Squeam & shout

Before we begin, do you mind standing in front of me for a moment? I forgot to insert my morning anal suppository, and I need someone to shield me from what could be an embarrassing moment.

That’s better.

Having a doctor tell me five days before Christmas that I had ulcerative colitis wasn’t as bad as having to drink a solution 24 hours before my first colonoscopy that tasted like the dregs of a diesel truck’s oil filter.

My gastroenterologist—no coincidence the word “gas” is in his title—said I needed to cleanse my colon before he could start recording the most spectacular America’s Funniest Home Video I would ever see.

Thankfully, I was knocked out cold by a milky fluid injected into my veins before the tape began rolling. As for the colon cleansing, think Jeff Daniels in Dumb and Dumber.

And now, to regulate my diet and to be proactive about my condition, I’ve had to ban two staples almost indispensable to a university student’s diet: caffeine and alcohol. More importantly, I found out colitis was an inflammation of my colon that is chronic but won’t kill me.

When I eventually found out about my new irritable bowel disease, the news didn’t come as much of a surprise. You can only bleed from your rectum so many times before you begin to wonder if something might be wrong.

But the difference between wondering if something is wrong and telling a doctor something is wrong is the same distance between Mars and Venus.

I waited almost two years to literally get to the bottom of my condition. And my reticence had nothing to do with the state of Canadian health care.

What the hell is wrong with me and every other chest-thumping lout who thinks he’s invisible? Too much Don Cherry? Too much of our grandfathers’ generation telling us we can’t admit something is wrong and get help?

The taboo surrounding men’s heath and well-being doesn’t help. A father asks his son to pass the peas at dinner—and by the way, are your testicles lumpy? Or a doctor, before dismissing a male patient after his annual physical, says: “Everything seems to be fine, but because of your age I suggest a barium study of your intestines.”

Awkward moments aside, educating men about squeamish conditions would help overcome the machismo conundrum. I say this only because I’m a victim of double jeopardy. Six years ago, I didn’t know the signs and symptoms of testicular torsion. When one of my testicles swelled to the size of a small clementine, I thought it was growing pains.

I didn’t know testicular torsion was a condition in which a testicle strangles itself around the spermatic cord it’s attached to. I didn’t know it’s prevalent during infancy and one’s early teen years. I didn’t know organs can only last six hours without oxygen before they become poisonous to one’s body.

Listening to squeamish terms in an awkward conversation is much better than living with one testicle and shoving suppositories up your ass. Trust me on this one.

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