Sunday, May 1, 2011

You're Going to Feel My Finger Now

Dear Friends,

    On December 7th, 1941, a Japanese fighter pilot crash landed on Ni'ihau, the smallest and westernmost Hawaiian island, mistakenly believing it to be uninhabited. The remarkable events that transpired on that tiny island over the next six days have become known as "The Ni'ihau Incident." I'll let Wikipedia tell you the story. Since reading this, I have been obsessed with the idea that this needs to be made into a stage play. I couldn't write a play to save my life, but I can write songs (especially if lives are on the line), so I composed a song about what it would be like if there was a play about the Ni'ihau incident.

The Boggy Man

I was 19 years old and seriously considering medical school, so my dad made arrangements for me to  spend an afternoon shadowing a colleague of his in the family medicine clinic. The first patient we saw was an elderly gentleman presenting for a routine health maintenance examination. Dr. Bower wasted no time introducing me as "Student Doctor London," and announced that I would be assisting him with the rectal exam.

 The misleading title made me a bit uncomfortable, but I loved the idea of "assisting." It implied that a good rectal exam requires teamwork, and I was part of that team!
So here I was, snapping on a latex glove and squirting lube on my right index finger. This is how the first patient encounter of my life would begin.

"Do you feel it?" Dr. Bower asked, "Do you feel the prostate?"

"Maybe," I said, "Actually, I'm not sure."

"You'll know you're there, because it feels just like the tip of your nose."

I carefully brought my ungloved left index finger to my nose and gently rubbed it back and forth. I was surprised to discover that the tip of my nose had a subtle divot that I had never noticed before.