I’m sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, it’s only March and the season for colds and flu is not yet over. I am surrounded by sick people, coughing and sneezing, filling the air that I also have to breath with all manner of infectious agents. I can almost see the evil little germs making a beeline for me. The sooner this ordeal is over the better. Finally accepting that my symptoms are not normal, I have made the appointment to see the GP. The trouble with a little knowledge, is I know what is going to happen. I am aware of the first thing that must be checked when a patient presents in a doctor’s surgery like me. It would be far better to lie on my left side on the couch, knees bent and mooning to the room, in blissful ignorance of the humiliation to come. Facing the wall, my attention is fixed on a little mark in the paintwork and as I'm blind to the preparations going on behind me, my hearing seems extremely acute. A latex glove snaps into place with the force of catapult as the noisy cap being unscrewed from a tube of lubricant slowly increases the building tension. I need to relax but every muscle is rigid with apprehensive expectation. “This may be a little uncomfortable” the school child masquerading as a medic informs me. This I soon realise is an undeniable understatement, as the incredibly young doctor who I’m convinced is only a work experience imposter, vigorously and thoroughly checks to see if any abnormalities can be found.
Everything is as it should be, no bleeding piles, no abrasions, no obvious cause for the symptoms that I have presented with and so further tests will be necessary. I am still acutely embarrassed as she writes my referral to the hospital but she is professional and unfazed by the procedure she has just had to do. Even at such a tender age she must have seen hundreds of human sphincters, mine just one more to add to her increasing knowledge and experience and as I am now on this conveyer belt of appointments and investigations, I am going to have to get used to my private, intimate place where the “sun doesn’t shine” becoming just one more on a proctologist’s list.