I still find it hard to believe, but I actually went through with it.
As I wrote last week, for various reasons my family felt that we would be better off without having any more children and that the proper form of birth control for us would be to- umm, how does the old cliché go??- .. ahem, “pick the low hanging fruit”. I believe the technical term is “vasectomy”.
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In spite of all of my tough talk I believe I was, deep down, more than a little freaked out. Most men share a common fear of having something painful happen to their “male parts”. Just watch one of those America’s Funniest Videos shows in a room full of guys. As soon as one of the clips features a child swinging a bat at a piñata take a look around the room- the guys in the room with you start covering their “parts” with hands, pillows, whatever- just in sympathetic anticipation of the pain about to be imparted to the hapless dad on TV dumb enough to give a kid waist-high a bat and a blindfold. That’s kind of how I felt.
Like I wasn’t only giving the kid a blindfold, but I was also hanging the piñata from my belt loops.
And paying him to take his best whack.
On Friday morning I loaded my wife, my almost three year old, and my freshly shaved self in the car and shakily drove down the street to the urologist’s office. (On a side note, yes, my child can handle herself well enough to be at the urologist’s office- it’s not like it’s a Starbucks). I left my family in the waiting room while I took the “one small step for man” into the doctor’s office for a pre-procedure consultation.
In the room he described the procedure:
We’ll numb you up with three shots. Two on each side and one in the middle.Then we’ll make a small incision, pull one loop out, snip it and attach a clip to each end, then pull the other loop out and do the same. We’ll put a bandaid on the incision.
Go home, stay off your feet for 48 hours, wear an athletic support for five days, ice on and off every thirty minutes through Sunday. Bring a sample back in three months.
He described the risks:
Small chance that the ducts could reconnect, although less likely because of the clips. Still, we have to verify at least two samples are free of little swimmers before declaring it a complete success. Even slighter chance (1%) of developing severe testicular pain (that’s when my ears perked up). There are treatments for the off chance this happens- either reverse the vasectomy (not covered by insurance) or go back and snip more.
After answering a few questions about just how severe this less 1% of potential pain was (a 'David Beckham giving you a solid kick in the groin' kind of pain or, a 'gosh, I don’t think I’m going to ride a bike today' kind of pain?) I signed the consent form and off we went.
We walked down the hall to the little procedure room, I lay down on the table, and he got to work.
Now, let me preface this next part by saying that I really don’t like needles.
I get faint if I’m in a doctor’s office and see the little “sharps” disposal box on the wall. When I get my blood work done as part of my annual checkup I make them take it from me while I’m laying down. They don’t complain because they’ve picked me up out of the floor enough times that they know I’m not joking.
To be perfectly frank with you all, the part I think I was dreading most about this procedure was the three shots. And they weren’t that bad! Sure, I felt a sting followed by a kind of warm burning for maybe 5 seconds, but then things got comfortably numb. Of course, psychologically I immediately started freaking out. I mean, this guy just stuck a NEEDLE THERE THREE times! So I started feeling more than a little faint.
The doctor tilted the table back a little more so the blood could get to my head, reminded me to keep my hands on my chest (“I don’t need, and you don’t want, your assistance”, were his exact words), and made the incision. No pain was felt at all. Then some pressure but no real pain as he pulled the loop out and snipped and clipped. I could have done without him showing me the part he’d clipped out (didn’t really help my faintness), but it was kind of fascinating all the same. Then, he was finished.
Literally the maximum time from first needle to bandaid placement couldn’t have been more than 5 minutes. Actual time spend noodling around (and, believe me, after seeing the part he snipped “noodling” is an excellent term to describe what he was doing) was probably 3 minutes. There wasn’t even time for my initial faintness to wear off. He turned to me and said, “You know, it’s hard to believe, but you’re actually three shades whiter than you were when you came in here! You keep laying down and I’ll get you an icepack for your head.”
That’s why, for my wife and child in the waiting room, what was a five minute procedure for me seemed to them like an hour long ordeal. I think my wife had visions of me dying back there, whereas, in truth, I was eating brownies and drinking water, trying to convince the nurse that I really did feel OK now.
Finally I was able to leave- I did a terrific John Wayne cowboy impersonation hobbling back to the car, and let my wife take care of me for the rest of the day. I spent all day Saturday watching movies, and that’s where I am today (Sunday). I’m currently not even taking Tylenol because, aside from a feeling of pressure and the occasional dull ache, I’m not in that much pain. Now, I must say that I have no desire to walk farther than the kitchen or the bathroom. I’m fortunate that my wife has taken my daughter to visit with my in-laws for the entire weekend and next week, so I don’t have to move around at all other than to feed myself (or grab another beer), and that’s a really great luxury.
All in all, this is not something I’d care to go through again. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s too horribly terrible. Ladies, if your husbands get this done believe me, they do need a little TLC for a couple of days after. Sure, it realistically can’t be as bad as childbirth, but at the same time this is something that was done for both of you, and not exactly a walk through the park. Ugggg. Walk.
Finally, I’ve gotten several questions that I shall attempt to answer here:
Q) My mother asked, “were you embarrassed?”
A) Not at all. The doctor is the one who decided to make a living messing with the shaved privates of strangers. If anyone should be embarrassed about this it’s him.
Q) What’s the worst part of the procedure?
A) For me it’s staying off my feet for days afterwards. I’m not normally a fan of a sedentary lifestyle. I’m getting really, really tired of TV and movies.
Q) Are frozen peas really the best thing ever?
A) Oh yes. Hours after the procedure I even wrote a haiku in homage to them, which isn’t quite appropriate in this forum, I think. Friend me on Facebook and you can see it.
Q) Did your homage to frozen peas inspire other poets?
A) Yes, take this classic from my friend Jessica:
Won’t you please
Cool me down
Between the knees”
Q) Do they expect you to actually fill up that specimen jar?
A) I certainly hope not!! That sucker is HUGE.