Kirby column: Hey doc! ... No, not you
Wait long enough, and you'll see anything on public transportation. Last week, I witnessed a medical examination on TRAX.
Two guys across the aisle were discussing ingrown toenails when one asked the other to let him see it. Before the rest of us could clear out, the sufferer pulled off his sock and let the other guy have a long squint.
The astonishing part was that these guys got on at separate stops. I'm pretty sure they had never met before comparing toes, and neither of their first names was "Doctor."
At some point or another, we have all encountered someone who assumes proprietary medical interest in our most personal parts. If you're lucky, it's someone who knows what they're doing.
By this I mean it's an actual doctor, dentist or nurse practitioner, a reputable person with real medical training, clean hands and malpractice insurance.
If you're unlucky, the person is some strange relative or friend who claims to remember basic first aid. In extreme cases they will have been to a form of online medical school.
In both cases we are fully expected to submit our parts for scrutiny without putting up a fuss. It's important (and easy) to tell the two apart.
First case • "It's OK, I'm a doctor."
Worst case • "Dude, I've already seen it a bunch of times on YouTube."
Over the years, Dr. Gregory Daynes has sorted through virtually all of my parts. We've reached the point in our doctor/idiot relationship where we no longer stand on ceremony. When I'm in the exam room, Greg helps himself to me without asking.
For example, if I say/screech "There was this really loud noise and now my stomach hurts," Greg will immediately start patting me down. It's a matter of expediency. Quite often he'll have a diagnosis before I stop whining about the symptoms.
Him • "Well, here's the problem: Your spleen is supposed to be on the inside."
Me • "Now that you mention it, I did wonder about that."
I don't mind Greg taking such casual liberties. Hell, I'm paying him to do it. Also, his remedies for what he finds are always spot-on, the most common being, "You should stop doing that."
This isn't just doctor-office behavior. Most medical people are like this. Sonny's wife is a nurse practitioner, and as such I'm always some form of patient.
We'll be going somewhere and, without warning, Sue's looking inside my ear with professional interest, stretching my earlobe and everything.
Me • "Excuse me, I'm trying to drive here."
Her • "Fine. I'll need a pair of scissors anyway."
This brings us to the medical examination you shouldn't submit to the one from the well-meaning friend, relative, co-worker or even just someone who looks trustworthy.
You can be complaining about a boil, or a cyst or some embarrassing growth in a personal place and these people will want to see it. If it's already visible, they'll want to fiddle with it.
I blame the Internet. Virtually nothing is left to the imagination anymore, and any sense of privacy or personal space humans once had is gone.
"I can fix that if you want," the person will say about the strange lump on your back. "My friend's brother-in-law had one twice as big, and I took care of it."
Things that were once never discussed outside of a professional setting are now offered up in public. In the future, I'll have to be more careful about which doctor's office I'm riding in.
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.