Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Vasectomy - or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love, who am I kidding?

Many men in their thirties, forties, and fifties, go through a rite-of-passage on par with a first kiss, a first car, or that first time you got too drunk and vomited on your mother-in-law at Thanksgiving. That’s right – I’m talking about the dreaded ‘V’ word.


Let’s face it; our testicles are our most cherished, prized, pampered, protected and vulnerable possessions. We wince when we see others getting hit there, as if the pain instantly spreads through the entire male population. So when my wife first mentioned the idea of a vasectomy about eight years ago, I tried my best to smile, then swallowed and said, ‘Well, sure – it’s something to think about.’

I was scheduled to meet with a doctor that night.*

* Here’s where my wife would want me to point out that I’m kidding; that we actually had a number of thoughtful discussions on the subject over the course of many months. This is all very true. She just doesn’t understand the importance of throwing her under the bus for the sake of comedy. (Am I right fellas? Am I right? High five!) The rest of this story, however, is true.

The first appointment was informational. I met with the portentously named Dr. Thorn (I’m assuming the name of his assistant was Nurse Poke) and he went over what the procedure involved. As soothing as his tone was and as simple as he explained the procedure to be, it was still about my balls, and the only phrases I remembered involved sticking a needle in my testicles, cutting my nuts open, and cauterizing something or other. Next he had me watch a video that was made sometime in the 1970s about why having a vasectomy is nothing to be ashamed about. It had dialog along the lines of “Bob, won’t having a vasectomy make you less of a man?” “Why no, Rick. I will still be a whole man able to do manly things. A vasectomy is nothing to be ashamed of.” “Thanks for educating me about that, Bob. In that case I will still treat you like a real man.”

So the day of the procedure arrives. We go into the doctor’s office. I lay on the table, pants off, my wife holding my hand. There’s Dr. Thorn and Nurse Stab hovering around my business end. The good news is that they administer Novocain to your testicles to numb the pain. The bad news is that they administer Novocain to your testicles by injecting them with a needle.

So after the Novocain does its trick, the surgical part of the procedure starts. Now, it is true that this doesn’t actually hurt. You are numbed up quite well. However, there are aspects of the procedure that have the tendency to make the patient extremely uncomfortable, if not downright nauseous.

The doctor makes an incision in the scrotum. That part didn’t hurt, and I wouldn’t have known it had happened if my wife hadn’t squeezed my hand and gasped. And when they cut and tied the appropriate tubes, it didn’t technically hurt. But there was the tugging and pulling and balloon-animal-making that I could sort of feel, and I’m quite sure my face turned pale at that point.

Next came the soldering and the smell of something cooking. In any other situation, this may have elicited a “Hey, what’s for lunch?” from me, but in this case, I knew what was on the menu. The doctor even asked if I wanted to keep the soldering instrument (basically a wire about the length of a pencil) as a souvenir. For some reason, I said, “yes!”

Now here comes the strange part – the part my wife and I often wonder about when we reminisce about that fateful day, the part that we regale the family with every Christmas Eve. Please, Father. Tell us again about that time the nurse tried to get the doctor to chop your balls off! Please, Father! We will be ever so grateful!

"Father's talking about his balls again."
So the doc was working on my scrotal region, and meanwhile, the nurse had to open an airtight plastic bag. She said, “Loud pop!” and then opened it, and it indeed made a loud *pop* - the equivalent of gunfire. But when I say this, I don’t mean she said it like, “Loud pop,” and then waited to see if everyone was ready and prepared for said pop. Nope, she said, “Loud pop!” and immediately – simultaneously – popped the bag. From my point of view, with the doctor still digging around in my junk, it could’ve been my nuts exploding. Or at the least, it could’ve scared the doctor and sent his scalpel a-filleting.

The only thing my wife and I can figure is that either the nurse was incompetent or, more likely, this was some sort of sick joke the doctor and nurse shared together.

Pictured - the nurse
The recovery went pretty much as expected. Soreness for a few days. Milking sympathy from the wife for a few weeks. Actually, I did have an infection in that region about a week or so later, which resulted in an ultrasound, followed by hospitalization for three days. Nothing humbles you quite like a bunch of young nurses checking out your swollen nuts and tut-tutting them. Those folks don’t get paid nearly enough.

Anyway, that’s my vasectomy story. And men, I will repeat the lie I often heard leading up to it; seriously guys, it’s totally no big deal, and doesn’t hurt a bit!

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  1. That was a courageous act! Only real men know how to listen to their wives, and you're one of them. I know that it's not easy to give up on your "most cherished, pampered and protected possession", but you did. I hope that your story will open the minds of other guys out there.

    -Timothy Burke @ VasectomySydney