In case you didn’t hear/read, I was laid off from my job week before last. If you’ve ever been unemployed before you know that one of the first things you should do is set up a doctor’s appointment ASAP because God knows how long it’ll be before you get health insurance again. Sorry, $400 a month for Cobra is not in the cards for the kid, so it was definitely time to get the pipes checked. As fate would have it, though, I already had an annual physical scheduled for last Monday.
Although my doctor is pretty cool, the whole experience is always a series of awkwardness. First, you sit in the waiting area with a bunch of strangers that are there for who knows what ailment or disease. For some reason there always seems to be someone that looks like they’re on their deathbed and coughing up a storm. Once you survive the germ field and hear your name called, you’re greeted by your doctor. Although he or she knows your name and all of your personal information, they’re still basically a stranger that just so happens to know what you look like naked with socks on.
I don’t know how it is for the ladies, but guys have to endure extreme bouts of homophobia during the course of a doctor’s visit. I mean, how often do you stand in front of another man, pull down your boxers and let him grab your balls while he tells you to cough? If he didn’t have a lab coat and a medical degree on his wall, there’s no way in hell a straight man would let that ride. Well, unless he were in the red light district and was paying someone to do it, but I digress…
At any rate, the whole grab-ya-balls-and-cough thing has always been weird for me—as I’m sure it is for most guys. My previous doctor would do it on the sly and catch me while I was lying on the exam table. He’d just slip his hand into my boxers and tell me to cough. I guess it all happened so quick there was never any time for much awkwardness. My doctor now has a whole different technique. He’ll be by the sink with his back turned to me and be like, “Stand up and pull your boxers down.”
The first time I was like, “Huh?” And just pulled them down a little. “You mean all the way?”
I finally pulled my boxers down to my knees and stood there in all my glory waiting for this stranger to grab my sack and tell me to cough. I have no idea what grabbing balls and coughing tells them, but every doctor does it. I swear it’s all a big inside joke that some wiseass doctor put in the medical handbook years ago like, “We should grab guys’ balls and have them cough. I bet they’ll do it just because we’re doctors and never even ask why.”
Although women don’t have to endure ball grabbing I remember reading on my homegirl Belle’s blog about how she dealt with her own bout of awkwardness. Prior to going to the gynecologist, she always prepped her “special place” for its public viewing by the doctor. As odd as it sounds, I found myself contemplating the same thing. I wasn’t trying to impress my doctor or anything gay like that, but I did opt to do some quick upkeep before my appointment. I mean I had to trim the hedges anyway and since lil’ NWSO was gonna be seen, I figured why not tidy up the place.
The most awkward thing about going to the doctor, though, is actually telling the truth. Like I said earlier, your doctor’s basically a stranger that asks all these personal question. “Does it burn when you pee?” “How many partners have you had in the past six months?” “Have you had anal sex?” It’s all pretty personal for someone you only see once or twice a year tops. But doctors are like priests and you’re supposed to tell them everything—and since they took the Hippocratic Oath they’re supposed to keep everything confidential. But do you really want to tell someone you hardly know that you have the runs, got a bump on your magic stick, you suffer from premature ejaculation or had unprotected sex and want to take an AIDS test? Embarrassment can keep you from doing a lot of stuff, but keeping it real with your doctor shouldn’t be one of them. So just like with the ball grab and cough, you just have to grin and bare it.
So am I the only one that feels awkward going to the doctor? Do you keep secrets from your primary physician or do you tell them everything? Are folks scared to ask their doctor for an AIDS test? Do you groom the field before a doctor’s visit? Do you ever get comfortable flashing your stuff to a doctor? What do you prefer, doctors of the same sex or the opposite? What’s the most embarrassing thing you had to share with a doctor?
Speak your piece…