Prostate Probes and Personal Boundaries

A Tale of Medical Misadventures


Peter Pickering

3/9/20242 min read

For nine years, I had the absolute pleasure of having the most brilliant bloke as my doctor, Dr Nick Bretland. Now, don't get me wrong, this isn't some tale of star-crossed lovers or anything of that sort, far from it! It's more of a professional bond that has grown into something akin to a friendship, without ever crossing that blurry line.

A few years back, I was having a spot of trouble with the old waterworks. The doc reckoned I had an enlarged prostate based on a PSA blood test, and put me on some medication that initially seemed to do the trick. However, with time, it became clear that the flow was still more of a trickle than a torrent.

Then came the moment that almost queered the pitch for us. The doc, with a straight face as if he was talking about the bloody weather, said: "I need to examine you." Cue dramatic music. Yep, this was leading exactly where I feared it was.

Next thing I know, I'm on the table, pants around my ankles, knees tucked up. "Relax," he said. Relax? How the bleeding hell was I supposed to relax in such a compromising position?

The ordeal was over before I knew it, and there I was, cleared to get dressed. Physically, it wasn't as bad as I'd dreaded, but the psychological impact lingered like a bad aftertaste. I mean, you'd think a game of strip poker was intimate, but there's nothing like having your doctor get all up in your personal space.

We still get on like a house on fire, him and I, cracking jokes and chit-chatting like old mates. But every time I see him now, there's a wee bit of me that flashes back to that fateful day, silently praying to the heavens that we never have to reenact that particular episode.

Fast forward to today. I rock up to the surgery for a general check-up. We go through my health concerns, ticking them off one by one like a shopping list. Then, with the finesse of a man who's had this conversation a dozen times too many, he asks, "Have I given you a prostate examination?"

I didn't hesitate. The memories of our last 'encounter' came flooding back, and I assured him that yes, he most definitely had. The last thing I wanted was a repeat performance. But then, it hit me. Was he just being tactful in broaching the question, or had he genuinely forgotten our previous 'close encounter'?

Had our 'intimate moment' been so insignificant to him that it had slipped his mind? Or was he just being sensitive to my feelings, trying to ease into the situation without causing distress? In the end, it doesn't really matter, does it?

The moral of this rather personal tale? No matter how awkward or embarrassing, our health must come first. And as for my doctor and me, well, we still share a laugh or two. And yes, at the back of my mind, I'm forever hoping that we never have to revisit that particular chapter. But if it keeps me ticking along, then trousers down, dignity at the door, I suppose!