Howardism Musings from my Awakening Dementia
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Symbol for a Fixed Male

My New Symbol

Disengage Fertility Mechanism

This evening my daughter hopped on my back and said, "Go, Hee-hor" (I have no idea why she calls horses that), and while I was trotting around the room, I said to my wife sitting nearby, "Hey, take a look at this stud." (Yes, I can get away with comments like that since my children are under the age of two).

She deadpanned a reply, "Yup … until Monday."

That's right … I'm going to be, er… fixed. And unlike a dog who is excited to see the vet and get tutored, I know full-well what will happen Monday afternoon.

When I mentioned the news to my Mother, she wasn't very excited over my decision to have a vasectomy, and mentioning all the care-free sex I can have didn't seem to make much of an impact. I don't blame her… I would love thousands of grandkids because I wouldn't have the responsibility of actually raising the spawn. Oh yeah, the grandparents life is the life for me!

But raising two kids seems to be the work of three. I'm exhausted, my wife's exhausted, but the children only sleep while I'm driving… you know, when I can't sleep. I used to be a light sleeper, but not now. I'm amazed how I can catch a brief nap in between the pages of a bedtime story or between verses of the "Itchy Bitchy Spider."

Yes, childbirth can be its own form of contraception, but perhaps in five years when the children are in college (my kids are advanced, you know), and we'll forget about the sleeplessness… I just don't want to re-experience this.

Of course I would love each an every rug-rat that crawled across my floor, but my decision is mostly cerebral. From my point of view, the world is quite full, and having lots of babies won't help. Raising a couple of well-adapted, intelligent adults, however, just might.

Well, maybe my decision isn't fully cerebral. I wanted the experience of fatherhood, and intend on enjoying it completely (and have so far). I also want to give as much attention to my children as they need. And being one child in a herd of twelve meant that to earn any attention you had to be either really good or really bad. Yeah, flip a coin…

While I'm confident in the outcome, the procedure is a bit unnerving, and I can't get any sympathy from my wife who experiences of childbirth is still fresh in her mind. But with the miracle of modern medicine has come the miracle of really good drugs-- "Pass the doobie, Doc."

I'll be fine.

Update #1

The operation wasn't bad at all… for what was going on, that is. I'll admit that 8th grade fears and feelings flood back in such a situation, but I tried to be a grown-up and not whimper… too loudly.

I did raise an eyebrow when I saw smoke. Smoke? Oh yeah, I think I did read about the cauterizing of the vas. Hmm… I smell like bacon. (Yeah, I was going to make a "hot dog" joke right about now, but I'm an adult).

It was my wife who asked about the nurse. Of course, there is going to be someone in attendence to help out (but remember those 8th grade emotions). I told her he was a man… a slightly effeminate man.

She asked, "Was that better or worse?"

"I don't know."

Regardless, the operation was a success… well, I survived-- we won't know for a little while if I'm still a stud-muffin or not. But I'm recovering fine. My wife's sister called and asked how I was doing, and my wife said, "Oh, he's just hanging around icing his crotch."

That just about sums up my activity lately.

The best thing about this vicodin is the kicking dreams you get. They are especially trippy when you didn't even realize you were asleep. Good thing I can't remember them, as they don't call it a subconscious for nothing.

There's this one dream where I'm fighting a bag of frozen peas in a karate outfit, and it ends up kicking me in the groin. OK, maybe that dream doesn't require any Jungian interpretation. I wonder if I'll end up cooking this bag of peas?

Update #2

I heard that I'd be limping and sore for a week, but day 2, and I'm off the pills and feeling pretty good. A bit sore, but it is more like being uncomfortable. I must say, that was pretty easy.

Update #3

All joking aside, it has now been almost 3 years since this operation, and believe me, I'm still glad I got it done. I haven't noticed anything different, and the only thing that has changed is the lack of fear about having more kids.

But I met a man who refuses, and when asked why, he really couldn't say. It seems that he was just scared. Those of us who have climbed a mountain peak are amazed at the people who won't get over their fear of heights in order to see the vista.

In the case of a vasectomy, there just wasn't anything to it.

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I am very entertained about your discussion about your feelings towards your vasectomy and the man who refused to have it.

I have what seems to me an obvious means of measuring discomfort although when I tell it to people they all seem to feel it is novel. I measure discomfort by the moment at which you've reached the halfway point. That is, when you have undergone as much pain as you have left to undergo. While occasionally useful for predictive purposes, it is very useful for reflective purposes or to relate your experiences to others.

For example, I frequently tell first-time fathers-to-be that no matter how their wife feels, the halfway point in pregnancy is around the start of the 9th month (I never tell this to the mothers-to-be as sadism is not my bag). I warn the fathers-to-be that they should just be prepared for it. I've discussed this with many women and I seem to get around a 50% agreement with no definitive second place number coming in. If I discounted women that didn't seem to understand my halfway point (perhaps "understand" is the wrong word, those people seem to have trouble producing a cumulative sum for discomfort - there are bad moments and they stand out but they can't seem to add apples to oranges and just count them as fruit), then my 50% stat would go up. So, it is useful.

Now, back to the castration/vasectomy… For me, the halfway point of pain was while I was in the waiting room waiting to go in for the procedure. That is, the surgery (which the doctor said I seemed to find unusually painful -- he felt it was a physical response because I only complained when he touched the thing), the recovery, and such were just as painful as the build-up for me.

My take is that 250 million years of mammalian evolution have led to males not wishing sharp things near that part of our bodies. My wife didn't understand. She asked "Would you make such a fuss if I was having my tubes tied?". That is when I told her that she just didn't get it. I explained that I would be less nervous if I was having my appendix removed or my gall bladder or something like that than I was over this minor procedure. I even contemplated if open-heart surgery would be less nerve-wracking than the vasectomy (I never answered that question as I felt I couldn't effectively understand open-heart surgery enough to make the comparison).

So, I totally understand where the man who was refusing came from. Evolution paves a broad path, and while we are all stuck on the path, we do have some choice as to which side we walk it, how fast, whether we take the easy route or the good route, etc… While evolution clearly allows men to sterilize themselves, it is not the easy route.

—Neil Smithline