Saturday, July 30, 2011

Anesthesia is for Pussies

My first mistake was going to my vasectomy alone. I'd scheduled it on a Friday when my family was out of town, and because I drove myself, I couldn’t have general anesthesia.

The vasectomy wasn't a mistake. We'd wanted two children and we were blessed with two beautiful girls. We were done. Any other form of birth control was either a pain to deal with or had serious health risks for my wife. So I didn’t give a lot of thought to the procedure, at least until I got to the clinic.

After all, my father had one. If he was to be believed, he had it done within minutes of laying eyes on me.
I was escorted into a room that had as it's centerpiece, a large stainless steel table that looked a lot like the tables they used to perform autopsies. A thin blanket was spread out on top of the table and there was a disposable paper sheet often seen in regular exam rooms. There was also a pillow, which I thought was very considerate. I was told to change into a standard ass hanging out the back hospital gown.

My general practitioner came in and once again assured me that this was a simple procedure and he had performed it several times. Then as he laid out his instrument of torture, he asked me if I wanted a mirror so that I could watch. The idea was intriguing, but I passed, and it was the only intelligent decision I made.

"You'll feel a small poke," he said, and I tried not to imagine scenes from prison movies. I felt the needle as it entered my scrotum and it didn't hurt that much, first on the left and then on the right. He waited a respectful time and the asked if I could feel anything. I couldn’t, and he made two small incisions with a scalpel.

"Ok, now I'm going to deaden the tubes and surrounding area. This might hurt."

Most of you know, that doctors are full of shit. They do things that hurt and so are masters of understatements. If it's 'just a little prick', it's going to hurt. If he tells you it might hurt a little, it's time to grab the fucking table and bite your tongue so you don't scream or whimper like a little girl and shame your ancestors. I may have gurgled a little, because he assured me he was almost down when in fact he was only half done.

He gave the Novocain time to work and I was relieved. It was basically over. The Novocain had deadened my sac and I didn't even feel the blade that cut me, so I was over the worst right?


For some reason, it didn’t take. I found that out when he secured a clamp onto my left vas deferens, which is the fancy name for the tube that carries a man's sperm from his testicles up to his Seminal vesicle as seen in the image below.

*Important note, my junk is bigger, especially the nuts.

My doctor noticed what he described as my 'discomfort'. Or perhaps he heard me when I said through gritted teeth, "MotherFUCKER!". Regardless, he noticed something was amiss and applied more anesthesia. It was no more effective than the earlier shots. He then asked if I wanted to quit and reschedule for a day when I could get general anesthesia.

I thought about it, and it sounded appealing. But I knew myself, and I knew that if I escaped his table, I would never come back. I heard my self tell him to go ahead. I was impressed with myself until I felt him cut the tube. It's a tough little tube and took about two very long seconds to get all the way through it. I felt the pain in my toes and in my scalp. My hands ached from gripping the table and I wished for one of those raw hide bites prisoners used to put in their mouths when they got whipped.

"I'm going to cauterize the ends so they can't grow back."

Here's an interesting fact. They use an electric device similar to a mini arc welder to cauterize human flesh. Simultaneously, I got to feel the burn as well as the electric jolt while smelling my own flesh burn. It was…a unique experience. I could feel myself getting a little shocky, but I kept breathing and trying to send my consciousness elsewhere. I got by telling myself it was almost over. I had done it, and it wasn't really that bad, right? Then my doctor said something that shook my confidence just a smidge.

"Ok, we're halfway there."

Repeat the same as above but this time I knew what was coming and what it would feel and smell like. Ten minutes later, he was giving me my instructions to take it easy. He'd apparently had men not take him seriously in the past, so he showed me a picture of a testicle swollen to five times it's size with blood because some macho man had decided he could play contact sports the day after his surgery. He clearly didn’t know me.

I'd already cleared my weekend, and had nothing more rigorous planned than walking to the bathroom. In retrospect, that journey was a bit long. I should have brought a mini fridge and a blanket into a bathroom and nested.

Confession time. In the months and years that followed, I told a few men that my procedure was no big deal. I did it solo and drove myself home. Anesthesia is for pussies.

What can I say? I'm a bad man.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

TGIF WTF? An EOD Adventure

It's that time again. What time you say? It's time for me to reveal a story from my past that will cause you to laugh or at least smile at my expense.

It was the mid 80's, and I had just returned to Ft Dix, NJ from Explosive Ordnance Disposal School. I'd been able to get back to NJ to see my girlfriend (we'll call her Gigi), about once a month. It had been closer to six weeks since I'd seen her and I was very eager. What made my return even more special was the fact that it was my birthday. My 18th birthday had been spent doing 1,800 pushups at Basic training in Ft Leonard Wood, MO and my 19 hadn't been much better, spent alone, friendless and more importantly, girlfriendless. But number 20 had real potential. I had a girlfriend, and I was going to get me some. Heck, it was my birthday, so maybe I would get something…special.

I caught a ride with a friend back to Ft Dix. I got to my barracks, dumped my gear, showered and got ready for my birthday date. Gigi was going to pick me up and take me to TGI Friday's, her treat. Now that may not seem like a big deal for some of you, but you have to remember that it was the 80's, and I was making about $12,000 a year as a Specialist in the US Army. Also, eating out at restaurants was a fairly new experience for me, and any place that didn’t have a drive through was classy in my book.

Gigi was on time for once and greeted me with a deep kiss. I wanted to throw her over my shoulder and carry her back into the barracks, but that type of activity was frowned upon, and besides, I was hungry. We got to the Friday's and she gave me balloons and a present. It was a good sized box, but light and I had it pegged as a shirt. I was right. It was a shirt. A shirt composed of the most interested combination of colors, but it did have sleeves and a collar so it had to be a shirt. I thought it was the ugliest damned thing I had ever seen, but I smiled and thanked her for the gift and tried to figure out a convincing story for how it would get ruined while we looked at the menus. Still, like a jingle that you just can’t stop thinking about, I kept repeating in my mind a happy tune. I’m going to get some nookie, I'm going to get some nookie*.

*The actually word has been replaced with "nookie" to keep this story PG-13.

As I said, I was not rich and neither was Gigi, so when the waiter came I ordered a hamburger for my birthday meal. The waiter turned to my girlfriend, who promptly ordered the swordfish. Really? Swordfish? I wish I had ordered second. But what's the big deal right? I’m going to get some nookie, I'm going to get some nookie.

All the servers came over with my complimentary desert and sang me the happy birthday song. I could have done without that, but what the heck, it was my birthday. When the check came, Gigi said she didn't have any money. She must have spent it all on the shirt. Thankfully it was just after payday and I had stopped by the cash machine, because back then hardly anyone making less than $40K had a credit card. I only knew two enlisted soldiers that did. So cash was still king and thankfully, I had enough to cover our meal and would have been able to cover the steak I really wanted, had I known I was paying. But what the hell, I was back from training, I had a girlfriend and it was my birthday. I’m going to get some nookie, I'm going to get some nookie.

We walked out to her car and I watched her ass sway this way and that. I thought that there might not be time to go back to her place and maybe we should find a quiet place to park. I climbed in the passenger seat and watched her get in. My gaze traveled from her cleavage to her eyes and back to her cleavage. The shirt was forgotten as was the Swordfish, burger and my $50 bucks. The moment was drawing near and I was past ready. I had a fleeting moment of regret that I hadn't rubbed one out before the date, but back then 2-3 times was no problem for me, so I shrugged it off. Besides, I was always a giving lover and tonight was my birthday. I was halfway between her cleavage and eyes for the 4th time when she uttered these five words to me:

"I'm breaking up with you."

It took a few minutes of silence for the message to get into my brain, past my nookie chant. My reply was articulate as always.


The ride back to my barracks was long and quiet. She had her reasons, though she didn’t seem to be able to articulate them. For months I had ignored the allure of the women in class and the surrounding area because I had a girlfriend and you just don’t do that sort of thing. I'd visited when I could, called regularly, but now that I was back, she'd broken up with me.

On my birthday.


In retrospect, things did work out for the best. Gigi was not the girl for me. A couple of weeks later, my roommate saw the birthday shirt and liked it. I traded it for one of his that I liked. The first night I wore it, I caught the eye of an exotic dancer. It was white and glowed in the black light. The exotic dancer said it made me look innocent and thought she should corrupt me. I finally got the nookie I so badly needed, but that is a story for another time and another venue.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Day at the Beach, a DLI Adventure

Fair warning. I'm about to tell you a story but not one of fiction. Instead, I'm going to use this blog to capture some of the more colorful stories of my life.

I posted a new profile pic the other day on Facebook and then made a wall post describing the scene. I referred to it as a time in my life when I had the world by the ass on a downhill slide and didn’t know it. I went on to say that the road to that place had been bumpy, but that it had only gotten better since.

I've been thinking about that for the last few days and it is as true a thing as I can say about my life.

The time was 1991. The place was Monterey California. I was there to attend the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio to learn Russian. I had served a 6 year contract, 4 Active 2 Reserve and got out in April 1990, only to sign an 8 year contract in September 1991 as Desert Shield became Desert Storm. By the time I was in a unit, the war was over. March of 1991, I got orders to Monterey because I needed a new job, as my active duty job didn’t exist in the Reserve.

But all of that is another story. This story is about friends. Next to me in the picture, is my roommate and all around awesome guy, Brian Nelson. I am embarrassed to say I can't remember the other guys name. Brian was known far and wide as "Bridude". He was and I'm sure still is a great person and a true friend.

It had taken a coupe of months to get the cash together to buy a wetsuit and board, but we had them. We had also just watched a special on sharks and learned the area from Monterey to San Francisco was called the "Blood Triangle" because of all the great white shark attacks. But were we nervous? Not that we would admit to each other. Soldiers are a different group. What we find funny does not always translate in the civilian world, and there is little a soldier enjoys more than busting his friend's balls. We did agree that there was nothing funny about a shark attack, and that this one area was off limits.

The day we picked sucked. It got cloudy and colder than normal, but worst of all were the lack of waves. Boogie boards don’t require the same size wave to have a fun ride, but they do require a wave. We were out paddling around at Asilomar beach in water as calm as the lakes I grew up swimming on. I was in my grey and black O'Neal suite and Bridude was in what he thought was a green and back suit of the same manufacture. It turned out that when wet, it was actually yellow. Better yet, we'd learned on the shark special that the color was called "Yum, Yum Yellow".

We refused to leave until we caught at least one wave, so there we floated, our concern replaced with boredom, frustrated and cold. That is until I looked down into the calm crystal clear water and saw a shark of at least eight feet glide beneath me.

I remember trying to speak and failing. I distinctly remember thinking it was bullshit when I saw people on TV or in the movies struck dumb, incapable of speech and how ludicrous it was to happen to me. I kept trying until I managed to squeak out the following:

"It…It's a…It's a fucking shark. IT'S A FUCKING SHARK!!!!" Quickly followed up by, "Don’t splash, it will go for you."

Unfortunately, what Bridude heard was, "He's going for you!"

My eyes we fixed on the thing under the water. It moved so fast, darting back and forth between Bridude and I as if it just couldn’t decide which one of us would be more delicious.

Then I lost it as it darted directly beneath me. For those of you that have never seen one, a boogie board is less than half the length of a surfboard, and yet I managed to get every inch of my body on that board. If all I'd had were a Popsicle stick, my ass would have been high and dry.

I heard a voice, as if from far away. It sounded like Bridude, but that couldn’t be, because he was just a few feet…I looked up and saw him standing on the beach, over a hundred yards away. I had no idea how he's managed it, but I had never wanted to be next to him more in my life.

I searched the water for the shark but couldn’t find it. I tried to banish the image from jaws of it coming directly beneath me and without causing a splash, began to paddle toward shore. When I was about twenty feet out, I caught the smallest wave ever recorded and rolled up onto the beach.

We both agreed that while we could have gone back in, we'd achieved our goal of riding a wave and besides, it was getting late anyway.

In the year we were there, that was the only shark we ever saw. We got pretty good on the boogie boards and before I left, I managed to learn how to ride a surfboard.

We had many interesting adventures in Monterey, but those stories will have to wait for another time.