WARNING: DO NOT READ THIS POST! Well, at least seriously consider not reading it when you realise the subject. I’m serious – reading this may result in nausea, shock or simply never being able to look at me the same again. This is a different post to all my others, quite personal and of a sensitive nature.
You sure you want to continue? Ok then, I’ll tell you the subject matter. Ready? How can I say this? It’s to do with “down there” (and I don’t mean Australia this time).
If you’re a bloke, then you may feel very uncomfortable in parts. If you’re a lady, then this might get a bit graphic. If you’re a friend, think about whether you want to know personal stuff like this about me. If family, well, this is more than I usually share. If colleague from work – if I ever have any meetings with you, just don’t think about it ever again.
Why am I blogging about this? Well, for three reasons:
1. This is a personal blog, and this has been quite a significant point of my life. It would be strange not to.
2. It may be quite entertaining in parts. Especially to the sadists amongst you.
3. It may help someone. If a man out there reads this and takes action as a result, it’ll be worth it.
Still here? Are you sure you want to read on? Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
First of all, let me say that I’m ok. I could build up suspense, suggesting something sinister, but as it stands right now it’s far from the worst that could happen. Not that I knew that at the start…
Many years ago – I’m talking last millennium – I thought something different was happening “down there”. I’ll cut to the chase: it was looking like I had one testicle bigger than the other. What did I do when I discovered this? I did what any other self-respecting man would do who took care of his body: I did nothing and worried about every now and again. For years.
Eventually, I decided to do some research on the subject. I was astonished – did you know that nearly all men have one larger than the other? Why the heck didn’t anyone bother to tell this to me? Thanks biology lessons – you made me dissect a frog but failed to give me this vital bit of information that had me worried for ages. So, I stopped worrying about this natural phenomenon.
Skip forward a few more years. It was a little bigger, and now I was experiencing some pain at times. I tested for lumps – I didn’t seem to find any, but it was not quite right. “Rightie” was definitely different to good ol’ “Leftie”. Maybe something was a bit wrong. So what did I do when I had this realisation? Yep, you guessed. I did nothing and worried about it from time to time. I was sure if I left it long enough it would go away…
It didn’t. Eventually I took the plunge and booked in to see the doctor. I can’t tell you how shit scared I was by the day of the appointment. Once I’d made up my mind to go, I opened myself up to all the possibilities it could be. It was this point I realised I was an idiot. Let me spell this out for you, fellers:
IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH YOUR BALLS, SEE A DOCTOR STRAIGHT AWAY! DON’T FUCK AROUND!
(John Hartson’s currently in the news – he was diagnosed much later when cancer took over. He’s still going, but in July his survival prospects, although still quite good at about 60:40, would have been 99:1 had he been diagnosed earlier.)
Luckily for me, he thought I just had an epididymal cyst – harmless and no treatment was really needed unless you wanted it. Still, he wanted an ultrasound to check it out. So, a trip to the hospital for someone to look inside my balls…
I’m sitting in the waiting room. In a few minutes, someone’s gonna have me on my back and start rubbing a strange instrument over my nether regions. Suddenly, I have The Dread of Excitement. It is well-known fact that men have almost zero control over whether they get excited. There seems to be a direct route between the brain and your man in the middle, and sometimes where it gets its materials from to cause such exciting signals is a mystery. To you, it could be the most mundane day, but somewhere in your subconscious is a party and you are about to get surprisingly uncomfortable any second now. Even though this is a quite a scary ordeal for me now, what if “he” decides the attention is, actually, quite pleasing? What if the doctor is a fit, young female? Oh crap! Don’t think about it, Andy. Trouble is, this is what I call the Pink Elephant Syndrome. Don’t think of a pink elephant. Try it. Your brain has to think of a pink elephant in order to process that. Which means you thought of one. D’oh. Ok, just think of nothing. Clear your head and think of nothing. Yeah, like that worked for Dan Aykroyd.
Ok here we go. The doc’s an old bloke – bonus. Oh the indignity of it, though. Cold gel swamps my groin as he roughly rolls a small scanner over my two veg. This actually hurts. Chance of excitement: zero. I relax a little. I look at the monitor. I actually get a bit freaked out seeing people’s baby scan photos, so you can imagine I was particularly disturbed looking at moving pictures of the inside of my testes. Imagine watching Patrick Moore showing the transit of Mercury across the sun, and you’ll have an idea.
Results were the same. It appeared to be a cyst. I could have it removed. So I did what any other bloke with a problem like this that could be fixed: I did nothing and hoped for the best. Many years later…
“So you promise you’ll do something about it? It’s about time, you know.”
“Ok. I promise”
I’m sitting in the same hospital, probably in the same seat, waiting for another scan after making the decision to act on my problem. The docs now tell me it’s a hydrocele – a build up of fluid. I could get it removed by a big needle, but it would come back probably in a month or two. You had me with “needle”. They want another scan as it’s so long since my last one. Should be no problem – I’ve done this before. No Dread of Excti- oh no – the doc’s a cute, young woman! Arrgghhh! I’m lying here with a hot girl spurting gel all over my naughty bits! This could be embarrassing for both of us. Maybe she’ll be a bit insensitive and rough in handling them. Here she goes…She has the touch of an angel! It’s like being gently caressed by the softest sponge plucked from the deepest ocean by someone polishing their most delicate antiques! She is seriously good with that scanner! Some men pay for this kind of action! Ok Andy, think of something else. Nice ceiling tiles. Nice dots within the tiles. Think of car mechanics. I know nothing of car mechanics! Think of work. Imagine the worst possible thing that you could have. Just don’t look down!!!! Eventually, she finishes and I survive, somehow. I clean up the mess, pull up my trousers and walk out the door, with a strange feeling that I should shout out “Call me” as I go…
Thing is, the scans weren’t quite straightforward. They showed a couple of dark spots. I was told they were probably minor, but they’d monitor them in a few months. Nothing could be done about the hydrocele until they were sure it was ok. So, I had to wait until the all clear, which I got earlier this year. And then it came:
“So, it’s up to you. Do you want the surgery to remove the hydrocele?”
Translation: Do you want to put up with regular but mild discomfort, or do you want to authorise someone to put you to sleep, take a knife, rip open your scrotum, drain the fluid, turn part of it inside out, stitch you up, leave you with a scar and kiss goodbye to any fun activities for several weeks?
Was I to break that promise? No, of course not.
“Yes.” Gulp. Fast forward to Tuesday 07:00 this week…
Rightie is not happy. “You’ve got to be kidding me! But we’ve been ok for years! It’ll be agony! A knife, godammit!”
Leftie only has one concern, spelled out carefully to me: “Make.Sure.They.Get.The.Correct.Side”.
I get up and taken to the hospital. I had to let Dad know what was going on a while ago, after a hospital mix up left urgent messages at my parents’ house. I have to say I was glad I did tell him, though, despite the fact I’d rather discuss photography and computers rather than how my balls were today. He’s been great, and I say goodbye to him as I get taken into some strange waiting area. I have little idea what’s gonna happen now. I get given a gown to put on, backwards. The straps are obviously at the back, out of sight, and I wonder how anyone fit and able can successfully tie all the straps, let alone the poor and arthritic. You’d think they could do better than this. I look down at the writing adorned in patterns across it “For use in hospital only”. And there was I going to go clubbing in it. The elderly guy nearly twice my age from behind the next curtain is talking to himself. I try to read my book, but soon the surgeon comes in to see me. His name is Dr. Swallow. [insert your own childish joke here]
“Tell you what, just so we’re sure we know which one to drain, I’ll put a big arrow on the right side”
I give a nervous laugh, then realise he’s not joking. I drop my pants and look down at the surreal sight of a man put two huge arrows on my leg and stomach indicating “IT’S THIS SIDE!” Leftie relaxes. I sit and read more of my book. Should I be really nervous? Well, I decided that I wouldn’t be a wuss for the simple reason there are literally thousands of people right now who are undergoing worse surgery – life or death procedures – than me. I’ve read about kids going through chemo, people not knowing if they’re going to wake up or not, or what the surgeons may find. Yeah, I’m a little scared, but they’re the brave ones so man up and take it, Andy.
Too soon, I’m being led into the theatre. Oh shit. This is really happening. I’m about to be put under. And then it becomes surreal. Everyone is really nice. Relaxed. Joking as they insert this, strap that. We chat about my book, what I do for a living. It’s like a social get together. I get injected with something and told this will put me out. Yeah right. It’s doing nothing. I’m gonna be awake for the whole procedure! Woooahhhhh…hang on…I feel drunk! Cool! I’m still not sleepy, though. I wonder-
What the %^&*! Seemingly seconds later, I’m lying in a bed outside the theatre. A dull ache in my loins tells me I’ve had the op. Wow. That juice really did work. One of the surgeons comes past. “You’re looking a bit drained, Mr Males.” 1…2…3…oh yeah, I get it. Git. I feel groggy, then get offered a drink of water. And coffee. And would I like a sandwich? What is this – table service? Cool. I accept everything. Soon, I feel pain. Arrgghhhh. Rightie is pissed, and is letting me know. I down some pills and get asked if I want any morphine. Ah nurse, you are spoiling me. Morphine me up love.
Dad arrives later when I’m ready to go and I experience another first: a wheelchair ride. Cool. Well, cool in that I’ll be able to get out it soon. Was this what it was like being pushed around as a toddler? I get home and make my way round the house like John Wayne searching for his horse. This isn’t going to be easy.
A little later once we’ve eaten and Dad’s seen I’m ok and gone (I’m surprisingly fine, if a little tender) I take a look at the damage. Oh. My. God. I won’t describe the carnage here, but let’s say there’s blood (“to be expected”) and bruising. Oh and it looks like someone’s had fun with a shaver! And why the heck is my left thigh shaved as well??!! Oh the fun…
So there you have it. If you’ve got to here having gone through all that lot I hope it was worth it. I’m sure it may result in a plethora of jokes at my expense, but hey. But don’t worry – I won’t be showing anyone the scars…