This post is dedicated to my loving Auntie C, who sent me a text a couple of weeks ago which read: "Are you watching Embarassing Bodies on Channel 4? There's a young man with suspected pituitary tumour. x"*
Foolishly, naively, unthinkingly - always keen to see fellow tumourheads on TV - I trotted off to watch it. For those of you who've not been treated to this televisual extravaganza, rest asssured that it does exactly what it says on the tin: people with revolting medical conditions are lined up for your viewing pleasure. It's basically just a high-definition version of an old-fashioned freak show, but slightly more patronising.
Possibly I should have realised that this was not the programme for me when the mere sight of a man's nose on the credit sequence made me queasy. Yet I soldiered on. (Well, I hid the 4oD player in a different tab so I didn't have to watch it. But I listened to some pretty hideous commentary.)
Until they finally brought on Amir, a wide-eyed twenty-six-year-old with man-boobs and a secret.
Hint: the secret is that he milks himself every day.
You heard me.
HE MILKS HIMSELF.
And has done so for the last three years. But why does he milk himself?
Because if he doesn't, his moobs hurt. Duh!
Amir meets Dr Christian and explains his problem, and as the world's stupidest game of Twenty Questions unfolds, we learn that even Amir's wife doesn't know about his milk mongering, although surely she can't have failed to notice the fairly impressive pair of puppies he's sporting. (It's not made clear whether or not they have children together - but if they do, I would imagine that Mrs Amir would be none too impressed to hear that, despite possessing an unusual advantage in the lactating stakes, her husband had failed to do his share of the breastfeeding).
Poor old Amir is shipped off to get his pituitary checked out and (of course!) he's got a pituitary adenoma which is secreting the hormone prolactin, aka a prolactinoma. And by the end of the programme he's on bromocriptine or something similar and all is well.
But the point is that this guy apparently preferred to sit and squeeze the milk from his man breasts every night for three years rather than just... go to the doctors. He could have caught it much earlier when it was smaller and easier to treat, but no.** Possibly he had seen, and been terrified into submission by, this advert from the Milk Marketing Forum, or perhaps the Breast Is Best campaign just really hit home for him. We may never know. But I think the moral of the story is that - whether you're a man who develops boobs and starts lactating, or a man who develops photographs and has an exciting facial deformity - just go to the freaking doctors. Seriously.
* At this juncture I should point out that the 'x' stands for a kiss. It's not that Pituitary Tumour X is a particularly cool kind of tumour.
**Indeed, he could have caught it much earlier and not made a spectacle of himself on national tv. But we'll forgive him that because - at the very least - he may slightly have raised the profile of pituitary adenomas.