I don’t recommend any of the Ectomies, but I do recommend one of the Otomies. That is to say; before you go in for your vasEctomy, be sure to have a lobOtomy done first. A vasectomy just seemed like the manly thing to do. My little wife, with out ever a complaint endured blowing up like a balloon in two pregnancies and so bravely marched into the hospital to face labor and the delivery room. We were so active, competing internationally in tandem surfing and nationally in catamaran racing. In addition, we were just too busy running our business, Infinity Surfboards to have more than two kids.
I remember when I went in for my pre vasectomy interview with the doctor. I wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t hurt and he wanted to make sure that I really wanted to have it done. He said that he has done thousands of them and that it was quick and painless. Fifteen minutes and I would be out of there. Ya man, no more rubbers, no more pills, no more stressing that the rubbers or pills didn’t work. I’d be shoot’n blanks and my brave little wife would never have a reason not to play around! It seemed so simple: “cut – cut, snip- snip, oh what a relief it is”. How was I to know that the whole thing could become a disaster?
Before I get into the gruesome details of the vasectomy procedure, I’ve got to take this opportunity to tell the tale of our first boy’s birth. “We” were pregnant. Right away we signed up for the Lamaze natural birth classes. There were six classes, one a week and they began seven weeks before the expected delivery date so we wouldn’t forget what to do. After waiting seven and a half months, Barrie was looking very pregnant. We went to the first class. We learned how to count to six and breath slowly. All the wives in the class looked so content and intent on getting everything right. All the guys were looking so helpful and husbandly, but I knew that we were all glad it wasn’t us who was pregnant.
We had things under control, six more classes to go and plenty of time to redecorate the new baby’s bedroom. My buddies were going on their annual one-week motorcycle - camping trip into the high Sierras. Barrie and I decided that I could go, but I should return two days early, in time to attend the second Lemans class. Good idea, I loaded my motorcycle on my buddy’s trailer, but drove Barrie’s little Opel GT6 on the 5 hour drive up to the starting point in the foot hills above Bakersfield. We packed everything we needed for one week in the wilderness onto our motorcycles including an extra ten gallons of gas. We rode 47 miles over the most radical single-track trail I have ever experienced. It was exhausting with a hundred pounds of camping gear, food and gas strapped to the bikes. We rode over the mountain summit and down into Kennedy Meadows, then camped on the upper beginnings of the Kern River. It was fantastic, we fished for trout, rode sorties on the bikes all over Kennedy Meadows and pretty much forgot about our responsibilities back home, but I would have to leave early.
The morning that I left for the camping trip, I had filled my van with 14 surfboards that needed to be delivered to our surf shop in San Diego. Barrie planned to drive the boards down to San Diego and then return to our glass shop, where she did the books and pay role. She waved goodbye as she sent me off with my buddies. Later she got in my van, pulled the seat all the way forward and started for SD. Before she got out of Huntington Beach, she felt intense contractions in her stomach. No problem, she was actually driving right past her doctor’s office at Fountain Valley hospital, so she stopped into have a quickie check up before heading out of town. As she was waiting to be seen, her water broke, and she went into labor. This can’t happen, we still had six weeks to go. She was taken into a waiting room and prepared to give birth. She kept saying to her doctor: I’ve got to deliver 14 custom surfboards boards to San Diego and today is pay day. By now I was in the San Fernando Valley heading up to the mountains. This was two decades before cell phones and besides, things were too hectic in the hospital to worry about me. Barrie called my sister, Lisa up in Santa Monica. Lisa arrived in an hour. On the way she stopped by our condo and grabbed the Lamaze book off the kitchen table. When she arrived in the waiting room, Barrie was already two hours into a very short four hour labor. Lisa franticly read the Lamaze book and they practiced together the breathing and relaxing techniques. Soon, Barrie gave natural birth to a beautiful 5.8 lb. baby boy; David.
My parents flashed into action. While Barrie was in recovery, they went to our condo, painted the second bedroom baby blue, hung baby decorations on the walls and assembled the tiny 25 year old bassinet crib that I was laid in after I was born. The hospital had contacted the CHP who put out an APB to find me and tell me to go home, but they never located me.
Five days later, I dutifully departed my buddies in the high Sierras. I rode my dirt bike out of the mountains, locked it to my friend’s motorcycle trailer and started home in Barrie’s car. I was a few hours early, so I stopped by our surfboard factory to check on things. I expected to find Barrie there, but Lou, Barrie’s secretary said she had gone home early. I called home, Barrie answered; I said: I’m back. I think I’ll work a couple of hours and meet you at the Lamaze class. She said: No, you’ve been camping all week and you probably smell like trout and dirt. Come home, take a shower and we’ll go together. I drove home. As I entered our condo’s parking lot I noticed a big banner sign on our garage door that said: IT’S A BOY! I thought to myself: Gee, Barrie must have had one of those new tests where they can determine the sex of your baby, but I also thought it strange to announce it to the world five weeks before delivery. I rushed into the condo with out much time to sort it out. As I came through the door, Barrie was walking towards me, she was wearing a long soft white lacy dress. She looked different and so beautiful. She was carrying something, and she softly said: “Here is your baby, David”. In mid stride, as I walked towards her, my knees buckled, I nearly fainted and I actually found myself down on the floor. I was overwhelmed with emotion. I managed to stand up and gathered my family into my arms. As I write this thirty years later, I have tears running down my face.
Barrie had alerted my parents that I was on the way home, so they were hiding in the parking lot where they took a home movie of my arrival. They came rushing in where we all celebrated our new baby, David and I learned the story of what had happened the five days I had been gone in the wilderness.
Needless to say, I did not leave the county of Orange from the moment of the conception of our second baby, Daniel. I was there in the delivery room and we did it together. Well, really, she did it, so bravely while I counted to six to slow her breathing and gave her love and support.
On vasectomy day, unlike delivery day, Barrie drove me to the doctor’s office. The implication of course is that if I don’t do well, I may not be able to drive myself home!? In the office, I see quite a few young women waiting for their men to be “fixed”. I really think someone should change that phrase to “disabled”. The office was set up like a dentist office where patients were prepped by assistants and the doctor went from room to room cutting and snipping in assembly line fashion, then the assistants packed us up and shipped us out. I was led to a small operatory by an attractive young nurse. She said: Take off your pants and underwear, sit on this padded table and take this pill. I said: What is the pill? She said: Oh, this is a Valium, it will help you relax. I thought, why not, so I popped the pill, dropped the pants and sat on the cold table. The table was equipped with these two arm thingies that had oar-locks at the ends. They were obviously where my ankles were going to go. I thought that was an indignity that only women had to endure. The idea made me feel so vulnerable, my sensitive parts so accessible, was the sexy nurse going to watch? Soon the Valium started to take effect, I felt like I had about four beers and I didn’t care about the sexy nurse anyway.
The doctor came in and said: Are you ready to get started? He seemed so cheerful, my heartbeat increased instantly, I felt alert enough to do brain surgery, but I said: Go for it! I spread my legs and put them into those grotesque oar-lock thingies and laid back. I was waiting for the local injection and a good case of “numb nuts”. I knew that after the initial needle prick, everything would be OK, but I just wasn’t sure exactly where he was going to jab me. I felt the doctor pinch my scrotum and pull it to the left, then there was that burning feeling you get as the scalpel slices into your skin. I thought it was the shot, but I was horrified to realize that there was no shot. The doc. had already stuck his finger into the hole he had cut into my scrotum and was squirming around to find the little Vass tube. It hurt like hell, when he found it, he clamped onto it with this little grabber thing and pulled it out through the hole, I could feel it pulling way up under my ribs. I’ve heard other guys say they felt it up there too, which is weird because I don’t think those tubes are connected to anything up there. In a businesslike voice he said to the young nurse: “Scissors” then I felt the snip. After that I felt an electric shock-flash of heat as he cauterized the end of each tube. It smelled like when I was a kid and burned the skin peel from my sunburn. Then he said: “Stapler” and I cringed as each staple was swedged onto the little tube. The reason I know all the details of this procedure is that I could feel everything exactly as it happened. I had no idea that those little tubes deep inside your scrotum had such sensitivities. He efficiently pushed it back into the hole and started stitching it up. The needle stung and the thread burned as he pulled it through. The Valium had worn off and I now was in a mental state that felt like way too much caffeine, heart pounding and hyper aware. I looked at the clock on the wall: 15 minutes; right on schedule, it was ten times worse than I expected, but I was home free. Then he stepped to the right, took a pinch of scrotum and pulled it to the right! I thought: No – not the other side! Here we go again, now I knew what was coming next. First came that nasty cut that sounded like a scratch on a blackboard and felt like a rusty razor blade. He jabbed his finger in and poked around for what seemed like three hours, but he couldn’t find the little tube. He said to the nurse: “Scalpel” again and made the cut longer so he could search into the far corners of my scrotum with his big fat finger. Again, no tube. As he made the third cut, the nurse hurried out of the room and quickly returned with a cart full of equipment. Apparently, a blood vein had been cut. She began aspirating with a suction tube like a dental assistant uses. The pain was intense, I think I actually nearly passed out, but I kept thinking: this is almost over, hang on just a little longer, besides what was my choice. I looked up at the clock, another 35 minutes had passed. I knew when he found the tube because I felt that sickening pull way up under my ribs. Alright, almost done, just snip, burn and staple. He pushed the tubes back in, but he said: “I won’t be able to stitch this side up because it will need to ooze a few days”. As he stepped away from the table, I could see my blood on the front of his white coat. Then he rushed out of the room.
Apparently, the Valium was wearing off his other patients and he was way behind schedule. The nurse was stressed out as well, she started wiping the blood off the table and my thighs. I was weak from stress and afraid to move. She said: you can put your pants on and go now. Then she also rushed out of the room. I looked at the clock; just over an hour had passed since I had first entered the room of doom. I was still laying on my back, I managed to lift my legs out of the oar-lock thingies, but I was afraid to sit up. I was afraid to use my stomach muscles because I could still feel that pull up under my ribs. Finally, using a combination of elbows and leg extension to counterbalance, I sat up. There were my balls spread out on the table between my legs like a six month old deflated party balloon. There was still traces of blood on my thighs and I couldn’t figure out how I was going to get off the table and over to my pants. I just sat there. Then the nurse came back in and said: why aren’t you getting dressed? I said I could use some help. Please get my pants. As I stood up, it felt like some big football player just kicked me in the balls. It helped when I got some support from my under wear, but I still waddled out into the office like a “ruptured duck”. Barrie jumped up and the other girls looked worried. All I could do was whisper: “Write them a check”. I went out into the hall way, leaned against the wall and just started sobbing quietly. I felt like a big baby, but the relief of escaping that ordeal was overwhelming. By the time Barrie got out of that office, I pulled it together and she helped me waddle out to the car.
I got home, went straight to bed and had no further complications. The damn thing oozed for a week and eventually healed up. I had Barrie stop payment on the check. I skipped my post-op appointment, and I pulled the stitches out of the left side myself. The doctor called and asked why I had not come in. I said I would never step foot in his office again. I said: The procedure was not exactly as painless as you said it would be. He said: Well, you had complications. I said: How many times have you had that happen before? He said: Honestly, that was the worst he had ever had. I said: Well, I’m the guy who is refusing to pay the bill and hung up. I realize that maybe it wasn’t his fault, but he never tried to collect his bill either
Now that I look back on it, I realize that Barrie still had the tougher assignment. Going through two pregnancies, two labors and two child births versus my one hour of misery. I got off easy.