Tag Archives: vasectomy

An Anniversary of Sorts

Today marks five years since my metamorphosis. In my Kafkaesque world, I haven’t developed into something beautiful or desirable like a butterfly, but my devolution can be more appropriately imagined as one who transformed into a cockroach. A stroll from order to disorder. A life of good health that descended into an existence of chronic pain.

Five years ago I underwent a simple elective procedure that changed my life in ways that I had never bargained. I had a vasectomy because I’m not Dick Van Patten and three is enough. After the pain didn’t subside after a few days, I sought the advice from a new urologist. It’s as if I won the lottery as he said my condition is exceedingly rare.

I told him if I had been advised of the possibility of crippling pain I may have avoided a vasectomy altogether. This doctor who performed an epididymectomy in a failed attempt to release me from the pain, made an analogy that made my apparent informed consent conundrum make sense. He humorously told me that there is a small chance I may fall off the operating table in the middle of a procedure, but the odds are so ridiculously small that he doesn’t inform his patients of the risk. I actually thought his response was hilarious.

Notice how I said his attempt to relieve me of my pain was a failure. If we fast forward to the end of the rainbow, I had some experimental procedures and eventually had an orchiectomy. And I still have pain.

Four years ago tomorrow marks the day I was hospitalized for a bleeding ulcer. For weeks prior I periodically woke up in the middle of the night with heartburn and a rotten taste in my mouth. This was the mother of all bad tastes and no amount of mouthwash could make it go away. I didn’t realize I had an ulcer until the morning I started my day with a sinkful of putrified blood. I still went to work because my wife thought I was being a wuss. I was hospitalized that afternoon and enjoyed a nice relaxing four days watching cooking shows while my diet consisted of nothing but broth and apple juice. (I like food so much that I enjoy it even when it is off limits).

I was also recently diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis.  It is an autoimmune disorder that is unrelated to my original pain, but it is all too evident on days I’m only able to lurch about in my daily activities.

I completely forgot what today signified until I read Matt Walsh’s latest contribution.  I don’t follow the news very closely, but I’m now aware of a woman named Brittany Murphy who has terminal cancer.  She is going to commit suicide on November 1.  I’ll admit that I have no idea what it would be like to have a bleak future of pain that I cannot even imagine, but I have to agree with Matt Walsh that there is nothing noble in suicide.  I have lived with pain everyday for five years.  Some days are so excruciating that all I can think about is putting a gun in my mouth.  I get it.  Pain is horrible and sometimes I don’t know how I will survive another day.  Yet, my condition isn’t killing me.  I’m 39 and it’s entirely possible that I may live for decades with pain every day.

Walsh made an interesting point regarding euthanasia.  The assertion is that this woman is being brave by ending her life to escape the pain and indignity of cancer.  If that is true, are people who choose to endure the horrors of cancer until they are removed from this life any less courageous?  Or are they cowardly since their choice is the antithesis of Brittany’s brave choice?  I only consider this because I live everyday with pain.  Am I a coward to endure suffering?  As a Christian, I know that suicide is not a viable choice, but if there is a growing consensus for euthanasia, could there be a day when the choice is not mine to make?  Mind you, I’m unable to work, so I’m not a productive member of society.  Should productivity be a determining factor?  Will a day come when “useless” people are exterminated en masse for the benefit of society?

These are big questions that I have no answers for.  I was just reminded that today is my anniversary.

Tomorrow, I’ll celebrate with cake.

CC image courtesy of Finlayfox.

Not-So Affordable Care

The medical industry is a racket. Tomorrow will be my first appointment with a rheumatologist. I have various joint symptoms, and after seeing my regular doctor and an orthopedist, this is the next step.

We have private insurance because my wife works for a small company and I have been unable to work full time for three years because of my ailments. Our best guess is that I have an autoimmune disorder that was triggered by trauma stemming from a vasectomy. (In simple terms, the doctor forgot to inject the lidocaine). I have had numerous procedures and have been dealing with nerve damage in this delicate area only to have increasing pain in my knees and ankles.

I’m displeased because I just received a phone call from the doctor’s office informing me to bring $500. I read was a requirement for those without insurance. The day I filled out the forms, I told my wife, “Yay us! We have insurance!”

Private insurance. $6600 deductible. All so we could have insurance for under $700 a month. Insurance that is pretty much useless unless one of us gets into a car accident and loses a face while growing a tumor farm on their back. And athlete’s foot. It’s the athlete’s foot combined with everything else that helps meet the deductible.

This insurance nightmare is still pre-Obamacare. By January, we should be feeling the rainbows and unicorns from the Affordable Care Act bearing down on us. I’ll be surprised if we don’t end up paying $1000 a month for less coverage.

I’m sorry. Did I say coverage? Paying for everything out of pocket doesn’t sound like an equitable proposition. On top of that, let’s pay the equivalent of a small house note each month so we can carry around a worthless insurance card.

I can see why some people might be driven to rob banks. Maybe I should bring a cap gun to my appointment and demand a free consultation.

 

(Above CC image courtesy of 401(K) 2012 on Flickr).

A Pain in the #%$!

My adventure began about four and a half years ago.  My wife and I just had our third daughter three months prior, and we decided that it was time for a vasectomy.

When I was around ten years old, I was diagnosed with a varicocele.  I had it repaired when I was seventeen and gave it little thought until I told the urologist about my history when I was 34.  The good doctor advised me that there should be no issue when I had the procedure.

Sparing the details, I knew there was something wrong when I still had searing pain three days later.  I was supposed to be well enough for life by now.  The urologist thought I was malingering, so it was time for a new urologist.

This new doctor was tasked with undoing whatever harm may have been done by the previous doctor.  His best advice was to get an epididyectomy.  I was in so much pain, I underwent this procedure with little thought.  Recovery was elusive as I spent weeks in bed loaded on narcotics.

I was in bed a couple of months when we determined I may be stuck with the sensation that I caught a golf club with my groin.  Naturally, it was time for pain management specialists to figure out how to cure me or to feed me enough OxyContin that I could eat them like skittles.  The obvious choice for the specialist was to feed me a drug cocktail that would practically induce coma for the average person, but it barely took the edge off.

During this time I also made several trips to Lubbock, TX to receive experimental RF (radio frequency) treatments to burn my ilioinguinal nerve.  The very first treatment was promising.  The team of doctors said that if the treatment was successful, I could expect to be pain free up to six months before I would need another treatment.

I was wheeled away to the operating room and was stabbed in my lower abdomen with a long needle that felt like a railroad spike.  Once the needle was in contact with the angry nerve, it was time to burn it with RF pulses.  This procedure was agonizing, but in recovery I could see that it worked!  I was pain free and it was time to celebrate.  About an hour later though, I could feel the pain creeping back in.  I underwent three or four more of these hopeless procedures over the next few months and during this time I was either missing work or laying in bed every moment outside of work.

My pastor knew what I was dealing with and advised me to go to a specialist in Temple, TX.  This new urologist has treated people with similar problems and said an orchiectomy is the best course of action.  He also said he would sever the ilioinguinal nerve while he was operating.  He was certain I would not feel anything when I woke up from surgery.  I awoke with severe pain, but it was still considerably better than usual.

By this time I was unable to work and spent my days resting and praying.  Over the course of about a year I could feel that my condition had improved and my daily life is now bearable.

I still have pain everyday.  It gets worse with physical activity and a flare up can last several days.  I also have other chronic pain issues that probably stem from this trauma.  I have an appointment with a rheumatologist next month to explore my new conditions.  What’s important is that I have some semblance of life again.  I know my relationships suffer and I’ll probably never have a normal full time job again, but I’m no longer chained to the bed or opiates.

My advice for all men:  Never, never get a vasectomy.