Monday, May 8, 2017

"Walk out of here with some dignity"

Disclaimer:  I've told some incredibly personal stories on this blog, some that crossed far over the line of "too much information."  I won't list them in order but my story of accidentally/purposefully overdosing on ex-lax is a pretty obvious place to start.

Note:  My friend Aaron tells me that I should add pictures to my blog.  Trust me, once you read this story, you'll be thankful that I've chosen the written word as my principal medium.

Marriage is about compromise.  All relationships are, really, but the ramifications of the failure to compromise in a marriage are so much greater than any other.  This is an obvious point, but I make this assertion because we rarely look back on the results of our compromise to see who truly came out on top of a past situation.  Did I give in too much?  Should she have met me somewhere closer to the middle?  Why was I so pigheaded in this situation?  

I am not a scoreboard justice person.  Nothing makes me lose respect for someone faster than for them to assert that a friend, or spouse, or co-worker, etc. owes them something because they went out of their way for said relation.  Kids, do NOT keep score with your spouse.  Don't allow your spouse to keep score either.  If you see this behavior in a person you're dating, run.  Sure, it seems harmless at first, but one day the weight of the uneven ledger may just unravel the entire thing.  Don't do things for your spouse in an failing effort to claw your way out of marriage debt.

However, a day will come when you will watch your partner give so much and sacrifice so much, that your love for them will compel you to take action to bare their burden.  This ain't that damn story.

This is a story of shameless, flailing obstinance; of clawing out of debt; of seemingly righteous pig-headedness.

Your mother claims that once during an argument, or in an attempt at humor, I may have referred to a C-section as "virtually an outpatient surgery." Umm, while that brand of ignorant smart-assery does sound eerily like something I would say, I will never admit to this being true.  I was there when Jackson was born in an emergency C-section when so much blood was lost that they covered your mom in 10-15 heated blankets as she shivered and quaked in a smurfish hue, and spent the first two weeks of his life completely wiped out.  I was there holding her hand after Matthew was born as she sobbed walking up and down the halls trying to reduce the gas in her chest that goes along with having a significant amount of your internal organs removed and replaced like something out of the dark ages.

I was there, and there was nothing insignificant about that procedure.  It was not outpatient.  It was not minimally invasive.  It was not a minor surgical procedure.  It was not any other phrase I can think of normally used to describe a vasectomy.

You see, that's the issue, advertising.  The boys down on Madison Ave. have conditioned the ladies of this world to believe that male sterilization is a walk in the park, comparatively.  Your mother, as it turns out, is a sucker for good marketing.

One night when Maya Claire was approximately one year old your mother and I shared a bottle of wine and waxed sentimentally on how having a fourth child in our late thirties might be an incredible idea.  Maya Claire was so sweet, slept so well, and we were trapped in this fog of cabernet and boundless love.  Twelve hours later we sat at the dinner table with three children seemingly demon possessed like the pigs Jesus flung off a cliff.  Since we didn't have an old priest or a young priest, we both stared soberly at one another and agreed that we were done.  Time to close up shop.

A few days later, your mother approached me with a reminder that the decision had been made, and though she wasn't literally holding up a chalkboard showing a score of 3-0, that glimmer in her eye made it clear that it'd be best for both of us if I just kept my opinions on the arcane and medieval practice of sterilization to myself, and simply made the call.

Got a fever?  Broken leg?  Need a root canal for that horrible, pulsating toothache?  Yeah, your general practitioner and dentist will be able to see you, promptly, in 7 weeks.  Ya know whose schedule is WIDE OPEN?  Your friendly neighborhood urologist.  I swear to god the door handle to my examination room had dust on it.  It took me five minutes to convince the nurse that I wasn't a viagra rep, but instead an ACTUAL patient.  

My doctor entered the room like it was he was a reliever called up in the bottom of the ninth, in game seven of the world series.  I swear I noticed him faintly fist-pump and whisper a slow "yes" under his breath when I asked him to describe the procedure.  He bent over backwards to ensure that he used all of those catch phrases I mentioned before.  He claimed that "most" patients describe the procedure on the pain scale as a 1-2.  Ya know, the side of the pain scale where the patient's face is still capable mustering up a faint smile.  I stared blankly at the scale dizzied by the idea of a patient smiling while far too many sharp objects are far too close to his "bathing suit area."

It took ALL of my courage and resolve to walk into that office, and I had convinced myself that he'd probably go ahead and perform the procedure that day.  Instead, quite shockingly, he told me that his schedule was fairly full and it would be two weeks before a slot was available.  So, for two weeks I typed "vasectomy procedure" 22,431 times into my google search bar, only to delete it each time before having the courage to click the search button.

Finally the day came.  My appointment was for 3:30 in the afternoon.  Unsurprisingly, I was wide awake at 6:00am, staring at the ceiling.  How could she?  Oh, the betrayal!!  I was quite melodramatic in my mind, as I smiled at Amanda in a pathetic attempt to assure her of my peace with this decision.  Minutes felt like hours and my mind flashed back to my first appointment when I asked about anxiety medication and my cavalier masochist scoffed at how he "wouldn't want me to get all loopy and try to help out with the procedure."  Help out?!?!  Was he high?  I am painfully aware of my lack of knowledge in the field of urology, and certainly had no intention of playing nurse.  Yet, he persisted.

As I arrived at the office, it felt as though everyone knew why I was there.  I couldn't tell if their stares were based in sympathy or they were sure that I was terribly far behind on the scoreboard and this was my only way to get out of the red.  Once I got into the examination room my nerves were at a deafening crescendo.  A young nurse walked into the room, sheepishly took my vitals, and laid out a package of paper work for me to fill out.  I swore to her that my blood pressure was surely very high and asked if that would prayerfully stay my sentence.  She said nothing as she counted my pulse, and smiled as she looked up and said "116/75, looks good to me!"  Damn you, circulatory system!  Don't you know what you've done!?!?

As my eyes scanned the documents I was barely able to make sense of what I was signing.  Then I saw the words "testicle removal."  I stammered and nearly shouted "I think there's been some confusion, this isn't why I'm here!"  She giggled and told me that this form was simply for me to confirm my understanding of the percentages where the procedure failed.  Great, now I get to have that in my head.

As she leaves the room she tells me to remove my pants and lie on the table.  Sure, that's not awkward.  Thirty seconds later, Dr. Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn flies into the room seemingly high on life, a vat of starbucks, or pure Colombian booger sugar.  He spoke in a rushed and nervous voice.  This did not calm my nerves.  He began explaining that he was not a people person, and hated holding casual conversations in his private life, but he actually prided himself on his ability to calm his patients during these procedures through conversation.

Two weeks earlier he used the words "slight pressure" numerous times in his description of the procedure.  I'm not sure which, but either he was confused over the term "slight," or I was supposed to add them all up in some sort of pain algebra where X = vice grip.  Noticing my discomfort, he asked if I would prefer to come back another time and have the procedure performed in the OR, under sedation.  In an effort to cut the tension I remarked "Doc, I'm already here with my pants around my ankles.  It would take an army to get me back here again.  Let's just do this.

For the next seven minutes and eleven seconds he quizzed me on the Walking Dead and my knowledge of Hollywood screenwriters.  One minute in, I assured him that it was TOTALLY cool if we didn't talk.  He apparently missed the hint.

How did I know it was seven minutes and eleven seconds, you may ask?  Oh, he showed me the "official" time he was apparently keeping on his iphone.  Were we in a race?  Was my face a square on an office pool, where different doctors casts their lots on how fast he could go, or if I was able to smile like the stooge on the pain scale?  He showed me the time, looking for a non-verbal "you go boy!"  Instead, I stared him blankly in his eyes and asked if I could put my pants back on.

He said "sure, just place this ice pack inside your shorts and head to the front desk for your checkout procedures."  When I asked for pain medicine, again he scoffed "If you need something more than ibuprofen, then I've done something wrong, and you should immediately call my office."  How about something to wipe out my memories?  Got anything for that, Doc?  Fifth of tequila?  A dirty rag soaked in ether?  Anything?

As he left the room I stared down at my shorts.  I'd opted for comfort on this day and worn super baggy basketball shorts.  Therefore, in order to hold the ice in place I basically pulled the shorts up just shy of my arm pits.  This was not an attractive look.  It looked at though I was wearing 1970's era high school basketball shorts with some strange and debilitating growth leaking ice-cold water down the inside of my legs.

So, I stumbled shamelessly to the front desk.  There I had my first human interaction of the day.  As she reached over the desk to hand me my discharge instructions, his head nurse slowly dragged her eyes down to my shorts.  She sat there for a long second, gathering her thoughts, and finally said "Honey, pull out that ice pack, pull down your shorts, and walk out of here with some dignity."  I hope the look on my face told her how thankful I was for her mercy.  If so, maybe she'd be kind enough to score me that dirty rag, soaked in ether.

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