Saturday, February 4, 2012

Let's Get Physical

It had been many years since I last visited a doctor, but thought it was about time I got myself checked out.  With no specific aches or pains to complain about, all I wanted was a routine physical, having really no idea what that entailed beyond what I had heard about in stories, or saw on television.  I’m not going to lie, it was the backdoor finger poke that I most feared.  Although having never actually experienced it, it was the thought of that knuckle deep how-ya-doin’ wiggle that had kept me from making this appointment for so many years in the first place, but I’m not getting any younger, and reluctantly resigned myself to whatever poking and prodding was to be directed my way.

Upon arriving, I immediately headed up the stairs to the second floor office.  I checked in with the receptionist, gave her my Health Card, and in return was handed a small plastic cup.  Having not relieved myself before leaving for the Doctor’s office that morning proved to be a wise decision, as when she asked me if I was able to provide a urine sample right now, I was able to proudly declare “Yes!”  She then pointed me in the direction of the washroom, and told me that once I was done, I needed to take the cup down the hall and place it in the little blue basket.  No problem.  So I went into the washroom, filled the cup to what I figured was a satisfactory level, walked down the hall, and deposited my cup into the little blue basket as requested.  With seemingly nobody around or even within earshot, after a minute or so, I walked back to the reception area, which was also empty, and sat down to await further instructions.

After over five more minutes of waiting, the nurse finally came back out and in a surprisingly non-discreet and giggly voice exclaimed “Oh, there you are!”, as apparently I was supposed to have continued waiting by the blue basket.  She hadn’t told me that.  I could only imagine what the nurses must have been thinking when they watched the minutes tick away, taking far more time than should normally be required to produce the specific type of sample that had been asked of me.  I could just picture them knocking on the door of the empty washroom whispering “Excuse me, this isn’t that type of place mister!”  The way they attempted to muffle their giggles provided all the evidence I needed that it had in fact crossed their mind.

After a quick but knowing laugh, we cleared the air, and they proceeded to measure my weight and height.  No problems there, other than the somewhat shorter than average nurse requiring a stool to obtain a better vantage point of my height measurement.  “How tall are you, anyway?” she asked.  “I could tell you, but since you’ve already pulled out the stool, how about you tell me.” I half-jokingly replied, not allowing her to shortcut her job duties, or the Canadian taxpayers responsible for her salary.  She confirmed what I had already known, I'm tall.  The nurse stepped down, then guided me along the hallway and into the examination room, where she checked my blood pressure.  Again, no problems.  Then she opened a small drawer, pulled out what appeared to be a folded dish rag, and tossed it onto the padded yet paper covered examination bed.  “Here’s your gown” she said.  What the hell??  Where’s the rest of it?  She assured me it was one size fits all, and instructed me to strip down.  “It’s all got to come off?”  I asked, unsure of the protocol, and not wanting to go too far or not enough in any one direction.  “Yes, everything off” she clarified.  And with that she left the room, pulling the door closed behind her.  So I stripped down.  Shoes, followed by shirt, followed by pants, working my way through the various clothing items I had selected to put on that day, leaving me standing in the middle of the room with nothing but the cool air gently caressing my skin.  I stood there, looking out the window, thinking to myself, perhaps blinds or curtains would have been a good idea.  Watching a young couple enjoy their Egg McMuffins at the restaurant below, I tried to recall whether I had maybe seen a suggestion box anywhere along the way, before refocusing my attention.   Examining the gown, I then attempted to put it on.

Having never worn one of these gowns before, I quickly realized it is very different than putting on a jacket, and turned it around the other way.  Finding the little ties somewhat difficult to tie behind my back, but not wanting to yell down the hall to ask for assistance, I awkwardly fumbled away until I figured everything was at least secure enough.  That’s when I noticed that those one size fits all gowns were clearly not made for people 6’-4” tall.  I may as well have been wearing one of my old childhood button-down shirts, backwards!  After a pause, and a deep sigh, I sat down on the examination bed, listening to the crinkling of the paper with every uncomfortable movement I made.

Not remembering the rest of the song, but unable to clear it from my mind, I just kept repeating “Kriss Kross will make you… jump, jump!!  Daddy Mack will make you… jump, jump!!”, figuring it could only have been the backwards gown that made this song suddenly appear from my sub-conscience.  It was then that I noticed the chair that the doctor would be sitting in, and its height in relation to where I was sitting.  I seemed to recall that the doctor was a rather short man, so picturing him in that swivel chair turning around to face me, I mentally measured out roughly where his eye level would be.  Yup, he’d be staring right at my junk, forced into a face to face confrontation with the one-eyed monster.  If there was more material to the gown, I could have at least tried to shield his view a little bit, but despite my efforts, there was absolutely nothing that could be done.  Sharon Stone's famous Basic Instinct scene would be rated PG in comparison.  So I sat there patiently for another 10 minutes, swinging my legs, and reading through the “Do’s and Don’ts of Breastfeeding” poster that was directly in front of me, as it was the only material within view.

Finally the doctor came in and sat down.  As he’s facing away from me and towards his computer monitor, he asks questions, I answer, and he types away, entering some information into my file.  With the administrative part of the examination over, he slowly swivelled his chair around to face me.  TA DAA!!!! HERE I AM!!!  He quickly decided to stand instead.  I later thought jazz hands would have been a nice touch, upset that I didn’t think of it earlier when I had my chance.  We began working our way through all the routine stuff .  He asked me to “Say awww”, so I did, and then he checked out my ears and eyes, with everything going just fine.  Then he instructed me to lie down on my back, so of course I did as I was told.  He felt around my neck, chest, stomach, and for some reason, my feet.  I didn’t quite understand that one, but whatever, he’s the doctor, so I didn’t question it.

He stepped away, opened a small drawer, and pulled out what I can only assume were a fresh pair of rubber gloves.  While I could clearly see the tube of lubricant in that same drawer, he did not apply any to his gloves, which really kind of concerned me as I thought it would have only been courteous.  Instead of asking me to roll over onto my stomach however, which I assumed would have been the next step, he immediately lifted up my gown so that I was exposed from mid-chest downward, and started fumbling around with my junk!  I had been so concerned and focused on the back nine leading up to this day, that I had completely forgotten about the front nine!  I have no idea why, but it was at that very moment that I suddenly realized I had accidently left my lunch in the fridge at home.  What a time for a random thought like that!  So needless to say, that whole turn of events caught me a little off guard.  When he pulled the gown back down to cover what little of me it could, he said “Everything looks good”, to which I replied “Well, thank you”.  I was pleased that he approved, and outwardly declared his endorsement.  He began removing his rubber gloves.

Confused, I continued to lie there, wondering why he would have removed his gloves.  Could it be that he needed the extra keen sensitivity that his bare finger tips offered in order to conduct the more invasive portion of this examination, sensitivity that the thin rubber gloves just could not provide?  I continued to lie there, gulping with increasing apprehension, fearful of a raw dog penetration. 

Unexpectedly, he informed me that I could sit back up, as he sat back down and turned to face his computer.  He typed away, logging his findings into my file.  I sat wondering if I was done, or whether this was just a momentary respite before the main event.  I watched intently to see what he was typing, and was pleased that he was not identifying any concerns.  My blood work and ECG results had all come back, and were also just fine.  With that, he asked me if I had any questions, to which all I could reply was “Is that it?  Are we done?”  He confirmed that we were indeed done, and that he doesn’t need to see me for another two years.  I had worried all that time for nothing!!  The prostate exam that wasn’t.

But here’s the thing. This didn’t just happen to me today, or even this week.  No, this happened to me roughly one and a half years ago, which means my two year anniversary is quickly approaching, and I will once again be called upon for another examination.  I can’t help but start to think about it, the nervousness building, questioning if this time will be the one.  I clench at the thought. 


  1. That is so well written! If only we had this nice pictures to go with it ... of you glancing out the window at the McDonalds! Hopefully you will write a sequel for us for the next doctor's visit episode.
    We need pictures! :)

  2. Thank you! Yeah, I don't know about pictures, at least not those ones. I'm trying to keep the "PG" rating so that this can appeal to a wider audience :) Maybe I can do hand-drawn sketches though! Haha!!

  3. While admittedly not much of an artist, I've added a visual aid :)