A phrase I will never use again
December 5, 2011 5 Comments
I would give my left nut to do/have X
I’ve said that blithely regarding items of extreme desire: often, musical opportunities or the like.
Given how close this came to reality today, that won’t pass my lips again.
Note: the following may be TMI but it is SFW and as not-gross as possible, although is extremely cringe-inducing. You have been warned…
Background: Sarah and I aren’t terribly into kink, but we’re quite literate regarding it (for no obvious reason). As an example, we’re much more likely to have heard about (or read about in a book) some random practice that Dan Savage will mention than we are to finding said practice the least bit enticing. This background is necessary because I had learned that there are in fact men who fetishize what I’m about to describe (if you look up “ball-busting” you will quickly get to NSFW stuff, but that link is Wikipedia), and I do not want to give the slightest impression that this is something we’re into.
Anyway, last night, I had a little bit of pain- well know to all men- that I had attributed to a bit of “congestion” for lack of a better euphemism. No big deal and a matter of routine which can be ignored or not.
And then something changed: I found I couldn’t focus for ma’ariv, and would have to stop and catch my breath in the middle of washing dishes, and I’d find myself on the edge of doubled over. This went on for a few minutes while I thought it would pass, but it didn’t.
Using the google, I quickly found the Mayo clinic’s wonderful site, specifically the pages about testicular pain.. There’s a couple of scary things there, and seeing it I got a bit scared. Between the pain and fear, I found myself both nauseous and having flop-sweat (which leads to chills but it took me a bit to figure out).
I woke up Sarah, who urged me to calm down and take deep breaths (good advice), and I eventually paged the on-call doc at my PCP practice. She responded a few minutes later, and after about a minute of description she said that I needed to go to the ER and that it sounded like testicular torsion.
To clarify the pain level involved, it would hit peaks and then back off a little. The peaks were as painful as (or more than) anything I’ve ever experienced, and they made the spinal tap, EMG, and all of the other recent unpleasant procedures feel like nothing.
So Sarah drove me to Sibley Hospital (because we’ve learned that Sibley, unlike some other hospitals, is both uncrowded AND staffed by people who really want to help patients feel better), and we got into the ER there. The ER doc did an exam & ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis, and then paged the Urology team and OR staff, and gave me some dilaudid (hydromorphone) to dull pain. That’s a pretty powerful opiate, but even it couldn’t remove pain: it just reduced my ability to focus on or care about the pain, which helped.
I was surprised to learn that you can’t feel ultrasound.
Another surprise: 1 ER doc, a Urology attending, a Urology resident, 1 ultrasound technician, and a couple of nurses- that is more people touching my junk in a non-airport situation than I wold have expected, and I wouldn’t have thought that I would be totally fine with it. I had no concept of just how quickly personal modesty preferences or quirks (for instance, reticence regarding using hand urinals in a bed while nurses are present) would fall away. We asked what could cause torsion, and while the most common causes are athletic (running & biking), it can happen randomly for no obvious cause. One nurse said that in 20 years, she’s seen 5 cases, so it’s not common, but also not unheard-of.
When they told me that I was going to need surgery, that the risk was possible loss (requiring amputation) of testicle(s), and that they were optimistic, I felt a LOT of fear. Thank God Sarah was there to comfort and support me – I have no idea how hard this must be for someone who is alone – she is a rock in a crisis, and she and I prayed together, and that helped calm me down. I don’t share Sarah’s ability to compose payer on the spot, but it is a great skill.
Lesson here: maintain a list in some easy to describe manner of the logins / passwords / account numbers etc, so that if you’re about to do something dangerous, this isn’t a concern. More important lesson: tell the people whom you love that you love them often- it was a comfort to me that I tend to do that, so there would be fewer things unsaid.
So the surgery came and finished- I was out before I knew what happened (no “count backwards from 100” like I expected), and the next thing I knew I had a lot more pain and my throat hurt. I presume that the doctors visited in recovery, but I have no recall of that at all.
I had a tough time coming out of anesthesia- my blood pressure is normally low, and got low enough to trigger alarms several times, but the bigger deal was that the respiratory function (needs to be > 16 to not b a problem) would fluctuate from about 12 to zero, even when I would focus on deep diaphragmatic breathing.
We were told that the doc saw evidence that their had been torsion, but that it has corrected – either the ER doc had put it back, or the Dilaudid allowed enough relaxation for it to restore. Regardless, one of the treatments is the horribly-named “orchiopexy“, where the testis is attached to the scrotum so this can’t happen again, and that’s most of the recovery time.
Eventually we were able to leave, and I realized the problem with wheelchairs are that they really make you put your legs together (ow!). Stairs are also a drag, so I’m mostly living upstairs the way Sarah did after her ankle surgery.
The prognosis is good, but recovery isn’t fun: using the toilet while one’s genitals are bound inflexibly is unpleasant, and it’ll be a while before I’m allowed to lift Kacy (let alone allow her on my lap, which is where she wants to be. Happily, neither potency nor virility is expected to be impacted.
So the big lesson from this for men is twofold: first, don’t ignore intense testicular pain; second, marry a woman who is awesome and caring.