my personal experience
Finally, my wife and I agreed I ought to get a vasectomy. The first time I had scheduled the appointment I ended up canceling the day of. So this second time they made me pay a non-refundable $50 deposit. So we were sure, I was sure, I was going to get a vasectomy and the day after Valentine’s Day was as good as any.
When I had first come to see the urologist he had given me a prescription for pain medication and for a muscle relaxant that he recommended I take before coming to the surgery. I figured I was a tough guy and would not be taking any drugs just to “take the edge off” as the doctor had suggested.
Well, because I had canceled the previous time and took so long to re-schedule, I needed to have the prescription renewed. This time I went to the pharmacy and got my medications and went straight to the clinic. The urologist had told me he did vasectomies right there in his clinic, that it would be quick and I would be awake the whole time. So I arrived a few minutes early. I wanted to show I was serious and dedicated and was not backing down this time. Also I guess I had forgotten how things are at the doctor’s office. I was schedule for the last appointment in the day. So once I arrived at his office I had plenty of time to be nervous and wonder whether or not I should have taken the muscle relaxant, and to wonder whether this was the “edge” he wanted “taken off.”
While I anxiously sat in the waiting room the news were on, and even though I had a few articles I was reading on my phone I could not help but overhear some of the news. There was a news report about a college girl who went in to have her tonsils removed and, I didn’t hear all the details but, after she came home she ended up becoming blind. There was a clip of her walking with a stick and her parents saying how when she arrived home after the surgery “everything seemed fine but then…” The tv volume was low and people were talking and I did not know what happened exactly. All I heard was this college girl went in for a minor procedure and now she was blind.
Once again I wondered if I should have taken those muscle relaxants.
Then there was a news report about a lady who had died because she went to a hospital in Flint, Michigan, and caught legionnaires disease, apparently from the water.
Finally, when no one else was in the waiting room and I was trying to ignore those news stories as simply what news tend to be, a form of entertainment that has about as much practical connection to my life as Broadway musicals, a nurse calls me in with a smile.
It was a Monday and I had heard that Mondays are good days to have surgeries because on Mondays the doctors are fresh and well rested. But it was already close to 5:00PM and I was wishing we had scheduled it first thing in the morning and I, once again, wondered if this was the “edge” the muscle relaxant was supposed to have “taken off” if I had popped that pill before heading to the doctor’s office.
The nurse took me to a room that had an odd bed that I presumed to be the operating table. She asked me if I had brought the medication as they had requested and I handed her the bag. She took out the muscle relaxant and gave me two pills, which turned out to be the entire contents of the bottle. She also gave me one pill for the pain.
She pointed to the table, told me to undress from the waist down except for socks and cover myself with a large square of paper. She left the room. I waited a bit, feeling awkward and then checked the pill bottles to see what she had given me. The bottles had long names on them and reading them did not give me any clues about what I had just taken. I undressed, as asked, and laid down on the table. (I now know what I took because my wife read the bottles and told me)
The table was narrow and had little room for my arms. My legs rested on separate leg resting things? I’m not sure what they were but the table ended about where my behind was and there were these two flat parts that, I guess, could move. The part that held my left leg was doing a great job at holding my leg, the one that held my right leg had a bit of a give and with the weight of my leg it would dip a bit. At first it didn’t bother me, but as time went by, and it felt like an eternity, I almost got up to try to fix the table, but given my current state of undress I preferred not to move. That paper felt like it was about to blow away at any moment. Also, I felt a breeze, something I had not noticed while I still had pants on.
As I waited for the doctor, and wondered about what pills I had taken and what affect they would have on me, I began to fear I would forget to ask him a list of questions that my wife, a registered nurse, had told me to make sure to ask. According to my wife I’m not very good at asking questions, every time I talk to her after a doctor’s visit she has a about 3,276 questions that I forgot to ask. So I rehearsed the questions on my mind and figured I should just type them on my phone, but no pants, and my phone was on my pocket, so I figured I could write them on that paper blanked they had given me to cover up, but my pen was also in the pocket of my pants. I looked around myself in the room but there was nothing I could reach and use to write without getting up from my “bed.” So I waited, wondering if the medical staff had forgotten about me and left and maybe the janitor would find me and let the doctor know he had forgotten a patient laying half naked on a table with a paper cover.
The same smiling nurse came back in and I was wondering where the doctor was, I had been practicing my questions and I feared engaging her in a conversation and forgetting the questions, I also feared of not talking to her and seeming rude. She told me the doctor was on his way which was good news, as she started getting things ready she asked me about my children and we talked about raising children, which was fine with me. She was walking about and getting things ready then she came and removed my paper cover and told me she had to prep me for the surgery. Now I don’t have anything against female nurses, or women, but I must admit it was a bit awkward. She was very nice and professional, but she could not relate to me at all, no words of encouragement, no “I’ve been there man, it will be fine.” I guess this is the reason you don’t have a lot of male nurses in labor and delivery, I’m no expert, I’m not even familiar with he medical field and the ins and outs of staffing, but as a human being facing a new experience, a considerably stressful and perhaps even scary experience, it would have been nice to have someone who had gone through the experience and could help put me at ease.
As she walked around and wiped and moved and looked she stuck a rubber thing to my thighs with a very cold gelatinous adhesive, I didn’t know what this was or what it was for, but I did notice it had two wires coming out. I guess I could have asked her but, talking about raising children and trying to ignore the upcoming surgery seemed like a better tactic at the time. I was curious to see where the wires connected but she did not connect them to anything at the time, or it was hidden from my view. I did not want to sit up or look, I just kept staring at the ceiling and talking about raising children. Finally she placed more papers around me and on me, and I began to wonder when the drugs were going to kick in. I am still not sure what “take off the edge” meant but I definitely did not feel at ease or relaxed. Perhaps without the muscle relaxant I would have been even more “edgy?”
Finally the doctor walked in and suddenly the questions seemed irrelevant, but I had promised my wife I would ask, so I asked him several questions, the answer to which I promptly forgot.
The doctor came in and removed the covering paper, moved, felt, and pinched then took out a syringe. He told me it was to deaden the pain, and he said it would be similar to when a dentist applies anesthesia. Here is the thing though. I hate it when the dentist applies the anesthesia. I prefer when I get a shot, its quick. Even donating blood is less painful then when the dentist applies anesthesia, and the doctor’s description was right on. The needle goes in slowly and I definitely felt the pain. The doctor then has to massage the place so it spreads as opposed to just making a bubble in a single place. Just when the pain is fading and I am beginning to relax he tells me to let him know if anything hurts so he can add more.
That was not what I wanted to hear. Couldn’t he just add enough to make sure I would not feel anything at once? He kept massaging and I guess he pinched and asked me if I felt anything and I said “no.” However soon after that I felt a sharp “cutting” pain, he said “OK” and I braced myself for the needle, but much to my relief there was no pain, and the doctor added more anesthetic. I am so glad I did not have to get stuck a second time as I had feared and anticipated. After a little while there was some minor pain and he once again added more anesthesia and from that point on I finally felt like I could relax a bit. I had my arms crossed over my chest and had not realized how clinched and sweaty my fists had become. I definitely don’t think those muscle relaxants did much.
It was certainly an interesting experience, being awake while the doctor pokes and pulls and cuts, and sometimes sings along with the soft country music that was playing in the operating room. Country music, out of all the styles of music I have come to appreciate, country has taken the longest, I still don’t really enjoy it yet. I know random, but these are the things going through my mind, besides when will I feel pain again and have to ask the doc to add more anesthesia.
Finally the doctor announced he would have to cauterize. I continued to stare straight up the whole time and said “OK.” And that is when I felt the sharpest pain yet, just before I heard the sizzle. The doc stopped and once again added more of whatever was being used to take away the pain, he mentioned the name but I don’t remember what it was. After he injected the anesthetic, I only heard the sizzle and saw the little smoke come up. At least there was no smell, and no pain. A few more pokes and snips and pulls and the doctor asked me if I wanted to see it.
“Sure,” I answered without taking time to think it through. So he lifted to my view what looked like small, white, piece of cooked noodle. He announced he was about to cauterize again and I heard the sizzle once again, this time it lasted longer than all the previous times but he finally announced that he was done, with that side.
THAT SIDE!! I had assumed he had already done both sides, all that had been just one side. Out came the syringe and once again I braced myself to a very slow insertion into a very sensitive part of my body. I must admit the work on the second side was less painful, and he had to add anesthesia fewer times, and none of the cauterizations hurt. When he finished the second side he announced he was going to give me one stitch. He said it was not really necessary but could help speed up the healing process so of course I was all for it.
Then he announced he would do it on the side he first operated on, and that the anesthesia might’ve begun to wear off so I might feel a pinch. While I was asking myself why he had not just given me the stitch right when he had finished that side I felt a sting, and nothing more. It was not so bad, nowhere near as bad as the application of the anesthesia. When he stitched the other side I felt nothing at all.
He then told me to stand up and get dressed. He was there with he nurse and for a brief moment I waited to see if they would leave the room for me to get dressed and then I remembered they had been staring at me this whole time. The nurse had gotten the jock strap I had bought out of the bag I had brought with me. I had never seen nor worn one before this experience and my first impression was that it looked like something you would buy at an adult store. She helped put my feet through the proper holes then I got up and the doctor stuck a bunch of gauze in there and told me I was done.
As they removed the rubber thing from my thigh I asked him what it was for, and he told me it was to ground me. Ground me!? When was there any electricity involved? I asked him if it had been for the cauterizing. He said “yes,” apparently he wanted to avoid it going anywhere else. I’m not sure how, or what kinds of damage that would do, or how they came about realizing they needed to ground their patents, but I’m glad I had been grounded. I am also glad I was ignorant of that earlier, it would have been one more thing for me to be “on edge” about.
Then they both left me to put my pants and shoes back on. Gingerly I walked out to meet my wife and kids who were eagerly waiting to see me.
Originally published at cowbird.com.