Dudes don’t go to the doctor and we like it that way. Sure, we may die 5-7 years earlier than women, but at least we don’t waste the best years of our lives sitting in a waiting room next to an old lady with a hacking cough while thumbing through a year old issue of “Redbook.” There is one species of man who does go to the doctor regularly, however. This species is known as homo matrimonius, or the married man.
Before I swapped “I do’s” with Heather I wasn’t even aware doctors did anything other than put your arm in a sling after you injured it playing basketball. I soon learned differently. Here is one of our first exchanges as newlyweds:
Heather: “You need to go get a physical, Mike.”
Me (not really listening): “You want to get physical? All right!”
Heather: No, Mike. Turn off the baseball game. You need to get a physical at the doctor’s office.”
Me: “That’s not neccesary. I just had one.”
Heather: “Really? When?”
Me: “Before my last year of playing baseball. It was required to be on the team.”
Heather: “You mean your high school team?”
Me: “That’s the one.”
Heather: “You do realize that was like fifteen years ago, right?”
It was then it occurred to me that I had totally walked into having to get a physical. I briefly tried to explain that everything she knows about me isn’t true; that I’m in the Witness Protection Program and the former me, Dougie Blackman of Mississippi, had a physical mere days before witnessing that mob hit, but Heather didn’t buy it. She then said that even if what I was saying was true that would mean I hadn’t had a physical in over five years, and both me and Dougie Blackman of Mississippi were due for one. Game. Set. Match.
The day of my physical Heather told me not to worry as she had recently gone to the same doctor and things went swimmingly.
Heather: “Just don’t forget to have them check for testicular cancer. That’s probably the one thing that guys your age have to worry about the most.”
Me: “You mean besides being forced by their wife to do things they don’t want to?”
Heather: “Yes. Now be good and they might give you a lollipop afterward.”
Me (excited): “Really?”
Heather: “Wow. It really has been a while since you’ve gone to the doctor, hasn’t it?”
Before long I found myself sitting on a couch next to – you guessed it – an old lady with a hacking cough. I looked around for the “Redbook” to read, then winced upon seeing that the old lady with the hacking cough was already reading it. I had to settle for a scintillating brochure on how to avoid teenage acne.
Eventually I was called back and placed in a room to wait…and wait…and wait. After a while I began to read a children’s book to pass the time, but it wasn’t very interesting. I soon sighed and wondered how the brochure on teenage acne ended. Finally, the door started to open and I tossed the children’s book so as not to seem like some Forrest Gump-esque man/child who was in here reading about anthropomorphic bears.
It was then I was surprised to see the doctor wasn’t some balding, phlegmatic old man, but a pretty woman around my own age. My mouth opened in horror as Heather’s words rang in my head:
DON’T FORGET TO HAVE THEM CHECK FOR TESTICULAR CANCER!!!!
Now don’t get me wrong. I, like all men, normally would like the idea of having a pretty woman touch my testicles, but not in a cold doctor’s office with orders to “turn and cough.” In fact, a doctor’s office is pretty much the only place where a man actually prefers to have his testicles touched by an old dude with ear hair instead of a pretty woman.
Once the physical began my mind raced a mile a minute trying to figure out a way to get out of the testicular examination. “Well, doctor,” I thought about saying. “My real name is actually Dougie Blackman and…” Nah. That wouldn’t work. I was screwed.
“Would you like me to, uh, test you for testicular cancer?” the doctor asked in a tone that made it clear she was just as uncomfortable as me.
“My wife wants you too,” I blurted out. The Doctor looked at me strangely. “Great,” I thought. “I just told this lady my wife wants her to touch my balls.” I had to clear this up and fast, so I said, “I mean, yes, if you’ve ever done it before.” I then winced upon realizing that I had not only implied that she was an inexperienced doctor, but had never touched a man’s balls before. She forced a smile and said, “Please lower your pants.”
I awkwardly did as told and stared at the ceiling. I tried to imagine being tortured by the Viet Cong, or a bunch of fat, hairy guys showering, in order to avoid a certain something happening that would make this situation even more awkward.
“Turn your head and cough,” she soon said, and after a few seconds the whole trauma was over. Once home I turned on the shower, huddled in its corner, and clutched my knees while crying.
Later, after Maddie was born, doctors became an even bigger part of my life. I met them by the dozens, and these people, who I had avoided my whole life like the plague, suddenly held my little baby’s life in their hands. It became clear to me very fast that a good doctor was an invaluable thing, and Maddie, thankfully, had a number of good ones who saved her life. Another good doctor, the one who gave me my awkward physical, has since become our family’s physician and has done a great job of keeping Maddie healthy. (SIDE NOTE: Last week I teased Heather that our physician is the only other woman to touch my balls since we got married. Heather replied, “Yeah, like that’s such a treat.” Thanks, honey.)
After all of this I’m no longer so reticent to go to the doctor even if it is sometimes awkward and means I’ll have to read a few ancient “Redbook” magazines. After all, if it buys me 5-7 more years around Maddie, it will all have been worth it.