My wife would have our two lovely children and when she was done I would go to the guillotine, as it were. I would be Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities, with both hands tied behind my back being led to my destiny while reciting, “It is a far, far better thing I do…”
That sounds strangely noble in theory, but in actuality, I must admit, with the birth of our second child I had been avoiding this doctor trip like the plague. I had postponed the visit two different times (scheduling then rescheduling… twice), but after a year, I was running out of excuses for myself.
On the day of the appointment, I was freaking out. I tried to explain this to my wife, but, as sympathetic as she tried to be, she didn’t get it. And comparing it to what she had to experience in the birthing of our children, didn’t help. Yes, I am sure birth is a bigger life changing, panic-driven, and painful experience. But for a guy, this is something. Yes, it means something, and it’s not something that can be easily explained, it’s in the gut, it’s in the animal part of the brain. It is part of what defines us as male. Hear us roar!
I ended up making a quick excuse to run an errand, and then in a parking lot called one of my oldest friends to talk me down. I was the guy on the edge of the building preparing to jump, he was the understanding cop with the bullhorn explaining to me that I still will have a lot to live for.
I was going to be fine… I was going to be fine… I stepped away from the ledge.
Part 1: The Consultation
The nurse at the doctor’s office brought me to a little private room for a consultation.
Well, honestly, my consultation was little more than me watching a video that seemed to have been produced in the 1970’s. It almost felt like a period piece or a parody video from Saturday Night Live as compared to something real. It began with a happy family playing in an above ground pool. The voiceover of the dad in the video started to explain that he didn’t want any more kids.
Those kids right there?
Those model perfect kids playing in the pool? Are you sure? It seems to me the world would be a better place with more perfect kids like that around.
If I was making the video I would not show kids at a heart-warming moment like that. No, no, no. I would go the other route; like for example the time my son snapped one of my DVDs completely in half or when my daughter threw up Gerber’s banana-strawberry all over me.
Those are the moments that shouted to me that two is just enough.
After that, the husband and wife in the video go to the doctor’s office where the doctor began by explaining how babies are made. I almost let out a laugh. Aren’t most people here already well aware how children are made? Aren’t the viewers watching this because they know how to use their little friend a little too well? I mean, that is what we are here to stop, right? Are there seriously people in a room like this, like me, saying “Oh, that is what happened??”
The doctor then began to use scratchy science imagery that immediately made me think of one of those educational films the Dharma Initiative would show on LOST to explain the procedure. And as I am watching this scratchy images of the cutting, the clipping, etc., I mumbled to myself “I am the polar bear. I am the *beeping* polar bear now.”
Well, the dad in the video had the operation done, went back to his life playing tennis (while wearing way too short shorts), and also then went back to seducing his wife… on a waterbed.
Yes, they were on a freaking waterbed!
(See, very 1970’s.)
After the video the nurse returned and asked me if I had any questions. While I forced myself from asking why there is no budget to update their educational videos, I raced to try to think of anything else.
Nothing was jumping to my mind, save outright panic. My mind was not being helpful, and in many ways had abandoned me… and by me, I meant that part of me.
The nurse explained the procedure in more detail (which is exactly what I didn’t want to hear after watching the video) and then she ended by casually saying something I will remember to the end of my days: “Now, the doctor is a little hard of hearing so if he starts to hurt you, you need to scream really loud.”
Part 2: The Procedure
Another room, but this time it got a lot more real when I was told to undress and sit in a special chair… and wait. So that is what I did, with my hands shaking nervously, trying not to make eye contact with… well, you know.
The doctor came and it was immediately obvious to me he had done this a lot and it was the end of a long week for him. I don’t think he even asked my name; merely introducing himself and then throwing off the paper that was keeping me decent to look at the spot he would be operating on.
I had to bite my tongue from making the obvious “Shouldn’t you buy me dinner first” joke. (I didn’t stop because it was a bad joke; I stopped because I realized he might not hear me.)
It was all about to happen. My heart was racing! I needed to be distracted! I needed to mentally go bye-bye! Escape to a land with rainbows, big fluffy clouds, and happy people! Happy complete people! But they were clearly not giving drugs for that, so I said in my loudest voice possible, “Can I read a magazine or something?”
That he heard.
The doctor leaned over, looking a little confused by the interruption, waving a far too gigantic needle in my face (And we know where that was going to go) and said, “Don’t worry, it will only take five minutes.”
So, to translate: suck it up dude. The last thing I wanted to hear. So I covered my eyes like a child does when he doesn’t want to see something and began to recite to myself children nursery rhymes, which was the only thing I could think of.
Sing a song of six pence (sound of clippers), a pocket full of rye (a loud cut), four and twenty blackbirds (another loud cut), baked in a pie…
And suddenly, with almost a flourish he dropped the tools on a tray, took off his blue rubber gloves with a snap, and then told me it was done, to get dressed, and then sit for twenty minutes over there.
I was stunned. “You want me to get dressed?” I asked stupidly.
“Yes,” he said, and that is the last I saw of him that day.
So I quietly got dressed.
Part 3: The Recovery
They forgot about me.
It was a Friday, and right before Easter; they all had other things on their mind obviously. So a resting period that was supposed to be only about 15 minutes was drawn out for an hour.
I didn’t mind. I was taking it all in. And to add to my confusion and overwhelming emotions, the doctor left the little tubes he had removed in the room with me.
They were right there!
Less than a few feet from me, and I got transfixed staring at them, even thinking at one point that they looked a little like broken strands of thin spaghetti.
I quickly lost my appetite at that thought.
When the nurse finally came to the door, surprised someone was actually in the room, a part of me wanted to scream, “How could you forget about me after what you just did?!” But I didn’t, I was polite, as I struggled out of the chair and stumbled my way to the door.
The jokes and the little asides around the procedure will start later. The “All I have to look forward to now is death,” for example, or “Whose your daddy? Not you.”
Yes, the discomfort, the acceptance, and everything else was to come, but I must admit I did one thing before I left the room. I went back to the doctor’s tray and looked at those tubes again.
Those little tubes.
I thought of my kids and their smiles, said thank you quickly out loud, and left.