I can just see eyes bulging in their sockets from the topic. Lmao am sure people that know me are already on a spiral. Sure they are saying things like ehen-funom iyaf spoil o. I haven’t, am just sharing a scientific experience that scarred me-for a bit.
Okay so my fourth year of premed in environmental sciences at AUN was fun filled. I was doing my project and it took me to all sorts of operation rooms and out patient centres. I made the gruesome mistake of choosing prostate cancer as my topic. Lmao of all the cancers fa, it had to be one that only occurred in men and one that can only be diagnosed through the rectum-kai!!! Oh well what was I to do, I had to suck it up and be a Dr. I thought that all I had to do was sit in one corner in my labcoat, look pretty and watch the real doctors do the work. I was sorely mistaken as Dr Wadinga was not having any of that.
Sure he let me sit in the corner and look pretty for a couple of days and one of those days I saw him perform the DRE. Well ergh-I didn’t really see, he was behind a curtain. My own was give the patients forms and let them fill out my questionnaire. Simple abi? Wrong.
I was definitely going to have to earn every single tidbit of information I got. So on this sunny afternoon, I had dressed up simple and smart in jeans, sneakers and a little top. I threw on my cute little lab coat *gosh just the way I look in that white coat is enough reason to want to be a doctor-sigh, I digress*. Anyway I was all set and waiting for the cab Dr Tyndal *my SRP supervisor* had arranged for me. FMC- federal medical centre was right beside AUN but erghh nobody can walk under yola sun. So I headed out for another day of questioning patients while the real docs did the work- or so I thought.
On getting there, I had to push my way through a long line of old men. As you may or may not know, PCa also known as prostate cancer is found in older men, age 50 and above for the most part. So please join me and picture the age group of my patients. I smiled politely as I passed them, it was northern Nigeria after all and most of these men have granddaughters my age so they weren’t about to find it funny that I was in their business. Their private business.
Hey it wasn’t pleasant for me too😢😠. Dr Wadinga dispensed with the pleasantries rather fast as I entered and as I made for my sit by the corner he smiled and said “Funom, come this way please”. With dread and trepidation, I made my way to where he was and a patient was behind the curtain. He was old and freckled and was having problems breathing. Dr wadinga said “Watch me and learn how the DRE works, you will be checking some of these men today”. I froze. What?!! Did I hear him right? Sadly for me he was not bluffing.
DRE stands for digital rectal exam. Digital being that you are using the digits of your fingers, rectal in relation to the anus and exam- well you get that part. I was beading with perspiration as Dr W covered one hand in double latex gloves and then proceeded to lubricate it. I tried to avert my eyes because the man was old and his children, grown men themselves were eyeing me from the corner. Probably thinking what sort of uncout girl will look at a bare mans anus. Well sorry that’s medical science for you and I was not about to betray my chosen career. So I watched head on without flinching as Dr W stuck his hand into the mans anal canal and dug around all the while explaining how I was to do it. I would stick my finger in there and feel around for the prostate as the prostate gland is directly above the rectum, then I would gauge if it were enlarged. Got it, piece of cake huh? Well except I had to plung my delicate digits into the anus of an old man😢😢. Not that it would have made a difference if it had been a young man or a woman. Maybe if it were a baby or a kid I would have been fine but naa I was terrified.
The next patient was propped facedown on the bed and his trousers yanked down and the floor was mine. Oh Lordy Lordy, if it be thine will let this cup pass from me. Nope, nothing, zilch. God was having too much fun to stop me, am sure all the angels were gathered around him and peering down at me with giggles. Maybe Arch angel michael was saying come on girl, its just a hole and maybe Arch angel Gabriel amidst giggles was saying “Shey you say its medicine you want, oya na”. Since my Father, my God was not about to help, I was stuck.
I sighed as I tripple covered my hand in latex gloves. The physicians present laughed at that and assured me even 10 gloves will not make my first DRE any easier. The patient himself was nervous because I was fidgeting. Wonder why? I mean all he had to do was lie there and look pretty with my finger dancing around inside him. Yuck. I poured lubrication on my finger, stood by his anus and blinked rapidly to steady myself. I counted down from 10 and as I got to one I plunged my fingers, two of them, into the man. He jerked up a little as I had used way too much force. I could not be bothered, I kept probing around to the position I knew the prostate would be. Didn’t take me long to find it because well, it was enlarged. Satisfied with my quest, I began to pull out my fingers all the while trying not to wretch. When my fingers pulled free, I discovered that there was faeces on them. I had to still myself, mask my face in a casual smile as I gently walked to the bathroom. Once behind that door, it was a blurry of activity as I ran for more gloves, I hurriedly used the glove to remove the disgusting one from my hand. The other two beneath were clean but hell if I cared, bile still rose to my throat as I dashed to remove them all. I spent over 20 minutes in there,washing and sanitizing my hand. Till another doctor knocked on the door to ask if I was okay and that they were waiting for me to come out and give my diagnosis.
It was over but I was scarred for a week I think and anytime I wanted to eat, I saw that faeces covered latex glove. Lol the beauty of science huh? And to think that is the only way to properly diagnose PCa except you just want to rely on symptoms alone which is not ethical. Oh well it was a lesson well learnt. Hopefully, with any luck, I will stick to only cutting people open