Senior Karma

One of my useful peculiarities is that I am very relaxed around doctors.   While others I know … including my darling wife … stress out before every examination and procedure, I just take it all in stride, which is a good thing as I get older.  Why is it that as we age, the number of places we need to be examined increases exponentially?   Anyway, I’ve always believed that in spite of some of the shortcomings of our medical system, we are lucky to live in an age when simple illnesses … and sometimes serious ones … don’t kill us.   My experience with the medical profession has been good, too, with a few notable exceptions like the cardiologist who implied I had colon cancer when I just needed an iron supplement.  I’ve been lucky to have good doctors.  I’ve also always had male doctors.

As part of my senior health assessment … that’s what they call an annual physical at my age … my (male) doctor suggested I have an ultrasound.  For a number of years, I’ve had a condition known as a hydrodcele which is very common in old(er) men.   Every year my doctor says, It’s a hydrocele, nothing to worry about, and I go home happy until eight or nine months later when I read an article about Lance Armstrong and get worried again.   This time, my doctor said, It’s still a hydrocele but let’s do an ultrasound to make you feel better about it.  Now, in case you didn’t follow my link or catch the Lance Armstrong reference, the swelling known as a hydrocele occurs south of the navel and north of the knees.  There are only two places it can occur.  You’re going to make me say it, aren’t you?  It was a testicular ultrasound.

When I was a younger man and in triathlon shape, I’d take my afternoon runs in just shorts and swim my laps in a red Speedo.  I looked good and I knew it.  But beyond that, I’m a modest man, particularly now that my body is in blogging, not triathlon, shape.  So, as I was leaving the house this morning, I said to Muri, I hope the radiologist is a man.  Muri, said, Yeah, really, managing to sound sympathetic even though she’d endured pelvic exams by a male gynecologist for years.  I mean, if someone’s going to be poking around down there with a greasy probe, I want it to be a man.   I was hoping for fifty year old Gus.   What I got was thirty year old Gillian.  I’ll be doing your examination, she said.  Nervous and wanting to break the tension (mine), I said, Did you draw the short straw?  She didn’t get it.  To have to do the exam on a sixty-seven year old man, I added.  Awwww, she said, realizing I was embarrassed (making me more so), I do this all the time, it’s nothing to me.  Hmmm.   Take off your clothes and lie down on the bed, she said handing me a small rectangle of terry cloth, and cover yourself with this towel.  I covered myself.

So, I got to put this here and cover that with a towel and Jillian went about her business for about fifteen minutes.  Who knew there was that much to look at?  She was efficient and professional and reasonably gentle.  And yes, readers, it is possible for a sixty-seven year old man to blush for fifteen minutes.  When she was done, she handed me a towel and said, We’re all done, go ahead and clean up.  I resisted the urge to say, You made the mess.  You clean it up!  At that point, all I wanted to do is get my pants back on.  So for all the times I wasn’t sympathetic when Muri went off to her gynecologist … and for all the times I thought, Get over it, when I heard a woman complaining about having a pelvic exam … I’m sorry.   I guess life is for learning.  And karma … even Senior Karma … is a bitch.

As is usual with radiology technicians, Jillian wouldn’t tell me any results and when they look around for so long, you wonder, even though they’re usually just being thorough.  I see my doctor on Tuesday.  If you’re so inclined, toss a little prayer my way.

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11 Comments on “Senior Karma”

  1. sharon Says:

    not laughing at you I am laughing with you. You got it right…Karma is a bitch!

  2. marjulo Says:

    I hope you receive good news at your exam on Tuesday!

    My husband and I have discussed male vs. female doctors for years. He doesn’t mind a female physician, but he hasn’t had an ultrasound in the area you describe. I’m not sure he has ever had an ultrasound at all.

    I’ve requested female physicians for twenty years now, after having a terrible experience with a male physician. I won’t go into details except to say my 18 year old daughter also went to him and was similarly mistreated. I wrote a complaint letter, on the advice of my psychotherapist, and that was the letter that tipped the balance for the State of Colorado to put him on suspension. There were enough letters to precipitate a law suit and a court trial where I had to testify. It was a memorable and mostly unpleasant experience, especially with him sitting there listening.

    I received word from the ADA that my testimony was what made the difference for the judge. His license was yanked. Other women had refused to testify, although I know there were some who took the stand. During my therapy (which was not just about sexual abuse), I realized that my mother’s beloved gynecologist took liberties with both me and my sister! I was totally uneducated about what was proper and what was not, so I have to say that the experience made me much more assertive and aware. If I hadn’t questioned my therapist a few weeks after my second or third appointment with this inappropriate doctor, I would have simply switched to another physician and let it go.

    I have seen male doctors as specialists, but I always insist on a female primary care physician. I’ve been happy 95% of the time.

    As far as Muri’s dislike of gynecological exams, woman never relish them. Mammograms are also uncomfortable and embarrassing at times. I’ve always had females do mammograms–at least you can joke around with them and not be embarrassed!

    That’s my two cents worth!

    • oldereyes Says:

      It’s very interesting how women differ on this particular point. I wonder if men do? I know that some offices insist on a female attendant in the room when a male doctor examines a woman. Why wouldn’t it work both ways?

  3. territerri Says:

    I’m glad you were able to find the humor in all of this. I’ve gotten beyond the horror of annual exams, but they are never comfortable. It makes it easier to be able to laugh about it.

    Definitely sending some prayers on your behalf…

    • oldereyes Says:

      Thanks for the prayers. One of the benefits of blogging is everything becomes post fodder (well, almost) so I often see humor in situations that don’t start out funny.

  4. I loathe going to the doctors. I always get terrible news.

    Ah, yes. The testicle ultrasound. I TRULY know just how unnerving it can be when having the opposite sex take a peek down there.

  5. My current doctor-down-there is a man. My previous doctor was a woman, but she left the practice and I defaulted to this guy. I have found over the years that there are pros and cons to having a doc of an opposing gender, particularly in that field of medicine. Women know how women feel, but men might – *might* – be less likely to dismiss a concern because “I’ve had it too, it’s nothing.” And as someone who has had the joys of annual appointments and a few extras, I figure the medicine is what it is. It’s the respect afforded by the person administering it that matters.

    Good luck.

    • oldereyes Says:

      I always find it interesting when I post a mostly humorous post and it elicits mostly serious comments. I like when that happens, actually, because I don’t want to be just another funny guy. No danger of that, right?

  6. Here’s hoping your test yields nothing but really good news for you! My current Primary physician is a woman and I really like her a lot. I did have a female gynocologist who was super too but she left the area almost a year ago now. However, she’s the dr. who referred me to the specialist in Pittsburgh who is a gynocological-oncologist and also a male and I wouldn’t trade him for all the tea in China! On the other hand, the guy in P-burgh who is the head of the Radiology dept. there -him, I definitely wouldn’t recommend for any type of really “up close and personal” type of examination in the nether areas, male or female! Extremely rough and painful plus being quite embarrassing as well!

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