As a writer, I think it’s my duty to put myself in situations where our paper’s readers may not often find themselves and then put the pen to paper — or more appropriately — fingers to keyboard.

I did this a few years ago when I boxed in a couple of Toughman Contests — my record was 1-1 — and it’s definitely coming from the heart whenever I talk about my love life or lack thereof. No need to read between the lines with my stuff; it’s all part of my weekly conversation with 40,000 of my closest friends. But lest I digress.

With that inordinately long preface, a few Saturdays back I volunteered myself as a patient for the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine men’s health clinic. It’s a free health screening where second-year medical students get the opportunity to interact with a live patient for the first time. Yep, I became a human guinea pig. And all for the sake of you, my beloved readers. Cue the applause sign.

I turned 40 years young without much fanfare this summer and I’m getting to the age where I need most of my body parts checked out like a tune-up for a car with 100,000 miles. I figured the health screening would be a great idea until I heard exactly what type of ailments they were checking out.

The 30-minute exam involved taking a little bit of blood, a questionnaire about my medical history and a prostate exam. Yeah, that’s the one part I wasn’t looking forward to. But some studies suggest that men should begin having a prostate exam at the age of 40, so I knew in my heart I should have it done.

Anyway, a few years back I had the Latin phrase “Carpe Diem” tattooed on my left shoulder — along with a smiley face — and what kind of writer would I be if I couldn’t take a little probing from a future doctor?

With a twitch of anxiety, I arrived at the Robert C. Byrd Clinic and signed in. I immediately knew they were training young doctors from the very start because of the time spent in the waiting room before the second-year medical student could see me. That’s where they learn it.

But soon enough, the young man came out and greeted me. He looked very professional in his white coat and I could tell he was extremely intelligent, albeit a bit nervous. But then again, so was I.

After a few preliminary questions — for those of you scoring at home I am 6-foot tall and weigh 185 pounds — he drew some blood from me which they tested later. It was a good stick and only pinched a little bit.

I was escorted to a medical examining room and after taking my medical history, the student informed me of the procedure that was coming next — the prostate exam. His professional bedside manners and easy-going personality had a calming effect on me, which I needed. But then, a real doctor entered the room.

“You’re getting the special two-for-one treatment today,” the real doctor said. Now, a bit of levity was needed at that point and time, but those weren’t the words I wanted to hear. But I realized that a real doctor needed to check there, too, just in case there were any problems.

After assuming the appropriate position — one that I had found myself in previous jobs — the future doctor and real doctor performed the exam. It was very brief and both said my prostate was normal. Whew, I’ll check that off the list till next year.

Prostate cancer will strike one out of every six men in the United States, and the earlier it’s detected the better chance you have of surviving. It’s a little discomforting, but it’s better than dying. If I can have it done and write about it, don’t whine about putting it off because you’re a sissy.

I want to thank WVSOM professor Dr. Andrea Nazar for helping me learn about my prostate and allowing me in the free clinic.

Carpe Diem everybody.

— Giggenbach is a Register-Herald reporter and his test results indicate he is as healthy as a horse. E-mail:


This Week's Circulars