Newest Review: ... I was terrified about three things - 1. Injections/Blood Tests - the last time I had a blood test, around ten years ago when I had... more
One Ball Down...A Coward's Guide to Testicular Cancer.
My Experience of Testicular Cancer
Member Name: LeeRobertAdams
My Experience of Testicular Cancer
Advantages: Made me realize how brave I can be.
Disadvantages: Well, it's cancer, isn't it?
I always thought I was going to live forever - I'm thirty-three but feel the same as I did when I was eighteen, and I've got through a relatively hard-drinking, hard-smoking lifestyle without any troubles to this point.
I was a bit suspicious of my balls, though, because I had an operation when I was five years old to bring them down into my scrotum - undescended testicles, I believe the term is.
Therefore I was straight on the case when I felt a lump on my right testicle about two months ago while taking a piss. I always take those hands-on moments as an opportunity to check things out, and found a marble-like protrusion sticking out of my right nut.
I gave it a day or two, just to see, while also working myself up into a panic about testicular cancer, and all the things that might involve.
I wasn't hanging around, though - unlike some guys, I don't have any pride when it comes to these kind of things. I got myself an appointment to get it checked out.
However, I live in the Czech Republic, and a visit to the doctors is not the easiest thing for someone who doesn't speak fluent Czech. The urologist I visited was a man who looked like he smoked in his office, and we communicated through a combination of mime and shouting.
He originally treated it as an infection, and put me on antibiotics, which did nothing at all. On my third visit, after many facial expressions which you might make watching skateboarders fall on their face during "You've Been Framed", he referred me to the hospital with the suspicion of a tumor.
Once at the hospital, things moved pretty quickly. In less than a week, they'd taken blood and decided that I should have the offending testicle removed, as it was most likely a tumor.
I did all my crying that day; I've grown up enough to know how my emotions work. When I left the UK to live abroad in 2009, once I knew for definite I would be going, I got pissed up in town and had a tearful conversation on the phone to my mum. It was a bit embarrassing in hindsight, but when it came down to the final day, I was calm while my family broke down in tears. I got my tears in early so I could deal with that final wrench more effectively.
The day they said I had a tumor, I went home, sat about for a bit, then went back to work, thinking I'd be better off there rather than sit around by myself worrying. I lasted approximately three minutes, before someone asked if I was OK, then I dissolved into bitter tears.
After that, I was fresh and ready to go, although the times waiting for action were much worse than anything that actually happened to me. I'm a huge wimp, and have a very low threshold for pain, or any physical discomfort.
Before checking into hospital, I was terrified about three things -
1. Injections/Blood Tests - the last time I had a blood test, around ten years ago when I had glandular fever, I blacked out and needed to lie down for about half an hour.
2. Hospitals - My beloved Grandmother and Great-Grandmother both passed away in hospital, so I had an inbuilt fear and distrust of hospitals in general.
3. The Operation - I'd be knocked out for the actual Op, but was terrified of any drips or tubes sticking out of me when I awoke.
When the nurse took six blood samples for the first test, I tried to counteract my blood test wimpiness by trying to be the big man and jump straight up afterwards. This led to a draining of blood from head to foot, and flaking out on the table in a big sweaty puddle of dizziness and despair.
Once it was decided I should have the testicle removed, the doctor sent me to another hospital to deposit some sperm, in case further treatment - ie. Radiotherapy or Chemotherapy - knocked out the other testicle. Before I could do that, I needed to give MORE blood, so I could be tested for HIV.
I took that one more calmly, and laid down for five minutes before attempting to get up.
The sperm deposit was the saddest wank I've ever had. For this, they sent me to another hospital, and I envisioned scenes from movies where a character will go to a gleaming clinic, and get put in a room with a little pot, a drawer full of glossy jazz mags, and a porno playing on a TV in the corner.
I've always tried avoiding porn due to my partner, who considers it a form of cheating. But I figured she would forgive me this one. The woman handed me a little tub through the window and gave me a key to a small annex across the courtyard.
Once in there, I discovered a couch and a coffee table covered in porno mags. Despite my troubled state of mind at this point, a little pervert somewhere in my mind shouted "Game on!"
It was a bit distressing, though. I knew countless blokes in similar situations had sat on that sad little couch knocking one out over these mags, so first off I felt the need to sit on my jacket. And the mags were all what I would describe as "Communist Era Porn", very dated, and from approximately the mid-Eighties, which didn't help. Even when I was into my porn, I always had trouble with bad haircuts, and here I had nightmare perms and neon colored naughty underwear to wank around.
I've never been a prolific cummer, but I managed to eke out a few drops into my pot, and it was sad to think my chances of having a family in the future might rest on this meager little offering. But, I've always liked a good story, so I consoled myself with thoughts of telling my future children that they lay in stasis in a clinic in Brno, Czech Republic, a bit like Wesley Snipes in "Demolition Man", ready to be thawed out and take the world on.
Even after all that, I couldn't resist a little joke to myself as I left the cabin, thinking; "Maybe I'll keep the key and pop down for another one later on."
When I got back to my apartment, I got a text - "Mr Adams - you forgot to return the key to our room." And had to run back to the hospital to return it.
The hospital itself was a huge barrier for me, and in some ways I was more worried about spending a week on a ward with a bunch of other men than I was about the operation itself.
I was booked in on the Friday, and luckily a friend took the day off work to come along and help translate. Once on the ward, waiting to be admitted, my concerns gradually faded - for one thing, the place didn't smell as bad as hospital back in England. It didn't have that ground in smell of sickness you encounter in UK hospitals, and apart from lunch - overpowering cabbage stench - it was actually quite fresh, and I'd bagged a bed by the window.
The waiting, as always, was the worst, and I was actually quite jovial when things were moving ahead - getting issued with my pyjamas, having an ECG, an X-Ray, and blood pressure taken. The downer was, they couldn't fit me in that day, so would have to go home and come back Sunday.
This was an annoyance and a blessing - while I wanted to get things sorted out as quick as possible, it also gave me time to absorb what was happening. At this stage, even with my operation on the Monday, it was still less than a week between diagnosis and removal - this was going way, way too quickly for me.
Into hospital, I had a few more indignities to deal with - I was shaved down below by a cheerful middle-aged nurse with an amazing dry razor. I'd been growing a beard through the whole time from around when I discovered the lump, and shaved it off because I associated it with the problem. That took four razors.
This old girl had a razor with comb-like prongs, and my pubes came off like a dream. If only I'd had a razor like this when I shaved my beard! It was a weird experience, especially when she was blowing off tufts of shaved pubes with her mouth.
Then she gave me an enema, pumping about a liter of water up my arse to flush me out. I was expected to hang on twenty minutes before going for a shit, but there was no way I could clench that long. Twenty seconds was more like it, but I felt very refreshed afterwards.
My first night on the ward was actually OK, and I was looking forward to any drugs they might give me. I'd heard good things from my mum and other people about morphine, but unfortunately didn't get to experience that. Instead, they popped me a Diazepam, which gave me a lovely warm buzz. I knew it would help me sleep when I put my head down, but sat up for a bit, enjoying the feeling, and even walking around just for the hell of it, just to have a laugh bumbling around on it.
Things moved quickly when they took me down, and the scariest part was actually seeing the operating theater with all the equipment. The anaesthetist was talking to me as they put the drip in my arm, and that was it. I woke up in my bed on the ward.
I'd stated very clearly to my partner I did not want her to be there when I came round, as I knew what it was like coming out of general anaesthetic and being a complete incoherent, gibbering mess.
However, the first thing I did when I came round was try to text her - that was way too hard, so I called her. I called her again later on when I was more with it, and only found out then about my earlier drugged up phone call.
They let me out the following day, and the worst thing about the whole experience was removing the drainage tube from my testicle. That was a horrible sensation - not that painful, but a really horrible feeling as they dragged it out of my nether regions.
I was very sore at first, and had real trouble getting myself from a laying down position to upright, as I had problems getting my arms under me to lever myself up without putting any pressure on my stomach muscles.
My back ached dreadfully, and on my second day home, decided to walk down to my local pub for a non-alcoholic beer and get some exercise. The walk would normally take thirty seconds, but took more like ten minutes, and I regretted the decision half way. It really took it out of me and wish I'd stayed at home.
It's two weeks later and I'm still waiting on the final result of the histology report, but I wanted to share this experience. Firstly, because I know a lot of guys have certain hang ups when it comes to the "family jewels", and in some cases will hang on until it's too late to get it seen to.
And secondly, because I always considered myself an absolute coward when it came to this kind of thing, and I've inadvertently proved to myself it's not a big deal, and I can be brave when it comes to it. It's an important lesson to learn - the doctor says my remaining testicle will remain high risk because of it's origins, but now I won't feel as scared if the worst comes to the worst.
This story is not finished yet; I desperately hope it will have a (semi) happy ending, but hopefully it will be of some comfort to anyone else suffering the same problem.
Summary: Despite how bad things can be, you can learn about yourself.
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