I had two New Year's resolutions in 2018; have a vasectomy and pass my driving test. When December came, I was holding my driver's license with satisfaction. It is true that I had not reached my two resolutions, but the partial conclusion should not be analyzed, right?
In 2019, I also had two resolutions – having a vasectomy and going back to the gym. Again December came, and again I got only one of them. I'm in an infinitesimally better condition than a year ago, so it's the same as having a vasectomy. It is not?
Do you see an emerging pattern? I stumbled into an incredible and flawless breach to keep me from feeling bad for never having a vasectomy. Every year I make a plan to do so, and every year I avoid it by creating and running a different resolution that I can use as a safety net to my own disappointment. Smart, isn't it? What a genius I am, fooling myself like that. It has done me good to overcome myself so skillfully at every step.
You won't be surprised to hear that I have two resolutions for 2020 as well. One is to take flight lessons, and the other – you guessed it – is to make an appointment for a vasectomy. Really this time. Really and truly. I am going to do that. Honestly.
Except I won't, yes? This time next year, I guarantee I will invest all my money in the destructive frivolity of the weather and all because I don't like the thought of a doctor opening my balls.
And this is the crux of it. Every time I approach an appointment, I see flashes of scalpels. I remember word for word how Jamie Oliver described what happened to a friend after a vasectomy: “He cried for three weeks! Everything went black! I hear a sneeze in the middle of the slice. I imagine a steamroller popping a watermelon. I imagine the pain of the time when my two-year-old daughter accidentally stepped on my backpack and amplified it by a million.
But I should have a vasectomy. I know I should. My testicles served their purpose. They brought two boys into the world – two happy, amazing little boys who make my heart sing whenever I catch a glimpse of them. But at the same time, I know I'd rather drive over my head in my own car than have more. The thought of starting from scratch again, and all that implies, fills me with dread. The sleepless nights. The constant alert. The inability to wear white clothes. The cost. The renewed exposure to Bing. I can not. Make no mistake, my children are the joy of my life, but give me more and I swear to God I'll drown in a bathroom.
Also, I have a feeling a vasectomy would be good for my marriage. Because it turns out that having tangible evidence that sex leads to children is pretty much the biggest contraceptive ever created. Before you have children, you can be forgiven for being a little demon, you can care about birth control. "If it happens, it happens," you can tell each other. "They were in love! An accidental baby would be an expression of our love!" But once the kids stop being hypothetical – once their living room becomes a plastic tat minefield and the arms of their couch have trails of snails running through them and you're constantly so tired you can feel their eyes fluttering inside your head – it's a different matter. Sex takes on an air of Russian roulette. My balls have been benign for a long time. Now they're a Pair of hand grenades.
My testicles have already served their purpose. I have two happy boys
So we have two options: either have a vasectomy or wait for menopause. Which would be ideal for me, frankly, but a little selfish. After all, men tend to hitchhike in this field. Since I know her, my wife has been the one who has thrown herself into different hormonal tornadoes in the name of contraception. One pill made her gain weight. Another gave her bursts of depression. An IUD resulted in bacterial vaginosis. And all the time I stayed, secretly pleased that none of this was happening to me. Surely it's time for me to bring one to the team.
I have friends who had vasectomies. "The best thing I've ever done," said one. Another promised that it meant "John Wayne Minimal Walking". One of my wife's friends said a vasectomy was "the best gift a man can give a woman."
"It's completely normal," one of my closest friends told me. Like me, he had his second child when he decided to have a vasectomy, but unlike me, his procrastination was minimal. He told me that it made him feel "like a married man again, not just a baby factory" that had removed so much uncertainty from his life. "And it's not that painful. You got in, out and that's it," he added. So it's painless, I asked. "I didn't say painless," he replied. "They are still your balls. They feel quite sensitive for a while. But you will feel much worse. Looking at him, happy with the certainty that he would never have children, was a revelation. He almost made it seem like one day." in a theme park.
But still. The last time I seriously considered the idea, I was promoting a book. During a panel, I wondered aloud if anyone in the audience had had a vasectomy. "Yes!" A voice called back from the darkness. How was it, I asked in hope more than anything else. "It really hurts!" The voice shouted back. And that's the voice I hear every time I think about making an appointment with my GP.
For the record, pain is part of my reticence, but I'm not a coward. I had my laser eyes, for example. A sucker clung to my eyeball, and a laser beam shot into my eye until I was blind. Physically, this has to be like a vasectomy, right? After all, they say the eyes are the balls of the face.
A good friend tells me that was the best thing he ever did.
Instead, it is permanence. I never want to have children again, but what if I want to? I change my mind about everything all the time. There was a time when I didn't want children, and suddenly, out of the blue, I really did. What if, when my two children are in school, I miss the first days again? For all the first; the teeth, the steps, the words? They say you should not have a vasectomy if you are under stress. But stress has been my pattern for a while now. What if stress is influencing my decision? Perhaps, as soon as everything is straightened out, I will receive more children with open arms.
Shyly, I make a call with Dr. Camille Tchuinkam, Marie Stopes's chief surgeon. He makes a great effort to expose the painful vasectomy myth. "The procedure we use is the no scalpel technique," he explains. "It reduces complications and there is very little bleeding. We make two small cuts in the scrotum, maybe 2 or 3 mm long, and that's it. You only need two days off."
I was wondering if a lot of people have last-minute heart changes at the table, but Dr. Tchuinkam explained that it's quite rare. "We have a team of counselors that patients can talk to if they have any reservations," he said. "And we didn't perform the procedure for at least 10 days to give the patient time to change his mind."
It was all doing so much to ease my mind, but then he said something I can never forget. "If you have young children, it is important for them to know that you need to rest," he began, before telling me the story of a man who came home from a vasectomy to be greeted by his two young children who ran animatedly in his direction. groin height. "He had to go straight back to the hospital," Tchuinkam said, "to the emergency department."
"My God," I shouted back, doubling in agony on the other side of the phone as I thought about it. "But it's a rare occurrence," he reassured me. "It's just two small cuts, and when they heal, it looks like a cigarette burn." A cigarette burn. A cigarette burn.
At this point I'm not afraid to say I was out. Of all the mental images I wanted in my head, a cigarette being erased in my scrotum was on the list. If you are a man reading this, I'm sorry. I'm sorry, now you are devoting your brain power to trying to avoid thinking of someone putting out a cigarette in your testicles. I wish I could promise that the mental image disappears, but no.
I still have two new year's resolutions this year. And that means it's better to book some flight lessons because I gave up on the idea of having a vasectomy. There are always 2021.