Sunday, December 20, 2020

Ask Arthur 2020, Part 1: An untold story

I hadn’t really planned on doing an “Ask Arthur” series this year (I didn’t do one last year, either). But then, along came a hypothetical question and I decided to go ahead this year, anyway. So, here we are.

The question was from Roger Green, added to the end of a comment to my post about my recent cryoablation procedure. He asked/commented:

So, if I were to Ask Arthur Anything, it'd be about the scar he got when he was 14..

What Roger’s referring to is a brief, off-handed remark I made in that post:

As it happens, [injection of the local anesthetic] wasn’t particularly painful because they chose a site next to a scar I got from surgery when I was around 14, and the skin between it and my leg has no feeling.

Obviously there’s a story there, one I’ve never told before merely because it’s not that interesting to me, and so, not on my mind very often. I’m not embarrassed by it at all, and the fact that I’m not, and that I wasn’t upset back then, says something about how I’m wired, I think (or maybe that should say “weird”?). That’s getting ahead of the story, though—one I think I also placed in the wrong year. More about that, too, later.

Back in 1972 (I now think…), when I was 13, I was sleeping on the floor of my parents’ room one summer night because they had a window air conditioner, and it was very hot. I woke up in the morning with the feeling that I’d been “kicked in the groin”, as “they” politely put it—“kicked in the balls”, I’d say. It turned out I’d had what the doctor called a testicular twist, something that’s usually formally known as testicular torsion. The Wikipedia article describes it well: “Testicular torsion occurs when the spermatic cord (from which the testicle is suspended) twists, cutting off the blood supply to the testicle.” That same article has good information on causes, probability, and so on,. By the time I saw the doctor, the only possible treatment was removal of my right testicle.

When the surgery was done, they entered through my abdominal wall, where it meets my right leg, and removed it that way. I have no idea why. That’s why I have that scar, and why I have no feeling in the skin there. Then, they made a small incision in my scrotum and “tied down” the other one to prevent it from twisting. That definitely worked.

I was fatalistic about it all, with the same sort of “it is what it is” attitude I’ve often had about things I can’t change. The nurses told my mother that there’d recently been another boy in there for the same thing (he was older—16, maybe). Apparently he was angry and depressed, full of the “why me?!” sort of thing. The nurses were amazed, for lack of a better word (though it’s probably a pretty accurate one), at how calm and nonchalant I was about it.

Be that as it may, when I said I wasn’t embarrassed, that’s absolutely true. However, some gym teachers decided they’d try to make me feel embarrassed.

Doctors didn’t want me to participate in any sort of contact sports or training because of the obvious risk to my remaining testicle. Some gym teachers decided to try to humiliate me for not participating. Sometimes that meant making me do some sort of alternative, non-contact activity, and only a few of them called any attention to it by having me do whatever the activity was in full view of the other boys. Most gym teachers weren’t sadistic—disinterested, if anything, and many of them made me sit on the sidelines (probably because they didn’t want to supervise some alternative activity and the other boys).

That’s actually how I know it was probably 1972 when the surgery was done. During one gym class session in junior high school, I was excused from activity and I was sitting on the bleachers playing with my cassette tape recorder that had an AM radio. One song that played frequently was Elvis Presley’s hit song, “Burning Love”, which was released August 1, 1972. That doesn’t rule out it having been the following year, however, I seem to remember that the song was in heavy rotation, and that suggests 1972. Still, whether it was 1972 or 1973 doesn’t really matter.

In the years since, I’ve been aware of the need to protect myself from injury, but that’s about it. No embarrassment, no issues of any kind. At one point I wondered about getting a prosthetic implant (which I’d just learned were a thing), but since I don’t parade around naked (and, at the risk of TMI, no partner ever said anything), I realised it was a pretty silly idea.

It never occurred to me to tell this story before precisely because it matters so little to me, and is so seldom front of mind—not until it became relevant again when I had that cryoablation procedure.

And that’s a story I’ve never told before, and still wouldn’t have if Roger hadn’t hypothetically asked a question. But, then, I'd also never have done this year's series if he hadn't. And now this year’s series has officially begun.

It’s not too late to ask a question: Simply leave a comment on this post (anonymous comments are allowed). Or, you can email me your question (and you can even tell me to keep your name secret, although, why not pick a nom de question?). You can also ask questions on the AmeriNZ Facebook page, though keep in mind that all Facebook Pages are public, just like this blog. You can also send me a private message through the AmeriNZ Facebook Page.

All posts in this series are tagged “AAA-20”. All previous posts from every “Ask Arthur” series are tagged, appropriately enough, ”Ask Arthur”.


Sure, why not ask again? – The first post in this year’s series.


Roger Owen Green said...

Now THAT"S a story! BTW, I had a gym teacher in grades 4 thru 8 named Mr. Lewis. He WAS a sadistic ass. The 9th-grade guy was great, 10th/11th schmucky, 12th grade, great.

Arthur Schenck said...

I only had a couple I thought were decent, many who were just kind of okay, and, fortunately, only a couple who were sadistic bastards. One in particular, when I was in primary school.