August 24, 2006

Today, I am a man

This phrase, in the title, is the phrase commonly uttered by American Jewish boys on the occasion of their bar mitzvah. The bar mitzvah is the traditional manhood test in Judaism. You stand in front of your community and you prove to your community that you are literate and that you either have an understanding of the laws of the community or can acquire such an understanding. It is a literacy test that, when passed, confers the status of adult on the test taker. If you can understand and follow the laws, you are no longer a child and you will be held accountable for your conduct. Hence, the statement, "today, I am a man."

This phrase came back to me today as I await tomorrow when I am scheduled to have a vasectomy. I was wondering, as I kicked the thought around, do I say tomorrow that now that I can no longer father children, "today, I am somewhat less of a man"?

I don't know the answer. The reasons for having this procedure, which I am dreading, having never really had any surgical intervention before, are easily set out: my wife really must not fall pregnant again. And as the urologist and I discussed, we need a foolproof method. Actually, we had the following interchange:

Doc: What kind of birth control are you currently using?

Me: Well, I have been trying to convince my wife of the benefits of "oral contraception", if you know what I mean.

Doc: *Loud Snort* Please. You're married. That's never gonna happen.

I don't personally feel his medical judgment is binding or even ought to be considered by my wife, but just the same, there it is.

So, I await the chop tomorrow with great anxiety and no small amount of unhappiness. I've been very happy over the years with the way my plumbing has been configured. I am struggling to accept the need to re-arrange it. One, I am not big on pain. Two, well, do I need a two beyond pain? If there is a two, it might involve strange, sensitive, and not too deeply examined issues of self-image.

This has been the medical attention week. I saw the urologist on Monday, the annual check up on Wednesday, the dentist on Wednesday, and then I will have the big chop on Friday. In anticipation, I also had a haircut. There were thoughts of Samson, in part. Also, I wanted to have short hair if I was not going to be able to wash it for a day or two. The doctor yesterday, by the way, gave me a nice clean bill of health, subject only to the blood test results. In anticipation of that, I carefully broke my fast after that first Wednesday appointment with a 10:00 a.m. big old serving of onion rings covered in chili and melted cheese. Food of the Gods, my friends, and vouchsafed only to those deserving souls who either have low cholesterol already or those who don’t know what their test results are but want to stock up on the yummy fat, salt, and grease in case of a result that would suggest such happy food is contraindicated.

I do hope tomorrow goes ok and that I do not get any of the complications the urologist described in too gruesome a detail.

But before that, I will be dining with wife and friends tonight at a classic old New York steakhouse where I will prepare for the snipping with rare meat and red wine. However, and I am not saying I’m compensating for anything here, and shame on you if you think that, I am going to hit the gym and lift a lot of weight. At least two of the three sets of chest press with the 75 pound dumb bells. Not compensating at all, ok?

Anyway, have a nice weekend, y'all. If you need me, I'll be the guy on the couch with the icepack. I plan on being whiny, a little bit, too. Just because.

Posted by Random Penseur at August 24, 2006 02:18 PM | TrackBack

I'd say I'll be thinking of you, but that, um just doesn't sound right.

So good luck.

Posted by: phin at August 24, 2006 02:25 PM

Good luck my friend. I've known several guys who have had it done and all went well.

Posted by: Howard at August 24, 2006 02:39 PM

RP I think this makes you more, not less of a man.

Another blogger friend 'just' went through the big snip and apparently you *have* to have sex as part of the healing process.

At least that's what he told his wife...

Posted by: Jocelyn at August 24, 2006 03:50 PM

Hey, so you decided to do it!

You read my story, hopefully that doesn't scare you too much, but take heed: when they say shave, SHAVE!

Oh, and another tip: supportive underwear is not a suggestion, it's a requirement :)

Sex is definitely part of the healing process, you know... gotta flush the pipes.

Posted by: Oorgo at August 24, 2006 04:28 PM

We'll be thinking of you tomorrow. Good luck, and here's to good pain meds!

BTW, I am also a big fan of the chili-cheese onion ring.....

Posted by: caltechgirl at August 24, 2006 07:37 PM

Good luck to you, my friend.


Posted by: Jennifer at August 24, 2006 08:09 PM

I know of two guys my age who went through the big cut. Both are free of further offspring.

Some bits of advice:
(1) Shave.
(2) After things heal up a bit, your shaved places will start to itch quite a bit. Try to convince your wife that "oral contraception" would be helpful in your time of need.
(3) Do get your sperm count tested afterwards; confirm that the little boys aren't making a break for freedom.

Posted by: owlish at August 24, 2006 08:30 PM

I'll got no advice to add, just best wishes.

As far as the whole "less of a man" thing, I can understand where you're coming from. The only analogy I seem to keep coming up with is Dave Dravecky. Not sure why...

Posted by: Tuning Spork at August 25, 2006 01:39 AM

Good luck, my friend.

Posted by: Robert the Llama Butcher at August 25, 2006 09:49 AM

Good luck; I've been there. The ice pack is your friend. My recovery would have been completely painless if I hadn't had a violent allergic reaction to the opiate-based painkillers (no codeine, morphine, vicodin, or percocet for me, ever again). Once I got over the chills and dry heaves, I realized it didn't hurt down there at all. Definitely be sure to go in for the post-op counts until the reading is zero. I feel no less manly now than before (it's been 6.5 years).

Posted by: JohnL at August 25, 2006 10:53 AM

Prayers and positive thoughts going your way!

Posted by: michele at August 25, 2006 01:38 PM