Monday, January 25, 2016

Did I ever tell you the story of my vasectomy?

I recognize you probably don't want to hear about my vasectomy, and if that's the case, you're free to stop reading right here.

But if, for whatever reason, you're OK moving forward with this subject, you can't say I didn't warn you.

It has been nearly 10 years since I underwent The Big Snip. I know this for two reasons: (a) I always remember weird dates, and (b) My youngest son, Jack, will turn 10 this Wednesday.

It was after Jack was born, you see, that Terry and I decided Tennant Offspring, Inc. needed to shut down operations. Or at least, it needed to shut down the production of new offspring and instead focus on nurturing the offspring it already had.

Right from the start I realized it would be much easier for me to undergo the sterilization process than it would be for her. Women's reproductive systems are complex, Rube Goldberg-like machines involving all sorts of parts that can only be accessed through major surgery.

Men, on the other hand, are wired fairly simply. Vasectomies are way easier to perform (and way easier on the patient) than hysterectomies are. And after all, it only seemed fair for me to be the one on the table after Terry had courageously disgorged five babies from her uterus in the space of 12 years.

So vasectomy it was. I can't remember how or why I selected Dr. Schneider as the urologist to do the deed, but I did. At the time I don't think I realized he was 12 years old.

Or at least it seemed like he was 12 years old. He was clearly younger than me, and he seemed younger than the students at my kids' school. But he had a fancy-looking diploma on the wall and seemed to have all of the required instruments in his office, so I went in assuming he knew what he was doing.

Which of course he did. One thing I learned during two years as managing editor of Urology Times magazine back in the late 90s (really) was that vasectomies are extremely routine procedures that urologists learn to perform early in their training. There's just not much to them.

From the patient's perspective, I can tell you the only two things that disquieted me were:

(1) Laying on a table essentially naked while another man fiddled with my privates and talked about the Browns

(2) The use of what seemed to be a five-foot needle injected into An Extremely Sensitive Region in order to numb that region before Dr. Schneider made his incision.

The needle was of course not five feet long (though it was definitely at least three feet), but the key point here wasn't so much its length as its sharpness. The only pain I experienced in the entire procedure was when that needle (WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC MEDICAL TERM ABOUT TO BE USED) pierced my scrotum and, from what I could tell, kept going up into my abdomen and stopped just a few inches shy of my neck.

That was...unpleasant. Really unpleasant. But it only lasted a few seconds, and it didn't approach Baby Coming Out of Tiny Opening on the unpleasantness scale, so I was OK with it.

After that, the whole thing was actually kind of  and trust me when I tell you how hesitant I am to say this, but there's really no other word for it  nice. And by "nice" I mean that Dr. Schneider and I had a great conversation about sports while he went about his business. He, like me, was a big Cleveland sports fan, and we lamented how comically bad our teams were.

When it was over and he told me I could get up, I was kind of sad. Not because I was anxious to have him keep poking, cutting, cauterizing and generally fiddling with my Man Parts, but because I really liked talking to him. But I realized he probably had to get home and finish his homework, so I was OK with it.

When I got home myself, Terry looked at me anxiously and asked if I was feeling OK. And I was. The numbing agent was still in full effect, so I wasn't feeling anything.

Later I felt something. Later I really felt something. Not an intense pain or anything, but just an annoying, enduring pain. Which is when we broke out the bag of frozen peas. That's just not a cliche, folks, it really works. Sitting on that bag of peas on the couch watching TV was mostly what I did that night and much of the next day.

A few days later I tried to do my normal morning run and it just...well, it hurt, you know? The constant tugging of gravity on an area that had, less than 100 hours earlier, been subjected to scalpels and forceps and the like was unpleasant. Again, not Having a Baby Unpleasant, but still unpleasant.

Still, after a week or two, that pain went away and I was right as rain. Had to go back another time to make sure the whole thing "took," if you know what I mean, but all in all, it was the very definition of a minor procedure.

The moral of the story, guys: It's not that big a deal. I know you WANT it to be a big deal so you can tell gruesome war stories afterward, but disappointingly, the procedure is quick and easy, as is the recovery.

Just have those frozen peas at the ready. Seriously, you want to have those frozen peas...


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