The Professional Patient Reprise


In honor of C. S. Boyack’s extreme courage and bravery for posting his “Public Service Announcement” yesterday, I would like to again, with Mr. Boyack’s permission, pay homage to my first prostate….

“Alright, Mr. Smith. I am going to need to have you drop your drawers and bend over with your elbows on the table.” I was using my perky voice.

I placed a box of Kleenex down apologetically on the exam table in front of him.

“You are going to do what?” He stared incredulously at me. He was an older man with a receding hairline and an uncanny resemblance to my father.

“I am here to check your prostate.” I tried to maintain the perky tone even though my hands shook and my palms sweated as I pulled on the latex gloves.

“Like hell you are.” His voice was raised and I could detect a hint of distress. He stepped menacingly toward the door.

Taken aback, I stood up quickly getting out of his way.

The shadow lurking in the corner stepped forward.

“Mr. Smith, if you do not allow this exam, you will not get paid the $25…”

He looked at the shadow.

Then at me.

Then back to the shadow.

“Fine,” he growled. In no time, his pants were down around his ankles.

It was then that I felt my first prostate…

Special Note: Professional patients for prostate exams in medical school were pulled from a halfway house and not really informed upfront about what exactly they were going to have to endure. Sometimes as a patient, it feels like this and you face the decision to flee or see it out. Congrats to Mr. Boyack for seeing it through and coming back with good test results. High five!


66 thoughts on “The Professional Patient Reprise

  1. My husband tells me he’s happy when the young female urology PA examines him instead of the male PA. Not because my husband’s a dirty old fart (well, probably some of that, too), but because her hands are so much smaller. I guess I can understand that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know it’s routine to have them there, but I always get a bit nervous seeing the latex gloves and the lubricant in the exam room. (I’d have opted out of the $25).
    Such an important life-saving exam, though. It must be harder for men; women have been probed routinely since puberty.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Can’t be a pleasant situation for either party.
    I once had to catheterize a patient that had only hours to live. He requested a male nurse to do it but there were no male nurses there. I felt so bad for the gentleman, he was going fast and I just wish that it had have been possible to fulfill his request.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Several years ago now, my PSA #’s came back elevated…which sent me in for my first trip to the Urologist, Lucky me 🙂 which in turn meant I had my first prostrate check up. It was tolerable but what made it better was his sense of humor, combined with my sense of humor, It felt like the Click and Clack brothers bantering on Car Talk (I am not kidding) He told me several of his funniest encounters w/ patients.. what a hoot. As you said, you ladies get poked and prodded all the time when it comes to after a few years, I have learned to just roll with the flow. I ended up having a biopsy a few years back…let me tell you, it is nothing like they said it would feel (they told me it would feel like someone was snapping my backside with a rubber band. (not so much) but if I can catch that slow growing cancer by putting up with a little uncomfortableness, I am willing to pay the price. DM

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, yeah, the procedure(s) don’t sound fun, but…men. Sheez. As women we are routinely subjected to such things. How fast do you think there’d be a new kind of test if men had to get tender parts slapped between cold plates and squeezed as in a routine mammogram?

    Enjoyed reading the post again and was amused by the photo choice.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Yeuk, and for €25. His discomfort must have made it really cringy for you too.
    On a lot less cringy front I remember avoiding giving my first injection for ages. Then it was discovered what i was doing so I was marched in with a tutor to give one. We lied magnificently saying I’d done hundreds but the patient was very very nervous. When I swabbed his hip with a wipe he screamed the place down. I nearly died. I did manage to give him the injection and he apologised and said it was obvious that it wasn’t my first! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’d not thought about the discomfort of the doctor doing the exam. hmmm. i suppose that is not the most popular procedure for doctors either. My current colorectal surgeon is a woman with very small hands – that is a bonus. I find that a positive attitude and a humorous banter goes a long way to reducing the pain of any procedure. I had a colonoscopy some years ago. It’s easier for me because of my colostomy – so no need for drugs – but still is traumatic. Anyway, i always ask to watch the big screen monitor while they are doing it – I find it amazing the structures and construction of the colon. The doctor was a stiff shirt who I never saw smile or say a kind word (I’ve ditched him since) – the hurse who was running the equipment was a very funny, very experienced specialist who handled everycolonoscopy for a whole group of doctors. Anyway i was trying hard not to move because it made the picture fuzzy so i was very quiet; the nurse asked me twice if i was OK. the Doc wanted to get a better look at a section of colon and asked the nurse to squirt some water As she squirted the water she hollered “Fire in the hole!” . I laughed so hard that it took about 3 minutes for the picture to settle down enough to be useable again. The nurse had a big shit-eating grin on her face and the doc looked like he had just eaten a lemon. it really made a big positive difference in the procedure for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Wow! I never felt my first “real” prostate until my clinical years. Same can be said for “real” (patient) breasts and bimanual exams. We only ever use models in pre-clinical years. It seems a little ludicrous!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dr “Dolore” you do have some good tales of some males. I had no idea that people from the street were paid to go in and get an exam. This is so funny yet sad in a way. I wonder if the guinea pigs ever told the other men about their experiences. But, I suppose some of the baited ones did not mind since they were paid.

    The poor and homeless in my town regularly donate plasma and I think the going rate is only about $20. Not enough money in my book.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Most males have “one hung low” and grow up that way, my mother told me. At age 36, my “one hung low” really became swollen, like never before. My (female) doctor, on the outbacks of Minnesota, sent me to my first poking, prodding, and fondling urologist. Thus began my prostate history, and epididymitis, and rectal exams. It has never been pleasant, but necessary. Prostatitis I can spell, and often suffer from. Long travels enables the scrotum to swell to grapefruit-size proportions. Oh, and female PA’s? “Can you squeeze out more fluid?” “Yes, you definitely have an infection. ” And so it goes, for some of us. “More cranberry juice, please.” I just wanted to tell what it is a bit like on the male side, as I see the K-Y and the gloves. “Take a deep breath. ” Or, after a few years with the same physician, “Assume the position. ” We know what is coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Nobody ever gets comfortable having their privacy(bad pun) invaded. When my sister referred me to her GYN many years ago, while he was doing my exam, he asked who referred me. I told him, “my sister. Do you see any resemblance?” He nearly passed out laughing.

    Liked by 3 people

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