I don’t remember the first physical examination I had or who the doctor was – but I remember his finger. I mean, how could I forget the two things I remember about the experience, namely:
- Extreme embarrassment
- Extreme discomfort
If you’re a male, over the age of forty, you know all about the ‘finger’ exam. It’s a procedure where the doctor inserts his lubricated and gloved finger inside your rectum to check your prostate gland for signs of cancer.
Although this exam is both embarrassing and uncomfortable, it is crucial to have this done each year.
Today, I have an appointment for my annual physical exam with my doctor. I’ve been procrastinating for months because of my fear of the ‘finger probe.’
But women are also subjected to embarrassing and uncomfortable physical exams – such as the ‘pap smear test’ to detect cervical cancer or the ‘mammogram test’ to detect breast cancer. And I imagine that it’s more uncomfortable for women if the doctor doing the test(s) is a man.
While living in Moncton (1992-97), it was challenging to find a doctor who was taking new patients. But after a few months, I was able to get a family doctor, and it was a female doctor. Her name was Dr. LeBlanc, and she was one of my favorite doctors of all-time.
I remember my first physical exam with her. I was nervous because of the ‘finger’ test. I also remembered a trial where the doctor touches men just below their ‘equipment,’ and then they tell you to cough. When you cough, your ‘boys’ are supposed to jump – or at least, that’s how I remember the test explained to me.
So when Dr. LeBlanc was doing the prostate exam on me, she suddenly stopped and said that she couldn’t complete the test because her finger was too short. She said that she would refer me to a urologist for the examination.
I knew that the urologist would have long fingers, but when I arrived at his office and saw that he was almost seven feet tall – I started to feel squeamish. And when he introduced himself by reaching out his hand to shake mine, I almost fainted at the size of his hand (fingers)!
Naturally, the finger chosen would be the doctor’s longest one. I thought about requesting that he use his baby finger but didn’t want to sound like a scaredy-cat. But when he inserted his middle finger into me, I screamed in pain. It felt like his finger traveled up to my lungs!
That was more than twenty years ago. I’ve probably had a dozen of those tests since but never with the same pain. But tell that to my brain – I’m still a little squeamish.
It’s currently 8:15 on Wednesday morning. My appointment is for 11:00 am. Wish me well. But don’t wait to see any photos or videos.
By the way, I wrote this story because I wanted to remind each of you to have these tests done. It’s imperative to catch cancer in the early stage – prevention is much easier than the treatments – and I don’t want to hear about any more of my friends (especially you) getting this disease!
Too many tears have shed – please get an appointment for a prostate exam, a pap smear, or a mammogram exam today!
Dedicated to Dr. Robin Wilson
Today’s tune from Danny’s library (purchased):