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A few years ago, we decided. We decided that for my 35th birthday, I was going to get 'the snip'. A vasectomy. After all, we both hated kids, we both had careers, it was unreasonable for my wife to fill herself with chemicals for the rest of her life, and condoms worked mainly because the smell caused instant detumescence followed by a desire to go to the pub. Effective birth control, but rather dull.
In the UK, you can't get surgery except by being referred by a GP, so off I go to mine. He's always been a reasonable sort of fellow before this, and with his large brown eyes, long lashes and dark brown 'Sancho Panza' moustache, I would imagine he is regularly besieged with requests for 'internals' from his female patients. I tell him what I want;
"I'd like a vasectomy please."
He looks at me from those smouldering eyes, which has no effect whatever, otherwise I wouldn't need the vasectomy, right?
"OK", he says, "You don't have any children, do you?"
"Nope", I reply. "And what does your wife think?"
"She wants me to have one, too." (Well, she would, wouldn't she? No-one's going to mutilate her genitals with a sharp knife, after all).
He says "I'll refer you to the local hospital, but it might take a while".
Well, that's OK, I hardly want to rush into it, after all. "And you might have to have counselling".
COUNSELLING???? Fuck that. They're my bollocks and I'll do what I please with them. I express incredulity, but he restates the counselling nonsense;
"After all, the surgeon might want to make sure you are serious". Hah.
Seven months passes.......
A letter comes from the local NHS Hospital with an appointment to see a doctor. Excellent. Snip time. The day arrives, although I'm slightly baffled that there are no instructions other than when and where to turn up. I suppose they know what they're doing? Along to St.Albans Hospital, into the shiny new Out-patients wing, sit on a squeaky vinyl chair and wait for the fateful words; "Mr. xxxxxx, please!" In I trot. There's a doctor, younger than me, with a handlebar moustache like Biggles, and a rather attractive nurse. What's she for? Sperm samples?
"I understand you want a vasectomy, Mr. xxxxxxx?"
"Well, yes, why else would I be here? Yes, please."
"Why?" Dumb question. "It's my 35th birthday present", I reply, which raises a grin on both of them. At least they're human.
"I'm afraid I have some bad news" says handlebar moustache. What? I'm pregnant? I'm gonna die? I have penis cancer? What???
"I'm afraid that although we have a waiting list for vasectomies here, and we can put you on it, by the time you reach the front, you'll be too old to need a vasectomy".
Sigh. Dumbshit GP might have nice eyes, but he doesn't have the faintest idea what's going on at his local hospital. Sigh again. All that adrenalin expended, all that sleep lost, only to have a brief letch at a nurse and be told by a First World War flying ace that I've wasted seven months. Sigh.
What to do. What to do? I let my fingers do the walking and look through the Yellow Pages. Hmmm. British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS). They do vasectomies (privately) and the local office is in Luton, only a few miles away. I call and they do vasectomy consultations on Wednesday afternoons, so I book myself in. British Rail, clackety-clack to Luton, find the BPAS office, which is over a bookies, and in. "Hi, I'm Huge, and I have an appointment to talk about a vasectomy". The receptionist says "Sure", looks me up in the diary and sends me into the waiting room, where I'm the only guy, surrounded by pregnant women. Did I mention the BPAS's principle business? No? Abortions. What they advise pregnant ladies to do is have the damn thing hurled down a convenient hospital incinerator chute.
Good, huh? I'm trying to prevent pregancies, and I'm surrounded by the unwanted results of those who are not quite so considerate.
So, the nice middle aged, middle class lady comes and takes me into a consultation room. "What can we do for you, Mr. xxxxxx?".
"I've come for an abortion...." Actually, no. I just ask that same oh-so-familiar question; "Please may I have a vasectomy?"
"Why?" Sigh. Haven't we been here before? After all, I'm a middle aged, white, well-educated professional person who wants his genitals mutilated for money. What could be simpler? Not much, apparently. She hands me some leaflets to read, explains that the operation is irreversible (as did virtually everyone else I met) and says she's going away to let me think about it for 10 minutes. I say that I've been thinking about it for 3 years now, and that 10 minutes doesn't really matter, but she insists. 10 minutes passes.... I read the leaflets about AIDS, abortion and contraception.
She comes back; "Made up our minds, have we?".
Our minds? Who the fuck asked her? I smile sweetly, and through gritted teeth say it again "Please may I have a vasectomy?"
Balm to the ears. About bloody time. She gets me to fill in a form, tells me that it's £185 and that I need to have a medical, which they can do then and there. She escorts me through to the back of the office, where I'm seen by an Indian doctor who speaks appalling English, and who (I think) disapproves of my course of action. Since he spends most of his time seeing pregnant women who want terminations, I think he's got a bloody cheek. He asks me a series of embarrassing questions, explains what's involved in a vasectomy (again), tells me it's irreversible (again), asks me how many ejaculations I have (What???) and finally, and this is the high point, palpates my prostate by sticking a gloved finger up my ass. Lucky me. I sign a consent form, and that's it.
Back to the "consulation room", where the nice lady asks me which of the 2 clinics I want to attend. The one in North London is more convenient, so that's what I choose. She makes a quick telephone call and makes the appointment then and there. Yipp-fucking-ee. She gives me a map and some instructions about preparation and aftercare. The appointment is for 2pm, about 3 weeks hence.
Three weeks passes...
Although I have read, re-read and re-re-read the instructions, I think I must have been in a state of denial, since I re-re-re-read them on the morning of my appoinment (tight underpants, yes, no sex, yes, some soreness for a few days (Yeah, right), someone to drive you home afterwards, yes.) and discover that I should have shaved my testicles 2 or 3 days before the operation. Oh. Well, never mind, I'll just have to do them now. I clip my pubes short with scissors, then attack them with my hi-tech Philips razor. Unfortunately, it's so hi-tech that it pulls on each hair before cutting it off, which raises a tiny little "goose bump" on my scrotum, which then gets the top snipped off it by the cutters.
Blood everywhere. I switch to my old lo-tech Philips mains shaver. Works fine, and soon my balls are as smooth as, as, I dunno, a very smooth thing. So, into the car and off to Tottenham, home of Spurs football club and race riots. Oh yes, and the BPAS clinic.
The clinic is a private ward inside an NHS hospital. As usual, there's nowhere to park, but fortunately we're early, so we circle the hospital grounds a few times until someone leaves and park up. It's pissing down with rain, which suits my mood. We sit in the car for a few minutes while I shake like a leaf with fear and my wife tries to calm me down. We trudge down the interminable vinyl floored corridors (squeak, squeak, squeak), breathing the usual hospital smell of disinfectant, human wastes and suffering, until we find the clinic.
"Hi, my name's Huge and I'm here for a vasectomy". We're shown into a cheery little waiting room, decorated a la Laura Ashley, to wait with several other couples. Judging by the whispered conversations and looks on faces, most of them are here for terminations. A nurse appears and they take me away for a few minutes to weigh me and take my blood pressure. They also collect the money. I pay by Visa. First doctor's office I've ever seen with a Visa swipe terminal in it. The nurse writes the money down in a large ledger. The vast majority of the entries are the £275 they charge for a termination. Back to the waiting room. Although we turned up at the appointed hour, it's about 3:30 by the time a nurse appears and takes me and one other guy away for "the op".
We walk about half a mile to the actual operating suite, where they show us into what appears to be the nurses changing room and get us to change into the standard too-small, backless, hospital gown. The nurse asks us; "Have you shaved?". I reply "Yes", but the other guy shakes his head and says "No". The nurse hands him a Bic disposable razor and sends him off to the toilets to do so. With hospital soap. Eeek.
When he reappears, apparently none the worse for his ordeal, we're shown into a tiny, cold, bare, waiting room just off the vestibule outside the operating theatre. More vinyl chairs (squeak, squeak). The door's open and we sit there and listen to the porters' cheery banter as they wheel an apparently endless succession of unconcious 16 year olds in and out of the operating room. Abortion city. It's so depressing. I'm cold, frightened, seriously underdressed and the scenery is the pits. How can these girls (and that's all they are) be so fucking stupid?
Contraception is ubiquitious, free and effective in the UK. You can buy condoms everywhere, from vending machines in toilets (mens and womens) if you're too embarassed to buy them in a chemists. Contraception is free on the NHS from your doctor, and they rarely if ever ask about underage sex. If you're too embarassed to go to your doctor, there are contraception clinics all over the place, from the BPAS to the Marie Stopes to ones at about every local hospital in the UK. Frankly, I add bafflement to the other emotions I feel. This is not quality time.
After we've been waiting about an hour (and they've done about 6 abortions - it turns out they have two operating rooms. They do a termination in one as they're setting up in the other) the nurse reappears and asks for the other guy. As well as all the other things, I'm now on my own. Another 20 cold uncomfortable minutes passes. They're ready for me. The nurse and I walk into the bright, clinical atmosphere of the operating room. My first suprise - they want me lying on my back. It's cold in here, too. They erect a screen of that green fabric, at the line of my waist, about 3 or 4 feet high, so I can't see. I ask if I can watch, and they say no. Oh, well. A nurse comes and sits beside my head and holds my hand. "That's comforting" I comment, but she says that she's there to make sure I don't climb off the the operating table during the procedure. Apparently a few guys change their minds at this stage.
"I'm just going to sterilise the site" someone announces from behind the curtain. Then they swab my genitals with a large lump of cotton wool soaked in surgical spirit. "*JESUS* *H* *FUCKING* *CHRIST*, *OW*, *JESUS*, *FUCK* *ME*, *THAT ***HURTS***!!!!" I announce to no-one in particular. You remember the instructions said to shave a few days earlier, but I did it on the day? Now I know why. I wonder how I'm managing to hang onto the ceiling by my fingers and toes. The voice announces that I'm going to feel a small prick. I've recovered sufficiently to reply that surely they have that back to front? Laughter. So they're human, too, despite the surgical greens and the fact that they have J-clothes on their heads. I feel a small injection, then that's it. I can feel tugging, but absolutely nothing else.
I pass the time with wisecracks to the people there about having something on the ceiling to read. I ask if I can have the pieces of removed vas to keep in a jar on the mantlepiece, but they say no, because they are sent for histological examination. Can't imagine why. After 10 minutes, they all walk round the other side of the table, another small injection, more tugging. Another 10 minutes, and it's all over. Or so I imagine.
They remove the screen (Jeez, those swabs are bloody - is that all mine?) and I climb down. Very gingerly. I walk, rather wobbly, into the recovery room, where an attractive nurse inspects the wounds and gives me a swab to hold over the left hand incision which is weeping a little. The incisions aren't where I expected them. I chat to her and she comments what a pleasant change it is to have a patient who is concious (and has his knob hanging out, I think. Not really. Sex is the furthest thing from my mind.) I ask where the other guy is, and she replies that he has decided to leave straight away. Wow. What a hard man. She then asks me if I would like a cup of tea, to which the reply is "Damn right!". Since I'm the last patient of the day, she says would I mind having it in the nurses rest room? Weirdest experience of my life.
All these nurses packing up for the weekend, saying goodbye, one of them phones her boyfriend, and I'm sitting there practically naked, drinking tea and holding a swab over my wounded bollock. The weeping stops, I drink my tea, the nurse gives me an elastoplast to stick over each incision, I get changed back into my clothes (very slowly and carefully) and shuffle back down the corridor (which seems to have got mysteriously longer) to the Laura Ashley room. My wife greets me like a long lost brother, and we shuffle like tired old men back to the car.
"I'll drive", I announce. My wife is a safe but slow driver, and I want home. Real Soon Now. Fortunately, we have an automatic car, so no gear changing is needed. The traffic's the pits, since it's rush hour on Friday, but we get home eventually. I forswear dinner and go to bed and sleep like a log. I get up the next morning, and the incisions aren't too bad. My underpants have blood stains on them in the crotch, but nothing too spectacular. I seize the ooportunity to do fuck all that weekend. The aftercare instructions say to sit in a bath of salty water twice a day for the next couple of days, so I do that. The right hand side is healing up fine, clean, pink and painless, but the left hand side is getting rather nasty. It's swollen, angry, purple and the weeping is getting worse. It's a mixture of pus and blood and I'm starting to worry about it. On the Thursday following the op, I call the BPAS about it. "Go to your GP", they say.
The bastards have got my money and now they don't give a shit. I make an appointment with Dr. Nice Eyes (remember him?) for the following Monday. When I wake up on Saturday morning, I've haemorraghed into my underpants in the night. There's even some on the bedding. And it's smelly pus-like gunge. Very nasty. We rush down the casualty department of the local hospital (ironically, the one which I went to in the very first place) where a tired, harassed casualty doctor briefly inspects it, says that it's a 'nice' wound infection (Nice? Nice? What the fuck's nice about it?) and prescribes some antibiotics. I go to my GP on Monday and receive a telling off for going to Casualty, rather than calling him out on a Saturday. Ha. When was the last time he woke up with his underpants full of bloody pus?, that's what I'd like to know?
The right hand side is healed up fine now, and the stitches are bothering me, they keep snagging on my underwear, so I carefully sterilise a scalpel and forceps, cut the stitches and pull them out. I have a brief vision of the incision parting and the testicle falling out, but there's a nice clean pink healed scar underneath. They're supposed to be soluble stitches, but the removed stitches look completely undissolved. The left hand side is better, the infection is subsiding with the antibiotics, but the swelling is such that the stitches have disappeared into the wound. Back to Dr, Nice Eyes, who says that if they haven't come out in a week, to return and he will remove them. Which is exactly what happens.
The swelling is still kind of bad, and the stitches are embedded in the wound, and bothering me in the same way the others did. Back to the doctor's. He sends me down to the nurse, who swiftly and virtually painlessly removes them. She holds them up to the light and says "These aren't soluble stitches". Sigh. No wonder they weren't coming out. I briefly consider suing BPAS, but I no longer have the evidence (the stitches) and since the medical profession in the UK tend to close ranks, and you can't sue on a contingency fee basis here, I give the idea up as pointless.
Another week passes. I'm still doing the salt baths. The right hand side is completely healed, and the left hand side is soming along. The swelling has subsided and the stitch holes are healing. But! A lump of some kind, wet and pink, is growing out one of the stitch holes. Aargh! After all this, I go and get skin cancer. Back to Dr. Nice Eyes, except that he's on holiday and I get to see his locum. She explains that it's a common side effect of stitches, where a small piece of skin gets turned upside down in the stitch hole and heals upside down, growing out of the hole. "I'll just cauterise it for you" she says. What?? Cauterise??? Like with hot irons and so on? Actually she produces a thing like a styptic pencil, dabs it on the lump, swabs it with water and that's it. Doesn't even hurt. The lump goes away almost immediately.
After 3 months, it's time for the first sperm sample. Or hopefully, not. The BPAS have provided 2 small plastic sample jars, zip-loc bags and jiffy bags. I have to put stamps on them. Cheap bastards. Whacking off into the jar proves not to be as difficult as I imagined, despite the small diameter of the bottle neck. I wonder if the girl in the Post Office knows what's in the Jiffy Bag she's weighing for postage. Grin.
One month later, the same thing. The cum is exactly the same colour, smell, taste and volume as before the Op. You really wouldn't know. The incisions have completely healed, the hair grown back. All I can feel is a small lump inside the scrotum on each side - presumably the knots on the ends of the vas. A week later, the letter arrives. Clear. Thank ghod for that; I wouldn't want to go through that again.
Now, 4 years later, I can't even feel the lumps inside the scrotum. I assume it's still working, 'cos the wife is conspicuously unpregnant, and I still have the feeling of freedom that I got after the Op - I can fuck anyone I like (not that I have) and not have to worry about unwanted pregnancies.
I'd recommend it to anyone.