I’m twenty-two years old; in May I graduated from a small liberal arts college, freaked out for about 5 months, and now I’m doing ok living in Brooklyn. I’ve been to the hospital for various reasons nine separate times. Seven of these were related to problems that affected me downstairs. The worst was when I got circumcised; that was about three weeks ago. It’s still pretty painful.
When I was a junior at college, I started getting migraines from having sex. One day I was going at it and I felt a slight pain creep up my head. I continued with my work, and didn’t think anything of it. The next day I was engaged in a solo act and I felt the pain again, only this time it felt like someone had slammed the back of my head with a crow bar. I lay on the couch writhing in pain for a few hours. Advil didn’t seem to do very much. This was alarming and I went to health services. The result was that I was sent for both a CAT scan and an MRI. Neither of these tests detected anything wrong, and after abstaining for about three weeks, the headaches disappeared.
The summer before my senior year I was in the pool at nerd camp playing basketball and wrestling around in the water with some other dudes in a very homoerotic way – we made many jokes about that. Afterwards in the cafeteria I felt pain in my stomach/groin area but attributed it to the awful institutional food.
The following morning I went down there to scratch my inner thigh and noticed a little something extra in the testicular area. I immediately made an appointment at health services. Oh shit I’m dying of testicular cancer, I thought. I was sent to the local hospital to have an ultrasound done on my balls. The technician doing the test, a woman, tried to make small talk with me as she applied jelly down there, and that made it more uncomfortable for both of us.
The results indicated that I was OK; the mass I had felt was probably just a hydrocele (an innocuous collection of water) and that to take care of it, if it even had to be removed, I should consult a urologist. I felt relieved.
Right after nerd camp finished my girlfriend at the time, who was from Sweden, came to visit me for a week in Pennsylvania. Naturally we were goin’ at it a lot. For the weekend, we went into the city so she could see New York for the first time. We were walking along the street taking in that city and I felt some pain in my groin area. There was a significant bulge down there and I was really freaked out.
That day we went back to my house in PA. Despite that affliction – I still didn’t know what it was – we went at it a few times and it was actually OK. The next morning the mass was gone; my girlfriend flew back to Europe and I went along with my life until the bulge came back. This time I was so freaked out and I didn’t want to wait to see a specialist, so I went to the ER. It was immediately diagnosed as an inguinal hernia, a relatively common problem amongst males in their early twenties.
This ruined my sex life for that semester of college; not only did I have to be careful about having sex, but I was in a complicated and ridiculous long distance relationship with the girl I had met while I was studying abroad. To boot, I developed a second inguinal hernia the week after the first one was repaired. For most of that semester I was either grumpy or on painkillers, or both. The worst part, perhaps, was when I went to Sweden to see my girlfriend one last time; it had only been three weeks since the second operation, and goin’ at it was a huge pain, even though I wanted to.
The worst of my downstairs troubles started around last April. While going at it with my girlfriend at the time in a sound-proof music practice room, something ripped. Things were not as well lubricated as they should’ve been because we were both a little nervous about being in a public spot, even if no one could see us or hear us. I did not feel more pain than I would usually feel after a rough one, but the next few times we did it I realized that something was severely wrong because it stung like hell down there. What I later found out was that the phrenulum had been torn. This in turn caused there to be irritation on the foreskin that simply would not go away, no matter how many different topical solutions I tried with different doctors. This absolutely destroyed me. Eventually, I developed this weird repulsion towards sex because I knew it would be painful. The damage done to my psyche was incalculable, and in large part this prolonged struggle was what landed me in the ER at the end of the summer when I had a big panic attack (see Dan Hoffman, College Graduate).
After everything blew up, I just stopped caring about sex. I didn’t masturbate for 2 and ½ months. Slowly, though, my desires returned and I realized that the problem had not healed. Every time I caved in and rubbed one out it was like an inner battle was taking place inside of me, because I knew it would hurt afterwards. After consulting with yet more doctors, I made the decision to get cut.
I actually kind of enjoyed the procedure; I’ve come to like being in the hospital, because everyone is usually so nice to you and they give you lots of drugs (I was also hospitalized for an appendectomy and a broken collar bone). I made small talk with the urology residents (I was grilling one woman urology resident – why would a woman want to be a urologist?) and after I woke up I insisted to all the nurses that they had given me a sex change by accident. They thought I was a riot.
The particular circumstances of the operation were peculiar. I decided to have the operation done in NYC – this was before I moved here – because I didn’t really trust the doctors in PA. I didn’t know who was going to pick me up at the hospital, but by some strange coincidence, four of my college roommates were visiting the city together celebrating one of their birthdays. At first I thought it would be awkward seeing them under such circumstances, but I was on so many drugs that it was really fun. Outside of the hospital, a hustler almost beat me up because I wouldn’t stop asking him for a cigarette. Sans drugs, I would’ve felt really scared but I gestured with my hand and said, “ehhhh,” in a dismissive way. He threatened to kill me and we walked away quickly. For my friend Caroline’s birthday, her parents took us all out to dinner at a small Italian restaurant in the East Village on 1st Ave. My other friend told me not to mention the operation because it wasn’t polite conversation, but eventually I had to because I was clearly in pain and I had gauze on my hand from when they put the IV in. They thought the whole thing was really interesting and comical, and poured me lots of wine. All in all it was a great day despite the fact that part of my dick had been cut off.