Plumbing Problems

This is a research paper I turned in at school today. I had to pick a digestive disorder and a urinary disorder and write 2-3 pages combined listing symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, causes, etc of  each. Then I had to tie it all in to massage. I did just that… but I did it my way. I won’t write “dull”.


Gerald “Gerry” Atrics is a 64 year old man who refuses to trust doctors. “All they want to do is sell you pills or cut you open.” So who can this retired, hippie plumber turn to when his internal plumbing stops working?

Plumbing Problems

“Well,” Gerry told the man in the chair, “my wife says you’re not like a real doctor. Good. I hate them. I won’t let anyone cut me open, and I won’t take pills. I took too many in the sixties. They sell pills for everything now. It’s all about money. But… all of my pipes are clogged. Ironic, since I was a plumber. When I can finally manage to pee, poop, and… well… have relations, it hurts like heck! I am kind of fond of all three. So what can this naturopathic stuff do?”

Dr. Shaman, N.D., smiled. “I can help your body heal itself, but first we still have to know what we are dealing with.” They talked about the doctor’s 60’s memorabilia collection during the exam, reminiscing. Gerry confirmed erectile dysfunction; urinary incontinence when sneezing; and frequent, frustrating trips to urinate at night; but no incidents of bleeding while urinating. Dr. Shaman noted tenderness on the lower left quadrant which reminded Gerry he had noticed some cramping there lately. The patient denied nausea, fever, vomiting, and blood in his stool but reported being very constipated lately (Werner, 2009).

 The doctor then asked for Gerry’s professional opinion. “Since you were a plumber, let me ask you something. I have an old house with rusty pipes. The water barely runs, none of the drains are working, and back pressure is causing leaks. Is it my faucet? How can I figure out the problems? Cut holes in the walls? Can I do it myself? I hate paying plumbers.”

“No,” Gerry said. “You can just go down in your crawl space to have a look at your pipes, but I really do recommend hiring a professional to do any work.”

“You might be right,” said the doctor. “By the way, you’re the house.” He chuckled at the surprised look on Gerry’s face. Dr. Shaman went on to explain that after the initial exam he suspected an enlarged prostate and possibly diverticulosis. “Pipes get old. Ears, noses, and prostates never stop growing. Both are common in men over 60, and while uncomfortable, neither is life threatening.” The doctor said he himself had both. “We do want to rule out any possibility of prostate cancer or diverticulitis, an infection, though. Both can be life threatening. The good news is that I don’t have to cut your walls to check for either, but a professional will have to go into your crawl space. You simply can’t see it yourself.”

Gerry laughed. Dr. Shaman really did understand him, and kept things simple. “Real” doctors spout statistics and Latin, and would never say things like “your doughnut is squeezing your straw” or “your tire has a bubble in the sidewall.” They say “growth of malignant tumor cells” or “the mucosal and submucosal layers of the colon can herniate through the outer muscular layer.” Gerry agreed to a prostate exam and colonoscopy the following week, and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. It was hard to argue with this doctor’s logic. (Werner, 2009).

When Gerry and Mrs. Atrics met with the doctor following the tests, Dr. Shaman had good news. The colonoscopy did show diverticulosis but no “tire bubbles” were infected. Gerry’s diet of too much animal fat and processed grain was a likely cause, and would make things worse. Gerry felt reassured when told 80% of these cases do not become infected, but grumbled about losing his meat and potatoes. The dreaded finger poke, a.k.a Digital Rectal Exam, confirmed an enlarged prostate, or Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), but no hard nodules that indicated cancer. His PSA tests were within normal limits as well (Werner, 2009).

“So now that we’ve scientifically confirmed that you’re getting old, let’s help your body heal itself. I’m prescribing increased water intake along with a lower fat, higher fiber diet. Oh, also any regular light exercise.” He looked at Mrs. Atrics. “You are in charge of motivation.”

“There isn’t any need for medication with the diverticulosis. Some herbs, saw palmetto for example, may help alleviate BPH symptoms. Of course there are pills you can take, but those sometimes worsen erectile issues. I didn’t want that for myself. Or we can just cut your testicles off to halt prostate growth.” The doctor winked. “I didn’t choose that option either.”

“Since we know there is no infection or cancer to spread around your body, I am also going to prescribe regular massage for overall health with light abdominal massage to prevent clogs. Finally, although not widely accepted in current medicine, I use prostate massage. It may prevent or reduce prostate and erectile dysfunction, but it is out of  massage therapists scope of practice (Premkumar, 2010). You can pay a doctor or hooker to perform the massage, but honestly both charge too darned much. The technique is easy. You can do it at home using your finger or special massager. Side effects of prostate massage may include erection and an urge to ejaculate. Your wife also can perform the massage. Mine does and I find that it increases the risk of those side effects.” He winked again. “It can also help stimulate bowel movement, but thankfully not at the same time.” Gerry and his wife laughed and agreed to the recommendations (Brown, 2001).

After a few weeks of the new diet and daily walks enforced by Mrs. Atrics, and regular massages both at the clinic and at home, they returned to Dr. Shaman. Gerry reported bowel regularity without discomfort; less difficulty urinating; and occasional spontaneous, healthy, intimate, aerobic activity interrupting home massages. Mrs. Atrics blushed and said she believed the prostate seemed to have actually gotten a bit smaller. Gerry said his energy levels were way up and that he was sleeping much better. Overall they both felt much healthier and happier. “You may not be a real doc, Doc, but you fixed all of my pipes. I didn’t even have to swallow a single pill. Thank you.”

Dr. Shaman smiled. “I didn’t fix you Gerry,” he said. “Your body just needed a little help to do it on its own. But I am still going to charge you.”


Gerry Atrics is not a real person, but a compilation of many diverticulitis and colon cancer patients I have worked with personally. Many “Gerry Atrics” are put off by the modern medical system because it has become much less personal and far more technical. Many live with their problems often far too long for lifestyle changes to help. I have seen those results, and chose a happier ending to my story.


Prekumar, K. (2010). Pathology A to Z: a handbook for massage therapists (3rd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Werner, R. (2009). A massage therapist’s guide to pathology (4th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Brown, L. (2001). Prostate cancer prevention: 7 things you must know. Better Nutrition, 63(3), 39-45. Retrieved from


Crawl space,

Doughnut on a straw,

Tire bubble,

Category: Uncategorized  Tags:
Comment Here or Tweet Me.
Thank you.

Comments are closed.