The Devil You Know: A Day In The Doctor’s Office

An excerpt from Dr. Fizzy’s new book: The Devil You Know, available now!

“Jason Burnham?” I call out.

A man in his late twenties rises reluctantly to his feet. Damn, he’s handsome—he’s got a soldier’s solid build with firm muscles lining his arms and visible under his T-shirt. I can tell by the look on Mr. Burnham’s face that he isn’t terribly thrilled that I’m the one who’s going to be examining his testicles. I’m sure he’d prefer a male doctor. Still, I think it’s melodramatic the way he acts like a man being led to the electric chair as I take him to the newly cleaned examining room.

“Mr. Burnham,” I say to him. “My name is Dr. McGill. Would you please change into a gown for me?”

Jason Burnham nods miserably.

Examining testicles is not my forte. I’ve gotten better at it since my patient population has become primarily male, but I’m nowhere near as good at that as I am at, say, finding the cervical os. Testicles just seem so… delicate. Obviously. But I’m getting better. As far as I can tell, the key to doing a good testicular exam is not accidentally saying something dirty during the exam, which is extra challenging when your patient is so damn attractive. I’m going to work on that today.

I return to Mr. Burnham, who is now sitting miserably in the examining room. I smile at him. “Now I hear you’re having some pain?” I begin. “In your… testicles?”

I haven’t said anything dirty yet, so I’m doing great.

“Yeah…” Mr. Burnham shifts on the examining table. “My right one.”

“Okay,” I say. “Does it hurt all the time? Or just sometimes?”

(Was that dirty? I don’t think it was. Go, Dr. McGill!)

My patient looks like he wants to crawl into the laundry hamper. “No, not all the time. Just when I’m having sex. Sex with partners or with… myself.”

God, I feel sorry for this guy.

I ask several more testicle-related questions, but it’s clear we’re just postponing the inevitable: the moment when I’m actually going to have to examine these bad boys. After several more non-dirty questions, I end up just asking him to lift his gown, which is somehow anticlimactic. It seems like there ought to at least be some wine and candles involved.

Mr. Burnham’s testicle seems completely fine to me. It’s not red or enlarged, and even though there’s only so much you can palpate a testicle without feeling like a sadist, I genuinely don’t feel anything remotely like a cyst or mass. I report the good news back to my patient:

“I don’t feel anything hard,” I say. Crap! “I mean, there’s nothing enlarged down there.”

Damn it.

Mr. Burnham frowns. “But it’s really tender.”

I shake my head. “I really don’t feel anything.”

Generally, the next step in the testicular exam is transillumination. To do this, you turn off all the lights in the examining room and hold a bright light to the posterior of the testicle with one hand. If you’re a female, you should probably be holding a rape whistle at this point.

In any case, I don’t see any utility in transilluminating Mr. Burnham’s testicle. There’s nothing there. And even if he did have a cyst, it wouldn’t explain how much testicle pain he’s having.

Jason Burnham’s eyebrows knit together. “So what’s causing this, Dr. McGill?”

I have no clue. But that’s the great thing about primary care.

“I’m going to refer you to our urologist,” I tell him. “He’s a great doctor.”

Mr. Burnham nods, looking somewhat relieved. I think I had him at “He’s.”

You can find The Devil You Know on Amazon.


She’s got a great job at a VA Hospital, an adorable daughter, and a loving husband. Granted, it would be wonderful if her preschooler wouldn’t wake her up at three in the morning, and it would be a miracle if her husband would change the toilet paper roll once every millennium. Still, in most ways, she has the ideal life she’d always imagined.

Then Jane discovers that Dr. Ryan Reilly is the VA’s newest vascular surgeon. Dr. Ryan Reilly, a.k.a. Sexy Surgeon, a.k.a. the biggest jerk she ever loved.

A decade ago, Jane broke up with the Sexy Surgeon to marry the Nice Software Engineer, but as cracks and crevices appear in her marriage, she can’t help but wonder what life would have been like if she’d made a different choice. Or if it isn’t too late to change her mind…

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Dr. Fizzy

Freida McFadden is a midwestern physician who has finally finally finally come to the end of her grueling medical training, and at last she has enough time to publish the wealth of cartoons she's created over the years. If you enjoy them, please comment. If you don't enjoy them, then you can just keep your fool mouth shut. Read the rest at, and make sure to check out her books, A Cartoon Guide To Becoming A Doctor, and The Devil You Know, on Amazon!