The fundamental lesson I learnt whilst going through the process of having my tubes sheared, was that blokes are arseholes.
As I watched my wife suffer the physical rigours of four pregnancies, one of the things that buoyed her throughout was the support of her friends. Lots of women who’d experienced the same pain were there with a kind word or reassurance about the imminent trauma of childbirth. Despite everyone knowing that levels of pain would be encountered that were more commonly experienced by people getting hit in the face with a cricket bat, conversations were steered towards the positive parts of the process. Even the necessarily horrific details always had the caveat attached, ‘But of course that won’t happen to you.’
Men, it seems, aren’t like that. When I mentioned to anyone that I’d checked myself in for a vasectomy, the response was uniform. They’d pull a massively over-the-top Kenneth Williams face and then relate a clearly fabricated story about something that happened to ‘their mate’.
This person, who would always remain unnamed, principally because he didn’t exist, suffered the consequences of his folly to such a degree, that anyone would be a fool to follow his course of action.
My personal favourite from this encyclopaedia of pain, was the ‘mate’ who elected to have the procedure done under local anaesthetic during his lunch break. After a trouble free operation, he went back to work……on his bike. Unfortunately, he didn’t notice that he was sat on one of his numbed plums all the way back to the office. When he dismounted, he discovered that while his left testicle was still of normal proportions, his right resembled a purple volleyball. Like a doomed prisoner awaiting the noose, he just had to wait for the anaesthetic to wear off and the pain to kick in.
After the rueful relating of this or one of a hundred other horror stories, my friends, unsnipped to a man, would suggest that this was reason enough to cease the treading of such an idiotic path.
I couldn’t find anybody prepared to relate a good news story. It went from claims of infections so catastrophic that medical science was just about capable of bringing ‘their mate’ back from the brink, to a tale of a ‘mate’ who was so disfigured by the subsequent swelling and bruising, that he was left with what looked a one twelfth sized bust of John Merrick.
Of course, the actual experience was a little more prosaic. The operation, done like the melon-balled anecdote victim, under local anaesthetic, was unpleasant but not particularly terrifying. The ‘most pain I’ve ever felt in my whole life,’ needle wasn’t very nice but didn’t see me pinned to the ceiling like the time my dentist touched a nerve (by that, I don’t mean that he was unkind about my clothes or haircut). There was a distinctly unsettling feeling that something inside me was being pulled around, but within fifteen minutes I was back outside on a bed, having a brew and wondering if I’d now be able to reach higher notes in the shower (no).
Opting for local seemed like a bit of uncharacteristic bravery on my part, but it was entirely self serving. I bowed to the logic, that surely if I was awake and aware of my surroundings, the consultant (conveniently named Mr Payne) would be a little less likely to lasso a nurse with my vas deferens or make impolite but accurate knob jokes.
The only significant trauma around my vasectomy occurred three weeks earlier at my pre op consultation, where I was steered into a room with Mr Payne for, ‘just a quick chat.’ I’d been concerned about the necessary fondling by another man, so was quite pleased that pocket billiards were no longer on the menu. He then asked if two medical students might observe the conversation. Now relaxed enough to smile nonchalantly, I replied,
Two girls then came in and sat on the bed, both looking extremely young and embarrassed. They were first years and clearly uncomfortable. I remained in the chair whilst he asked me a few questions, directing his answers first to me and then to the two girls who were as determined as I was to avoid all eye contact.
“Right, Mr Bell, let’s have a look then.”
He’d stitched me up, three weeks prior to physically stitching me up.
I had no alternative but to stand up and let him massage my goolies whilst explaining basic bollock anatomy to two poor girls who looked like they’d only just left a nightclub and wished they were back there. To add insult to injury, fear and embarrassment had caused acute retraction to kick in. I picked a spot in the middle distance and wished for it to end, praying with all my might that he wasn’t going to get them to join in.
He spared me that, but made one of them ask me a question.
“Er……how many children do you have?”
The next question remained unasked, but the inference hung around the cubicle like a bad fart.
“What? With that?”