I have now reached the age when a prostate exam is a mandatory part of my six monthly medical. Prior to this it was an occasional procedure and only happened when either the doctor remembered or I reminded him (which never happened, by the way). In other words, it was a novelty, but not in a good way.
I will not go into detail, as I am sure many of you men have either experienced this process or have understandably been avoiding it. I liken it to the early days of World War II, with the doctor’s finger as the German war machine and my rear end as Belgium. There is only going to be one victor this early in the war.
I had a worse experience with another invasion of my nether regions a couple of years ago when I had a hip replacement. I woke after the operation to discover I had a catheter attached, which was another novel and unpleasant experience, although World War II is too small an event for comparison to this particular procedure. While grateful that the device was fitted while I was unconscious, I would have preferred the same consideration when it was removed. Those fellow victims among you will understand why I have my legs crossed while typing this column.
But as we all know, men are resilient. You rarely hear them complain when ill or injured and they always make model patients, suffering in silence, putting on a brave face and cracking jokes while in secret agony. They really are rather admirable.
However, there is one thing that will cause a man pause for thought, make him question his sacrifice, crack his veneer and yes, perhaps even make him angry. It is when someone, usually his wife or partner, says, “woman have it much harder”.
Oh, what a terrible thing to say to man in the darkest throes of agony second only to the pain inflicted in a medieval torture chamber. How hurtful! How cruel! Sometimes it is rammed home even more brutally by being prefaced with, “Oh, for God’s sake, stop moaning”. All I can say is that it’s no wonder the divorce rate is so high.
I admit that women suffer occasional reasonably painful procedures, such as pap smears, mammograms, bikini waxes and childbirth, but really, when they hold these up against what men go through, they are not comparing like with like.
The simple fact is that men have a much lower pain threshold than women, which means they usually reach the extremities of agonising pain before they allow themselves to even admit a little discomfort. This is why a man suffering a paper cut to the finger will develop a limp. It’s the reason banging a knee on the table requires traction and a common cold has him sending out for a priest to administer the last rights.
Now I don’t expect women to understand this, but it really is our own fault. We men have been protecting women from knowing the extent of our suffering for centuries, sparing them from the worst. The real reason we do not live as long as women is due to the strain of hiding our pain out of concern for their wellbeing.
All I ask is that when a man is enduring a mild infection, a sore toe or a shaving cut and he looks up with pain in his eyes and sighs quietly, women should realise he is not feeling sorry for himself, he is actually in pain so enormously profound he is unable to disguise it any longer, try as he might..
So, now you know. It may take you women some time to grasp this information and develop a deeper understanding when men are suffering, so I do not expect an instant miracle. I just thought you should know what’s really going on.
I brought my wife up to speed with this reality during the writing of this piece and I must say she took it rather well. Her reaction? Less World War II and more Cold War.
Do you think that women have it easier when it comes to pain? Tell us below.