"Normal"

During one of my rotations, I took care of a man who suffered from a condition called Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, more commonly referred to as BPH. 

In general, I am not impressed by BPH.  "Benign" is in the title.  We give you some meds and you’re fine. If not, we offer you surgery and you’re fine.  It’s benign, the bottom line is that you’re fine!*

But this guy, he wasn’t exactly fine.  He was getting up to pee more than 15 times a night. 
More than 15 times a night.  And had been doing so for years. 

(Yes, you read that correctly.)

He had been peeing more than 15 times a night for YEARS. 

YEARS.  

When I finally regained my composure enough to ask him why in the world he hadn’t dealt with this years ago, before, say, he was peeing in the double-digits, he nonchalantly told me “all of my friends get up at night to pee.” 

He thought this was “normal.”

Now, “normal” isn’t really a word that holds a lot of value in my family.  It’s always sort of been equated with average and has a negative connotation.  No one wants to be average, and no one in my family has ever really wanted to be “normal.”  In fact, the phrase “there is no normal,” has been uttered on more than one occasion.

But in this case, I can see the allure of normal.  Because if you’re “normal,” then you don’t have to go to see the doctor.  You don’t have to get potentially terrible news.  You don’t have to undergo potentially terrifying procedures.  You don’t have to do any goddamned thing except pee a bajillion times a night.

Now, there is no way that this guy didn’t know that this wasn’t “normal.”  But as long as he kept insisting he was “normal,” then everything was copacetic and he could keep on keeping on.  He was more equipped to deal with peeing 15 times a night than to deal with what might be bad news. 

And in fact, he would have kept right on peeing 15 times a night, except that his BPH got much much worse, so bad that he couldn’t pee at all.  This became the emergency that he ended up in the ER for; he was no longer quite so fine.  He was finally forced to admit that maybe something wasn’t quite “normal.”

If you’ve got a medical issue you’ve convinced yourself is “normal,” it’s time you get checked out. 

Maybe you’re absolutely right and you really are totally normal.  Or maybe you’ve been acting like an ostrich with your head in the sand this whole time. 

Either way, I promise, we (the medical establishment) can totally help.  Please, let us help you.
 
You shouldn’t have to pee 15 times a night. 

That one, for sure, isn’t normal.



*Obviously there are cases of BPH that are quite severe and not so fine (like this guy’s case).  However in any case, I take every patient seriously, whether or not I’m “impressed.”

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