The Snip, then tea!
As a very happy father of three wonderful kids the time had come to hang up my boots – my family was complete. After much procrastination – a fancy word that has many similarities in form to castration – I faced up to the vasectomy, the snip, getting my tubes tied and all the other terms that rapidly degenerate in language to describe a vasectomy.
A brief consultation with my GP and I had hoped that the waiting list would be endless but damn the efficiency of the NHS – less than 3 weeks later and my appointment came through. The inevitable was no longer such.
The day of the op came and with much fear – I’m a modern man and very much embrace the ability to be an utter wuss – I headed down to my local hospital. Modern hospital day surgery is quite amazing for those that haven’t been in a while. Production style wards have patients booked in for a huge range of different surgical procedures; they ship them in and out within the half day. I was surrounded by other menfolk getting surgery, all quite happy to talk about their knee ops, removal of broken bone pins yet none spoke of vasectomies. Part of me hoped that there had been a terrible administrative mistake that I would get a last minute reprieve and had been booked in on the wrong day, but this was merely panic induced despair.
Now reclining in a very fetching surgical gown that made me feel exceptionally vulnerable as most of my back end was open to viewing, I was approached by the first round of the medical team to prod and poke at my testicles.
I was asked if I could get them out, no turning back at this stage so I duly presented them and was complimented that they looked fine. I know that, didn’t need a doctor to tell me my testicles were fine, they’d served me well for many years but somehow this put me at ease – the process had started there was no turning back now.
The next person came along and gave me an electric razor and asked me to go and “prepare” myself. Panic ran across my little mind – I’ve not done this before – how do you go about preparing yourself? I didn’t want to look a complete muppet, so armed with what seemed like a fairly innocuous shaving instrument, I headed off to restyle my pubic region.
Never in my life have I used a more lethal electric razor, in no time at all my testicles were bleeding profusely – never get fooled by NHS shaving equipment – I reckon you could amputate with these tools and I was bleeding before even getting to the op room.
Next up I was called into the operating room where, yes I was the lucky one to be asked if I would mind some training medical staff “observing”. No less than 7 people in the room to do what is meant to be a quick snip had the pleasure of watching a now stuttering wreck with bleeding genitalia.
First off the anaesthetist started making small talk – I was now in the “zone” concentrating on blocking out reality and the small gathering as he proceeded to batter my testicles with a large wad of iodine laced cotton wool with what I can best describe as barbecue tongs. That was painful enough, being smacked about your testicles by a prong is no bundle of laughs but then the proper pain started as he pulled out his syringe laden in local anaesthetic. Syringes in your testicles is not a pleasant experience – magnify the pain of the dentist trying to numb a bad tooth and transpose that to your gonads and you may be able to imagine a modicum of the discomfort.
The surgeon and anaesthetist are at this stage making small talk and asking me random questions – nah, don’t talk to me I’m in the “zone” – I’m blocking it all out, the anaesthetist is giving my testicles a further good battering and asking if I can feel anything. The surgeon reaches for a scalpel and I’m sweating, my heart is racing, there is a good chance I’m going to pass out but I catch the eyes of one of the gathering and try to focus on that. That doesn’t work and the sweat is pouring off me, there’s one of those Magic Eye posters on the ceiling – never worked for me when in a good mental state and the only image I am seeing is despair.
The first cut is made – or so I’m told as the operating screen thankfully blocks out the gruesome reality – and then it seems to be all hands on deck – well certainly on my deck. I can’t feel a thing but imagine fingers going into my testicles and then the finishing off, stitches going in and my testicles seemingly lifted as they appear to be tied like an old pair of boots. That’s it, it’s finished and the gathering thank me for allowing them to observe. I make a stupid joke that it was all my pleasure and get wheeled out of the surgery room back into the holding pen.
A couple of hours later and sensation is coming back to my nether regions. The first feeling is of intense smarting from my adventures with the razor, followed by what I can only describe as feeling like you’ve been kicked in the balls. I’m offered a cup of tea, the somehow miraculous hot beverage that got us through two world wars and has magical healing powers for someone who’s just had a vasectomy. In what seems like only a very short time I am being offered release to go home.
Before leaving a nurse asks me to pop off to the toilet and see if everything is okay and “have a go”. Sweat pours off me by the bucket, is she mad, does she really want me to go and “have a go”. Thankfully it was just to go and have a wee because I don’t ever think I’ll be able to touch those areas again – ever.
I’m discharged and armed with a post vasectomy leaflet and advice on looking after my testicles. If there was ever some vasectomy memorabilia that I would have liked to have kept – other than intact testicles – then this leaflet would be it. First tip, wear tight pants or speedos – wish they’d told me this before as my tackle seemed to lurch from side to side in my boxers like untethered watermelons. Next tip was worded on the lines of “you may experience slight discomfort similar to period pain”.
This was just sick, who, how and why was someone let loose with a computer to generate this great bit of advice. The words resonated in my head as I hobbled off to drive home, driving home like an octogenarian at 10 miles an hour, convinced that any sudden braking would result in my inside falling out through my groin.
Back home I was greeted by my 1 year old and 4 year old who launched themselves into the traditional game of bouncing on dad as the numbness wore off and the pain intensified.
Job done – vasectomy over you might think it all ended there. Being a typically squeamish bloke, I couldn’t even look south, I was in denial and refused to touch or let alone look at the battle zone. Everything was done gingerly; getting dressed took great coordination to gently lower myself into clothing for days to come. Still being an utter wuss, I had to get my wife to look at the affected area on day two and looking down there on day 4 I have never seen a sorrier site. An area I had only recently been complimented as looking “fine” now looked like rapidly withering and bruised plums that look way beyond their best before date.
Post op care was meant to be easy. The dissolvable stitches should have disappeared after a week but hung on in there resolutely. My wife tugged at them with no luck, resulting in a little trip to the nurse at my local surgery. It would appear that removing stitches from someone’s testicles is not an everyday procedure as the poor woman was completely flummoxed and had to call in reinforcements who in turn call in another doctor. Flashbacks to my recent gathering came flooding back – my testicles had once again become the subject of a small gathering.
The stitches were pulled out and life was back on track. Some weeks later, I now had to supply a specimen to check the op had gone well and then call to see if all had gone according to plan. I called and was told I had what I misheard to be “scampi specimen” – what the hell does scampi have to do with it? I’d clearly misheard this as a “scanty” specimen means that you still have little swimmers and that I would have to provide a further specimen.
Some weeks later and I had the all clear. The vasectomy had been successful and I am still a very happy father of three. There is a feeling of finality, that I will never be a father again but time passes and it becomes a better realisation, reinforced by the feeling of completeness.
Would I do it again? Hell no, but now some years later and with the help of time, the pain and discomfort is hard to remember. Sure it smarted a bit, but so does childbirth and I’m working on writing some post natal care notes given my vast experience in the field.
DB is editor over on ‘we love these…’