It’s my 57th birthday today. Already I’ve gotten a couple of special presents: a finger up my ass and some Flomax samples. And it’s just early afternoon!
Maybe I shouldn’t have scheduled my annual physical for October 7, but that was the best appointment day available when I phoned my new doctor’s office a few months ago.
On the advice of my live-in health advisor, Laurel, I switched to her female family physician from my previous male doctor. Laurel believes that doctors should listen to you and express an interest in your problems. That hasn’t been a big consideration for me, since I don’t have many health problems and so have little to say to a doctor.
Still, I made the switch. When I told friends what I’d done, often I’d hear “Oh, I wouldn’t want to go a doctor of the opposite sex. It’d be too embarrassing.” Yeah, as if having a male doctor fondle your genitals isn’t embarrassing.
Naturally I was curious as to how the most intimate and least favorite part of a middle-aged male annual physical exam would go. I’m pleased to report, just fine. This was the first time that my prostate had been examined by a female doctor and I can confidently say that, based on this sample of one, women do it better.
More gentle, for sure. Smaller fingers are nice. More communicative too. This was my first prostate exam where I got a running verbal commentary from the doctor: “Hmmmm. Feels pretty normal. Regularly shaped. Just about normal size. Well, let’s make that a normal size for men your age who have a somewhat enlarged prostate.”
Great. A prostate exam is the only time you don’t want to hear from a female who is inspecting your genital area that you’re larger than average. Maybe Flomax will get me nearer to normal.
After my physical I wanted to go exercise and forget about getting older. But as soon as I stuck my Courthouse Athletic Club membership card under a scanner a damn computer started playing the Happy Birthday tune.
I yelled at the front-desk staffer, “Turn it off! Turn it off! I’m trying to forget that I’m 57.”
“You see,” I said, “this is a post-traumatic stress day for me. All through elementary and high school I heard ‘Hines 57, Hines 57’ even though my name isn’t spelled Heinz. And now I’m 57 years old. The prophecy has come true. Plus, thinking of ‘Hines 57’ reminds me of roll call in freshman gym class, where the P.E. instructor used first initials and last name. I was “B. Hines.’ Behinds—get it?”
This probably was more than the athletic club staffer wanted to know about me, but she listened as if she cared. “I’ve never had anyone make a joke about my name,” she said. “You’re lucky,” I told her, peering at the name tag on her chest.
“Beckey. Beckey. My daughter’s name is Celeste and she was called Celeste the Pest. It’s possible to find a rhyme for every name. Hmmmm. Beckey, heckey. The heck with Beckey. I’ll keep working on it while I exercise.”
As I opened the door to the men’s locker room I heard Beckey yell, “B. Hines! You better stop or I’ll play your birthday song again.” I laughed. “This is just like high school. Thanks for making me feel younger, Beckey.”
My doctor told me that her mother is sixty. Recently she asked her mother how old she felt. “Thirty-five.” “Wow, we’re the same age, Mom,” my doctor said.
It’s true. Cliched but true: you’re as old as you feel. I feel a lot younger than fifty-seven. Hopefully soon my prostate will be feeling more youthful too. Flomax, do your thing.