Post-snip ramblings

I originally began writing a follow up to Pre-snip ramblings just hours after going through with the procedure, but it turns out that a lot of Vicodin will kill your writing motivation. Apparently, it killed it for a few weeks and once I returned to life, I’ve been struggling to find the mental (and emotional) energy to re-live the whole experience.

Yet, I feel that it is my responsibility. My duty. I must share.

My friend and business partner was kind enough to offer to give me a ride to the appointment and home after. He was also kind enough to lighten the mood by putting on An Angry Inch as we pulled into the parking lot.

We walked into the urology clinic and immediately felt out of place. I’m pretty sure that I was the only one there getting a vasectomy at that precise time. The other gentlemen were likely having trouble urinating and/or getting their prostates checked out. (i think urologists do that?) I guess what I’m trying to say… is… that I was the youngest person in there by probably 30 years. Everyone was probably twice my age. Seriously. I felt out of place immediately.

Anyhow, I had all my paperwork ready, they asked me to sit down and that’s when I popped the question to the lady behind the counter, “so, about the anxiety drugs you can give me before the procedure?”

I was met with a blank stare. She looked towards her coworker, then back at me, and uttered, “the doctor can help you with that.”

Hmm. Fair enough, I’ll just sit in the waiting room… and let my anxiety continue to skyrocket.

Ten minutes later, they called my name. As the nurse walked me back towards a bigger room where they must perform procedures on folks. I glanced around at the sterile and cold room… lots of metal.. .lots of shiny objects… lots of sterile pads. She instructed me to take my shoes and pants off… that I could leave my shirt and socks on and take a seat on the table. Shit, this was really happening.

“So… about the anxiety pills that the welcome packet you sent me in the mail said I could ask about?”

Again, met with a blank stare.

“Oh, you need to call ahead to have us order you a prescription.”

“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!?”… I wanted to shout.

As you can see in the following photo, it CLEARLY states that if I’m nervous, that I may be given some medication to help me relax.

False advertising

Despite my efforts to protest this false advertising, she said that was how it worked. She left the room for me to undress… and my anxiety went to a whole new level.

Up until this point, I was nervous… very nervous, but I was finding some comfort knowing that they would give me something to relax. Once that comfort was removed from the picture, I began to have second thoughts. “Shit, should I reschedule?”

The room was extremely chilly. Sitting in just a shirt and a pair of designer socks wasn’t providing me with a lot of personal confidence at this point.

I was anxious, disappointed, and cold. My mind began racing back and forth on bailing, but I kept trying to remind myself, “dude, you made it this far. suck it up. you have to do this.” As I sat there contemplating how I’d explain this to my friend… the doctor walked in.

“How are you doing today?”

I vaguely recall responding with something like, “well, I’ve been better. I was kind of hoping to get some medication to calm my nerves and it doesn’t sound like you guys can help me out with that today.”

Secretly, I hoped that he had a secret stash of valium to share.

“Nope. I’m sorry, we have to put in a prescription ahead of time for that.”

Again, I pointed out that their preparation packet was filled with fucking lies and I was disappointed.

“Don’t worry, everyone who does this is anxious. It’s perfectly natural. You’re expected to be nervous… after all, we’re working in a very sensitive area.”

“NO SHIT YOU FUCKWAD, I WANT DRUGS!!!!”… I screamed… in my inner voice. My outer voice mumbled something about false advertising. (yes, I realize that I’m being unfair to him… but I wasn’t being very rationale at the time…)

He then said, “go ahead and lay back for me. I’m going to take a quick look here before we begin. So, maybe you can tell me what you do for a living?”

I informed him that… I was not in the mood for smalltalk.

(END SCENE)

Let’s take a moment to reflect on a happier time in our lives. Lalalalala…

(NEW SCENE)

I’m going to spare you the gritty details of the actual procedure, but if you decide (and I think you probably should!)… take the following advice.

Prescriptions — call ahead

Given my experience, I can’t help but suggest that you call them ahead to find out about anxiety medicine. Get a prescription if you’re nervous. While I’m not going into details, the experience wasn’t relaxing. I don’t know if medicine would have made it totally better, but I wasn’t a happy camper during the procedure.

Also, given that you’ll likely get a prescription for pain medicine (ie., Vicodin!), you might ask if they can put that prescription in earlier so that you can pick up everything before the appointment.

More Anesthetic, Please!

They’ll give you a shot of anesthetic. The night before my appointment, I read an article from a guy who did this a while back and he suggested that when they ask, “can you feel this” that you should always say, “yes, I can.” They’ll give you another small dose of anesthetic. Always err on the side of being too numb versus not enough.

I’m glad that I took this advice, because it paid off after the appointment. The Walgreens on NE 33rd was (I’m noticing a trend there) horribly backed up on fulfilling prescriptions. Despite my prescription getting called in 90 minutes earlier, they said it’d take another 30-45 minutes. I’m standing there, my underwear filled with sterile pads, completely numb down there… and I have to kill 30-45 minutes? I walked through the parking lot to New Seasons and wandered around aimlessly… filling my small basket with junk food and treats. Time to treat myself, right?

I got my Vicodin and went home to relax. After a few hours, the anesthetic began to fade away and that’s when I realized just how painful it was going to be for a few days. The Vicodin helped, but the best help was alternating a couple packages of frozen peas to reduce the bruising/swelling.

Recovery

The next few days are a bit of a blur. There was a lot of Netflix and Vicodin. I was eventually able to be productive and start working remotely again. I did it on a thursday, thinking that I’d take Friday off and be good enough to return on Monday. I think returning on Monday was a bit of a stretch, but I managed to do it. By Wednesday, I took my motorcycle for a spin. By the weekend, I had someone help me confirm that things still worked.

The next step is to wait 90 days and then take a sperm test. At that point, they’ll confirm that everything worked.

In the weeks that have passed since the procedure, I’ve begun to feel more and more confident that I did the right thing. While I wish there were less uncomfortable solutions, it was the best option that I had available.

Having said that, they seriously need to revise their preparation packets.

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You’ll shoot your eye out

Back in November, I took a weekend long course with Team Oregon, which taught me the basics of (safely) riding a motorcycle. On the third day, there were written and riding tests. Somewhat to my surprise, the instructors handed me an endorsement (1/3rd of the class didn’t), which I would take to the DMV the following Tuesday. Given that my license was up for renewal in just a few weeks, I was able to renew and get the motorcycle classification at the same time, which saved me some money by doing it all at once.

Team Oregon was a great experience. For $179, I spend seven hours in a classroom and eight hours on a small training course learning the basics. I went from never having ridden a motorcycle before to feeling confident enough to want to go get myself a bike. They also offer an intermediate course, but they’re not offering any until March, so I’m on my own until then to practice… in the real world.

Once I wrapped that all up, I decided to get myself a motorcycle. It took me about six weeks of looking at Craigslist, test driving a few bikes, and reading reviews online before I found one that matched my criteria.

Presenting my 2007 Triumph Bonneville.

2007 Triumph Bonneville

Here is what I’ve learned about owning a bike so far.

Motorcycle insurance is cheap
For full coverage, I’m paying about $30/month. I just went with Geico, which is who I have my car insurance with at the moment. When I found a motorcycle, I needed to have coverage on the bike immediately, so was able to call Geico and add this over the phone in about 15 minutes.

Batteries are fickle (but they’re easy to swap out)
It turns out that the battery that was in my bike was nearly dead, so had to spend $70 on a new battery. However, the auto store down the street didn’t have any batteries in my size and said it’d take a few days to order one. I found one at Batteries Plus on NE Broadway. Don’t know if it’s a good battery or not, but it appears to work.

Security is complicated
I live in a small apartment complex that has a small gated parking lot. The gate isn’t always closed, but it does provide for some off-street security for my car (and now motorcycle). I’m just able to park my motorcycle in front of my car. Given that I didn’t go out and by a real cheap one, I’m finding myself a little more protective of it. (I am a little paranoid about theft since I once woke up and found that the wheels were stolen from my car… but that’s a story for another day) I’ve done some research online… and trust me, there are plenty of youtube videos that will trigger paranoia… folks make it look easy to break locks, toss a bike into the back of a truck, etc. Given that I’m not parking it in a garage until I find a new place to live with a garage, I have increased risks to consider.

So… I have started with the following:

  • A U Lock
  • An alarm-enabled disc lock
  • A weather cover

I’m hoping the weather cover, which doesn’t advertise the kind of bike underneath it… along with a few theft deterrents, and typically closed gate will keep it safe. However, I hear that a lot of thefts happen when you park it somewhere to run errands or something. Also… did you know that “bike jacking” was a thing?

Damn those wheel thieves… they’ve tainted my trust in society.

Winter riding is cold
Regardless of how many layers you’re wearing… the fact is, going for a bike ride when it’s 33F outside isn’t terribly fun after about 30 minutes. My gloves are warm, but my fingers didn’t appreciate the cold ride.

You get to pump your own gas (in Oregon)
The day after getting my bike, I realized that there wasn’t a gauge on my bike that informs me how much fuel is left in the tank. I figured that I’d top it off, just to be safe.

I pulled into the Shell station… and opened up my gas tank.

The gas station attendant walked up, asked me what kind I wanted… and then, to my surprise, handed me the nozzle, “here you go.” As she walked away, I found myself standing there… holding the nozzle in a state of confusion. I’m in Portland, Oregon… and I’m allowed to touch the nozzle?! It’s been near 13 years since I last touched a nozzle in this state… the last time being when I found out that I’m not supposed to touch them (right after I moved here).

I filled up the tank… I put in just under two gallons of fuel. Slowly. I realized that there wasn’t anything in the tank to really tell the pump to stop pumping fuel… so I had to pay careful attention as it filled up.

Friends are opinionated
It’s been refreshing to hear so many friends speak up about their concerns for my well-being. A few have said that it was a really bad idea to get a bike… citing how dangerous they are and/or sharing stories about loved ones that they’ve known that had bad crashes. I value their opinions and it’s weird knowing that I’m doing something that not everyone seems to be a big fan of and I find it a motivating factor in me taking time to teach myself more safety tips.

It feels liberating
Riding a motorcycle around town is fantastic. Although, it feels like it takes forever to get from Point A to Point B, which I think is because it takes so much more concentration than driving a car. I’ve really enjoyed my initial rides and hope that it’s not too wet of a Winter as I plan to ride on every dry (and above freezing) day that I can.

What’s next?

I’d like to take the intermediate course when those start back up in the Spring. Until then, I’m going to focus on practicing as much as I can and have picked up a few books on driving tips in various traffic scenarios. There’s also some great videos on youtube (not all of them are of crashes!)

I’d like to avoid having anyone say, “I warned him about getting one of those things. I knew this would happen.”

I don’t want to shoot my eye out.

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Pre-snip ramblings

It is a cold Wednesday night in Portland… Wunderground says it “feels like” 24 °F. I’ve had a headache all afternoon, which I think was triggered by the cold air, but according to the pamphlet from the clinic, I’m not allowed to take any pain medicine for a week before tomorrow afternoon’s appointment.

Why exactly? The pamphlet supplies no reason. Would it have cost them that much more ink to provide some rationale? I suspect that they want to ensure that I don’t build up a resilience towards the drugs so that they *work* better on game day. That’s my theory… but I lack any supporting evidence for this claim.

Instead, I’m drinking lots of water and treated myself to some fancy drinking chocolate that I recently bought at The Meadow.

As I sip the chocolate, I decide to pose the question one last time, “Should I go through with it?”

Before we move forward, let’s look back a bit. I must have been 22 the first time I remember having this moment where I thought, “no, seriously… I don’t want to have a kid. I don’t want to go down as a breeder.”

Why? (many people have asked this of me over the years)

First off, I have trouble relating to folks who seek parenthood. Many of those close to me that have done that… started in their early-to-mid 20s. I can’t speak for them, but I don’t feel like I figured out who I’d like to be when I’m older. The thought of being responsible for little ones seems like the most asinine thing to do.

I’ve always had this idea that to be a good parent, you had to provide a sense of stability and confidence for them. Confidence that everything was going to be alright. Confidence that they could grow up and be whomever they wanted to be. ….yet, as each year passes, I feel more and more confident that this entire notion is utter nonsense.

Speaking from my own childhood experience, I’ve grown to learn that my parents didn’t have a clue who they wanted to be when they were older. They never had an opportunity to. Now I look at them… in their 50s (they were really young when they had me) and I still see them as kids who never really found their way. They’ve grown up to be fine, fairly well-adjusted, and liked people… but between you and me, I hope they each sort their shit out one day.

I don’t have any specific recollection of ever being told and/or treated in such a manner… but for quite some time, I’ve felt like my birth was a burden on my parents. My mother dropped out of High School. My father had to “man up” and do right by her. Five years later, they had my sister. I knew I was an accident from an early age… when I was about 4-5 years old and was informed that it took 9 months for a baby to come out… but my parents got married in mid-October, just 6 weeks before I was born. The math didn’t add up. Perhaps some my cynicism stems from this experience… I’ve asked my mother a few times why she kept the baby. She’s always responds with, “but how could I have? look how great you’ve turned out!” She might think this is endearing, but she dodged the question. I suspect it had more to do with a lack of access to good birth control and abortion doctors in the suburbs of Chicago back then. She was 17. I may never know.

Recently, I had a chance to ask my father the same question… and if he’d do it all over again. He doesn’t regret his decision (to stick around and be a parent), but he does wish he would have postponed having kids/marriage for many, many years and done something different with his life. He would go back and tell his younger self, “don’t do it!” I don’t take any offense to this… the reality is… I am here. He can’t undo that, but I sympathize with his feelings of having missed out on his young adult life onwards until you die. When my father was my (current) age.. he had a 13 year old kid. That baffles me.

So, I ask myself, would a kid be a burden on me? Absolutely. I have much to explore in the world and taking on the responsibility of children would be, in my opinion, an act against my own well-being. Is it selfish? Of course, but I’m not robbing anyone of anything. There are no victims here.

Since my early 20s, I’ve been in a handful of romantic relationships… and if there is one thing that I’ve learned is that there are real deal-breakers. Being decisive about not wanting kids–as a young male adult–will get you eye roles, “you’ll come around one day” looks, and arguments about how selfish it is to not have kids.

I remember being about 28 when a woman whom I was dating (who was 29) was really concerned about this aspect of me. Once things got slightly serious between us… she (in her own head) mapped out our potential future. What she saw, was a very obvious dead end for her/us. She was smart, she opted out. (she’s since married and recently had her first child).

There was also the time that I moved to Paris for the Spring. I met an adorable Parisian… fell in love… came back to Portland and couldn’t wait to go back to see her again. I arrived to spend the entire Autumn with her… and I shit you not, the second night back, I asked her, “so, do you want to have kids one day?” because I realized that, somehow, this never came up in our previous discussions in the months of wandering around Paris with her… and the prospect of getting serious with a girl who lives 8 timezones away means you need to put things into perspective if you want to take things further.

“Of course I want to have kids. Don’t you?,” she responded.

(Picture a time-lapsed video of a beautiful flower blooming and then quickly dying.)

We both knew that we shouldn’t try to stick it out and either a) hope the other person would see that you’re logic was right and/or b) ignore the discrepancy in your longterm goals. As a result, I now just have a good friend in Paris. C’est la vie.

Over the years, people have raised the following…

“What if you meet someone special. You fall madly in love with them. You find out in a few years that they now want to have a kid. Would you deny them that?”
No. When I paint a picture of what I want my future to look like, it doesn’t involve conceiving children. If I’m always upfront and honest about this, then I would have done my part to manage their expectations. If they, one day, find themselves in the position of feeling differently, then I will humbly accept their resignation to go find a suitable partner to fulfill their new desires. It may sound harsh… but is that worse than one of us conceding on such a big thing?

Relationships, statistically speaking, are temporary. Parenthood, isn’t.

“What if it was the other way around?”
Good question. I’ve always hoped that should I ever find myself wanting to be a parent, that I would choose to adopt a child. There are enough children that were bred by parents who didn’t have the means and/or desire to raise them… why re-invent the wheel?

“I’m not selfish. I have two kids and everything that I do is for them. I work my ass off to support and help them.”
This usually comes up after I state my case about breeding being a really selfish act given that there are so many kids awaiting adoption. To need it to be of your own genes, in my humble opinion, is absolutely selfish. That’s not to say that I don’t empathize with those who go down that path, but that doesn’t make it any less selfish. To then proclaim that your life is now that of a martyr who does everything for their family, do I really need to point out that this was entirely self-imposed? You created the situation that you’re taking care of. That’s owning up to your responsibility. That’s not a selfless act. Don’t confuse the two.

“You’re still young. You’ll change your mind when you’re older!”
Perhaps I am still too young, but I would like to think that my conviction would ease up over the years… not harden. So, for my 33rd birthday, I finally made the call. I asked for an appointment at least a month away so that I would have just a little more time to reflect on this decision. I’m having a vasectomy.

“Why a Vasectomy?”
Because I feel horrible that the onus has been on my partners to protect themselves from conception. If there was a pill for men, maybe I’d consider it… but there isn’t and I don’t really want to pump hormones in my body anymore than they do.

“But what about condoms?”
They’re great and all… but as I’ve learned, sometimes they break. Actually, they kind of suck.

“Do you not feel any desire to have kids?”
Nope. I have been running a business since my early 20s… it comes with a lot of responsibility. I’m also fortunate to be a good uncle. I feel like that’s enough for me.

“Are you sure?”
It’s one of the things that I continuously seem to be the most sure of.

“Are you nervous?”
Absolutely. The thought of someone slicing around down there makes me uncomfortable… but it can’t honestly be worse than hearing the words, “I’m pregnant” ever again.

Over the holidays, I had the good fortune of seeing both of my parents (who have been divorced for about 15 years). They are excellent grandparents… thanks to my younger sister having had two kids. I told them about my appointment. They asked questions… (some of the same as above) but neither were surprised.

(To make things even easier, I also have the support of my current girlfriend who commends this decision…)

“Why are you sharing this?”
I have a hunch that I’m not alone here. On one hand, I feel like it’s very private matter… but in our social-media dominated world where everyone on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram is posting photos of their offspring… I feel like shouting to the world, “Hey! I just made a huge life decision… and I want you to be proud of me too!”

Yet, I can’t help but feel a little bit like a black sheep for saying, “I’m opting out.”

p.s. Am glad to not have needed to call a vote on it
p.p.s. I wrote a follow up titled, Post-snip ramblings

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In tandem

Recently, another life milestone passed.

The kind that you don’t really look forward to nor reflect on. However, as it approached, I felt overcome with dread… not enough to send me to the store to pick up a pack of cigarettes in an effort to feel like I can cheat death from old age by killing myself slowly from lung cancer.

It has become painfully obvious that my youth has been taken hostage. No longer do I feel able to relate to the struggles of today’s youth. I find myself relating to those older than me with much more ease than ever thought possible. Were they right all this time? …or are we, in parallel, witnessing our viewpoints evolve… perhaps they’re at the front of a tandem bicycle and I’m helping drive us forward… together.

At least, that’s what I’ll keep telling myself for now.

I worry about a point in time where I don’t feel like there is someone on the front of this bike anymore. Where I look up and see that they’ve vanished… and all I can do is look back to see if they fell off. …but what do I find? someone younger, more abitious, more driven, but more naive… chasing me… and they’re on the same bike. Pedaling harder than me… pushing me forward… towards my impending death.

Then I wonder if any of us has any control over the direction we’re going… together. Are we able to get off the bike? Wander, by foot, in another direction? My own path. Do they need me on the bike? Am I helping speed up… or slow down our collective speed?

Is any of this sustainable?

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