I was working as a journalist in Saint Petersburg when the butt pain started. The doctor’s heavy Russian accent made me believe I had “gemroids,” which sounded like asteroids made of gemstones, which seemed a lot better than what I actually had: hemorrhoids. More than a month later, it had all gotten much, much worse.
I sat across from the doctor. He was very Russian. His English wasn’t excellent. He smiled.
“So, you have problem with the anus, yes?”
He gave my midsection a concerned look. “What?”
“Well,” I told him, “it is excruciating in my — well, my anus. I thought it was just hemorrhoids, but now it is very painful and swollen.” I puffed out my cheeks and made a finger cage with my hands in case he didn’t know what I meant by swollen.
He nodded along with my story, and I could tell the only things he understood were “anus” and “pain.”
He smiled and stood up.
“Let us go to exam room. I will look at your,” he paused, “pain anus.”
We headed into the room next door. It was cold, and a young female nurse stood in the corner. “Take off these,” he said, pointing to my pants. I looked at the nurse, but she didn’t move. I went to the corner and took off my pants. “These, too?” I asked, knowing the answer.
I took off my underpants as well and placed them beside my pants on top of various containers of medical equipment.
“Up,” he said, “like dog.”
I climbed onto the table. He tapped my elbows, and I transitioned into a balled-up Downward Dog pose.
“Good,” I heard him say. He began pressing and prodding.
“Does it hurt here?”
I looked up at the nurse. She was watching like some sadistic, curious, big-eyed cat. She had a surgical mask over her mouth to hide her smile, presumably. Then a…