Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Working for a Rectal Surgeon

Two teenage boys are at an arena waiting for their hockey game to start. Their mothers are chatting and the boys discover that their moms work next door to each other in a medical building. One mum works for a Urologist specializing in impotence. The other (me) works for a rectal surgeon. The coach overhears the boys.

Boy 1. "Hey your mum knows my Mum"
Boy 2. "yeah, my mum works for the A$$ Doctor"
Boy 1. "my mum works for the D$(K doctor"

After starting with that little conversation, I added these flower pictures to soothe you. I've had so  many different types of jobs, you would wonder how the heck I ended up being a decorator. I've worked in ice cream shops, pancake houses, horse breeding farms, children's clothing shops, the Red Cross, designer furnishings, hospitals, and the head office of a major bank to name a few. For about 10 years, I ventured into the world of medicine as a secretary and medical office administrator....one of the doctors I worked for was actually busted for billing fraud and I had to testify...but that's a story for another day.

The one job I had that I get more questions about is my job as the secretary to a very well known Rectal Surgeon. Rectal surgery is about 90% psychology, 10% medicine. It is fraught with stress and worry and of course embarrassment. People always want to know the nitty gritty...those Internet type stories of "weird stuff", but in reality it was all rather tame. We were a very professional lot and did everything we could to make the appointments pleasant (tea and cookies) and the patients as  as comfortable they could be with their pants down. The important thing here, that I cannot express strongly enough is NOT TO BE TOO EMBARRASSED TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT. Colon and rectal cancers can be prevented and cured...

For those of you who have never had the pleasure, I can tell you that the experience is far better in person that what was in your head before you went. When you are first seen, the nurse or secretary will escort you into an examining room and take a brief history in the way of a form, followed by a brief chat with the doctor, and then the dreaded exam. For those of you who visualize yourself butt naked, shivering with cold and embarrassment, it's simply NOT that way. You will be asked to lean over the end of the exam table with your pants on. A paper sheet will be placed over your bottom half, and then you slip down your trousers to your ankles while remaining fully covered. A small slit is made in the paper to allow for the exam and the kind staff will chit chat your nerves away. Once done, you will be left to dress yourself and then chat again with the doctor in his office. 

In my few years there, I found there are 2 kinds of patients...those that don't dare talk about their bum, totally mortified to mention any of the "rectal" lingo, and those that JUST DON'T MIND AT ALL. As a front line person, I have been regaled with bum stories that the teller has NO qualms about revealing at all...in detail and at great length.

Over the years, I was often asked to assist the nurse in a procedure, passing instruments, holding hands and yes, sometimes holding the "CHEEKS".

It never, ever struck me as odd. Medical staff see this all day and we really NEVER poke any fun, laugh at, or criticize a patient. The doctor I worked for was so professional and passionate about preventing colon and rectal cancers and his primary job and that of his staff was to educate.

If you were to ask the oddest thing I ever saw, it was a grown man who wanted his mother in the examining room with him...the Doctor wouldn't allow it given he always had a nurse present.

So PLEASE...don't be afraid to make an appointment to bet yourself checked out....early detection in colon and rectal cancer can save your life.


  1. Ok, and I thought I had an interesting and diverse work background...but you win! ;-) Prevention is the answer though. And as someone who has lost one family member to colon cancer, and who has several friends fighting for their lives at the moment from this dreaded disease, I think the more we can talk about it the better!


  2. Chania - you've said it in one. A couple of years ago, the doctor thought that I had all the symptoms of bowel cancer and sent me for one of those checks. As luck happened it wasn't and everything was fine. The staff were absolutely brilliant, but I do agree with you on the importance of getting things checked out.

  3. a few years back, I had a fistula. Suffered immensely prior to a correct diagnosis. The '"secretary" diagnosed me over the phone when I called and felt immediate relief knowing someone knew what was going on with me. If you really think about it, yes it could be embarassing but you are so incorrect. The staff is so professional and courteous. My surgeon was awesome. I had to go in after surgery three times a week to be checked. It was so easy. I freaked when he told me on one of my last visits he had to take a "snip" to release this ring that was holding things together. i said, oh no you don't. He said it won't hurt a bit. YIKES. A little numbing and snip! I begged him to make sure it was numb..kind of like the dentist.

  4. I urge you to do yourself a favor and make the call....they are there for YOU!

  5. loved the boys conversation. and thanks for that healthy reminder! donna

  6. This was sent to me as I was approaching a visit to a colorectal surgeon for fistula repair (not that uncommon, babs, and frequently takes YEARS to get an accurate diagnosis!):



  7. That boys conversation is priceless! ha!
    As for any of these types of exams, you're right - medical staff see this stuff everyday and have heard every joke under the sun. It's so everyday for them that there's no reason to feel embarrassed or afraid. I lost an extended family member to colon cancer last year and if he hadn't been too proud and stubbord to go get checked, he'd probably still be here right now.

  8. Awesome educational post, Chania, with a fantastic humorous beginning to it all along with your pretty photos.

  9. Crikey. What an introduction to your blog!

    I only wish that the NHS in UK could be as caring as the hospital in which you worked. I suspect it varies between hospitals, but when I took my mother for an examination recently there was none of the concern for dignity that you describe.



I love to read each and every comment and are thrilled that you take the time to send one. Thank you so much. Chania