It's thursday morning when my friend picks me up for my 9 am vasectomy appointment.
On the way, I stare out the windshield and wonder if I'm doing the right thing. I touch my guys lovingly and hope the doctor had a good night's sleep.
8:56 am: We sit in the clinic waiting room where I thumb through an old Maclean's. It occurs to me that I might be starting to panic!
9:07 am: The nurse comes for me. Someone famous once said, "It's through our bold actions that we gain others' respect." Later, my friend tells me she gave odds of 3-to-1 that I'd bolt.
9:08 am: The urologist who will "perform the procedure" looks about 25 years old and since my first consultation has grown a small Vandyke beard and bleached the top ends of his short, sporty hair. I tell myself to be thankful he's not some old guy with shaky hands putting in his last few months before retirement.
9:10 am: The nurse tells me to lie down on the operating table. She covers me with a green sheet that leaves only my shaved scrotum visible. Then she uses a swab to paint it with brown soap disinfectant. The nurse is young and attractive, and I'm assailed with conflicting urges, although nothing could arouse a reaction at this point.
I switch to observation mode - a large clock on the wall, oxygen tanks, a tray beside me covered with a sterile cloth under which must be the sharp scalpel the doctor will use to cut into my scrotum and sever the vas deferens so my sperm will be re-absorbed into my body without ever completing their biologically ordained purpose. I close my eyes, breathe deeply and try to relax.
9:12 am: The doctor tells me he's going to "freeze my bag." He likes to use the vernacular. I guess he thinks it makes guys feel more comfortable. The first time we talked, he told me that my nuts might swell up a bit after the procedure, but not to worry.
9:13 am: You might feel some discomfort," the doctor says, putting the needle into the left side of my scrotum. There's a sharp pain for just a second - but no worse than the time in Puerto Vallarta when we were drinking tequila and beer on the beach and I sat on a cactus needle.
9:14 am: Cactus needle in the right side of my scrotum.
9:16 am: "Tell me if this hurts," the doctor says, making the first incision. The pain is sharp but bearable. I don't look, so I can't say if he's using a barracuda fillet knife. I'm in shock.
9:17 am: The doctor tells me he's pulling out the vas deferens. Then I hear the sound of equipment starting up and smell my own flesh burning as he cauterizes the cut ends.
9:18 am: While he's putting in a stitch, he asks what I do for a living. When I tell him I'm a writer, he laughs and says I should do a story about how rough the doctor was who did my vasectomy. "You're doing an excellent job. it hardly hurt," I tell him. "Very diplomatic of you," he says. "But you don't have much choice with your balls in my hand." The nurse laughs.
9:20 am: He goes to work on the right side. Cutting, burning, stitching.
9:27 am: I sit up and look down at myself. All I see are two tiny stitches closing a pair of little nicks. Nothing swelling, nothing missing. "Fourteen minutes," the doctor says, looking at the clock. "About average." He winks and tells me not to do anything strenuous for a few days. The stitches will come out by themselves. Then he hands me a small plastic bottle and tells me to give the lab a sample in two months.
9:29 am: My friend walks me out to her car. I let her take my arm, and shuffle like an old guy, trying not to rub my legs together. I feel every pothole in the parking lot as we pull away.
11 am: Lying on the couch with an ice pack, I'm sad in a way, knowing I can no longer procreate. A circle completed. But I realize that compared to what a woman has to go through having her tubes tied, it's sort of the ultimate manly sacrifice for love.
Two months later, the stitches have come out. Everything is back to normal. All systems A-OK.
The nurse at the doctor's office calls to give me the results from the semen test. "No sperm," she tells me, a hint of humour in her voice. "You might want to celebrate tonight with a bottle of wine." Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
So I'm sterile. Shooting blanks, and relieved to know that birth control is no longer an issue.
As I hang up, I wonder why I didn't do this years ago and use the money I saved on birth control to buy new tires for my car.