If you’re reading this, at some point you’ve had or will have the vasectomy discussion. And much like every mom has her labor stories, every guy has his vasectomy story. Most are rather uneventful: schedule them on a big sports weekend, take some Ativan before the procedure, come home, sit on a bag of peas and get treated like a king for three days. A little pain, a little swelling, and you’re back to normal. Honestly, I was conflicted about the vassy, not only because I was still open to trying for a girl, but because it symbolized the death of my manhood.
Months earlier, after Andrea requested I make an appointment, in a desperate act of anti-feminism, I’d scoured the web for evidence that a vasectomy was more invasive than a tubal ligation. I found no such evidence, so I resolved to move forward.
And I’m not here to sway you one way or the other; I’m just here to tell my story.
Aside from hearing the word “cauterize” several times, nothing about the pre-op appointment dissuaded me. The doc seemed like a good dude, someone who, in another life, I might grab a beer with.
I should’ve known the day of the procedure that something was off. Despite being told anxiety meds were standard, I was given none. I shrugged it off. Andrea had delivered James without an epidural; I could handle this. Next, the doc entered with an arresting look of exhausted resignation. It’s precisely the look you don’t want to see on your urologist’s face minutes before he cauterizes your genitals. I found out later this was actually his last day on the job.
Dr. Lame Duck spent the entire procedure – between cuts and tugs – lamenting his impending move to Colorado. He was bitter that he had to relocate with three small children to take over his in-laws’ ranch.
I assumed my typical counselor role, listening and nodding between winces:
“Man, that’s tough, I hope everything works out” I said, just as a plume of smoke entered my line of sight, accompanied by the smell of melting flesh.
It felt more like I was actually sitting next to him at the bar rather than him performing ball surgery on me. After an awkward goodbye that included my wishing him luck running the ranch, I hobbled out uneasy and a little violated. Aside from my throbbing balls, I had a sinking feeling that something had gone terribly wrong.
The next two weeks the pain was intense, even though I had been told it would subside within a few days. I ignored it, and even flew out to Colorado to visit my own in-laws. No, I didn’t consider tracking down Dr. Lame Duck for a beer.
Six weeks later when I was due to submit my sample, I told Andrea it was unnecessary. It’s a routine procedure, I told her. In truth, I didn’t want to go anywhere near that office again. But she insisted, citing her bearing of my two children. I relented.
I sheepishly entered the urology department with a vial of sperm in my coat pocket. The waiting room was full of people with looks on their faces that said: “You have a vial of sperm in your coat pocket, don’t you?” In one of the more awkward exchanges of my adult life, Gail, the office manager, collected the vial, studied it, then handed it back to me to sign it. I gave it back and darted out of the office, determined to never return.
Two hours later I got a call from Gail.
“Is this Rory Hughes?”
Dreadfully long pause.
“Mr. Hughes, I don’t know how to tell you this, but I’m afraid you’re still extremely fertile.”
What Gail didn’t know was that at that exact moment Andrea was at her lady doctor getting her IUD removed.
I called Andrea.
“Don’t do it,” I implored her.
I hung up and Googled “chances Vasectomy doesn’t take.” 1 in 2000.
Was I the, in the words of my sister-in-law, “The Superspermer?” It sounded like the latest Marvel film.
Was God telling me I needed a daughter?
Unless I had another vasectomy, I’d never know. Initially, I was against the idea. The smell of smoke was still too fresh.
But like a woman must forget the pain of childbirth, so must a man suppress the memory of a failed vasectomy. After a few weeks of processing (and bragging about my superhuman virility), I scheduled another appointment, this time with the head of the clinic, free of charge, with Ativan.
Actual notes from the second visit:
The left vas deferens feels intact. I discussed with the patient just doing the left side since it looks like it may not have been done on the left side and likely accounts for the large number of motile sperm versus going ahead and doing both sides just in case so that he hopefully does not need to come back in case it is the right side that reconnected. Patient was interested in doing both sides.
Turns out the first doc was so depressed about the ranch situation in Colorado (I heard all about it when he was supposed to be cutting my left vas deferens) that he plain forgot to cut it.
The highlight of vasectomy #2 was when the doc said, in an utterly non-creepy way, in a buttery Argentinian accent: “I’m surprised the first doctor made a mistake. You have a beautiful set of testicles.”
So that’s my vasectomy story. Stories, actually. Every once in a while I wish I hadn’t gotten either of them, and that I could still have the chance at a daughter. Other times, when my boys are driving me mad, I’m glad for both, and I can sleep easy knowing that I have a beautiful set of testicles.
I looked up my first doc the other day. I hope things are going well for him. Turns out vasectomies are no longer listed as one of his specialties.
The Busy Myth
When I ask how you’re doing, please don’t say “Things are really busy.” What you really mean is “My life is out of control.” If that’s the case, just say “My life is out of control.” Then we can have a real conversation.
1. Book: The Three Big Questions For a Frantic Family, by Patrick Lencioni
If you’re that guy who’s always saying he’s too busy, read this book. It provides a simple strategy for clarifying what’s important in your family and aligning your actions accordingly.
2. Podcast: “The Hidden Tragedy of Male Loneliness”, from The Art of Manliness
An insightful discussion of an epidemic that affects affected all dudes, directly or indirectly.
3. Product: The Weber Universal Stainless Steel Smoker Box
I’ve always been intimidated by smoking meat. I’m wasn’t ready to buy a smoker only to have it collect dust in the shed, but I wanted to smoke meat, because I like the taste of it and because I’m a man. All you need is a grill and some flavored woodchips and you’re set.
1. Topics From January Dads Night: Best Rocky Film (no consensus); The Old Man Basketball Game (required for mental health, impossible to coordinate); Fellatio Friday (apparently it’s a thing)
2. Is this you at your kid’s basketball game?
3. I typed “How to Be a Good Dad” into ChatGPT. Here’s what I got. Scary good.