Panic! at the Household
Let’s Be Frank: The Diary of a Divorced Gay Dad
During my post-divorce life makeover, for a multitude of reasons, I decided to change my primary care physician. My previous doctor was a fast-talking elderly straight man who thought PrEP was an abbreviation for Preparation H. After years of requesting embarrassing tests to be met with by wide-eyed stares, my new one is a breath of fresh air. He is considered the gay doctor in my small town, and what a world of difference it has made. Within minutes of my first visit he asked if I was a top or a bottom, and was knowledgeable of local STIs that were on the rise within the gay community. I received a blood-screening and a very thorough exam (settle down everyone – no doctor fantasies here), and a few days later he told me I was in perfect health. Except for one major thing. Apparently all of my gym efforts brought along an unwelcome visitor in the form of a groin hernia.
When he first did the whole “turn your head and cough,” I played along – I’ve done this my entire life and passed that test with flying colors. This time, however, he was like, “Can you feel that?” And I was like “can I feel what ?!?” To which he replied, “That bulge inside your scrotum.” I felt it, turned white, and had to sit down because I almost passed out. I’m the guy who has never truly had an injury, much less one around my family jewels. He consoled me and told me it was very mild and didn’t require surgery. He advised that I revisit him in three months and try not to strain myself as much. That went in one ear and out the other and I was back at the gym deadlifting too much weight in days. Fast forward a couple months to last weekend, when I woke up on Sunday and had a bowling ball inside my nut sack.
That morning, my Fall allergies were getting the best of me and every time I coughed, it would feel really fu*king weird down there. I hesitated to feel it with my hand, but when I finally did, the panic began. My brain shut down and I started sobbing uncontrollably because of the realization that I will now need surgery and I AM TOTALLY ALONE. I went through a million scenarios in my head, all of which were horrific. I tend to get extremely emotional when I’m infirm, and in the past my ex was always there to help me relax. Now I had to inform him via email that he might have our son for a while because I would be recovering from a nasty procedure. BY MYSELF. This entire experience fell into the department of Things I Never Thought About When Getting Divorced, so I caved and called my dad.
“Go to the emergency room now, son,” he said.
“Dad, I’m not about to do that!” I replied, in between bawling.
“Listen to me, get your ass to the hospital and if you need me to, I’ll come up.”
In my head I could hear him, and was comforted by his words, but the mere thought of sitting in an ER alone terrified me. I didn’t want to bother any of my friends, so I decided to tough it out and wait to speak to my doctor. I thanked my dad for inducing more panic, and also for being a good father and offering to fly halfway across the country. I took a handful of Advil, melted into the sofa, and watched “Untold Stories of the ER” all day long. My theory was that I would desensitize myself, like cheap exposure therapy. Instead, I had nightmares that night, and all of them involved my balls getting ripped out.
I insisted on seeing my doctor the next day, and he surprised me with the diagnosis of not one, but two hernias! However, I faced it with a new mentality – with my son in mind. I’m not in excruciating pain, and I can make a plan for the surgery now (hello, winter months and video games), and maybe even use this as an example to show Briggs how I can persevere. When I picked him up from school on Tuesday, one of the first questions he asked was “Daddy, is something wrong with your tummy?” And I said “Well yes bud, but it’s not anything to worry about. I’m going to have to go to the hospital like you did when you got stitches.” He said “Oh, okay. Can I come with you?” And in that moment, I realized, I AM NOT TOTALLY ALONE. I have Briggs, and I’ll show him I can do this, will do this, and most likely keep both of my balls.
Thanks to my 6-year old son, I found the strength I thought I had lost.
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