This is an article that I wrote that was published in The Globe and Mail in Canada a couple of years ago.
Until the moment of actual searing pain, I had been led to believe by the brotherhood that the whole deal would be a cakewalk.
When I was a boy playing road hockey on the frozen suburban streets of Montreal I would, on occasion, meet the business end of a rogue tennis ball intent on inflicting its harrowing, icy pain on my innocent stones. This is a unique experience that male readers are likely all too familiar with.
And yet somehow, three decades later, I found myself electing to undergo precisely the same agony. The thing is, until the moment of actual searing pain I had been led to believe by the brotherhood that the whole deal would be a cakewalk. A limp in the park, if you will. “Simple procedure,” they said. “I had it done and I was back to work the same day,” they said. “Didn’t hurt a bit,” they said.
In retrospect, I find it odd that I took comfort in those words. They sounded legitimate enough at the time, I suppose. But I now realize that I would have been wise to listen to the voice of reason inside my head, which at the very least had a grip on the obvious. “They’re going to stick a giant needle into your scrotum,” the voice said to me. “Twice.” Ah, The Vasectomy. Surgery’s equivalent of the funniest playground injury known to man.
The waiting room had the atmosphere of a barbershop with three important differences. First, there were no girlie magazines. Second, none of us were wearing pants. And third, the shaving that was about to take place was of a much more personal nature. But apart from that, it was just a bunch of guys sitting around waiting for their, um, “turn.”
I was scheduled to be the second one in. The operating room was right next door, and to get there we had to walk into the hallway, where we could see our significant others sitting in a waiting area, drinking coffee, reading, and chatting, but most of all, looking altogether way too smug and, I might say, rather self-satisfied.
They called the first guy in around 8:30 a.m. Fifteen to 20 minutes later he returned triumphant, even if appearing a little gaunt. Although it was true that his stride had become a little more compressed he was, nonetheless, smiling and seemed in good spirits. I’d be lying if I said we were in “high five” mode, but, on the whole, he appeared none the worse for wear. I, of course, took great comfort in this and strode confidently into the operating room and hopped up on the table, prepared to take it like a man.
“Shrinkage” is a word that they play pretty fast and loose with these days, but I now believe it is a term that was coined for that specific morning, for this specific patient. I’m not sure if it was caused by the fact that the sheer gravity of the situation had suddenly hit me, or simply the fact that I was virtually nude in a room filled with people, many of them women, all of whom seemed to be aimlessly milling about and taking no notice of me.
Suddenly one of them began a shaving routine that would have made Telly Savalas envious. She was able to continue her conversation about her weekend plans while looking back over her shoulder and “prepping” me. I have no doubt she could have spun a half-dozen plates at the same time.
Then it was time for the doctor from Marathon Man to begin his work. “You’re going to feel a slight tug,” he said. Later, I looked up “tug” in the dictionary. I was surprised to find that it didn’t say, “tug: a blinding, mind-numbing pain in your baggage compartment that would make even the most steadfast of longshoremen cry like a schoolgirl. Twice.”
I screamed in agony. See, because they were in the process of sticking a gigantic needle into my apple sack.
Well, as advertised, they did this twice. Once on each side. This, I was later told, is to prevent the possibility of any pain during the surgery.
They then proceeded with the “snipping” part of the exercise. Snipping always sounds cute. Trust me when I say this: It’s not that cute.
My screaming and whimpering continued throughout the procedure.
I assume that my operation lasted the same amount of time as all the others, but it’s possible that there was, at some juncture, a rip in space/time continuum, because when I returned to the waiting room, the guy who was to be next had seemed to have aged noticeably.
My wife came in to “collect” me. Evidently, my guttural screams had been quite the topic of conversation among the girls. Her expression was one of grave concern. Oh yes, and giddy amusement.
Here’s my point: Everyone I spoke to beforehand, had claimed it was a painless experience. So to my uninitiated brothers, although I may be breaking some kind of secret code, I have some words of wisdom that you must heed. If someday you find yourself looking for advice from one of those “Hey, it’s no problem” guys, look them over closely before you take the plunge. It is very likely that they were the guys laughing the loudest during your road-hockey injuries.
The next question? The “three months later” specimen appointment: How long should you stay in the bathroom?
Submitted by David. David Brouitt is a creative director at the adlib group a Toronto Advertising Agency.
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