It is the fifth day of my friend Miko walking around with a swollen, half-closed eye. I rush to express my concern and I offer him a ride to my primary healthcare provider, an excellent physician with many years of experience. He declines politely. I don’t want to be too invasive, besides I am not quite the overly maternal type and he is a grown man of forty five. Is there anything I can help with? There sure is. He wants me to measure the distance between the top of the swelling and its base. I try to squeeze in a line containing the word “doctor” but his stern one-eyed gaze delivers the response, “I asked you to help me measure, I didn't ask for advice.” I grab the tape and measure the height of his eyelid volcano: 1 and ½ millimeters.
“Hmmm.” He says, head tilted backwards.
Now, I am not a rookie to ask stupid questions such as what “hmmm” is supposed to mean. I am beyond that feminine naiveté. Instead, I join him in approval, “hmmm.” I know he won’t seek medical care until the other eye is completely closed as well and he can no longer watch football.
Indeed, one must pay attention to men’s verbal and non verbal communication. They don’t use metaphors. In plain English, when they ask for one thing, they are not asking for another. Also, when men show you their cracked skulls, they don’t want you to call 911. They expect you to exclaim in surprise mixed with admiration,
“Wow, this is huge, man. Can I touch it?”
“Yeah, it is isn't it?”
“Uhu.” ( insert ‘burp’ here)
The story is simple and many a man can relate to it. In Miko’s case, it started with a little grain on the eyelid. Miko’s “inner man” rubbed it vigorously in a childish attempt to remove it which only caused more inflammation. Day after day he watched the unfriendly little fellow grow bigger and bigger. Any other individual in his place would have panicked. Not him, though. His own pain became a scientific case study.
Another friend and coworker of mine got a skin infection. I don’t know what it was or how it happened, what I do know is that the minor bump on his forearm grew larger and larger, redder and redder until his arm looked like it was inflatable. Only then, he agreed to be rushed to the hospital.
Before he landed in the emergency room, he took the time to write down valuable information using his healthy hand while he watched his arm swell up to five times its normal size.
An engineer at heart and scientist as well, he would measure the diameter of the bump day after day carefully, meticulously writing down any changes in skin color, texture et cetera. A tattoo of concentric circles of various colors held the information as to how the redness spread in time. Folks, we’re talking charts, maps and measurements here.
Every day he would keep me informed on what appeared to be less of a health issue and more of a science assignment. Project “Infected Arm.”
“Hey, see how soft it is here, around the red spot?” he would smile at me seeking approval.
“Yeah, what did the doctor say?” I would test the waters with caution.
“I didn't go to the doctor. I took some ancient Egyptian remedy and I am waiting to see what happens.”
“Hmmm, it is obvious, I mean scientifically speaking, it will not revert to its initial shape, right?”
“How would you know that, are you a physician?” he would frown upon my lack of support.
My coworker’s hard work paid off. The doctor who admitted him into the hospital offered him a position as a personal assistant after reading his notes.
Men don’t go to the doctor because they love to be “in charge” of their own health and push their pain limits. They need to know what is going on. Also, there is always a miraculous remedy that needs to be tried out before seeking medical advice. Finally, they always think the wound or the condition is not important enough to make it worth a visit to the physician’s office. Because it is not “manly” to go see the doctor unless your arm is falling off – literally.
The only thing we can do is assisting them with their measurements and monitoring needs without commenting. Something like a secretary who is always ready to pull out a miniature measuring tape, a notebook and to follow instructions when needed.
And last but not least, always remember: this doesn't work both ways. How many of us females have been prompted by men to seek immediate medical care for a pimple?
“Are you okay?”
“Yes, I am okay. Why would you ask this?”
“I don’t know. That pimple is huge. Did you call the doctor’s office?”
“You sure you can handle it?”
“Yes, I am.”
‘Hey, Mark did you see my girlfriend’s pimple?”
“Oh, wow, man, cool stuff. I can’t touch it right now, though.”
“Why is your hand so floppy?”
“Oh, nothing, it’s I think I screwed my flexor tendons playing rugby, but I’ll tape this hand and I should be fine.”
“Wanna work together on a splint?”
© 2013 by Oana