May 8, 2010

Today: Drop Your Pants, Please.

Today at my family practice preceptorship I gave my first (and my second) ever prostate exams on two very kind men. I'm following a wonderful family practice physician who I'll call Dr. Spock because it just fits. So this random Friday afternoon, we were talking with a patient and Dr. Spock says (to the patient) would it be okay if Erica felt your prostate?”, and when the patient says yes, he sort of nods at me and I go stand next to him as he (surreally) directs me on what I’ll be doing.

It's incredible to me that 1) they both agreed, 2) that it actually wasn't that awkward, and 3) that they expected me to be able to tell them very important information about their health afterward.

Mostly I just looked at Dr. Spock and said (very slowly), I don't feel any hard nodules that could be cancer (????????) to which he said, good job. though you will notice that the left lobe is slightly larger than the right; that's something we're monitoring on a bi-annual basis. I nodded (but I really didn't notice anything, all I could think was: whoa, I hope this man is okay with this...). Later, we talked with a man who had just gotten out of jail about his cocaine addiction and how he had become very depressed in jail, but then decided that he wanted to stop his medication because "some things just shouldn't feel okay, doc". After that, we did a complete physical on a two month old baby, including sort of dropping him face forward onto the table, watching to see how he caught himself. I looked at the mother like, really? you're letting me drop your baby?

I know I've written about the magic of the white coat before but mmmboy, this is the real deal. As I wandered around the grocery store after finishing up my session, I realized I was holding myself a bit differently, like I had to appear more responsible - like someone who could ask you to drop your pants and you would know that it was for a good reason, or like someone to whom you could talk to about being sad in jail, even if you're a huge man, or like someone with whom you would trust your baby, even as I go to drop him on the exam table.

I keep looking around wondering when anyone is going to pick up on the fact that I have no idea what I'm doing, but then I realize, well, maybe I'm starting to...

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