“You haven’t taken that yet?” the nurse side with moon-sized eyes staring at me above her mask.
“No,” I said.
“You were supposed to take that an hour ago… How is your anxiety?” she asked.
“Well, pretty bad now,” I said.
If you have read the stories here, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking I made this stuff up. I’m not sure if it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy or just plain bad luck, but things like this happen to me despite my best efforts.
In March 2020, I scheduled my vasectomy consult that ultimately got canceled because of Covid. After a couple of years of procrastination, I booked an appointment this past April.
The consultation went fine. Though, no matter what the situation, a nurse should never squeeze half a bottle of lubricant on a towel and walk out without mentioning what they might use it for.
The lubricant was never used, or mentioned, by the doctor. I guess I’ll never know.
I scheduled the actual procedure for Monday, May 23rd.
My wife and I spent the weekend leading up to the 23rd in Chicago, celebrating our friends’ recent engagement. On a normal travel day at the end of a vacation of any length, my anxiety is through the roof. There was no anxiety this Sunday. Our flight didn’t leave until 3 pm, so we went to brunch before we made our way to the airport.
As we walked through Old Town, I noticed I had no anxiety or sense of dread. Also, noticing the absence of these feelings didn’t bring them to the surface. We sat down at brunch and I treated myself to a couple of mimosas.
There’s no reason to stress. This is great. This must be how normal people are.
There was a lull during the conversation. My wife, the love of my life. The person who knows me better than anyone else on this planet. My rock. Decided she needed to break the lull.
“You have surgery tomorrow,” she said.
And just like that, my stress-free Sunday crumbled before my eyes.
I attempted to push the anxiety down where I keep my emotions, self-loathing, and dark thoughts, but apparently, the tank was full.
I have to shave. I have to take medication. When am I supposed to take it again? What time is the appointment? Was it 11 or 11:15? Is it at the same office where I had the consultation? What time will we have to leave? What needs to be done at work before I go? What if something goes wrong? I know I am going to be a part of the 1% to 2% that ends up with chronic pain, I thought.
Yes, a real lightning round of panic-filled thoughts hit. Nothing new for me, and it was a treat to have an entire Sunday morning without intrusive thoughts.
The next morning, I read the instructions on the two bottles of medication that had been prescribed to me. One was an antibiotic, and the other was diazepam.
Diazepam is an anxiolytic. This pill was critical to me for obvious reasons.
The problem was, that I had no clue when I was supposed to take this pill. Making me anxious. Take your 10,000 spoons and shove them, Alanis Morissette.
My wife, noticing my tell-tale signs of anxiety, told me to go shower while she called the clinic to find out when I needed to take the pill.
When I got out of the shower, my wife informed me we were to bring the pill with us and await instruction on when to take it.
We walked into the office (30 minutes early) and I checked in at the front desk.
Before taking a seat in the waiting room, I asked, “I have this pill. Should I take that now?”
She looked at the bottle and said, “Yes, you can take that now.”
“What is it?” asked the other nurse at the front desk.
“Diazepam,” said nurse number one.
“No, don’t take that now. They’ll tell you when to take it when you get into the operating room,” said nurse number two.
I stood flashing my eyes back and forth at the two of them, waiting for them to agree.
“Sorry,” said nurse number one, “they will tell you when to take it when you get back there.”
I sat down, hands shaking, wishing I could take the pill immediately.
After half an hour of listening to Maury on the TV in the waiting room, I was called back.
I followed the nurse to the operating room and took a seat. She informed me that the doctor would be in shortly and that she was going to get things prepped for the surgery.
“I have this pill. Should I take it now?” I asked.
She spun around and with wide eyes said, “you haven’t taken that yet? You were supposed to take that an hour ago.”
“Well, I called before coming and asked the nurses out front. No one informed me of that.”
“It takes a while for it to take effect. How is your anxiety?” she asked.
“Well, pretty bad now,” I said.
“What would you like to do?” she asked.
“Uh, I’ve never done this before… so I guess I’d like to talk to the doctor and see what he thinks,” I said.
She left the room, got the doctor, and sent him in. He informed me I could take it right now and it would kick in once by the time the surgery got going.
The pill was in my stomach before he stopped talking.
He told me I could get undressed from the waist down, hop onto the bed, and cover myself with the sheet.
I laid there like Porky Pig, willing the diazepam to take effect.
When the doctor came back in, he gave me a quick synopsis of how the procedure would go and then asked, “did you prepare the area or do we need to shave you?”
“I prepared the area and I think I did a pretty good job,” I said.
The doctor turned on the surgical light and as he ripped the sheet apart, making my genitals center stage, he said, “well, let’s see. Oh, yeah, you did a good job.”
“Thank you,” I said because I don’t know what to say when someone says you did a good job shaving your scrotum.
“This is awkward,” he said as he was feeling around.
“What is?” I asked as my panic took away any effect the diazepam was having.
“I think I found one of your wife’s hairs,” he said.
“I don’t think so… I have long hair. It’s probably one of mine,” I said.
“Oh… well, that’s less awkward,” he said.
As he prepared the surgical instruments, we made a little small talk. Which led to me describing half of the city of Chicago in great detail while he listened patiently.
When I finished he said, “yeah, I did my undergrad at Loyola.”
I thought You could have stopped me, then said, “oh, so you’ve been everywhere I described.”
“Yep, let’s get started,” he said.
He told me I would feel a pinch and burn as he numbed me up. After waiting a minute, he said that everything should be ready, but that I should let him know if I feel anything.
“I can feel some things… but it’s more like tugging,” I said.
“Yeah, that’s normal. I’ll get started,” he said.
I winced in preparation but felt nothing. I relaxed, assuring myself that the worst was over.
Then, as he cut the vas deferens attached to my left testicle, a lightning bolt of pain shot up into my stomach. I gasped and flinched.
“I’m sorry,” I said to the man that just caused me pain, “but I felt all of that.”
“I guess we need to numb you up a bit more,” he said.
No. Fucking. Shit, I thought.
The rest of the procedure went well, and I even took this picture:
And sent it to my wife as he cut the vas deferens attached to my right testicle.
It was a big moment, and I wanted something to remember it by.
Please don’t misunderstand the message here. I don’t blame the doctor or the nurses for any of the events.
This is exactly how things go in my life. My stories would be pretty boring if they didn’t, and for that, I am thankful.
The good news for you, dear reader, is that I am not out of the woods yet. In 9 weeks, I need to schedule an appointment to bring in a semen sample for testing to ensure that I am sterile.
What could go wrong with that?