As we men age, there is a gradual decline in size. We get shorter, muscles shrink, and our leering eyes are far bigger than our, well, let’s just say we may need pharmaceutical help to show off whatever size we have left.
But there is one sure thing that will get larger—our prostate. I’ve been particularly cursed: mine has been enlarged since my 20’s. It was so uncomfortable back then I had to sit on donut cushions. Before that I thought they only came with walkers and Depends as a package deal.
But for 30+ years, there have been no symptoms. The only thing I had to endure was the annual doc’s finger up my ass and his comment, “Yep, a little large but smooth,” meaning no cancer.
But prostates eventually present problems, so my urologist suggested some tests.
The first was simple enough: pee in a container that measures your “flow.” Peeing under pressure can sometimes be a problem, even in an empty room, when you know at some level you’re going to be judged. And it didn’t help that when I started to pee, a voice from the machine blurted, “Maximum flow.” That stopped me in mid-stream and confirmed that I was going to be judged. Could I top that “maximum flow”? Well, hell no. I’d start to pee again and wouldn’t hear “maximum flow” and immediately knew I was failing, which made me feel under greater scrutiny and made it harder to pee.
Ultimately, I couldn’t very well. And I paid the price. “Well,” the doc said. “You don’t empty your bladder very well. We’ll need you to come back for more tests.”
You know you’re in for a treat when the instructions for those tests are, “Drink plenty of water and take four ibuprofen before your appointment.” Really? Four? And then when you get to the office, they give you a prescription pain pill. This isn’t going to be a walk in the park.
So when the young office assistant said, “You ready?” with a grin on her face, I asked, “Can I have one of the mints on the counter here as a last meal?” She laughed. It was oh so easy for her to laugh.
The test would be conducted by a nurse who, I can assure you, has seen it all before. So that wasn’t a particular problem. After all, I knew I wasn’t going to be judged on that kind of performance.
Instead, she showed me a long thin tube, to where I knew it was going before she said anything. “Could I have another pain pill?” I asked. No was the answer before she showed me the other tube that had to go up there first. It was thicker, I swear, the size of a garden hose. The pain pill hadn’t yet dulled my senses or my imagination.
But first she had to shoved another tube up my ass to measure some kind of muscle reaction. My glutes tensed, but I don’t think that’s the muscle contraction she was looking for.
Did she have a bullet I could bite? No, that pain pill and ibuprofen was all I had.
First, the garden hose. She says I’ll feel a little pressure.
A little pressure! Women often point to child birth as evidence of their superior pain endurance. But I’ll wager that the birth canal is wider than a urethra. And at least the kid is coming out, not going in. I wailed. I half expected the nurse to say, “Breathe, he-he-he-he.”
Fortunately, that tube went in and out quickly and made way for the thinner tube. My guess is the first was like a roto-rooter they put in sewer pipes to clean them out. I screamed again.
Now I had to wait, while she filled my bladder. Everything about this was going in the wrong direction.
Then she stood me up over the same chamber that talked back to me, “Maximum flow.” Only this time she tells me to wait until my bladder is full and I get the urge.
So I’m standing over this pot with something shoved up my ass and a tube threaded through to my bladder and she says, “When you’re ready, I want you to pee.”
“Really?” I said. “Just like I do when I’m alone in my bathroom and I don’t have a tube up my ass and another in my dick?”
“Do you want me to step out of the room?” she asks.
“Well, that a start.”
“I’ll be right outside. Just call me when you pee. And oh, by the way,” she says, “When you start to pee, it will sting a little.”
Like I would feel a “little” pressure, I thought.
So she leaves the room and I’m standing there trying to pee knowing that it will sting. That makes it kind of hard to relax. I call her.
“I think I peed.”
She looks in the pot. “No, you didn’t.” She continues to pump more water into my bladder. Finally, I’m ready.
And it feels like I’m peeing razor blades. I didn’t call her name, but something I said clued her that it was time for her to come back in.
“Keep going,” she says. It’s going all right—down my leg, in between my toes. “No, that’s normal. You’re OK,” she assured me.
After that, she yanks both tubes out of my orifices without so much, as “That was great. I’ll call you in the morning.” She just leaves me to my humiliation and a promise that when I return in a week, the doc will share the results of the tests.
“You’ll need to take antibiotics, and it’ll probably sting when you pee for the next few days,” she says. “Have a nice day.”
It couldn’t get any worse.