Great stories, Mark. But you've hogged the fire long enough.
Seriously, this came up in the BBTIBM thread, but it seemed better to relate it here.
So, it's October 2004, and it's about 3 am. In those days, I used to wake up at 4:30 to write (I was writing short stories at the time). I have to get up to piss, as aging men are wont to do. I toy with the idea of getting a head start on the day, but 3am is pretty fucking early, even for me. I go back to bed, shoo the cat off the warm spot, flop down on the mattress, roll over onto my spooning side--and get a kick in the nuts.
Horrible pain radiates from my left ball out into my entire body. For a second I think I'm going to puke. If I'd been laying on my back, I would have thought it was the cat jumping on my crotch (what is it with them, anyway?) but I was on my side. I reach down to check the Package, and find that the Left Jewel is Not Hanging Quite Right, and is swelling rapidly.
Oh, I think. Fuck.
I already know the diagnosis. I am, after all, a doctor. At least that is what I've been told. I have a diploma somewhere. So I know what has happened.
Nevertheless, I immediately active the Sullydog Denial Protocol, get out of bed to walk it off, and make some coffee. The Denial Protocol runs for only a few cycles before it has to be rebooted again. And again. This is really starting to hurt. I fondle myself again. Nope, it wasn't a dream.
I have a testicular torsion.
Now, in case you don't know about this, it's real Greasy Kid's Stuff. WHat happens is, you're born with what's called a bell clapper deformity, in which a little piece of connective tissue that anchors the bottom of your nut to the scrotum has failed to develop. This means that you have Libertarian Balls, which are free to move about the cabin, as it were. Then, one day, between the ages of 13 and 18, while playing midnight basketball, or grappling in the high school gym, or banging Suzy in the Walgreen's parking lot in the back seat of your Mom's Subaru, one of your Boys gets a glancing blow and spins on his vascular stalk. This results in an immediate reduction or complete cessation of blood flow to the organ. If it does not correct spontaneously (as it sometimes will) this ischemia will progress to infarction. And you'll have a dead nut in your bag. Emergency surgery is indicated.
Figure. Testicular torsion. Not drawn to scale, cuz I don't wanna make y'all feel inadequate. Also, I haven't worn a hat since I was a week old. Or is that TMI?
I make an attempt to detorse myself, which probably sounds kinda gay, but in any case it doesn't work. I go shake my wife awake. "Have to go to the hospital, baby."
She shoos the cat off her crotch and sits up, squinting at me through bleary eyes. "Somebody not show up? Something happen?"
"No, sweety. I have to go the hospital."
So we get dressed at 3:30 am (getting dressed with a torsion is no joke) and toodle on over to Botsford ER, which is not where I work, because I'd rather not have my twisted nuts on display to my colleagues. The curtain gets pulled open and there's a resident doc who rotated with us on Trauma a year ago, and a female attending that I know from MCEP. So much for anonymity.
The attending begins an exam.
"I think I bruised it with my thigh while rolling over," I say, attempting a last ditch reboot of Sullydog's Denial Protocol.
"Be quiet, doctor," she says. "It's a torsion. We both know that."
They send me for an ultrasound. The tech is scanning my sick ball through warm goo, and on the screen I can see some Doppler flow in the organ. "Hey," I tell the tech, "I can see flow. No torsion, eh? That's good news."
"Be quiet, doctor," she says. She then scans the normal nut, and I see that is has, like, a bajillion times more flow than the sick nut she just scanned. My heart sinks. My diagnosis was right. I'm getting my bag cut open tonight.
So the next thing I know, I'm in pre-op, and the anesthesiologist is taking a history.
"We're going local, right?" I ask her.
"We're doing what she wants," my wife says, on the other side of the bed. "Be quiet, doctor."
"Yeah, we'll go with a general," says the gas-passer.
"No, we can go with an epidural," I say.
"General is better," she says.
"You don't understand," I tell her. "I intubate other people. Other people do not intubate me. Did I mention that I raided the icebox and had four cold slices of pizza before I went back to bed and twisted myself? I still feel kinda....gorged. You know?"
She glares at me and looks across the gurney at my wife. "So....so he's an asshole?"
Marilyn sighs, shrugs, nods.
So they do an epidural. The last thing I remember is a popping sensation in my lower back and a warm feeling as the Versed hit me, and this little ditty that had started to echo in my brain:
Do your balls hang low?
Do they wobble to and fro?
Can you tie 'em in a knot?
Can you tie 'em in a bow?
"He's awake," somebody said.
I was awake, and I couldn't feel my junk, or my legs. I was made out of wood from about the navel down. Very bizarre. For several hours, I got to experience paraplegia. Not fun. They gave me a special Boulder Holder to wear, a Rx for percocet, PRN followup instructions and discharge papers. Both boys have been on a short leash ever since.
Two weeks later, we get a bill for the whole nut (so to speak). Coverage denied.
This seems to warrant a phone call. I am informed by the haughty voice on the other end of the line that my private insurance will not pay, because I did not get pre-authorization or a referral from my primary care physician.
"Doesn't matter," I tell her. "I'm covered for emergency."
"Wasn't an emergency, sir."
"No. You needed to see your own doctor and get a referral and pre-authorization first."
"But it was 3 in the morning. It was an emergency."
"I can assure you, Mr. Sullivan, that it was not. The case has been reviewed thoroughly."
"But they took me to emergency surgery."
"That doesn't mean it was an emergency."
"Wow, this is really weird. You know why? Because when I was in medical school, they taught me that it was an emergency. One of the few true urologic emergencies, actually. And when I was a resident in emergency medicine, I was again taught that it was an emergency, and that failure to diagnose and treat within six hours would result in the loss of the organ. And now that I'm a practicing emergency physician and an assistant professor of emergency medicine, I teach my medical students and residents that it's an emergency. Weird, huh? Perhaps you could put me on the phone with your supervisor while I look up my lawyer's phone number and start recording this conversation."
"Can I put you on hold?"
"But of course, my dear."
A few minutes later, I was informed that they would make a special exception, just for me. I asked them if they would have made a special exemption if I had been a carpenter from Livonia or an auto worker from Dearborn. They didn't have an answer for me.