A Personal Plumbing Adventure

It’s been a rough week.

Monday, I finally yielded to the pressure to “get fixed.” I was mostly hesitant to get a vasectomy because of the interruption it would interject into this year’s cycling program, but admittedly, there was more than a little fear of pain. And pain in such a sensitive area, too.

Courage gathered, I prepped myself (i.e., “peeled the peaches”) Sunday night and trudged into Southeastern Urology early Monday morning. Having chosen an in-office appointment using only local anesthesia, I was assured that I’d be out within an hour and perfectly capable of driving myself home.

Having my shrinking violet arranged by strange women under bright lights was Not Pleasant. Despite what it might have been under different circumstances, this was akin to arranging the straps on “Old Sparky” down at the State Prison. My urologist, however, was cheerful and comforting and surprisingly, had just had his own vasectomy, nine days earlier. He laughingly assured me that he had only prepped himself and that a partner physician had performed the actual procedure.

My nurse laughed, and said, “Ha! That means he only shaved his own balls!”

The doctor shrugged and said, “Well, there are limits to how much feeling around I wanted him to do.”

“Ha…,” I weakly forced a laugh. My blood pressure was up and a cold dampness spread like like the iodine that now painted the fence around my junkyard.

Before you read further, know this: No matter what GQ and Men’s Health has said about “manning up” for a procedure “no worse than a bee sting,” my vasectomy was goddamned unpleasant.

If you’ve not seen the videos of a no-scalpel vasectomy, you should.

The urologist finds the vas deferens manually, then injects local anesthetic directly into the tube and into the area around it. It’s not great, but it’s roughly analogous to the pain of a novocaine injection received at the dentist. So far, so good.

A sharp forceps is then inserted through your scrotum. This is the “no-scalpel” part of your procedure. They aren’t cutting holes, they’re just poking holes. Again, this is Not Pleasant, but again, you’ve been numbed a bit by this time, so you don’t come off the table. But you feel it. You know what’s happening, and it’s not something that makes you comfortable.

Then, my urologist looked up and me, smiled, and said, “You’re going to feel me tugging down here.”

This is where he roots around for the correct bit of tubing, pulls it out (and everything connected to it up), then starts the tie-burn-and-clip procedure that actually makes the disconnection.

Tugging hurts.

(Girls, stop laughing.) The pain isn’t a kick-to-the-balls pain. It’s not a sharp pain. It’s not burning. It’s nothing that could be associated with surgery like cutting, or the sting of a needle or the heat of electro-cautery. It’s the deep, gut pain of nausea without vomiting. It’s being unable to breathe. It’s a cold sweat, a clammy fever and dizziness. It sits in your guts like a weight atop you, and it’s unavoidable. You cannot hide from it, talk yourself down, or man your way through it.

The nurse, a lovely creature with big eyes, leaned over me and asked, “Are you okay? Or are you feeling bad?”

I gasped at her, the corners going dark, and sparkles filling my vision, “I’m feeling real bad.”

Then, I was in a colorful place where people were talking, but I couldn’t make out the words. Everything was light and sparkles.

And then, she was there again, my nurse. She smiled and said to no one in particular, “Oh, there you are!”

I felt the table tilt as I slithered back into reality. A cold cloth was pressed to my forehead and an oxygen mask went over my nose. Cool, clear life began flowing back into my lungs.

“You were only out for a few seconds,” she said, much too cheerfully. “Are you feeling better?”

“Much,” I croaked.

I had, unfortunately, come-to just in time for the second part of the operation. Never ever forget, especially in this type of procedure, that you have two.

The oxygen and damp cloth got me through the second bit of plumbing work, and mercifully, kept me from smelling the acrid clouds of smoke that wafted up from below and circled the lamp.

Finally, without further fireworks, it was all over.

I did not walk from the room, though I feel confident I could have. Having taken a nap, I was now, per regulations, required to be wheeled. I apologized for checking out during the procedure as we trundled down the hall.

“Don’t worry, you weren’t bad at all,” my nurse chirped. “Your blood pressure dropped to 90/40, though, so we’re going to keep you for twenty minutes or so, just to make sure.”

Half and hour later, I was in my car.

I have spent the last few days with my feet up and an ice pack firmly engaged. I attempted the suggested intimacy with frozen peas, but found that a well-covered ice pack offered more relief, especially when placed outside the provided surgical truss/jock-strap and not directly icing the berries. It’s not too cold, but cold enough to provide the appropriate shrinkage. And shrinkage is important. Keeping the boys tightly clustered keeps them from jangling about on their now-injured support cables. You want to keep them wound up as tightly as you can. Ice and support are key.

So, four days in and I’m feeling better. An angry bit of stitched, incised skin is still there, but the tenderness is beginning to subside as the stitches dissolve. The peach fuzz is giving way to angry prickly pear at this point, so there’s an urge to scratch, but I won’t make the mistake of giving into it a second time.

Now, I’m looking forward to the bike.