I sat with my legs dangling over the edges of the hard table in the doctor’s room as I stared at a picture on the wall of the inside of an ear. Occasionally I would check my blogger stats as I sat and waited… and waited. I could hear the doctor discussing something outside my door and I tried to listen. His voice was muffled and low and I couldn’t quite make out his words. Then I felt bad for trying to listen because he may not have been talking about me. I checked my stats again and was saddened because there were no more views since that last time I checked two minutes earlier. My legs nervously twitched as my toes tried to find the bottom step. I had reason to be nervous – a little earlier I had received a phone call from the receptionist asking me to come in right away. They had my test results and the doctor wanted to see me immediately. The longer I sat, the more nervous I became.
I had made my first doctor’s appointment because it was November and I was participating in a Movember campaign (where men grow mustaches to raise awareness and funds for men’s health). My step-dad passed away in April as a result of prostate cancer and so Movember was especially important to me this year. I was having pain in places where you normally don’t hurt and so I made the appointment. I figured I’d go in, get a check-up, find out everything is fine and then blog about how uncomfortable it is to turn your head and cough while another man squeezes your testicles. During one of the squeezes, the doctor didn’t like my painful response. Nor did he like the second or third response. I wonder why he felt the need to continue to squeeze, but that’s beside the point. Anyway, there were a lot of tests ahead of me.
After that first visit, I immediately went for an x-ray, an ultrasound, and blood work. Over the course of 3 days, my testicles were fondled by 3 doctors and 2 lab technicians. They weren’t the last, as the days passed. What started out as a way to get people involved in men’s health, ended up being an exploration of my own health.
And then I got the call from the receptionist.
The doctor walked into the room and set my file on a table and opened it up. He flipped back and forth between pages. His assistant walked in behind him and shut the door. The doctor asked how I was feeling and I told him fine other than being in pain every time I picked up my toddler. He ran through a list of things that were wrong with me, including a hernia. Then he said, “you’re testicles look fine.” And for some reason I made the joke, “of course they do.” I know, terrible joke, but both doctors gave a chuckle.
Then their smiles went away and my doctor turned in his chair, gave me a serious look, and said, “Everything looks fine, but you have 3 masses in your liver… but try not to worry about it.” My stomach did a flip-flop and I said, “I shouldn’t worry?” “Well,” the doctor said, “you might have cancer, but you might not.” He told me it was likely benign, but that I would need to get an MRI of my liver. Then we stood up and he said, “Have a Happy Thanksgiving.”
I stood against the wall as I waited for the receptionist to give me the information for scheduling the MRI. I thought, “I came to get my balls checked and now I have to worry about my liver!” The receptionist handed me the information and then I left. I sat in my car, as a million thoughts ran through my head. Unfortunately, I am a worst-case scenario type of guy and all the horrible things that could happen suddenly weighed down my shoulders. I thought about my kids, my wife, the youth group at church that I had just taken over, my parents, the soccer team that I coach, the last level of Candy Crush, and all the other important things in my life. Then I called my wife who was out of town on business and gave her a brief update and told her all was pretty much okay and there was no need to worry.
I arrived back at home, still in control of my emotions. I went to my neighbors (who are like family) to pick up my kids. My toddler was there with his outstretched arms and I picked him up and began to cry. It was the ugly kind of crying too. My neighbors/family were very sympathetic and offered great words of encouragement. Then, I took my kids home and tucked them all in bed. My 9 year old could sense something was wrong, but I told him everything was fine and not to worry. I don’t think he believed me.
Okay, I’ll cut this short because you might be preparing for the worse. The 3 masses ended up being benign and I’ll have to get an ultrasound of my liver every 6 months for the rest of my life to make sure there isn’t a change. Here’s the thing though, I would have never known about the masses in my liver had it not been for my check-up. Those masses will need to be monitored, but now that we know they are there, we can be ready and take the necessary steps if something changes.
Often times men take the health of everyone else around them seriously, but we neglect our own. Those days need to stop. We need to take our health seriously. I had a real scare last month and it made me think about so many things. One of which was wishing that I had taken better care of myself.
Guys, we have to get our check-ups. There’s a lot of people counting on us.