Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Zen and the Art of Going Private

In the pub last Saturday I met a lovely young lady who I’ve known for about twenty years, but haven’t seen in about two. We chatted over a drink and I was telling her some of my stories. She said “I think the funniest one has to be about your vasectomy.”
“What? How do you know about my vasectomy? I never told you.”
“Er no. I er ........ I mean.......um......”
“Come on how do you know about that?”
“Well the nurse who was there at the time is one of my best friends, we still laugh about it.”
“Thanks mate.”
“No really, you should write that story.”
So here it is, it seems everyone and his dog knows about it locally anyway so I’ve nothing to lose, you may as well have a laugh at my expense as well, everyone else has.
Having already brought two children into the world, my wife and I decided that our family was complete. We decided that I would have a vasectomy. Well actually I was shamed into volounteering by this rather dominating woman at the clinic who pointed out to us that for a man, the operation was a very minor affair. Whereas for the woman it was a lot more invasive and “You certainly would not want to put your wife throughthat would you?”
“Er no. Of course not.”
“Then it’s decided.”
The next appointment was with the doctor who advised us “yes you can have the operation free of charge on the NHS.” Whoopee! “But.” he went on “there’s a waitinglist.”
“How long?” I asked.
“Well generally about eighteen months.”
“What we could have had two more babies in that time.”
“You could always go private.........” he suggested helpfully.
“Yes and how much will that cost?”
“£150.” he said quick as a flash. “And what’s the waiting list, if we went private?”
“We can have you in........” he checked his computer, “......next tuesday.”
“WHAT! Surely I can have a little more time to get used to the idea.”
“No time like the present.”
After a few nudges from my wife and promises of a “better life” in the future, we divvied up £150. It would be worth it. Tuesday came and I went to the private hospital. It was more like a hotel. With porters to carry bags. A lady in expensive clothes walked in behind me with six suitcases as if she was checking into a health farm for a week of pampering. I presented myself at reception dressed in jeans and T-shirt.“Ah Mr De Hat. We’ve been expecting you. George here will show you to your room.”
“Room? I get a room? Of my own?”
“Of course all our guests have their own private room. Do you have any luggage?”
“No just what I stand in.” I wished I had brought a few suitcases for George to carry for me. But I wasn’t going to be staying. I was shown to my room down a corridor. It had everything. TV, bed, ensuite facilities an arm chair, table (with flowers on) absolute luxury. Well by my standards anyway. But no mini bar. Oh well you can’t have everything. George told me that I should get undressed and into the gown provided on the bed. I wondered as he left if I should give him a tip. But decided against it. Why is it that they make you wear these gowns that tie up at the back? You wander up the corridor looking for a coffee machine and women turn round and stare, saying “Hmmmm nice bum!” What’s that all about? Well the porter arrived to take me to the theatre. He had a wheel chair. I said “I haven’t had the operation yet, I don’t need a wheel chair. I’ll walk.”
“No you’ll sit in the wheel chair.”
“No it’s OK I can walk, I’d like to walk, just show me the way, you can come if youwant.”
“No you must be in the wheel chair. It’s the rules. You’d be surprised how many men collapse on the way, their legs turn to jelly.”
I thought ‘well that’s not me, I’m made of tougher stuff than that. Just like that King going to his own execution, just give me another shirt to wear so people don’t see me shivering and make sure it covers my bare bum. I’ll be alright.’ I sat in the chair and he wheeled me to the theatre. I felt such a fraud in that wheel chair. But those are the rules.The theatre was open plan with huge panoramic windows overlooking the countryside. Two nurses were busy at one end of the theatre, preparing instruments.One glanced at me briefly and told me to strip off and lay on the table my hands behind my head. I did that but felt very exposed. I was the only naked person in the room. It wasn’t fair, surely the nurses should be naked too, I wouldn’t have felt so selfconscious. I imagine people out in the woods sitting in tree with lojng telephoto lens snapping papparazzi shots of me as I lay there exposed and vunerable. Finally the nurses turned round and came toward me. One of them stopped stared at me and said “It’s you.”
“Yes it’s me.”
“No, you are the one who fixed my microwave. Here Doreen. This is that nice man I told you about who fixed my microwave oven.”
I buried my face in my hands “oh no this isn’t happening. As if I don’t have enough to go through without people recognising me.”
The surgeon arrived. He started of with his usual “Good morning.....” checks notes“....Mr De Hat. How are we today?” routine and got out the big needle.
The nurse turned to him and said “This is the man who fixed my Microwave oven.”
“Really?” said the surgeon bending over me with his hypodermic “that’s really interesting because mines not working very well at all, do you think you could look at it for me, sometime?”
“Yes sure. No problem. But shall we sort out this job first.” I said getting rather flustered. I wanted this guy to really concentrate on what he was doing, I didn’t want any slip ups. He continued with the injections. “ This will take a few minutes to work.” Then “So. How long have you been in the microwave business?”
“About five years.”
“Good good! Do you feel this?”
“No.” he picked up a scalpel and moved in to stab me in the scrotum, “Yes my microwave seems to be behaving rather oddly, it all seems to work perfectlybut sometimes things come out cold. What do you think?” He's hacking away at my downstairs department, I didn’t want to think anything. But I replied “Sounds like a loose connection on the magnetron to me.”
“Marvellous. Is it serious?” he continued hacking.
“Only if you don’t make a mistake, with what you are doing.”
After a few minutes of what felt like gentle pulling and tugging of the downstairs department, it was all over. The nurse came to me and said I needed support in the form of a jock strap. She looked at me and said “A small, I think.”
“What! Not even a medium?” I’m paying privately, surely that should qualify me forextra large? To make my inidignity worse, when I finally tried on the small it was too big. What a cruel trick to play on the male psychology.I was wheeled back to my room where waiting for me was a fresh pot of tea, a cup and a plate of biscuits. All for £150. An hour later I was home again. My darling wife greeted me like a conquering hero.“you’re so brave.” she said.
“It’s nothing.” I replied, quietly enjoying her admiration of my bravery.“
Now you must go to bed. You must rest.”
“But I feel great. I tell you what, I’ll help you with the washing up.”
“No Mikel you’ll go to bed.”
“I’ll do the hoovering then.”
“Go to bed for chrissakes.” I went to bed. She’d been to the library and got a huge pile of books for me to look at while I recuperated. I glanced through “Castles of England”and was immediately bored. I shouted from my bed “I bored! Send the children to talk to me.”
“are you sure?”
“Yes absolutely. Send them up.” Well I love my children, they are such good fun. We have fights and games on our big king sized bed. I read them stories and they jump on me. It was heaven, me and my children playing on the bed. My wife walks in the bedroom and sternly warns the children to be gentle with me.
I say “Don’t be silly we’re having fun.”
“Have you had any of those paracetamol I’ve left by the bed for you?”
“No I don’t need it. I feel great.”
“well if you’re sure.” she said “But you really should take a couple.”
Ten minutes later the anaesthetic has worn off. The kids are still jumping on the bed and I am in such excruciating pain I can’t move. I have not got the strength to pus hthe kids off me and still they bounce. Weakly I call my wife. “help! Save me!” She rescues me, telling the children I am poorly sick and bad. I want to die. Someone has kicked me in the balls really hard. The pain is intense and I have to endure that along with the “I told you so’s”. I down paracetamol like dolly mixtures. Slowly the pain ebbs away. I live. At about the same time my brother in law had a vasectomy and that afternoon after he was riding his bike. Me? For days after my wife wouldn’t walk with me I was understrict instructions to walk either ten paces in front of her or ten paces behind in Sainsburies, because it looked as if I “had had an accident in my trousers.”Three years later our third child was born, Joshua. We loved him to death. His older sister and brother doted on him. he was our communal baby. The family baby for everyone. He is Autistic but that’s another story.

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