My procreating days are over. Yes!
I’m writing this column in the throes of a perfectly legal, doctor-prescribed hydrocodone bender, so it’s possible I may reveal more about myself than I would under more sober conditions. But what the hell’… I’m grooving like an Earth, Wind and Fire backup singer right now and if past experience has taught me anything, it’s never to fight a good buzz, especially if it’s obtained under doctor’s orders.
Hydrocodone, as the surgeon kept reminding me, is a narcotic analgesic, with side effects like lightheadedness and euphoria. It’s the painkiller of choice for discriminating inebriates everywhere, including luminaries like smarmy ‘“Friends’” actor Matthew Perry and tough-guy quarterback Brett Favre, who reportedly used to pick them out of his vomit and send them on another trip down the pike.
I’m supposed to take no less than six a day. Doctor’s orders.
I could go on in this vein for a while, but I suppose I should just get to the point: I got the pills because I’m recovering from surgery. Last week I had a vasectomy. That means that in about six weeks, barring any unforeseen complications, I will be completely and more or less irreversibly sterile.
I was an excellent candidate for the procedure. My wife and I are both 35 years old and since spring 2000 we have had three children. Bang bang bang, just like that. Two of them are sons, so we’re pretty sure the family name will continue. And there’s just no way ‘— no way ‘— that we can possibly handle any more kids. No way.
Still it was not exactly an easy decision.
For starters, it is a procedure that no one in my family has ever even considered. I may be a secular humanist but I wasn’t raised that way. The people in my family are fairly strict Catholics, and their man Pope is not exactly cool with the concept of sex as anything other than a means of procreation.
And there’s another thing: I don’t like knives, needles or any of the other sharp, pokey things they use for operations like this. I don’t like doctors, nor can I stomach large amounts of blood, particularly my own. The sight of it causes a marked drop in my blood pressure accompanied by cold sweats and a dizziness that is nowhere near as pleasurable as, say, a prolonged hydrocodone binge.
But my family’s values and my own wussiness are nothing when compared to the panic I would feel were my wife to catch pregnant again. I don’t see how we could do it. We can’t fit another child seat in our car; we have no more bedrooms in our house; and these kids we have, though we love them to the limits of our souls, are literally drinking the life force right out of us. My poor wife has been either pregnant or breastfeeding since 1999, and if she doesn’t get a good night’s sleep soon I fear she might take the issue of my sterilization into her own hands.
And I don’t want to become one of those stereotypical Irish mooks with more kids than house, more house than money and not enough time to properly tend of any of it.
So we went ahead and booked it. And for those considering the procedure, let me tell you what to expect.
Before the operation, expect to have the longest conversation about your testicles you’ve ever had. Expect to be examined and shaved, and you can also go ahead and anticipate no small degree of awkwardness and humiliation.
During the process, expect to be awake and coherent the entire time.
You can expect some initial pain as the anesthesia is administered, and then be ready for some horrible snipping sounds as your vasa deferentia, the superhighway for your genetic information, are cut and tied off. Expect to make polite conversation so you don’t have to listen to the cutting. And if you peek down at what the doctor and nurse are doing, expect to be completely horrified.
The recovery is really no big deal. The first day I felt like I had taken a serious kick to the groin. By Mia Hamm. Wearing steel-toed boots. You’re not going to want to go horseback riding, but it’s endurable. And if you’ve got an appreciative wife like mine, you just might get a couple days of couch time on easy street.
And the pain, which lives deep and throbbing in your pelvic region, lessens each day. The hydrocodone helps.
Another thing that lasts a few days, for me anyway, is a vague sense of disbelief: I can’t believe I just did that.
I still can’t believe it ‘— that I voluntarily gave up a piece of my manhood, that I am for all practical purposes sterile, that my doctor gave me all these pills and I can have six of them a day.
And it’s hard to believe that I’m free: free to raise my kids, to pursue my career and for my wife and I to get on with our lives knowing that our days of diapers and baby spit are certainly coming to an end.
And now I think it’s time for my pill’….
To comment on this column, e-mail Brian Clarey at firstname.lastname@example.org.