So it is done. It was everything all the guys told me it would be. It was nothing I expected.
I expected ridicule. The nurse, prepping me, “Dude . . . these are your balls?”
I expected delays. “I’m sorry we can’t perform your vasectomy at this time. Come back when you have male reproductive organs.”
I expected to die. I imagined the scene: the doc, still in his surgical gloves, explaining to an officer, “No, we didn’t even touch him. That’s the thing: we rolled out the damned cart with the instruments on it, I heard this ungodly screech and then, well, he was just laying there with that look on his face.”
Oddly, none of that happened. It was actually much stupider.
I went in for the consult. The doctor asked me if I was sure. “It’s a fairly permanent decision.”
“I’m 42 and I have 3 kids.”
“Three? Okay, here’s how I’m going to cut you,” he pulled out an illustrated chart, “first I’m going to make a micro incision here. And through that hole, I’m going to pull out your vas deferens and remove about an inch off of each one. Six weeks later, you bring in a semen sample and then in six weeks you bring in another sample and after three samples with no sperm, we consider you sterile.”
He also gave me a pamphlet with three very simple preoperative instructions:
- avoid blood thinners like ibuprofen the week before your appointment
- shave your balls the night before
- take your Valium an hour before
That was all I had to do. Even I could do that.
Then he fondled me, gave me a prescription for Valium, and demanded $40. After, I pulled up my pants and made the appointment with the receptionist.
I went home and whined about it to my mom. Because all grown men like talking about their genitals with their mothers.
“Your father had it done when he was 36. Though you never would have known it. He didn’t go on talking about it,” she said. Then after a long pause, “And the next day he built a two-storey house. After lifting a car up off a squirrel. The squirrel was already dead but then your dad hooked it up to the car’s battery and brought it back to life. That squirrel lived another 30 years. Your dad could fix anything.*” Another long pause with loads of direct eye contact, “He was a man . . . I’m tired of looking at you. Go make me some tea.”
Jill offered to get my Valium prescription filled the next day. “Here, give it to me, I’ll put it in my purse.”
“But you lose everything.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I’ll put it in my purse.”
We never saw that piece of paper again.
The next day, I called and asked for a new scrip. Jill went to the doc’s office and picked it up. Then she brought it home and lost it.
The day before my vasectomy, as I was sitting down to research “herbal substitutes for Valium,” we found the envelope and I breathlessly tore it open. Inside was a piece of paper with the words, “Man up. Unlimited refills.” Next to that paper which may not have actually existed was the prescription.
Jill drove to the pharmacy and had it filled and brought back my single blue savior.
I celebrated by shaving my balls.
I was all set.
The next morning I took my pill. I took a shower. I kissed my kids goodbye. Jill was a little too gleeful as she drove me to my appointment.
They led me to the “Procedure Room.”
They ordered me to strip to t-shirt and socks.
The nurse lathered my junk and thighs with orange stuff. She stifled laughter.
Then the doc came in and said “Just a little pinch and burn” as he shoved needles into my balls. Twice. And that was the last and only pain I felt.
At one point, I heard snipping. The same sound as wires being cut.
Then I felt tugging.
“Are you stitching me up?”
“Yep, we’re all done.”
That was it.
I went home and sat on the couch for two days. In disbelief. Despite every guy telling me that it was no big deal. Despite reading posts like this one from Andy at Almost Coherent Parent and getting comments from my friend Eric at Opticynicism telling me I had nothing to worry about. I still couldn’t believe that it was all over and so relatively painless.
I saw Jill go through 3 pregnancies. That’s over 2 years of having her body completely hijacked, her immune system and belly stretched to their absolute limits, only to have to then go into labor, pushing our children out into the world. Like having to sprint another 300 yards after running a full marathon. I saw her deliver our first son via c-section, I knelt by her, consoling her as she cried, feeling devastated, while on the other side of the blue partition, nurses were holding her internal organs so the doc could pull Ian out.
My 7-minute procedure was nothing.
I thought of all of that as I sat on the couch and watched movies and played video games with my kids. I compared my small sacrifice as a dad to all she has done as a mom as I sipped my coffee and adjusted the frozen peas I needed to keep the swelling down. I considered how Jill would never have to ask her body to go through that again.
And I thought, I’ve got it pretty good.
*My dad really could fix anything. Miss you every day.