Health Reporter Lila Lazarus broadcast her routine colonoscopy on Facebook Live to raise awareness about the importance of screening and prevention.

“You did what!?”

That’s the usual reaction when people hear I had my colonoscopy on Facebook Live.

Why on Earth would you do that?” is usually the follow-up question.

In case you don’t know what a colonoscopy is – it’s when a trained specialist, in this case, St. Joe’s colorectal surgeon Dr. Amanda McClure, takes a probe with a tiny HD camera and goes six feet in through the patient’s rectum and colon. She examines the lining of the colon – which is where colon cancer starts – and searches for pre-cancerous polyps.

Only this colonoscopy was a little more…public. My colonoscopy was broadcast live on social media. Thousands have now seen the inside of my colon and rectum on Facebook. They watched as Dr. McClure narrated a journey through my large intestine looking for growths on the lining— precancerous polyps. 

Continue reading “Yes, I did that.”

Isn’t it time you have a colonoscopy?

Colon cancer kills 51,000 Americans every year. That’s more people than a full stadium at Comerica Park. But here’s the good news: Colon cancer is more than 90 percent preventable if detected early. Read that sentence again. Colon cancer is more than 90 percent preventable if detected early. Think of the lives we could save if we just got more people to talk about colons, rectums and bowels and go get checked out. Continue reading “Isn’t it time you have a colonoscopy?”

You Gotta Have Friends

Remember American Top 40 on the radio?  Casey Kasem would do a long-distance dedication with a sappy story of a soldier sending back love and a song to his sweetheart back home. As corny as it was, every one listened. Well, I’ve decided to make a special dedication for this new year 2019, and I hope you’ll listen. This dedication is going out to all my friends whom I didn’t spend enough time with in the last year. That’s right. In 2019,  my priority is going to be my friends— not work, not home, but maintaining my relationships and creating new ones. I’m not talking about making new acquaintances.  What we need to foster are real bonds of friendship. And it’s in all our interest to do the same. Why?  Because it’s good for our health.

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Time is Moving Too Fast

by Lila Lazarus

Stop it. It can’t possibly be the end of the year. How did the months fly by? Where did the time go? 2019?! That sounds like some futuristic date in an Orwell novel. Yes, we’ve all heard the older you get, the faster time flies. But this was warp speed.

I remember people saying that if you do the same thing day in and day out, your days will just blend together and move faster. But that’s not my situation. No two days are alike and yet they’ve vanished. Twelve months passed in an instant! I think it slipped by because I wasn’t being a very good witness. I didn’t observe as closely as I could have.

In yoga, we’re told to stay in the moment. Be present.  You’ll be more aware, more focused and less apt to let time drift by unnoticed. I don’t do this on a regular basis,  but I’m determined to savor every last moment of 2018.  Here’s how: Continue reading “Time is Moving Too Fast”

Alone for the Holidays?

by Lila Lazarus

This feeling comes on every year just before Thanksgiving. It’s a big, empty feeling. There’s a pit in my stomach and a lump in my throat. As discussions turn to holiday plans and family dinners, I can feel my eyes start to water.

If you’re blessed with a big family living close by, you may not understand the pain. But for those of us with small families or families living across the country— or, in my case, around the world — it’s sometimes unbearable. Being without family or a tight, core group of friends can leave you feeling disconnected and depressed. This is the time of year when we count on our tribe. It’s priceless. And if you don’t have a tribe readily available, well…it’s tough. It’s hard to accept that Thanksgiving isn’t going to look like that Norman Rockwell image of the perfect family dinner we grew up with or hoped to have some day. Continue reading “Alone for the Holidays?”

Questions and Apertures

by Lila Lazarus

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Photo credit: Costello Candids

It wasn’t a question I wanted to ask. We were sitting with my Mom in her new assisted living facility having coffee and I was going to ask her if she wanted another cookie but instead blurted, “Mom, do you want to be buried or cremated?”

Perhaps I could have been more delicate. Perhaps I could have waited for another time. Perhaps I was insensitive. But the right time never comes for the tough questions. All my siblings were in town to help move my Mom into the new facility. This seemed as good a moment as any. Some say the ideal time for this conversation is before you turn 40 and your parents turn 70, whichever comes first. But that ship sailed for us a while ago.  Mom is 86.  It was now or never. Continue reading “Questions and Apertures”

No Regrets

by Lila Lazarus

Lila Swing
Photo by Costello Candids

We’re moving my Mom this week to an assisted living facility. While her health is good, her mind is slipping away. It’s hard to believe just a few months ago we were talking about traveling together to Poland and the Ukraine to see the towns her parents emigrated from. There’s no chance of that anymore. She always said she was going to learn how to play bridge and mahjong. She never found the time, and now it’s never going to happen.

Thinking about all the things my Mom can no longer do is a powerful wake-up call. When I think of all the places she wanted to travel, the people she lost touch with because she was “too busy,” the hobbies she planned to take up someday… it’s painful to think about. And it’s also a major motivator for me. I don’t want any regrets. I don’t want any guilt. So, I did some thinking about how to live without any. Here’s what I’ve come up with: Continue reading “No Regrets”

The End of Summer and the Beginning of Now

by Lila Lazarus
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The end of summer? Are you kidding me? It happens every year but somehow always catches me by surprise. I can’t stop thinking: “Where did the summer go? How are kids already going back to school? Is that a chill I feel in the air?” I’m creating a feeling of impending doom in my gut. I start imagining the misery of scraping frost off the windshield. My mind starts to wander.

But not this year. This year, I’m trying something new—and you may want to try it with me.  I’m making use of a superpower we all have. I’m staying right here in this moment. We spend so much time worrying about things to come. And it gets us nowhere. It just steals the magic of the moment. Our bodies may be rooted in the present, but our heads are hijacked and time travel into another place entirely. A wandering mind can lead to anxiety and misery. When I don’t stay in the date on the calendar, my head often fills with negativity. So, I’m celebrating this day by staying right here in the present moment without needless worries. If you’d like to join me in this moment, here are simple ways to stay right here right now without worry. Continue reading “The End of Summer and the Beginning of Now”

If You Don’t Have Time, Make Time

by Lila Lazarus

Lila_Bicycle“It must be nice,” my friend said to me with a tinge of resentment as I got onto my bike.  “Having time to ride a bike is a luxury I can’t afford,” she said.  Her words hurt me.  She made it sound like I have all this extra time in my life to ride my bicycle.  The truth is, I don’t have extra time…I make it.  For the last six months, I’ve been deep into training for a 300-mile bike ride with Team Joe’s to raise money for Make-A-Wish to grant wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.  It’s a three-day journey— 100 miles a day. Those of us making this ride have been training for months. There are dozens on our team who, like me, don’t have time…they make it. They are doctors and CEOs and lawyers and business owners. Husbands and wives, parents and students. Every one of them has a busy life. And none was given more than 24 hours in a day.

So if you’re one of those people who looks longingly at those riding their bikes, or playing with their kids in the park, or sitting and reading a book and thinking “Gee I wish I had time for that,” then these words are for you. Decide what it is you want to do and make a commitment. Continue reading “If You Don’t Have Time, Make Time”