Landing at 1:15pm, I had exactly 45 minutes to wrap up my work week, get home, and get over to the doctor’s office. At this point I was slightly irritable from the mandatory fasting. I was starving, and ready to get this vasectomy shit over with, for no other reason than I could eat afterward. Gayle’s Mom was also there when I got home, ready to take charge of the kids while we were out preventing future kids in need of babysitting.
There was exactly 10 minutes to change into my breakaway stripper slacks, pop the pre-operation Valium, and get in the car. Since I don’t actually own breakaway stripper slacks (shockingly) I opted for my comfy running pants with the highly-recommended jock strap beneath. A couple days before, I walked over to Sports Authority in Chicago and grabbed a 2-pack of jock straps. Shockingly, I didn’t actually own any jock straps. I may have had one back in my pee-wee football days, but they haven’t exactly been required for my various music, sales, or fatherhood careers.
That is, until today.
Like a good Catholic wife, Gayle had the Valium and a glass of water waiting for me as I walked through the door. I guzzled them down and changed pants. There’s something damn funny to me about wearing a jock strap, and I never spared my poor wife the impromptu fashion parade. It just looks beyond ridiculous on me, especially if you know how beyond-non-athletic I am. Sure, the “back” only consists of a few straps framing your bare white ass. But the front… That’s what always gave me the most laughs. It was an off-white Borat-style banana hammock. “May as well get the laughs in now”, I thought, “before getting my bag punctured and sutured”. I pulled up my warm-ups.
Pills and anesthetics always have an immediate, and profound effect on me. As a kid I spoke in tongues on the way home from getting my wisdom teeth pulled, laughed for 4 extra hours following a dose of the gas, and almost flat-lined during a spinal tap while under general anesthetic. So, on literally zero food in the previous 16 hours, it didn’t take all that long for the Valium to work its magic.
As we were leaving the neighborhood, one of my clients called. Even though Gayle strongly motioned for me not to, I answered it anyway. At this point I felt what could only be described as “warm and frisky”, like an overly cat-nipped, obese kitty cat. A big fat old Krissy Cat. Meowwwww.
“Hello, Mr. Client Friend!” I spoke eagerly in ambiguous terms about the media project we had working, making awkward grammatical choices like “coordinates” and “tactical”.
“We’ll need to regroup on Monday, if that’s OK Mr. Client Friend. The rest of today is looking, well, a little grim.” I slurred it out while over-examining my hand in zooming-in close-ups.
I was so right-on-time that Gayle had to drop me at the entrance and then go park. I had already been to the office for my consultation, but in my jock-strap-and-Valium haze I found the floor plan of the hospital rather unwieldy. It was a healthcare labyrinth, or at least a large corn maze. Somehow I found myself at the door to the Urology Clinic. I took a deep breath, and then entered.
Vasectomies, like getting fired from your employer, are typically best handled on Fridays. This is to allow a full weekend for recovery before getting back out there and tackling LIFE on Monday. The waiting room was full of different versions of Fathers, some holding the hands of their wives, while holding their athletic supporter in the other. It really isn’t too far off from the waiting room of the local vet, (if all neutering’s for the month were stacked on a Friday). Everyone knew what was in store for everyone else, and no one seemed all that jazzed about it. Gratefully I applied my supporter in the comfort of my home, because for some reason seeing other men’s straps weirded me out. One couple looked as if they were even reciting Bible passages to one another. This was not the case with Gayle and I.
I was called back almost instantly. If I didn’t say anything overly-dramatic, I was surely thinking it: “Goodbye, wife. Bearer of my fruits. I leave you, axe in hand, only to return a barren, fruitless eunuch.” There were no trumpets, no tearful regrets or pleas that I reconsider. Gayle was just thumbing her iPhone, asking me if Subway was good enough for my post-op feast.
A lovely, tallish, African-American nurse escorted me back. It was the same room as my pre-op video laughing fit. It felt comforting, familiar. I was seated up on the bed. There was a chair to my immediate right, and the nurse stood above me on the left. We made small talk.
“I followed the whole pre-op requirements to the letter. This should hopefully be pretty smooth.”
“When the Doctor arrives we’ll step out while you remove your pants and get situated under the sheet.” It felt like an ominous trip to the Day Spa of Torture.
The vasectomy as a surgical procedure is really pretty simple. There are no scalpels needed. A local numbing anesthetic is applied to the scrotum, and two tiny punctures are made on each side in the lower front. A small knitting needle utensil is then inserted into your bag-o-nuts, designed to hook each vas deferens tube and pull it slightly through the puncture. Once the tube is pulled through, it is quickly cut and burned at each of the severed ends. The burning seals up the sperm highway, effectively leaving them trapped in the testes. The body then absorbs the trapped sperm, and there’s apparently NO WAY to over-inflate the testicles with unused sperm. This was my only pre-op question. It just seemed so amazing to me. In extremely rare circumstances, a determined (or divinely guided) sperm can make the journey through the scarred end of a cut and burned tube, through the no-man’s-land in between, miraculously into the other cut and burned tube, to finally mix with the semen from the prostate, before getting blasted out to find the egg. This is called re-canalization, and my thinking is that even if I’m 70 and that shit happens, we would be having a fourth King of Kings, 34 years younger than its siblings, and clearly the new leader of our family.
Assuming you experience no unusual swelling or complications, you can resume sexual activity within 7 to 10 business days. If you’re a runner, you should give it a solid 2 weeks and then double-up with a jock strap and Underarmor. The last thing you want is your post-operative junk thrashing to and fro, freely bashing your legs while you run. You return for a follow-up sperm count at 10 weeks and then again at 6 months. Some extremely virile gentleman can still fire live ammo up to 2 years in some cases. It is still highly recommended that protection is used until a zero sperm count is confirmed. Don’t say I didn’t give you the details. You need to initial paperwork stating that you understand this.
The doctor knocked before entering. We exchanged pleasantries. He and the nurse then stepped out, leaving me to shimmy my pants off before getting settled beneath the sheet.
I must’ve sounded like a sheepish little boy. Once ready, in a near falsetto I beckoned, “Uh…. Readdddy?”
They both reentered the room. Goddamnit. The nurse also?!?!?!? This changes everything. She resumed her position at my left side with the doctor seated across my lap. They made small talk about my trip to Chicago. I thought that if I just kept talking while making eye contact, we would all completely forget that my shaven balls were exposed to the open air. Under harsh lighting. With a lovely, tallish, African-American female looking down at them, in what had to be their most unflattering state. But before all of this could get me too depressed, I caught a subtle non-verbal cue between the doctor and the nurse.
The second the light and the cool hospital air hit the operative area, the doctor examined his work space. He paused. He then made direct eye contact with the nurse standing above me, before reaching back to the drawer behind him. He pulled out a razor. I was mortified, because apparently I hadn’t done such a bang up job with the shave. This was easily the most awkward moment in 2 weeks full of awkward vasectomy moments. I almost wanted to clear the air.
“We all know there’s an elephant in the room. You’re not happy with my shave job. I’m not either, but I swear I followed the video instructions! The last thing I wanted was to be shaved like a summer lamb in front of a female nurse. This fucking BLOWS. Where did we all go wrong?”
But I was silent, in a manner that telepathically said: “Ahh, just a touch more off the lower front, please.”
Why couldn’t they just knock me completely out?
Once pleased with the grooming, the doctor administered the local anesthetic. The first shot was pretty freaking painful, like a needle being fully inserted in your most tender of tender areas. It must’ve started working immediately, because I barely felt the second.
From there, as I had been counseled, I would only feel the occasional vague tug here and there of various plumbing pieces parts. Within 8 minutes, I was done. He gave me some ice, a smile, and sent me on my way. I asked a stupid question upon exiting like “so absolutely no uni-cycling, correct?”
The recovery process was everything I hoped it would be. There was a lot of Mario Kart, some Mario Brothers for Wii, Breakin’ 1 and 2, “Electric Boogaloo” and a weekend full of forgettable DVD titles I hadn’t seen in quite some time. The added fog of Vicodin made it particularly cozy. I blasted off awkwardly cryptic status updates to my social networks: “This athletic supporter really made all the Vas Difference!” Surprisingly, icing down my lap was nowhere near as painful as I thought it would be. As I awoke each morning I found myself taking inventory before heading down for more ice. The kids were instructed that “Daddy’s taking it slowwwwwww” so there would be no jumping of any kind, and eye contact was not encouraged.
I’m sure that one day my vasectomy experience will vanish into the mundane plod of adulthood responsibilities and achievements. It is already just something else that I survived, that I needed to research, prepare for, and fully experience. Luckily, I’m almost positive I shouldn’t have to go through it again.
Sometimes when I’m holding one of my kids, feeling the torrents of maniacal love and energy coming off of them, it saddens me to remember that our family is now complete. Three is really plenty though, especially on the tougher days. Ultimately I believe the vasectomy is one of those little talked about sacrifices a man can make for his family. It’s in no way on the level of birthing a child, but it is a sacrifice nonetheless.
If I happen to spot a younger Dad-type this summer, sitting in a lawn chair, watering his lawn with a bag of peas in his lap, I will stop my car. I will stand silently where his tree lawn meets the street, making eye contact. I will then share what I’m decreeing as the Universal Gesture of Vasectomy Brotherhood.
I will place one hand over my heart, in a fist.
With the other, I’ll be gripping my balls.
Feel free to share your experiences or ask any questions below, (although I’m pretty sure I’ve covered just about everything). Hahahahaha. Thanks, -kc