Monday, May 04, 2009

Macho


While I've always considered myself a masculine enough fellow -- I have two children and the family resemblance is obvious -- I don't really put myself into the tough-guy category. I don't leap up  onto the table if I see a mouse, but I also don't care much for walking through a major spider web face-first in the early morning woods ...

However, somebody asked me recently what I'd consider a macho moment in my life, where I did something people might widen their eyes a bit if they heard it. I don't have many such occasions, being a sensitive, new-age, ex-hippie with nothing but kind regard for my fellow humans, but there was one instance ...

Back when I was working at the clinic, my wife and I realized that two children were enough for us. The quickest, safest, and most effective form of birth control, we decided, was for me to have a vasectomy.

Those of you unfamiliar with the procedure, it varies somewhat, but the essence of it is simple: Under a local anesthetic, your urologist makes a couple of incisions in your scrotum, sticks a small pair of pliers inside and uses stainless steel clips to clamp shut the vasa deferentia, i.e., the two hoses that carry the wiggly little sperm guys from the testicles, and, after sufficient stimulation, out Mr. Willie. The doctor then cuts the vasa next to the clamp, removes all the toolery, and sutures the incisions closed. With the tunnels shut down, the wiggly guys have nowhere to go, and are reabsorbed and recycled by the body. After six weeks or so to make sure there aren't any of 'em hiding out for a last mighty effort to nail an egg, you no longer can do your half of baby-making.

Gun still works fine, but you are shooting blanks.

On the table and off in twenty minutes, and a few days R&R, with a strategically-placed ice pack, and you are good to go again. (If you are contemplating such a surgery, however, be prepared for the doctor's sense of humor, for invariably at some point in the procedure, while you are numbed up and doubtless staring at the gorgeous nurse he has malignantly chosen to assist him, the doctor will say "Oops!" Which, as all men know, is not a word you want to hear when somebody is waving a sharp scalpel around Mr. Happy ...)

Okay, nothing particularly macho about this --  about half a million of these are done each year in the U.S. alone, and those numbers go up when the economy declines, by the by, for obvious reasons. 

Before I had this procedure done, I had scheduled a tai chi demo at my church, back when we dabbled in Unitarianism. Long ago and far away, I knew the Yang-style long form, and had set up the demonstration  a couple months before I scheduled the surgery. 

I had the procedure done on Friday afternoon, and the demo was for Saturday morning. Now, I was supposed to be lying around with a package of frozen green peas on my groin and moving only if necessary, but being young and still bulletproof, I decided not to cancel the demo. 

Okay, so that might qualify as macho ...

But wait ...

During the demo, which was more active than I had anticipated, I pulled the sutures out on the right side of el scroto. This is not a good thing, and I knew my doctor would take me to task for it, just I would any of my patients who did something so stupid. So, since I was working at a medical clinic, and I had keys to the building and the alarm codes ....

Saturday afternoon, after the clinic closed, I went to the office. Broke out a suture set, sat on the surgery table, and stitched the incision back up.

No big deal at the time, I was a PA, I assisted on minor surgery and sewed cuts frequently, though admittedly on other people. The hard part wasn't doing a couple of interrupted sutures, it was injecting the lidocaine ...

When I tell that story, I usually get a few raised eyebrows. Not like rushing into a burning building to save somebody's child, but I've had guys who do that for a living go pale at the notion of digging a sharp needle and thread into the sack around their balls ...

8 comments:

Dojo Rat said...

The night before I had my vasectomy, we were living up in the woods and had to go to a public shower at a Marina to clean up.
My Wife had a cast on her leg from a break just above the ankle. My doctor had told me to shave my balls the night before. Oh boy.
So it was winter time and I didn't see anyone around. I told my wife to just come in and use the men's shower so I could help her wrap a garbage bag around her cast and tape it up so it wouldn't get wet.
So there I was, standing in front of the mirror shaving my balls for the vasectomy, and my wife was sitting naked on a bench behind me wrapping her leg up in the garbage bag.
How did I ever let myself get in that position? Holy crap, I realized how kinky that would look if someone came in!
Ha, ha,ha It worked out fine. Nobody came in, I got snipped the next day and my wife would soon get her cast off.
After my snip, we were walking out of the clinic, me with an ice pack on my balls and my wife on crutches. The Nurse called out to us; "remember to keep that up"!
My wife said "Are you talking to me or him"?

Brad said...

Most guys wince when you tell them you've gotten a vasectomy.

Try tell them you got a vasectomy, had it reversed and then got another one.

They really look at you strangely afterward.

Funny thing, after the vaso, my right teste remained in constant pain for the next 5 years. Some days, just enough pain to remind me he was still there, but most days so painfully I considered hacking it out myself. After the second vasectomy, all the pain went away.

Weird.

Anonymous said...

Typing becomes rather difficult when curled into a fetal ball...

Suturing your own scrotum definitely makes you worth of respect... If you tell us you can lick the sutures like a dog, I'll upgrade it to awe!

Steve Perry said...

Nah, you want to keep the sutures dry.

Of course, excising a thrombosed hemorrhoid on your own arse? Now that's a trick.

Dan Gambiera said...

OK Steve. you win. We will all regard you with vas deference.

My Dad is a (retired) urologist. The closest he'd get to the "Oops" was a "You've really got to trust a guy to let him do this" while he was prepping the area.

Except for one German patient. As he approached the guy with cold steel and needles he said, quietly, almost deferentially, "Ich bein Jude."

Mike said...

So you're living in Hungary in 1939 and decided you've had enough kids. And you're the only doc in town. What to do? If you're my old friend Dr. Brunwald, you get out your tools, stuff for a local and a mirror and yep, do your own vasectomy. I met Dr. Brunwald when he was in his late 80s; still quite a character and way more macho than me, that's for sure.

Dave said...

I got snipped about six years ago.
Long story short:

The local anesthetic wore off and the doctor forgot to write me a script beforehand for pain meds. Just a FEW hours of agony till the script could be filled and the pain pills kicked in. Not a fun day.

Dave Huss said...

The closest that I ever got to somthing like that was suturing up a cut on my own arm. Grossed my wife out. What you did, that took well,,,balls.