Saturday, December 12, 2020

One: I'm Not In Any Pain

My Mask Has Been My Constant Companion

This is the first in a series of posts writing down what I've told a large number of times.

So much so my wife has started to roll her eyes when I tell the story.

Hence me writing it.

It's pretty real. And somewhat graphic. By that I mean - if you're a guy, you might find yourself squirming a little.

If you're woman - then tell the men in your life to check their testicles.

Ready?

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1: "I'm not in any Pain" 

This had all started in July.  School had already been out for a week. Not that it meant much - I'd been teaching both online and in-person and was particularly tired (more so that most years...nothing like a pandemic to really mess things up). I was spending time reading and relaxing. Not really waking up any later. My wife was working and we were both at home.

One weekend I noticed my right testicle was beginning to swell. It had happened gradually. A slight feeling that something was off. A different sensation wearing underwear. Subtle, but unmistakable. Men reading this will know how a few millimetres can make a difference. My initial reaction was no reaction. Except I after feeling it, I knew something was off. After a conversation with my wife, she confirmed what I thought:

"Book an appointment with the doctor tomorrow".

Wednesday 22 July, I saw my GP. I was in a mask. He was in a full hazmat suit (yes Covid Times). He examined me fully - and whilst uncomfortable, it wasn't painful.

I had wondered if it was something to do with fertility. Having been through (and continuing to be on) a proper roller-coaster with attempting to have our own family, (three failed rounds of IVF, lifestyle changes, supplements, and an eventual diagnosis of endometriosis and adenomysis for my wife...we were left with 'unexplained infertility'. A whole other story.) I wondered if it was varicose veins in the scrotum. My doctor said:

"If it was - for want of a better phrase - it would feel like a bag of worms."

"I'm not in any pain" I shrugged. It was probably more to reassure myself than I realised.

I felt as if I had a smooth egg in my scrotum. Zero discomfort.

He wasn't sure what it was, so wrote a referral for me to have an ultrasound.

The next week I went and picked up the form and drove to the ultrasound department at St George's hospital. I had been under the impression from the doctor that it would happen relatively quickly.

The receptionists felt they had to repeat themselves to me about how I would get an appointment when my details were entered on the system.

Looking back, I appreciate how challenging their job is. Clarity is sometimes favoured over a polite demeanour when dealing with the public. Especially during a global pandemic.

I realised there was not much I could do - other than be patient.

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PS Looking back, my red mask has felt like a constant companion. The way it felt on my face. The sound of my breathing through it as I sat in waiting rooms, or had my testicles examined by a doctor. It's become a reminder of the journey.

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