Saturday, March 15, 2008

Going digital with Dr. Sternfinger © by adrian

Becoming married, as I did after a long and comfortable life of semi bachelorhood, has allowed me many adventures I could never have imagined. Fortunately for me, marriage is continuing to be an extremely successful experience. My bride, Linda, has the courtesy of also frequently expressing pleasure that we mixed our lives together.

There are however, a few things that I deal with now that I never expected I would need to face.

I can't say for sure what I am about to describe is endemic in all marriages, but with mine, and my research suggests many others, it seems wives don't have much faith in their husbands' ability or interest to look after their own medical needs.

After getting married, I found out that asking Bill in the back lane if he thinks that new growth on my arm is anything I should worry about, is no longer an acceptable approach to my well being.

Not only that, but get this. I discovered quite by accident one day, that asking one of my former girlfriends to check out my hemorrhoids for me is also apparently frowned on. Who knew?

I hadn't really noticed it in all the excitement of the wedding day, nor during the vows we exchanged, but apparently there was some promise made that, from that time on, I would need to have a doctor look after things along this line.

I learned how this was expected to play out, about two years into our marriage.

Let me first explain why I would prefer to get Bill's input on the state of my health, and not go to a doctor...

More than forty years ago, while I was still a puppy, I had a vasectomy. Forty years in medical terms is prehistoric by today's standard, and finding someone to perform that procedure was a real challenge. To do such a thing on someone who didn't already have children was unheard of. Many doctors at the time thought it was extremely unethical, and I was actually physically escorted out of one doctor's office when I inquired about having this done (those Catholics are everywhere, it seems). Eventually, after a two year search, I did find one, and although this wasn't exactly done on a kitchen table, it was pretty close to it.

The procedure was not covered by any medical insurance, so I needed to pay him with a bunch of ten dollar bills stuffed in an envelope; this added to the ambiance of the doctor's house/operating room.

After signing as many forms as the good doctor could find where I promised to never hold him, his children, grandchildren, or any of his friends (by now I was beginning to suspect he probably didn't have too many friends) responsible for anything that was about to happen, we began. I went into an office at the back of his house and disrobed. I sat down in what under different circumstances would be described as an easy chair and was told to "Just relax" as my legs were spread and strapped into stirrups. I now noticed there was no nurse available to assist. Not even a kindly old grandmother to offer me soup or a blankie if I became more uncomfortable, it was just him and me.

After that, things did not go well. There was no local anesthetic. He produced a can of something that he spayed on my testes with the intention of freezing everything. I did feel a slight chill, but really, not much more than one feels as they read an Edgar Allan Poe story on a stormy night. Nothing froze, and the pain was excruciating. The fine doctor did his best to distract me from concentrating on my pain by carefully choosing to make as much small talk as he could think of about sports. Even today, I can't think of a subject that would be of less interest to me.

I soon convinced myself that I had made a very bad choice, and continued to scream in pain. He explained to me that he was sorry, but the freezing just doesn't seem to work in one out of every twenty cases. Apparently I was number twenty. Once this procedure is started, it's pretty difficult to tuck everything back inside and explain to your body you were just joking, so, even though I was convinced by now that he was really putting a light switch in my scrotum, there was, as they say, no way to turn back.

Eventually he finished, and I was un-shackled. After a short rest I was sent on my way. Not only my "vas deferens" was severed, but as far as I was concerned, from that moment on, so was any future contact with the medical profession.

The following year was very difficult, none of that "you'll be back to work in a few hours, and ready to service a Harem in a week," stuff. I suffered. It took a few years for me to reconcile it all, but I definitely feel it was well worth it. I could never have lived the life I have if I had spent any of it producing replicants.

I need to add another point to my story.

One of the things that some women find really charming about me (I must confess, some have also found really tedious), is that I don't care much about having a climax while I'm exploring the pleasures of sex. I phoned around to a few old girlfriends just to make sure I had this part of my story right, and everybody agreed. It seems that I only bother climaxing on average about one out of ten times that I have sex. We're not talking Bill Clinton "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" kind if sex here. I've always felt that if I had my nose or any other part of my body in someone's crotch, butt or mouth, (or vise versa) that pretty well constitutes sex.

This, however, led to one little unexpected side effect because of my vasectomy.

I now have an extra build up of fluid that creates a blockage and occasionally I end up with what is called a "hydrocele". Every once in a while this dormant hydrocele grows to about the size of a baseball. There is no pattern to when this will happen, but I have determined it's not influenced by how much sex I'm having at any particular time. Sometimes it shows up every few years, sometimes the gap is six or seven years.

Prior to marriage, whenever this happened, I would take a lot of aspirin, and the pain, discomfort and swelling would be gone in about two days. Anyways, it was always great fun to pull out my bonus large testicle if I was given the opportunity to play "Show and Tell" in any group setting. This time though, my new bride insisted that I go to a doctor to have it looked at properly.

During the following month there were extended visits to four different specialists, as well as regular doctors. I was given various shots, had three ultra sounds complete with pictures, graphs, charts and explanations. The medical profession managed to turn an event which had always given me discomfort two or three days at most into a marathon than lasted for one full month of pain and suffering. When it was over, nobody had anything to offer other than the next time it happens, I should maybe just try taking some aspirins. I once again pledged to never go back to a doctor.

A few years later, when Linda assumed I had forgotten about all of this, she pointed out that as an old man, I was long overdue for a colonoscopy and needed to get one done.

I immediately phoned Bill and asked if he would help me out. After all, we had spent many years working together in the photography business. Surely between the two of us we could throw together some kind of small camera that he could help guide up my butt and look around. He, on the other hand felt that forty years of friendship was not enough to earn that kind of assistance, and fell in line with Linda's "I should go to the doctor" suggestion. It was further decided for me, that while I was at it, I would also get my hemorrhoids tended to.

I went to a well know colorectal clinic in downtown Toronto.

There had been normal but minor preparations made for my first visit. I had taken an enema and done other reasonable things one would expect to do in preparing for someone to shove a camera up their butt. The doctor I was assigned to, who became affectionately known to me, my lover and friends as Dr. Sternfinger, took me to his office. I immediately sensed this was not going to be the fun time I had pretended it would be.

It had been decided we would start with a sigmoidoscopy, which for lack of a better explanation, is a mini colonoscopy. They just go in a bit and peek around, nothing too invasive. I took my pants off and bent over a bench so that my flank was exposed to him and his young female assistant. He was very charming (dare I say, gentle) and all the while he patiently explained to me what he was doing, or was about to do.

I tried to concentrate on what he was saying while he started lubricating my butt with his greased, gloved finger. As he spread the opening and I apprehensively waited for the camera's tube to enter, all I could hear was the echoed distant voices of every women I had ever been with, screaming out, "You want to put THAT!, in WHERE?". The gods had found me, and I knew I wasn't going to get off easy, this was definitely payback time.

I wondered if I should write Oprah Winfrey and tell her about this "Aha!" moment I was having. Would I ever be able to suggest anal sex to another woman again? Should I smile for the camera? Most importantly, how will I be able to explain this, if I really, really, like it?

I decided to flee to my happy place, and eventually heard him announce that everything looked fine, he was finished, and I could get dressed and go home now. I made an appointment for the following week, so that he could start attacking my hemorrhoids.

When I met Dr. Sternfinger the following week, he looked a little jollier than he had the week before. I felt he was perhaps a little too excited about the prospect of destroying the hemorrhoids I had spent so many years developing. I felt a touch of sadness knowing my personal relationship with them was about to come to an end. But, they had to go.

I should point out for the technically minded that the procedure they use involves injecting the hemorrhoid with a chemical that forces it to dry up and eventually fall off. Again, there was the pulling down my pants and bending over the bench. Dr. Sternfinger's assistant this time was another young female who was in training so that she too would one day be able to earn a living exploring the underside of mankind. He explained to both of us along the way what he was doing, and I stayed hidden in my happy place, humming silently to myself. When he was finished, he explained there may be a bit of blood spotting, but nothing to worry about. We made an appointment for three weeks down the road to do some more "Work" as he called it.

That night while I was explaining to my bride how easy it was, and what a hero I had been, I got up from my easy chair to get something from the kitchen. As I turned around, Linda screamed in horror. I didn't know it at the time, but while I was sitting there I had been seriously bleeding. The chair, and I, were covered in blood. With the aid of some ice packs and a sitz bath, we were able to stop the flow.

I phoned the clinic the next day, and was instructed not to worry about it.

I bled on and off for two full weeks, and when I went back for my next appointment, I was again told not to worry about it. We attacked more hemorrhoids in a similar manner as before.

This time I bled for almost three weeks straight, and even Linda was beginning to agree with me that a colonoscopy at this time in my life no longer looked like a good idea.

Four sessions, and almost three months of non stop bleeding later I called Dr. Sternfinger and cancelled the colonoscopy and all my future appointments. My ass and I looked forward to a well deserved rest.

Last year, which was four years after the good Dr. Sternfinger had had his way with me, I was ready for another try at getting my colonoscopy and I went to a different clinic in north east Toronto. I was tended to by a Dr. Byrne, and a magnificent and caring staff. Everything went very easily and my comfort was obviously important to all of them. As an added bonus, I got a gold star and passed my test. They didn't even need to do any of that horrifying "we'll cut off this little bit and send it away for testing" that I had dreaded might happen.

Before I got there, I had assumed that I would not be interested in watching anything on the video screen they use, it just seemed too weird. But I did watch, and in hindsight, if you will pardon the pun, I must confess it was an amazing view of my world.

Lord, the pictures I could have made in my studio if I had that camera available to me. It brings a whole new meaning to the expression, "Intimate Photography".