My vasectomy story

I’m writing this 4 days after my vasectomy so the experience is certainly fresh in my mind, and the dull ache is certainly there in my pants!

1 Year before…

My vasectomy journey actually started in February 2018. That was when I told my Doctor I no longer wanted anymore children. The decision was a joint one between my wife & I. This was never going to be my decision and my decision alone. This affected my wife just as much as me so it was important that we were both on the same page.

Our family consists of three beautiful children aged 13, 9 & 18 months. We are both more than happy with three kids, actually it’s more accurate to say, we both knew we couldn’t handle four! We are both 40 this year as well and as much as we still feel youthful & energetic in our minds, our bad backs and tired eyes tell us that our bodies aren’t what they used to be. It was time for me to have the snip.

So after talking to my Doctor he referred me to the local NHS hospital where I was supposed to be added to their waiting list. It wasn’t until 7 months later, after not hearing anything, that I decided to get in touch and find out what was going on. Turns out that I’d been referred to the wrong clinic! So in September 18 I was finally added to the waiting list! So I had to wait a year, instead of the 5 months it should’ve taken. Not a great start.

2 Weeks before…

About 2 weeks before V-day I received a letter telling me about the procedure, what I needed to do before the day and post op self-care. The first thing I noticed was that it said I needed to shave! Now guys, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to shave your scrotum before, but let me tell you, it’s not easy! They are not flat or smooth and it’s a very sensitive area! A slip of the razor can be tear inducing (although I guess it was preparing me for what was to come).

V-Day itself

So the day arrived. My appointment was at 9am so at least I didn’t have to spend half the day worrying about it. I was ready! My wife and I, and my now smooth ballbag, made our way to the clinic. The journey was only a short one but it felt like an eternity, it was probably the first time I started to feel really nervous about the procedure itself. Up until this point I’d been good at keeping it at the back of my mind, but pulling into the clinic car park made it all seem very real!

We were 20 minutes early, we brought a flask of coffee and had downloaded half the contents of Netflix, fully expecting a long wait. But I’d barely sipped my coffee and only got a few minutes into The Umbrella Project when my name was called. This was it, deep breath…I’m going in.

The Procedure

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I was introduced to the nurse and the surgeon who would be carrying out the procedure. They were both extremely friendly and welcoming (which instantly made me wonder, why are you being so nice? Is it going to be that bad?!) Before the procedure itself I had a quick consultation with the surgeon. He explained the procedure (which made me feel more nervous), the possible side effects (now even more nervous), and then went into great detail about the various, potential complications why the procedure may not work (now shitting my tight pants). I know the surgeons have to go through all this but by the end of it I was a nervous wreck! Anyway, I signed over the responsibility of my baby makers to the NHS and went to get undressed.

There was no gown for me to put on. I asked if there was a gown. They said ‘Oh no don’t worry, just come out as you are’. Now I know that the surgeon & nurse will be getting more intimate with my bits than my wife has but walking from the changing room to the table with my, now very shy & retreating, penis out made me feel a tad uncomfortable (honestly, I think the old chap knew what was coming and tried to hide as much as possible!). But in true British style, I sucked my stomach in, tugged a few times to try to get some blood circulating down there and walked proudly to the table.

I laid down, I could hear my heart pounding. This was it. Firstly, my penis was taped to my stomach which was certainly a new experience for me! Those worries of accidentally getting an erection during the procedure were completely wiped away by that one thing alone. The next few seconds was the worst part of the procedure, the injection of anaesthetic. They explained to me that the needle was half the size of a childs needle, the smallest needle you can get, I think that was to reassure me, it didn’t work. I was told that I would feel a sharp sting (they didn’t say small prick) as the anaesthetic made its way through the tubes but it wouldn’t last long. And that is exactly what I felt. I can only describe it as being stung by a bee on the bollocks, not that I’ve ever been stung by a bee on the bollocks but I can imagine this was similar!  The nurse put a reassuring hand on my shoulder and told me that it’d be over soon and I was doing so well, again, the reassurance didn’t work. But then it was over, the pain dissipated and I’d made it through the worst bit.

Now I know I’m not exactly selling this am I? Any guys out there thinking of getting a vasectomy may be put off by what you’ve read so far, but bear with me, keep going to the end.

So the injection was done. My scrotum was completely numb. The rest of the procedure was strange but not painful at all. I say strange because, as the surgeon was pulling and burning, and generally manipulating my balls so he could do his thing, I was laying there having a good chat with the nurse. We were chatting about my daily commute to work by train, popular Netflix shows, we actually got into a debate on which was better, Netflix or Amazon Prime! The surgeon went with Netflix, and I agreed as he was the one with a knife at my bollocks. I’ve never had a more normal conversation in a most abnormal situation! And 15 minutes later it was done. No pain, no discomfort, finished.

I sat up and immediately saw the sheets covered in a brown liquid, I wondered if I’d been that numb down there I’d shit myself and didn’t realise! Then I remembered that it was the iodine used to disinfect the area, panic over! I carefully got myself dressed, thanked the nurse & surgeon (they were both amazing) and left. From the consultation to leaving took about 30 minutes. It was quick. My wife was waiting for me in the waiting room, her face had that kind of worried, expectant look about it, almost as if she was expecting me to have tears in my eyes and a walk like John Wayne. But there was none of that.

How do I feel now?

It’s been four days since the procedure and I can honestly say that I’ve felt no more than a dull ache, like I’ve been kicked in the balls, but only gently. I’ve rested as much as possible (not easy with a 18 month old by the way) and kept on top of the painkillers. Today I showered and removed the dressing for the first time. I feel good, I feel relieved it’s done but more than anything I realise looking back that, apart from the injection, it went a lot better than expected! I was worried about so many things but the reality of it was much less stressful than the idea of it!

And I guess that’s my message to any guys thinking of getting a vasectomy. It’s ok. It’s not that bad! The painful bit is over in no more than a few seconds then you can just lie back and have a good ol’ chat with the nurse!

 

 

 

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Men have body image issues too…

In this article I want to talk to you about men’s body issues, how society is slowly moving in the right direction when it comes to opening up and speaking out, and about my own issues with my body, how it’s affected me and what I did to deal with it….

Men have body issues. I think men have always had body issues but it’s only now that we live in a more open & acceptable society that we are now seeing more & more men coming forward and speaking up. Men are being more honest, spurred on by the ever increasing mental health campaigns out there. Society is moving in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go. Body shaming is big news and something I abhor. Whether it be mocking an overweight person in a gym changing room or claiming it’s ‘just a bit of banter’ between mates, it needs to stop. I know men that have been the butt of this ‘banter’ and they outwardly join in and laugh but on the inside it affects them deeply, often leading to low self-esteem and confidence issues. The press are the worst for it. Nit picking any celeb that has a hair out of place, or has a wrinkle, or the hint of a belly! I mean come on, really?! It’s the inconsistencies & hypocrisy that really annoys me. The same websites/media sources will post a story of how a model fat shames a fellow gym goer, get’s on the ‘society needs to stop this kind of bullying’ bandwagon, and then post a story about celeb X looking old & stressed because someone took a photo of them without their makeup on. Or a previously toned male celeb has suddenly put on a few pounds and now has a ‘Dad bod’. Young guys & girls read this crap and take it as the norm. They believe that if they have ‘a bit of a belly’ people will mock them, laugh at them and shun them. Why wouldn’t they when they see it everyday online? Anyway, this is a big issue for me as you can tell.

Let me tell you about my body issues as a man….

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This is me…Not so long ago I would ever had posted this photo. Why would I want people to see my body? My flat pecs, skinny arms and ever expanding back fat. But I have a different mindset now. More of a ‘I don’t give a shit’ kind of attitude. It’s important to point out here that our issues are relative. Some of you will think there’s nothing of me, I’m slim, what am I going on about, I’m just being silly! But to me I’m not, and to you, you’re not. It’s all relative.

I suffered from body issues from my late twenties (relatively late in life). Here are the reasons why…

  • Unrealistic expectations of getting the ‘perfect’ physique
  • Photos of ‘masculine’ physiques online / on TV
  • Partners commenting how hot and fit certain male celebs look
  • Constant comparison with other men
  • An underlying self-esteem issues

The biggest issue for me was the underlying self esteem issues I had. We could go deep into why I had low self esteem but the important thing for me was recognising it and doing something about it.

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The ‘Perfect’ Physique doesn’t exist. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I spoke to a therapist to address the issues I had, why I had them and what I can do to overcome them. This helped a lot but the biggest help I received was from my wife. She understood, she empathised with me, listened to me and told me what she thought. She made me focus on being mindful, told me not to ignore my negative thoughts, but to acknowledge them and then just let them go. Understand that those thoughts are not you, and you are not controlled by them.

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On holiday in Majorca June 2018

Now when I look at the above list, this is what I see…

  • The ‘perfect’ physique doesn’t exist but we have a preconceived, distorted, media fed idea of what that means (think Chris Hemsworth, Zac Efron etc). And not only does the ‘perfect’ physique not exist, the idea of perfection varies from person to person!
  • Look at it objectively. If I see a photo of a toned, muscular body I accept it for what it is. I may say ‘Wow, look at those abs’, ‘he obviously works out’, ‘that’s a good physique!’. His body has nothing to do with me, it has no impact on my life, it doesn’t change the way my friends & loved ones view me. Only I can let that seed of jealously in to grow in my mind. And if it does sneak in there I go back to the bold point above. I acknowledge it and then let it go.
  • This is something I had to work hard at. If my partner commented on Zac Efron being hot I would immediately think ‘hold on, I don’t look like Zaf Efron, does that mean she doesn’t fancy me?? Is she going leave me for a Zac ‘Efronesque’ guy?’. It’s irrational guys and again we need to take the subjectivity out of it. Women are allowed to find other people attractive just like we find other people attractive. It’s completely normal. It’s not a dig at you, it’s not about you. And actually, the fact she feels comfortable saying that in front of you is a good thing! If your partner does then go off and find someone else then that’s their issue and you are way better off without them! Now if my wife says some guy’s hot on TV I will agree, or disagree and we could have a little banter over it.
  • I used to compare myself with other guys all the time. And I mean everyday guys in the street here. This was all down to my low self esteem. My self worth was low so it was easy for me to see other guys as fitter, stronger, more masculine, funnier, more popular etc etc…I then realised that most of these were just assumptions that I’d made up in my head! Did I know the facts? No, I didn’t. Yes, there might be a guy who has a more athletic physique but what does that mean? Well it means just that, he is more muscly than me. The idea that that makes him more popular, more attractive, more of a threat is all in my head. And the ironic thing is, this guy is probably looking at you thinking something similar! So again, I recognise those thoughts, acknowledge them, and let them go.

All this was not easy, and it took a long time. I’m not saying that I’m completely over my body issues but understanding them and rationalising them goes along way to making them seem insignificant. I speak to my wife and support groups like @dadscomm on instagram who are a bunch of Dads like me. I can do it so you can do it. Thanks for reading.