Friday, April 04, 2008

Female doctor phobia

Guy riding exercise bikeI hadn't had a detailed medical check-up for many years, so when the opportunity arose recently through the bank that I work for it seemed like a good idea. I reckon health check-ups are more important as one gets older, so with some younger readers putting my age at 'the other end of the spectrum' from them, no doubt they'd think that I've been a bit remiss in leaving it so long! The check-up on offer takes around three hours, so I block out an entire morning in my work diary and book the appointment.

Before the day itself, a long questionnaire arrives which asks a lot of personal questions about my situation, medical condition and history. "Do you feel your relationship is stable and supportive? Yes/No". I tick both boxes, one for boyfriend P and one for boyfriend S. "How many units of alcohol do you typically drink in an average week? " Although I know what the recommended maximum intake is, I decide to answer honestly and see what they say!

Arriving at the health centre, I'm met by quite a cute physiologist who tells me that he'll be doing most of the tests on me.

"First I'll need to take some blood," he says with an enthusiastic smile on his face, "can you roll up your left sleeve for me?"

I knew this was coming, although I never enjoy the procedure. I start rolling up my sleeve hoping to get it over with as quickly as possible.

"Are you any good at phlebotomy?" I ask him, trying to sound knowledgeable by using a word that I learned a couple of years ago at the sexual health clinic. "I sometimes end up with nasty bruises afterwards :-("

"That tends to happen when they're rushing," he explains, "in a hospital for example when they're going round taking samples from dozens of different people!"

He gently prods the fleshy area on the inside of my elbow with his finger, but looks mildly upset so he asks me to roll up my other sleeve. On the inside of my right elbow he finds a particularly juicy vein.

"OWWW," I say, acting rather childishly but wanting him to understand that this isn't my favourite activity. However, within a few minutes it's all over.

"There, that wasn't too bad was it?"

During the course of the next hour he measures and tests me in a huge variety of ways. Vision, lung function, some fancy laser equipment to measure my anti-oxidant levels, urine, the only thing that he doesn't do is ask for a semen sample! And then it's time for a chat with the doctor.

"If you just go and sit back in the waiting area she'll be with you shortly," he says smiling at me again.

Immediately I take on board what he'd said. It's a female doctor. Which is fine for discussing most medical problems, but what if she wants to examine me downstairs or discuss male health? Although I'm very rational in almost everything I do, when it comes to discussing those issues with a female doctor I become a bit irrational and find it very hard. No doubt this is related to the fact that I prefer male therapists for massage.

In fact the chat with her is actually very useful.

"One of your liver enzymes is registering slightly above the recommended level," she says, "and that's probably related to the fact that you drink quite a lot of alcohol. Nothing to worry about at the moment, but it'll probably get worse if you carry on drinking as much as you do."

More interestingly, she links my alcohol intake with the fact that sometimes I don't sleep very well.

"If you drunk less, you would probably get better quality sleep."

Although a few glasses of top quality wine after work helps me relax, I realise that it might be worth drinking a bit less if I could sleep a bit better.

She then gets me to strip down to my undershorts and sit on the couch. Even though she's very professional, I start to feel uncomfortable. She examines me in various ways, including a thorough all-over prodding with a sharp instrument, no doubt to test my nerve reactions. Finally, at the end of the examination, she asks The Question:

"Are you comfortable with me examining your testicles for abnormalities?"

The immediate answer that comes into my head is No, but I know that I should say Yes. Of course, I've got a very good idea what loads of different guy's testicles feel like, including my own, so I would have spotted anything unusual wouldn't I? While I'm looking for the courage to say Yes, she speaks again:

"Or perhaps you examine yourself regularly?"

And of course, that's all the encouragement I need to decline.

"Errr, yes I do, so I guess you don't have to do it, but thanks anyway!"

The final part of the examination is back with the cute physiologist again for an ECG on my heart while riding an exercise bike. I guess a lot of the guys that he tests are not very fit because as the resistance increases he keeps telling me that it's about to become impossibly difficult, but no doubt because I go to the gym regularly I find it all relatively easy.

Overall I thought it was very useful. Lots of good advice, and if I want to do it again in a year or two they'll be able to give me advice based on how things have changed during the intervening period. However, although I'm not surprised that I didn't let the female doctor examine my equipment, I do wish that I could be more rational about that situation!


Sir Wobin said...

Good news that your health is fine! Are you sure your good performance on the exercise bike wasn't just strutting a wee bit in front of a cute boy? :-)

Sounds like your issues with women are pretty deep. Years of therapy to discover why kinda stuff... The kind that start: "tell me about your mother." Without figuring out what those issues are, rationality in this department might be very hard to assert. If it isn't bothering you, and you seem to arrange your life well enough without women in it, then let it go. Come to terms with being irrational around women and there's an end to it.

Anonymous said...

I see absolutely nothing wrong with becoming irrational when you're a gay guy that's close to having his testicles examined by a woman :)
Glad you're in good health and stop worrying about the "irrational" thing.There's nothing wrong with you.

Unknown said...

I had a job last year where the benefits packaged included a free health check, but I never actually took advantage of this, it does sound incredibly silly but it's the What If factor that put me off, despite the fact I know i'm in good health and it's always good to make sure I know full well they're going to say 'You need to stop smoking and eat more healthily!!

Anonymous said...

Great post

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you had a MOT we all spend a fortune on our cars servicing and an annual Mot but dont take the same attention to our bodies. I had a health check by a guy recently I had to drop and cough, then he felt my balls and gave me a prostrate exam which was a first time for me.If you get the chance dont be shy go for it and if he is good looking its an added bonus

SubtleKnife said...

Guess I better not tell you about my pap smear. O wait, that was a MALE doctor...

Masturbedroom said...

Doctors will blame most everything on the drink nowadays, which isn't totally unreasonable. But I think if you blogged less and solved your boyfriend problems you'd sleep better.

Perhaps not letting a female doctor examine you shows that you are still a few levels from your black belt. After all a man is gay because he likes men not because he's afraid of women.

What about a sexual MOT, does your bank offer that? :) I thought you blogged about planning to get one, no?

Monty said...

I must admit I much prefer having a male doctor GB. Our work does these annual health checks as well - I blogged about mine late last year - and I think they're a great idea! Better still if the medic is a good looking sort! ;-)

GB said...

No Sir Wobin, I wasn't strutting in front of the cute physiologist LOL! I don't think any regular gym user would have had any problem with it :-).

Thanks for saying that there's nothing wrong with me first-anonymous-commenter, whoever you are :-).

Forewarned is forearmed SP. If you think you know what they're going to say, and then that is all that they say, then that would always be very reassuring wouldn't it? Just like me with the Demon Drink!

I'm glad that you enjoyed this posting second-anonymous-commenter :-), whoever you are.

I think you're quite right third-anonymous-commenter, lots of people spend money on cars but don't think to spend anything getting themselves checked out! Actually I think that in general gay guys take better care of themselves than straight guys, but that's probably a whole new posting!

LOL SubtleKnife, but presumbaly you didn't avoid the smear test just because the doctor was male! Anyway, I hope you got a satisfactory result from the test :-)

Why is blogging likely to cause me to sleep worse, Masturbedroom? Actually, last year I'm sure my relationship problems with boyfriend S caused more than a few bad night's sleep, but I don't think that issue is affecting me at the moment. And you've reminded me that I still haven't done my follow up post on the gay lifestyle black-belt so perhaps I need to do even more blogging, as well as getting a sexual health MOT LOL!

I knew I wasn't the only gay guy who preferred male doctors, Monty :-). I'm sure you'd have liked the physiologist that ran all those tests on me last week!

GB xxx

Anonymous said...

I think you're reaction to the Doc was fine GB. I have a female GP and she's great but if it means dropping pants, coughing or a probing finger, I see her male partner.

Anonymous said...

Hey GB, I never looked forward to my annual physicals. I have a gay male doctor here in San Francisco. Every year before I see him, I anticipates him asking me to take my pants off and moving my junk around. So I always ended up having an erection on his table! The funny things is that when I had a straight doctor a few years back I never had the erection problem.

Hedgie said...

Hey GB - great post! But I'm surprised that at your relatively advanced age (!!!) you have never come across a female doctor before.

I had testicular issues some time back which required medical attention, and the doctor I saw turned out to be a woman. Have to admit I was also a bit shy at first - but hey. The good news is her treatment was entirely successful.