“We have a 45 year old gentleman down here in emergency who comes in with a week history of right groin pain and scrotal swelling. He came in today because he said the pain was unbearable. CT scan shows a loop of bowel through the inguinal canal. Are you able to come and see him?”
I hung up the phone with a moderate level of disturbance. Couldn’t have just been another appendicitis or cholecystitis, could it? At least those don’t require me to get all up in some guy’s personal business… I reviewed the imaging and radiology report to confirm that this was, indeed, a legitimate surgical consult: “one loop of bowel protruding through the external inguinal canal. No signs of obstruction, but cannot completely rule out incarceration.” Yay.
As I got to the emergency room and coated my hands with yet another palm-full of hand sanitizer, I prepared for the exam. I pulled back the curtain to reveal a moderately overweight, middle aged man, who looked fairly comfortable for someone experiencing unbearable pain (why don’t you come to my side of the hospital and see what unbearable pain really looks like?)
“Hi Mr. X, I’m Dr. G, I’m one of the residents on the surgery team. I was asked to come and see you about this hernia.”
The man had a somewhat confused and bashful look on his face. “Oh, you’re the surgeon?”
“Nope, I’m not the surgeon, I’m one of the residents who works with him, though. (Don’t let my hospital assigned scrubs, my casual hoodie, and perhaps my gender fool you, sir – I am still a doctor).
“Oh, okay, sorry, I was… um… expecting someone else, I guess.”
After a slight awkward silence I proceeded to ask him about his pain and his medical history. I listened to his heart and his lungs, felt his abdomen, and then hesitated slightly before proceeding on to the next step: the actual hernia exam.
“I’m going to have to take a look down below and have a feel, if that’s okay.”
“Oh, um, yeah… of course…” he replied, his face turing a pale blush colour as he realized that this young, female, fairly attractive “doctor” was about to feel him up. “I, uh… I still have my underwear on… ugh, i guess you need them off for this… right?”
“Yes, please. I’ll just go get a pair of gloves and give you some privacy.”
“Uh, okay… but um, Doc?” He says with his eyes pointed at his protruding belly. “You, uh… there’s no judgement here, right… because, um… well… I wasn’t actually prepared for this today… Um I haven’t… I haven’t really…” he was searching for a word.
“Um, I haven’t really groomed in a while.”
I was slightly mortified. I was speechless. I’m not even sure if the look on my face gave away my somewhat disturbed feelings about this whole situation.
“Uh, it’s okay, really… it won’t interfere with the exam at all.”
This was all I could think to say in this situation (Look buddy, I’m about as excited as you are over the fact that I am about to fondle your jewels and then stick my finger up into a place that it really shouldn’t be…)
I didn’t actually think there was anything that could make this situation more uncomfortable (for me, that is).
I scurried to the other side of the curtain where I finally let my real reactions from his disclosure seep out of every pore in my body. I gave him a few minutes to undress and then went back in to do the exam.
They say wearing gloves during sensitive exams emphasizes the clinical nature of the exam. I was sure to explain to him everything I was doing as I did it. I located the inguinal canal as he writhed in pain, and I asked him to cough.
Yup. There it was. Exam complete.
Five months… 5 more months and I will never have to examine another penis/scrotum/testicle again. (Well, unless it belongs to a cute, little new born peanut, that is…)