When it comes to medical care, men are the biggest babies (present company included). Men absolutely hate accessing medical care. They will stay home with their finger dangling from a severed tendon and think that maybe it will heal. They will ignore tumors growing on their head until it no longer fits under their baseball cap. And, people wonder why men have a lower life-expectancy than women.
Men are taught to be men. Get hurt? Just “shake it off”. Get sick? Just wait it out. Have chest pain? It’s just indigestion…ignore it. Need a physical exam? Just postpone it. You would think that testosterone somehow lowers IQ when it comes to making preventative medical decisions.
When I tell a man patient they need to drop their drawers for a rectal exam, their eyes widen in disbelief. What? No, you don’t need to do that. Yes, I do. No, I don’t want anyone putting a finger in my butt! What if you have prostate cancer? I don’t care. We have to die from something. Men protect their rectums like a bank safe; the same goes for their genitals. A prostate exam is easy, painless (discomfort is NOT pain), and very, very important. Men hate it, but they don’t get any sympathy from women who have to endure annual pelvic exams. or mammograms. I shudder at the thought that someday there may be ballograms. “Just lay them up on this table; you will feel a little squeeze.”
Testicular cancer is a young man’s disease. Several years ago, a Phillies baseball player was hit in the “boys” with a baseball during practice. At the hospital, it was discovered he had testicular cancer. This accident saved his life. He had to have one cancerous testicle removed. When he returned to his team, they gave him a t-shirt that said, “If you don’t let me play, I will take my ball and go home.”
A good friend of mine, father of six (including triplet boys) was recently diagnosed with testicular cancer. Fortunately, he seems to have won this battle, but not without months of painful chemotherapy, radiation, and a bone marrow transplant. And, of course, there is Lance Armstrong — the most famous of all testicular cancer survivors. In spite of the media attention about this terrible disease, don’t you think that men would be pounding down the doors of medical clinics demanding a testicular exam? Not on their lives.
For years, we have instructed women to do breast self-examination. They do it and lives have been saved. Men, on the other hand, are usually given a pamphlet on testicular self-exam that they throw away. Some dedicated medical professionals do take the time to instruct men on this practice, but most are not listening. Take off those gloves, and just leave me alone. You would think that men, who spend a considerable part of their day adjusting their scrotums, scratching, or just holding them while watching a football game, would not be repulsed by a testicular self-exam. As a matter of fact, that would be a great excuse. What are you doing? Oh, just doing my testicular self-exam. Sorry.
We really are responsible to take care of ourselves. Medical providers are really just travel agents. Doctors can tell you how to take this journey through life, but we are the ones traveling. Good health is, indeed, the slowest form of dying, but why should we die from preventable illnesses? You should not stand in front of a target while people are shooting arrows; so why don’t men try to dodge the arrows of testicular or prostate cancer? Why? They are babies – pure and simple. Many men feel that “what they don’t know can’t hurt them”. Man, are they wrong.