Turn and cough, sir

James McAllen
6 min readMay 11, 2022


One of the great indignities of moving into your fifties is the onset of a never-ending series of unexplained aches and pains, accompanied by a litany of snaps, crackles and pops to go with it. A cacophony of sound to add to the frustration of having to deal with the various tweaks and pulls and spasms that come with being a human being in your 6th decade of life. You don’t spring out of bed anymore; you roll to the side of the bed and test each body part to see if everyone is going to cooperate as you start your day.

On one such morning, I experience something that caused a bit of alarm. It wasn’t so much a pain, as it was a… shall we say, twinge.
A general discomfort.
And had that discomfort been in my shoulder, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
The twinge was in my abdomen.
My lower abdomen.
Ya know, in my groin.
As in, my genitals.
I had a pain in my balls.

My first thought was, “what the fuck was that?”
I gently moved my body around to see if there was anything else wrong with me, but alas the discomfort didn’t reappear. So, I then began to give myself a thorough examination of the nether regions to see if I could determine the source of this indignity. And of course, like the other great mysteries of life, the discomfort disappeared, never to return.

Until about a week later.
When I woke up with a dull, heavy feeling on the left side of my…
lower abdomen.

It wasn’t a pain so much, as a nuisance. And from my thorough examination of the area, there was nothing out of the ordinary; no lumps, no tears, no bruises.
So after a quick dose of advil, I went about my business.
And once again, the dull ache in my private parts disappeared, never to return.

Until the next week.
This time, the ache seemed to be traveling. First the abdomen, then the plumbing, then in the testicle itself. The only thing was, it never hurt to the touch, so at this point, I did what any responsible man in his 50’s would do.

I ignored it.

Until a week later when it came back, like the swallows to Capistrano.
At this point, I discovered what appeared to be a pattern. The discomfort seemed to surface about 24 hours after I [comment deleted] my wife.

Now we have a problem.
Being the dedicated family man that I am, I can’t have anything disrupting my wifes’ happiness, so I reluctantly made an appointment with my family doctor. Of course, he doesn’t have an open slot for the next 14 years, so I had to wait for someone else to die before I can get in to see him.

Two weeks later, I stood nervously in his office explaining my plight and answering a series of questions.

Did I do anything out of the ordinary?
(nah, just regular sex, doc)
Do you have an STD?
(Well, I’ve been true blue for 10 years, so if I do, it’s coming from the other direction. That would be a bigger problem.)
How often do you masturbate?
(You mean, per day?)

My doctor is a smart, young guy and the last thing he wants to be doing is fondling my junk, so he did the only sensible thing — he sent me for a test.

A scrotal sonogram.
Now, I was out sick the day they taught about sonograms in the medical school I attended, so I just assumed that they stuck you in a tube and took a picture.

“No, that’s an MRI. This is the same thing they use to take those picture of the fetus in pregnant women”

“You mean to tell me that someone is going to stick a wand between my legs and dig around looking for the holy grail?”


I made the appointment, and spent the next two weeks alternating between anxiety over having the test, and spending every waking hour on WEBMD, trying to self-diagnose the issue. It turns out, there are a LOT of possibilities for why a man in his 50’s can have pain in his scrotum.
A hernia for example.
Or an STD.
Or something called Epididymitis.
Or Krebs.
Krebs sounds like an STD, but it’s not.
It’s a german word for Cancer.
Despite all the advances made in the march towards a cure,
Cancer is still the scariest word in the english language.
I like Krebs better. — “he’s got a case of the krebs.”
Or how about RAK — thats Hungarian.
“He’s got the RAK.”

So, much like in grade school, I didn’t sleep much the night before the test. I kept projecting the humiliation of having some dude jamming a cold wand into my family jewels.

Of course, I had no reason to worry. That never came to pass.
No dude was ever going to conduct the test.
That task fell to a Russian nurse whose last job was in the gulag in Western Siberia.

My fear turned to shame and humiliation very quickly.

After filling out the totally unnecessary paperwork, we proceeded to the testing room where I finally got to hear the words that every man wants to hear from a nurse, “remove your shorts and lie back.”

This was not what I had envisioned.

By this point, my once proud member had shriveled up into a pack of Certs. She placed a paper sheet over me, and in her thick Russian accent, instructed me to: “Lift your penis”

“Lift it? Lady, I can’t even find it.”

She then proceeded to pull out an industrial sized bottle of astroglide and doused me with enough juice to squeeze a cat through a mousehole. Then she pulled out the wand and started taking a movie of my manhood.

Now while you’re undergoing any medical procedure, you have to think about something. You can think about what’s happening, or you can think about the possibility that you might have cancer, or you can go to a happy place. So much like when I was a teenager engaged in my 3rd sexual encounter and trying desperately to avoid a humiliating case of premature ejaculation, I went back in time and relived one of the great memories of my youth:
Reggie Jackson’s 3 home runs in the 77 World Series.
Yes, while Natasha was jamming a frozen probe into my pelvic region, I was with Mr. October, reliving that glorious Autumn night when he made mincemeat out of Dodger pitchers: Hooten, Sosa and Hough. By the time Reggie’s 3rd monster blast landed in the black seats of the old stadium, the test was over.

The nurse handed me a stack of those brown, school-lunchroom napkins to clean myself — but no amount of rough paper is going to be able to wash away my shame. I pulled up my shorts and slithered home.

My wife shares in my humiliation as I recount the events of the day.
She still hasn’t stopped laughing since.

Amazingly, the test results come back the next day and the doctor calls me with the good news. Everything looks fine.
No lumps.
No mass.
No growths.
No runs, no hits, no errors.
Still, this does not explain the source of my discomfort.
So he tells me to make an appointment with a urologist.
So I call for an appointment.
“We have an opening in May”, she says.
“But it’s March,” I reply.
“We’re booked.”
“Can you call me if there is a cancellation?”
She never called.

Yesterday, I made the trip to the Urologist.
After filling out more totally unnecessary paperwork, I moved to the exam room where I proceeded to answer a series of very pertinent questions from another highly qualified nurse:
“How’s your urine stream?”
“How about your erections?”
Like a teenager!
“How about your ejaculate?”

I traded the nurse for the doctor; a very dignified and qualified gentleman in his 60’s and after another round of questions:
(“Anything I need to know about your sexual activities?”)
He then says the words that NO man wants to hear from a mature male doctor:
“Drop your shorts and lie back.”

He then proceeds to manually manipulate my junk like an old woman kneading Challah bread. But as he traces my entire family history, he does what any decent physician would do; he asks you personal questions.
“So, where did you grow up?”
“Right here in Brooklyn, doc.”
“How long have you been married?”
“Almost 7 years.”

Then the exam is over, and you get the diagnosis you’ve been hoping for:
No lumps.
No growth.
No hernias.
No infections.
No bacteria.
Just some post-coital soreness in the plumbing.
Nothing to worry about.
“Just monitor it.”

I can’t get my pants on quick enough.
My joy is palpable.

He stops me in my tracks.

“You want me to check your prostate while you’re here?”

“No thanks doc. I’ve had enough groping and prodding for today. Maybe next time.”

I immediately call my wife, so she can laugh at my latest round of indignity, but secretly, we are both relieved.

No Krebs.

If you see me wincing on Saturday, you’ll know why.