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THE FREEDOM TO BE HEALTHY

Employee
Employee
As a Southwest Airlines Employee, I enjoy a wide variety of "freedoms." I have the freedom to travel...the freedom to enjoy what I do for a living....the freedom to make a difference in the lives of millions of people...and the freedom to be healthy. The excellent health insurance that Southwest offers its Employees makes that last one especially easy. Well - easier, anyway. Few folks, other than those with a hypochondriac streak, actually enjoy going to the doctor, much less having something "done" to them. Still, enjoyable or not, responsible adults know that we must keep current with our physicians so that we can enjoy other good things–like living! So, last month I gave my freedom to be healthy a real workout, and had a colonoscopy. Now trust me, it's not like I woke up one morning and said to myself "Gee! I think I'll have a colonoscopy after my cappuccino this morning." Hardly...I had the procedure because my doctor said I needed it. Family history and my steadily advancing age (I hate that phrase) were the primary factors that told my doc it was time for him to have a look up my–well, you know the area involved. But even as a somewhat rational adult, I still put the procedure off for almost three months just because I dreaded having it done. I knew from talking with family and friends that having a colonoscopy is nothing like those TV commercials we've all seen. You know the ones–the over-the-top older guy in the doctor's waiting room high-fiving a woman as she goes back for her colonoscopy, then asking plaintively, "Is Lewis next???" You next see the same old guy in a paper gown, sliding onto an exam table with a sly smirk, saying "bring it on, doc!" That's a cute ad campaign, but believe me, it's about as accurate as claiming Cher is the epitome of natural beauty. The reality is that having a colonoscopy is a two-day event that will never replace a day at the beach or an afternoon on the golf course as a preferred way to spend your leisure time. Day one is spent on a special diet of clear liquids–and by the way, beer is a clear liquid!–and by "getting ready" (to put it euphemistically) for the test. Day two is the colonoscopy itself, usually done in the morning. I was told I'd be sedated for the procedure, but I was completely out. Cold. They could have lit firecrackers in my nostrils and I wouldn't have cared. So, I have no memory of the process, just of going to sleep, then waking up about 30 minutes later–and having a Rooty-Tooty-Fresh-And-Fruity at IHOP shortly thereafter. And that's it. I felt really foolish afterwards for caving in to my fears and postponing the procedure as long as I did. Honestly, from my experience, it was neither terribly unpleasant, nor was it painful, nor was it (believe it or not) embarrassing. It just...well...was what it was. And the test's chief benefit is definitely worth mentioning. It can save your life. Colonoscopy is the most precise way for physicians to identify and diagnose a whole range of problems that could range from the problematic (Irritable Bowel Syndrome, for example) to the chronic (like Crohn's Disease) to the deadly (such as colon cancer). Early diagnosis of any of these problems is crucial in improving both the effectiveness of treatment as well as the eventual outcome, yet many Americans fail to receive that early diagnosis simply because we avoid undergoing a proven and trusted test simply because we're afraid of it. How foolish…how childish…and how wasteful! This year alone, more people in the United States will perish from colon cancer than from breast cancer and AIDS combined. Another 200,000 Americans suffer from Crohn's Disease, a condition that can be truly debilitating (I know–my brother, Mark, has suffered from it for over 30 years now). And fully 10-15% of our population is estimated to suffer from IBS. While early diagnosis and treatment can't guarantee a happy ending for any of these conditions, it significantly improves your odds of living a longer happier, life–one that is full of freedoms! Now that it's over, I'm happy that I had a colonoscopy (and trust me, that's a phrase you don't often hear!). My test results, thankfully, were good. Two polyps, both removed while I was asleep during the procedure, neither worrisome, and everything else looked normal. And since I now know I'm healthy "in there" I intend to try and stay that way by eating more fiber and drinking more water. And who knows....having a colonoscopy was so much fun, I might just really throw caution to the wind and do something really scary. Like get into a bathing suit. But that's a story for another time.
13 Comments
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Bill - Great reminder that we should all have our yearly checkups, etc...I called the Doc this morning and scheduled mine. Thanks for taking a risk and being honest with us. See ya at the BASH! James
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Bill I had the encounter a couple years ago. I thought the day before maybe I could go flying after (my wife works for SWA) the procedure.. Boy was I wrong, being the type A personality I was (so said the D.R.) they had to give me more seditave.. After it was over my wife told me I was very embarassing.. She said I looked at the nurse as I was waking up and asked her if I could go flying. Her response was ( why no you cant) MY wife said I then sat straight up in the bed and started yelling . BUT I OWN A FLEET OF BOEING 737 S . She pushed me back down and told me to hush and looked at the nurse and said its a long story. Everything came out allright..
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yes, thanks for sharing and getting the word out !!! We are blessed to have awesome health insurance....
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Good one dad, sign me up... except I want mine with a cold six pack of beer, and reruns from the golden girls. Love ya, Your Son- Officer T. Owen
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Hey Bill, I wish I had seen your article before my body was the "set" for the Fantastic Voyage last summer. Fortunately, the "explorers" experienced smooth sailing. I woke up just as the final credits were rolling across the TV screen in front of me, and it was fascinating in an existential kind of way! (Dang! my doctor didn't mention that beer could be a part of the preliminaries.) Brian
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I am glad that you passed with flying colors. Thanks for being so candid and because I just can't help it...TMI
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Dear SWA associates: Pardon me if I am not doing this right, as I have never blogged before. However, I wanted to pass along our input on this assigned seating proposal. One of the great features that has seperated SWA from other airlines has been no assigned seating. As SWA fliers, trust me, we utilize this feature to avoid and move away from people who... douse themselves with perfume/cologne... screaming kids who kick the back of your seat... motormouths who yap non-stop because they know everything about everything and want to impress the world with their knowledge. And since we live in Las Vegas, if you ever fly out of here on a Sunday morning, you will find those whose body odor reeks of alcohol and they also smell like they have been rolling around in an ash tray non-stop for days. We love to fly SWA, but having the ability to avoid these types makes SWA special. If you go to assigned seating, you become just another airline. Progressive thinking is what made SWA special... why would your organization even consider backsliding into being like "everybody else?" Hopefully this stupid idea will pass and you will not become fodder for a Scott Adams Dilbert feature flying under the guise of "Elbonia Airlines."
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ATTN TRAVELER BEYOND I CZN UNDERSTAND YOUR POINT BUT OTHER PEOPLE WANT STNG ASSIGNMENTS TO HAVE THE OPTION TO SEAT AS A FAMILY AND NOT ALLL OVER THE PALANE--THNX TIM 24066 HRC
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For the past two years I have had the pleasure of being the friend that drove Bill to the doctor, along with our friend Sandy, to have this procedure done. The first year, well, lets just say it was like trying to stuff a 3 year old crying child into a car seat! Bill does NOT like needles, in fact, he is terrified of them. I am proud to say this year we made some progress! Neither myself or Sandy feared for our own safety while they were trying to find a good vein. Bill woke up, he sounded a bit like Dorothy (from the Golden Girls) on a case of Miller Lite and demanded pancakes. Oh, and he wanted his wallet back! I am so proud of you Bill, but personally I think you got hosed!
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Your blog was interesting. However , the reference to Cher could have been left out in my humble opinion.
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Being Healthy! now there's a condition that, until a few weeks ago, I took for granted. I'm a Customer Service Supervisor in Tampa and thought I had the world by the tail (the tail of a 737-700 that is) until about a month ago. Come to find out most normal people dont feel like an elephant is sitting on their chest after 10 or 15 minutes of exertion. I've been this way all my life and considered it normal and have always vowed to get more exercise and get in better shape one of these days. After 45 years of "normal" life I thought to mention it to my doctor. Whoa boy, that horse started running and all I could do was hold on. I found that I had a coronary artery that wasn't plumbed right and my condition has only been diagnosed one time in an adult who was still alive. Now 3 weeks later I've got 33 staples in my chest and I'm wondering if anyone wrote down the liscense plate number of the 18-wheeler that ran over me. What makes this a SWA story is, my hospital room was full of gifts and flowers from Southwest employees and work groups. When I got home there was a incredible blanket sent from Colleen Barrett and Gary Kelly telling me to get well soon. My visitors in the hospital were 98% SWA employees. My managers drove 25 miles to come see me, and now three weeks later there hasn't been a day go by that someone from work hasn't called to tell me they miss me. I've had a lot of jobs in my 45 short years but nothing compares to the sense of "being at home" I get from Southwest. This time I've had to think has given me the opportunity to understand and experience what family truly is. My wife, my kids, my parents and grandparents are all very thankful to know that I've got a lot of great years ahead of me now and we are all sobered by the knowledge that I've been living on borrowed time for many many years. All my family is amazed by the amount of love that has poured from my Southwest family, and as I sit writing this I'm blessed that there hasn't been a moment when I've worried about my job being secure or medical bills or a pay check (all that's covered). It's been Southwest that has allowed me to focus on getting well and focus on being a good husband and father for many years to come. Call it what you like "Freedoms, benefits, or perks". I call it being blessed with a family that cares. My family is not limited to blood but it includes those who have shared the sweat and tears and victories of being a Southwest Employee. I'm a part of something incredible and I can't wait to get back to work at Southwest Airlines. From Colleen and Gary to the newest CSA, I want to say Thank You to every Southwest Employee for allowing me to be a part of your family. I've got a tough road ahead but with people like you behind me there's nothing I cant do. When I get back I promise to work hard and ensure the blessings I've come to know personally are secure for each of you. You are the BEST! Brent Bean Tampa
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Bill: Great story about the procedure. You have made the experience/procedure sound easier than most others have written about Who was your doctor/facility and what city did you have the procedure in. We are "shopping" around as no one has been able to give us names of doctors that they would recommend. Its not an easy area to get personal references for! Thanks!
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thanks your article, this nice post