The thing about being ill & then in turn being treated for those maladies in surgeries & hospitals is that you have to surrender any semblance of dignity the moment you enter the portals of any given medical facility.
To illustrate this point I shall relate a recent experience of my own; whilst illness and medical treatments are often quite dreadful for the sufferer with them there are always moments & incidents that are filled with humour, sometimes rather dark humour it has to be said, but these help you through the process by bringing laughter, even if this is only at your own expense.
I should warn you that what follows is not appropriate for those of a genteel disposition or uncomfortable with descriptions of bodily functions, so you have been warned.
After a whole year with a new Doctors Surgery yesterday I finally got to meet a Doctor for the first time. All the consultations (and there have been plenty) took place by phone, the Surgery wanted to limit in person visits because of Covid and the default was to offer treatment at the end of a phone, so when I was offered a face to face appointment with the Doc I was delighted.
I prepared for the appointment by writing notes with the things I wanted to discuss with the Doctor: Blood Pressure, Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment, Hip Replacement Physio, upcoming surgery on my feet & finally and most embarrassingly of all a boil on my bum.
The morning of the appointment I shower, scent myself with expensive aftershave and dress smartly. I figure that it’s worth creating a good impression, I don’t want the Doc thinking I’m some kind of wasteman*even if the reality is arguable.
I arrive at the surgery at the appointed time, check in at reception and am asked to take a seat by the receptionist. Eight chairs are laid out socially distanced in the waiting area, only one is occupied, it feels a little like public meeting where nobody is really interested enough to attend. A minute or two later my name is called: Mr.Boyer? Yes, I get to my feet as sprightly as my limbs allow and follow a young black woman down the corridor, we enter a consulting room and Doctor Grace, for that it her name asks me to sit.
Now Mr.Boyer how can we help you today?
I bring out my pocket book and start at the top of my notes with the arthritis.
Doctor Grace navigates through each point on my to do list and I tick each as it is dealt with.
She then takes my blood pressure It is rather high she says, we agree I will get my BP checked each day for a week and then look at the results.
As the removes the pressure wrap from my arm I ask if she is newly qualified.
Does it show? She asks.
No I say, I just wondered. Though I don’t say it there is something in her manner that gives it away, an earnestness about what she is doing, for me a sign of her not being jaded yet by the great British public and their maladies, give her time I think, give her time.
Then finally, we get to my embarrassment:
In the notes she says it indicates that you’ve been having a problem with your bottom, a boil or a cyst she adds.
Yes Doctor, actually after I mentioned it when making the appointment with the receptionist it seems to have got much better, it’s hardly there now.
I see she says.
There is a pause.
Then she adds Would you mind if I had a look?
I think for a moment, yes I would mind, but I don’t say it, best to get it checked out.
No Doctor that’s ok.
Oh God I think, here we go, the boil is almost right next to my as*hole, this is going to be so embarrassing.
So says the Doc, we usually like to have another member of staff present during intimate examinations. I immediately imagine the Doc calling in the receptionist and the two of them looking up my bum.
Really I say, if you don’t mind I’d prefer not to have anyone else here, but its up to you Doc, whatever works for you.
I understand she says, we don’t need anyone else if you prefer.
Please undress and lie face down on the trolley. I am just going to get some gloves and then we can take a look.
I get up from the seat and move over onto the trolley, the Doc pulls a screen on wheels across so that I can undress in privacy, though the point of modesty now at this moment strikes me as absurd as she will shortly be looking where the sun don’t shine.
Once I’ve undressed and layed face down I let the Doc know I’m ready.
I hear the snap of latex as she puts on the gloves. Under other circumstances me naked with a young woman in rubberised accessories might be highly entertaining, but not today.
I hear the wheels of the screen being rolled away and then Doctor Grace
warns me of her imminent inspection, I swallow in a nervous kind of way & close my eyes.
Then a finger begins to explore my back passage environs.
For some reason or another a thought pops into my head and I can’t stop myself saying it out loud as her fingers prod my ass:
So Doctor Grace was it the glamour that drew you to a career in Medicine?
She begins to laugh, I begin to laugh and the proceedings are temporarily suspended until we’ve recomposed ourselves.
My boil it is decided is doing ok by itself and needs no further attention.
I thank Doctor Grace for her time and head off from the surgery convinced that medicine is a great calling, but that as far as treatments go by far the best of all is laughter and that regular doses are absolutely necessary to maintain good health.