I should have known my former marriage was headed for disaster when my then ex-wife tried to arrange for a prostate exam – on my thirtieth birthday. I would like to think her eagerness had only to do with my well being, but evil is hidden in many forms.
There are three inevitable events every man faces: death, when sleep becomes more appealing than sex, and prostate exams. The latter, arguably, is the worst of all three.
Its more endearing name – rectal exam – is an adorable procedure the medical establishment throws into the male’s physical when he reaches forty years of age. Why they force us to wait in agonizing suspense for this treat is another hidden evil.
This past week marked my third anniversary of anal probing. And much like an IRS tax audit, it doesn’t get more enjoyable with time. My general practitioner, who I’ve been seeing since moving to Atlanta in the mid 90’s, helps make the affair as laid back as he can. Fortunately his reserved bedside manner and looking more like a Psychologist than a medical doctor helps. Instead of focusing on what’s about to happen I imagine I’m in a therapy session; but even performing this dog-and- pony show before he can’t extinguish all of its awkwardness. It’s an understood that the few minutes leading up to and immediately after the deed is to remain eye contact free. I can’t help but wonder if he questions his career choice in these moments.
I’ll refrain from giving a play-by-play, Google that if you’re interested. I will only say this; man has never known humility until he’s bent over an examination table with his pants at his ankles. If there’s ever a wonder why men don’t go to the doctor – now you know.
In 1983 I was twelve years old and had just moved into the 7th grade. All of ninety pounds the coach took pity and gave me a bench spot on the Charlotte Junior High School Tigers Football team. By the end of that year I would be charmingly referred to as ‘Killer Kyle’ because of my ferocity as tackle dummy. One school requirement was all football players have a sports physical. My parents loved me but our family only went to the doctor if someone needed stitches or bones were protruding so I wasn’t familiar with this medical procedure. Apparently I wasn’t the only one.
As we boarded the school bus for Dickson County Hospital tensions were high wondering what would happen. Somewhere along Highway 48 one of the older players finally let on what was about to go down. Whether he felt sorry for us or was trying to be a jerk, the result was the same.
“The doctor’s going to have me do what? And he’s going to grab where?!?! You’ve got to be kidding me?!?!
There are three inevitable events every man faces: death, when sleep becomes more appealing than sex, and prostate exams.
I would only shower and change clothes if I knew there was a fifty-foot radius between me and another living soul and no human being had seen me naked since I was five. And as my virginity would remain in tact, in every way, until college that part of my body was unmapped territory; so a stranger seeing and actually laying a finger on it sent bolts of terror through me.
As the bus turned into the parking lot I was left with two options: be a man or call my mom. Neither was satisfactory but one would at least stay between the doctor and I while the other might necessitate relocation to New Zealand if I hoped to show my face in public again.
So with racing heart and sweating palms I was called into the examination room. After the routine eye, ear, and throat check it was time for business. As the kid on the bus explained Dr. Bledsoe asked me to drop my pants, keep eyes forward, turn and cough. The doctor wasn’t the Sear’s Catalogue but I remember the affect being roughly the same. Had Dr. Bledsoe been a woman I would have passed out from embarrassment. Shortly thereafter, I left the room with a clean bill of health and my fragile dignity still in tact.
I only tell this story because I’m reminded of it every time I walk into a doctor’s office. Which, admittedly, sounds disturbing. And my doctor can fortunately rest at ease, Sear’s catalogues don’t have the same influence they once had 30 years ago.