Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Vasectomy Story

Having decided that my wife and I had graced the planet with enough of our offspring, it was time to make a decision regarding long-term birth control. My wife was presented with a myriad of options ranging from injections and I.U.D. devices with names that could be easily mistaken for canine dental appliances (ParaGuard is my current favorite) to surgical options like tubal ligation.

However, the only real option for us was for me to get a vasectomy. It was cheaper and less invasive than a tubal ligation and by any objective standard it was time for me to take one for the team. So I called the local urology practice and explained to the receptionist that I wished to permanently retire my reproductive jersey.

She explained that I would need an initial consultation appointment after which I would discuss the different “packages” with the billing specialist. Unaware that there were different levels of male sterility, I asked what she meant by “packages.” Was there a platinum package where I was rendered unconscious during the operation versus a value bundle where I was asked to place a wooden spoon between my teeth? She indicated that all would be revealed on the day of the consultation.

If you have never spent time in a urology waiting room, there seems to be two dominate male demographics: AARP members who have developed an adversarial relationship with their prostate and non-AARP members who are in various stages of sterility. Neither category exudes enthusiasm.

Once I was called back, a urologist no older than myself asked me several questions and advised me that (regardless of what several of the billboards on the I-40 corridor insist) I should consider this permanent. He performed a brief inspection and gave me a pamphlet onto which someone had scribbled “Shave your scrotum the day before of procedure.” I was then taken to a separate desk where it quickly became apparent that I would not be worked in until the NCAA basketball tournament had resolved itself.

Next I was called to visit the billing specialist who asked if I would like to pre-pay for the procedure. Convincing myself that payment now might lend itself to a more powerful anesthetic later, I agreed. I asked if they would issue a refund in the event I sired a child after being fully disarmed. I was informed that there was no satisfaction guarantee on vasectomies.   

On the day of the procedure, my wife drove me to the doctor’s office and I sat in the waiting room scanning the reading material (“People of the Andes” was a particularly alluring publication) and responding to photos of grapefruits being sent to me by my coworkers. At one point, a woman emerged from the back and loudly announced “Anita Dickie! Anita Dickie please!”

Despite my near-debilitating anxiety, this produced an involuntary chortle which, in turn, drew an eye-roll from my wife. I mounted a spirited defense of my juvenile sense of humor by reminding her that use of that phrase in this context was tantamount to entrapment. She simply shook her head as if silently reaffirming our decision to prevent the further proliferation of my DNA.   

Finally, a compact, mustachioed gentleman called my name and led me to the operating room where I was greeted by his counterpart. They were irreverent, crude and I liked them immediately. Upon removal of my pants, I was informed that I was “packing a real set of sheet-draggers” and the two of them began commenting on how exciting it was going to be to witness a real-life penectomy. Grateful for the distraction, I immediately asked them if I should remove my diamond-studded taint piercing.

Our rapport now firmly established, we continued on in this manner as I situated myself into the stirrups and they called for the doctor. I asked if he was watching YouTube videos on how to perform a vasectomy and the mustachioed gentleman replied something about him “finally getting the hang of it.” I immediately assumed the pun was both intentional and premeditated.

When the doctor arrived, there was some rather serious discussion regarding my position in the chair:

Doc – Why isn’t he fully reclined?
Assistant – I thought this is how you liked them…
Doc – It is easier for me if they are fully reclined.
Assistant – *looking contemplatively into the distance* Must’ve been Dr. Wilson that prefers them like this…… Give me just a sec and we will get this..
Doc – It’s fine. We can make it work.
Assistant – Are you sure? It is no big deal.
Doc – This will work. Let’s just get started.

It was here that I graciously offered to re-position myself to suit the urologist’s dominant hand and was assured that everything was fine. After a few injections directly to the coin-purse, it was time to go to work. We covered Fleetwood Mac’s musical contributions and the increased propensity of young couples to cohabitate prior to marriage before he finished.

I was asked by the assistant to continue my current form of birth control (my personality) for the foreseeable future and was handed two specimen cups. I was then instructed to bring them the “16th sample” I produced. Reading the bewildered look on my face, he reassured me that I did not have to produce all of the samples on the same day.

Still unable to process what I was being told, he clarified that I was being given “a prescription for sex” so that they can verify that I was producing a “clean sample.” Given the two-month time-frame, I observed that this was a rather audacious goal and assistant 2 asked if I might need a magazine. I enthusiastically replied that I preferred Home and Garden or Conde' Nast Traveler.

Armed with the world’s greatest prescription, I moseyed out to the wife and broke the news to her. She muttered something about “good luck with all that” as we made our way toward the car. Once we got home, I liberally applied bags of frozen peas to the affected area for the next twenty-four hours and did my best to remain motionless. During the subsequent days, my wife conjured an award-worthy amount of sympathy considering that she had given birth on more than one occasion.

I was feeling pretty good by the third morning until my wife asked why I was bleeding. As it was the weekend, I had to call the “after-hours line” to speak to the doctor on call. When I explained that there was a “breech in the hull” of the Starship Enterprise, he calmly asked if I would describe it as “gaping.”

This sparked a brief discussion on what constituted a “gaping” hole (I believe a quarter was referenced) and I realized that the nature of scrotal wounds tends to be rather subjective. In my estimation, any egress point not sanctioned by the home office was unacceptable, but to a dispassionate medical observer this was simply a brief setback that would resolve itself.

The final hurdle I face is presenting my 16th sample within the strict parameters laid out in the paperwork (fresh and still warm). Depending on traffic and parking availability, this could be challenging to procure in my home and my wife didn’t seem very enthusiastic about fooling around under a blanket in the urology waiting room. If I am pulled over for speeding on my way to deliver the sample you can rest assured that it will necessitate a second blog post.  

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Das (toy) Boot

For the two years I have had the privilege of knowing her, my daughter has been fearless. She will throw herself headfirst down slides that would give pause to children twice her age. She purposefully submerses her entire head during bath time just to see how long she can hold her breath before me or her mother panics. She walked into her first day of full-time childcare as if the presence and reassurance of her parents was already hindering her social ascent.

So you can imagine my surprise when she displayed true, involuntary fear. The catalyst for this reaction? A wind-up toy boat. Months ago my son had received a green speed-boat toy. You could wind a tiny knob affixed to the faux outboard motor and then presumably the boat would speed along the surface of the water creating hours of fun and enjoyment.

In reality, once you wound the boat it would sputter on for about two inches before taking on water and rapidly sinking to the bottom. It was less of a bath-toy than a maritime disaster practice kit. The only accessories missing were hapless crew members and a poorly-maintained life raft. It was for this reason my son had quickly lost interest in the toy and it remained in the bathtub simply because we lacked the will to remove it.

So when my daughter recoiled in horror at one end of the tub, it took process of elimination to determine that the source of her fear was this same toy boat. Somewhat confused, I utilized exaggerated motions to remove the offending craft from the tub and place it into the nearby sink. Reassured but still shaken, she eased herself back into the water but never really took her eye off of the sink where I had placed the toy.

While drying her off, she continued to inquire as to the whereabouts of the green menace. I told her that the boat was “all gone” (utilizing sign language for good measure) and would not bother her again. I mentioned this to my wife but neither of us could understand why this tiny toy was able to locate the chink in my daughter’s psychological armor.

Despite my assurances that the source of her fear was gone, she would continue to inquire as to its whereabouts at odd intervals. Diaper changes, car rides, and even story time would be interrupted by her shaky voice asking “where boat?” One morning when my wife went in to wake her up, she frantically asked to see me. When I got in her room, she clung to me and whimpered “boat get Daddy!” over and over again.

I tried my best to assure her that, statistically speaking, my demise would more than likely be attributable to heart disease or Type 2 diabetes but nothing seemed to calm her fear. Since I hadn’t thrown the boat away, I theorized that I could make a production of destroying it in front of her. Perhaps I could place it in the driveway and make an elaborate display of running over it with the push-mower.

When I ran this idea past my coworkers, one of them pointed out that this would do nothing but transfer her fear from the boat to my push mower (since anything powerful enough to destroy an evil boat must be exponentially more evil). Faced with this airtight logic, I went back to the drawing board.

Eventually my wife, who is far more emotionally perceptive than I can ever hope to be, discovered that my daughter’s newfound fear of boats and their effect on the well-being of her caregivers was attributable to binge-watching the Disney movie Frozen.

As with any classic Disney film, the parents meet an untimely death before the close of the first act. In this case, the parents’ demise occurred when the boat they were on sinks at sea. To Disney’s credit this scene was understated and the emotional gravity was quickly undermined by a musical number, but the idea was there and somehow my daughter had connected the presence of a toy boat with the loss of her parents.

Once again, I was taught a lesson in how perceptive children can be. Ironically, Walt Disney movie studios may be the reason that my family never takes a Walt Disney Cruise line. Perhaps in their next movie, the protagonist’s parents will meet their demise at a Chuck-E-Cheese.