Saturday, September 24, 2011

Having a ball (or the unkindest cut of all)

There often comes a time when a man is called upon by his wife to do something for her which, left to his own devices, he would much prefer not to do.  Usually this is little more unpleasant than putting out the bins in the rain, or fetching something from the loft, or keeping her company during some horrendous reality TV programme.  But every now and then a man’s mettle is tested to the core, and when it happened to me I’m proud to say I rose to the challenge and was not found wanting. Bruised, battered and sore perhaps, but I pulled through.

Many years ago when our youngest son was still a toddler, we had agreed that our two children were quite sufficient, and although we loved them very much we didn’t want any more.  After some discussion there seemed to be no alternative (or at least not one acceptable to my dear wife) other than a vasectomy for yours truly.  At the time we were living in Germany where I was a MOD civil servant attached to the British Forces, and so the operation was to be conducted by a military surgeon.

Before they would book me in, we were required to have ‘counselling’ by an army doctor.  This was little more than a 5 minute interview in which he pointed out that in the event of us divorcing or losing one of our kids in a traffic accident, I wouldn't be able to start afresh in the baby making department, because the snip was as good as irreversible.

The operation to turn me into what Del Boy Trotter famously called a ‘Jaffa  was scheduled for a Friday.  This was the usual day for vasectomies, considerately chosen in order to give military personnel two days sick leave over the weekend and have them back in work on Monday. The army is very caring like that!

On the appointed day I presented myself (quite literally as it turned out) at RAF Hospital Wegberg.  Within moments I was undressed and changed into a rather fetching surgical gown which did little to cover up my bare bum.  I was handed a battery operated razor and sent to a cubicle just off the ward for a strategic shave.  The razor echoed loudly and made a hell of a clatter when I accidentally dropped it, buzzing around the tiled floor like some demented giant hornet, so what was already a nervy sort of day felt even worse when I emerged to the curious stares of all the other patients.

The procedure was to be performed under a local anaesthetic.  It’s not much fun lying back with your freshly shaved wedding tackle on display, being injected in a place no needle should ever enter.  The surgeon explained in detail what he was going to do.  Naturally I made a lame joke about the operation making a ‘vas deferens’ to my sex life, but he’d clearly heard them all before. I made one further inane attempt at conversation, asking “is it all shaved OK?”, which to be fair was probably not an easy one for him to answer without sounding a bit weird.

The experience would have been more bearable but for a small group of trainee medics popping in to observe the procedure.  The surgeon asked if I objected to them joining us.  I did actually, but as they'd already walked in to be greeted by the sight of my closely shaven and now numb genitalia, it seemed churlish to refuse.

The snip itself can best be described as stomach churningly uncomfortable but not actually painful. When it was all over I spent the next couple of days lying on my bed back home.  To her credit my wife fussed around me and fetched me food and drinks.  Friends and neighbours all seemed to know at least one person who’d had it done but unlike me, had been out and about playing football with their kids the same day.  All I can say is, they must have had balls of steel.

Years later I took my dog to be neutered.  When I collected him from the vets afterwards, he looked at me with such hurt and disappointment in his eyes.  “I know pooch, I know” I said, “but it’s for the best”.
This might sting a bit, try to relax ...

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