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SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK


There’s something heart stopping about walking into the doctor’s office to check on your test results, only to have them yank you into an exam room so they can run more tests.

My tale begins … heh. “Tale.” In retrospect, that’s kind of funny – or should I say in hindsight, since this relates to my prostate.

Come to think of it, I should start this story with an advisory: If you get freaked by medical tales – heh, tales again – you might want to tread lightly here. I’m going to do my best to tell this story in a way that will keep things at least PG rated, so bear with me.

Now, the prostate is a gland that has to do with the male reproductive system, which is why females rarely have prostate problems. (In my research I discovered women do have something called a Skene’s gland, which is sometimes called the female prostate. I don’t think that’s what anyone has in mind when they think of equal rights.)

The prostate is about the size of a walnut (which reminds me of a joke – um, no. Can’t do that one.) It surrounds the urethra and so can cause problems with urination, which can really put your life in the toilet. When doctors are checking it – there’s no good way to say this – it’s best inspected by a rectal exam, which I assume is almost as unpleasant for the doctor as it is for the patient. Thus the “tales” jokes. Okay, go back and read the earlier paragraphs again, I promise they’re funny now -- although probably funnier to people who don’t get the exams.

But you should get the exams. Unless you’re a woman.

When I went to get my blood tested, my mind was nowhere near my prostate. (I know people whose heads are always near their prostates.)

My employer has established a wellness clinic, which allowed me to get a free blood screening, and I just can’t pass up free stuff. I’d had one done years before, which took me months to pay it off; if this one hadn’t been free I might never had gotten it. But it was, so I figured what could it hurt to get checked?

Turns out I have tiny little “rolling” veins, and afterward you could tell by the bruises on my arm how much it could hurt. But they did get the blood, and I was very happy to get that part of it over with right up until the moment I walked back into the clinic and they wanted more blood. It was like a lawyer’s office, with needles.

It seems I had high PSA’s. Well, of course I have high PSA’s! I do public relations work for the fire department and for the American Cancer Society Relay For Life (cue ironic music), it stands to reason I’d be surrounded by Public Service Announcements. They need blood for that? Are we starting an advertising account for Dracula?

Um, no. This was Prostate Specific Antigen, a protein that’s often elevated in the presence of prostate cancer and other disorders of that gland. What a pain in the butt. (Get it? Never mind.)

Because they didn’t have a baseline to go by, they wanted more blood to run another test. “Is it still free?” I asked. It was. “Do I get a sucker?” I did. “Okay, then.”

The upper limit of PSA in a healthy man is generally supposed to be below 4 ng/mL. I know what you’re thinking: what the heck is ng/mL? I suppose it’s some of that newfangled metric stuff. What mattered was that mine was closer to six and a half, which might have made me happy if I was playing the stock exchange. Several things could cause false positives, so another test was in order. They wanted to know if the count was the same, and they wanted to know if there were a lot of free radicals in there.

I thought James Bond wiped out the free radicals in “Never Say Never Again”.

They also wanted to do one more test. The Big One. By which I mean, you hope the doctor doesn’t have a big finger, or that Big One means a big tube of KY jelly. Yep, the dreaded rectal exam, the one fingered wiggle stab, the straight man’s scare, the Probe.

Every man reading this just winced.

The nurse practitioner who was to give me this medical goose assured me that she used to do this exam for a living, and was thus very experienced at it – and is it any wonder that she changed jobs? But, of course, the key word is SHE.

You could argue whether this exam would be better done by a male or female. As a person who considers himself non-homophobic, I thought I’d have been more comfortable with a male, who at least (I presume) would know what I was going through. (Later I discovered, nope – it was equally uncomfortable either way.)

Regardless of issues of sex, as she slapped the gloves on all I could think was: “Man – she has long fingernails”.

Long story short (heh), my prostate was located right where it was supposed to be, and I’d rectummend the exam to all men over 40, just in case. However, the second test revealed that my PSA’s were still elevated, and that my free radicals might be preparing a terrorist attack. Does this mean I have prostate cancer? No, although I’m schedule for a biopsy, just in
case.

In other words, it means more tests. This time I’m going to have to pay for them, and with more than blood. I thought about protesting, but I didn’t want the urologist to think I have a stick up my butt. Of course, a few weeks later he checked for himself.

Oh, come on! Might as well laugh at this stuff – at least, as much as anyone ever laughs at my columns. Maybe, after the biopsy, I’ll be able to pull another column out of my --

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
keith5by5
Jan. 28th, 2010 01:04 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that Mark Hunter always talking out of his ass.

Yeah, there's gotta be a better job than giving rectal exams.

Must send off that application to apply body paint to strippers....

Good luck with the biopsy mate.
ozma914
Jan. 29th, 2010 03:02 am (UTC)
Thanks. Personally, no matter how many bad days I might have on any of my present jobs, they come out smelling like roses (ahem) compared to giving rectal exams all day. But the real job I want is blowing things for a living. *points to icon*
cbtreks
Jan. 28th, 2010 02:05 pm (UTC)
Ouch! (That was a sympathy ouch, not a poke at your humor - I always love a good pun. Or a bad one.) I hope the biopsy finds nothing wrong and that the elevated numbers are just a fluke or whatever. I'll be praying!
ozma914
Jan. 29th, 2010 03:03 am (UTC)
but a good pun IS a bad pun! Or is it the other way around?

Thanks for the prayers, and I hope so too. I've got a lot of writing to do, can't slow down now!
kevenn
Jan. 28th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
This is one of the occasions when I'm so glad to be gay. I have plenty of experience with things going in my butt. This should be a breeze when I finally have to get around to going through it. LOL
ozma914
Jan. 29th, 2010 03:05 am (UTC)
Maybe this experience will turn me bi-curious! Couldn't give up on the ladies, though.

I've heard some gay people don't have anal sex ... seems like that would be a big limitation.
desdemonaspace
Jan. 28th, 2010 04:51 pm (UTC)
Mark! Glad you're OK. My POSSLQ (person of the opposite sex with whom I share living quarters) will let no-one NEAR his back porch.

**gentle hugs**
ozma914
Jan. 29th, 2010 03:06 am (UTC)
Yeah, some guys get a little touchy about that, don't they? Can't say I was overly thrilled myself, but if there is a problem I want to get it diagnosed, rather than sit around (ahem, or stand) worrying about it.
curiouswombat
Jan. 28th, 2010 07:06 pm (UTC)
Hmm - good luck with the next round - 6.5 isn't too bad.

Considers Mark's face as he has the PR and chooses icon accordingly...
ozma914
Jan. 29th, 2010 02:50 am (UTC)
I'm told the numbers are more or less in a gray area, depending on who you ask ... I'm not too concerned about the results, at least not until my concern about the test is over.

Yep -- that's the face, all right!
(Anonymous)
Feb. 18th, 2010 06:29 pm (UTC)
Hi,

okay, here goes... Do I really need to say "Brace Yourself", or would that be in bad taste :-)

~~~It seems I had high PSA’s. Well, of course I have high PSA’s! I do public relations work for the fire department and for the American Cancer Society Relay For Life (cue ironic music), it stands to reason I’d be surrounded by Public Service Announcements. They need blood for that? Are we starting an advertising account for Dracula?~~~

Hate to say it, me old mucker, but Harm probably has a lawsuit for coyright infringement in th wor - What do you mean, "It's not real!" You mean to say they put stuff on the TV, that's not truthful. Oh, woe is me, that means that Mr. Rogers (substitute your own regional TV joke here) can't really talk..?

~~~“Do I get a sucker?”~~~

Nah, that one's too easy (just like me :-)...)

~~~I thought James Bond wiped out the free radicals in “Never Say Never Again”.~~~

Free Radicals? Sounds like a good band, or an Italian splinter political party... ya takes your pick.

~~~Every man reading this just winced.~~~

(Checks, discreetly, I am in a public library) Yup, everything's there. Didn't wince though :-)

~~~I didn’t want the urologist to think I have a stick up my butt.~~~

Not an awful lot I can say to that, except to point you to the nearest ER's "Butt-box." Your stick might be there :-)

BTW, just found out that there are Frank L. Baum Wizard of Oz comics doing the rounds, and they're up to the second book now. Presume your collecting them, and wondered what you thought of them vis-a-vis the books. Not that I've read the books, but if they start producing tpb's I thought I might get them for my six-month old great-nephew.

Still under Willow & Tara's spell,
Ray.
ozma914
Feb. 19th, 2010 06:15 am (UTC)
"Brace yourself" seems pretty appropriate!

*blink* Did I miss something about Harmony and Dracula? I've only seen her W&H feature episode once, so it's certainly possible ...

I always suspected ER's had a butt-box ....

I started collecting those Oz comics, but my local shop stopped carrying them and I was too lazy to hunt them down. I loved how they were faithful to the book's writing, but I just couldn't take to the art at all. Oddly enough, considering the subject of a fantasy world where animals talk, the art just wasn't realistic enough for me ...
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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