Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Three-Thousand Dollar Grapefruit (part 1)

Imagine, if you will, carrying a good-sized grapefruit around all day, all night. It's there when you sleep, when you wake, when you use the restroom.

Did I mention that it's in your scrotum? Think that through. Imagine for most of a year having no idea what the hell this thing is or what caused it, but pretty much overnight your pants don't fit.

Add to this a lack of medical insurance and no money at hand to pay for an ER trip.

That was me in July of 2009. I did a bit of Google searching, sorting the crappy fake-med "information" out from the real thing, and quickly eliminated cancer as a possible cause. It wasn't a hernia. It took several tries to get the right combination of words in a search, but once I figured out that it was fluid that had collected in there, the answer popped up quickly in a search: hydrocele testis. Yeah, I know I should have gone to a doctor, and like that, but that lack of money was a bigger worry than a painless thingie. I don't have any credit cards. Never have. I live entirely within my means, or I do without.

I took to wearing long shirts. Once it got cold enough, I wore a jacket. I tended to avoid public places when I could. All the while, I was wondering how I was going to get rid of the damn thing.

Sometime in April 2010, while hunting for urologists and trying to find out how much surgery was going to cost, I found sites like this one, where several guys described a do-it-yourself approach using a #20 gauge needle and some surgical tubing. Simple!

But I freaking hate needles.

Surgery's a 30-minute outpatient thing, 2 weeks of recovery...easily a couple thousand bucks for hospital time, doctor fee, anesthesiologist, and whatever else. Did I mention the money thing?

The do-it-yourself approach...under twenty bucks.

I read that forum a few times, and it seemed really straightforward, except for the damn needle. Seems crazy, sitting here re-reading the forum and my own post, here--my little 'inner dialogue' voice shouts, "Are you INSANE?! Go to a freaking hospital! Find a doctor! You're asking for an infection!"

Screw it, I thought. I'll do it myself.

Montage: It's May 15th. Hopping into car, driving, shopping, finding the supplies, drive home.

The next morning (May 16th), I had everything set: needle, tubing, 2-quart bottle, a cold-pack (anesthetic--you put an ice cube or whatever on the spot to be poked, get it numb, and you're done), rubbing alcohol.

I could describe the process in a montage...but there's no need.

Goddamn needles.

A #20 gauge, half-inch needle doesn't look like much until you're sitting there about to jab it into your body.

Goddamn needles.

I sat there, shining steel a millimeter away from The Grapefruit. I sat there long enough that the cold pack was a lukewarm pack and I could feel the goddamn needle.

I chickened out.

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