Two Fridays ago, at around 07.15, my cab rolled up outside a clinic near Baggot Street. I exited the taxi, slightly disorientated by the darkness. I searched for a suggestion of where I should go. A large sign post directed me to “Ultrasound & X-Ray Building”, conveniently located near the gateway. The small, white building stood isolated from the hospital campus. To my surprise the building was open. I had anticipated waiting. I stepped into the dimly lit waiting area to find two receptions who tapped away on the keyboards of their PCs.
I handed my letter of referral to the nearest receptionist through a small hatch. She instructed me to take a seat in a well-to-do accent. I examined her as I removed my gloves and heavy coat. Her hair was tied in a bun. She pursed her lips as she assessed the envelope. Before opening it, she turned from me in what I thought might be some unspoken discretion towards patients. I fidgeted nervously, ignoring the neatly fanned collection of newspapers. The suspense was dented by the considerable force of a heavy door that swung forward to reveal the doctor, a greying man in his fifties, who entered the room. He was dressed neatly in a chequered shirt and plainly coloured tie. He stared over a pair of low-riding spectacles into a clip-board. His eyes rapidly motioned left to right. He looked towards me and cleared his throat.
“Stephen, if you would please follow me.”
I jumped out of the seat. I desperately wanted to leave the confines of the eerily silent waiting room.
The building was clearly bigger than it seemed; the doctor led me down a long, white corridor, before turning right and entering an irregularly shaped, white room. A bed sat nestled on the far side among a collection of medical gadgetry. The doctor gestured towards the bed, took one last look at the clipboard and prepared the ultrasound machine.
“Pull down your jeans and underwear. Lie on the bed.” His manner alternated between friendly and firm.
I did as he asked.
He picked up a white bottle, held it above my delicates and squeezed the bottle firmly. It spat noisily.
“Ahhhh,” I gasped.
“Oh,” he said rather insincerely, “I do apologise for the coldness. Now, if you wouldn’t mind pulling your penis up your middle.”
What did he just ask? I questioned. Clarification needed. “Excuse me?”
“Pull your penis up your middle. It stops your testicles from wobbling. It makes the ultrasound much easier.”
“Ah, OK”. I self-consciously did as (I hoped) he meant, expecting him to correct me at any moment.
He picked up the ultrasound imaging device. He set about his investigation, spreading the viscosity gel as he did. I lay back on the bed. I traced patterns of paint in the white ceiling, occasionally looking at the monitor.
He paused. “Ah, I see.”
I raised my head. “You found something?” My voice trembled slightly.
“I can tell you straight away what you have is harmless. You have a cyst. More than fifty per cent of men that visit with testicular lumps are happy to discover they have cysts. You actually have two of them; one is less tense. They are harmless. Now, while you are here, you may as well let me check your kidneys, bladder and colon. Lie back for a few minutes.”
I lay back on the bed and assessed the situation. There was no massive sense of relief. Since discovering the lump and dealing with the initial shock five days ago, I guessed it was nothing. The most stressful part of the experience was the discovery: finding it and repeatedly checking to see if it was still there; the realisation you are one of the many who discover a lump. Fortunately, many lumps are cysts or are benign. Sadly, for others it commences a battle with cancer.
“You are good to go,” the doctor announced. He handed me reams of tissue to clean myself of the gel. “You are in good health. You obviously need to continue examining yourself. You can’t be too careful.”
“So in future, when I am checking for lumps, I should look for extra lumps, considering I have two?” I laughed. The doctor did not.
He shook my hand. “Enjoy them,” he said.
Before leaving, I hesitated, but thought best not to clarify what I should enjoy.