Movember, The Big C and Me... Can I Have My Ball Back... (part deux)

Movember, The Big C and Me... Can I Have My Ball Back... (part deux)

This is part to of my current story, if you've missed part one, id recommend you go and read/listen to that first, before getting embroiled in this wordy second instalment, mainly as it will make no sense as you've joined the party late...

Anyway... on with the show...


On Sunday, I woke up a bit later, probably because of the morphine, I was still in pain, but it didn't seem quite as bad as it did the day before, don't get me wrong, the pain was still very painful, the day was a write off!

Monday came round, I packed my bag again, this time with sandwiches too... think smarter and all that. I got myself dressed, I decided to put a pair of jeans on, this would later turn out to be the worst idea I had that day, they were rigid and seemed to cause more pain as they were tight around where my testicle was. We parked up at around 1030 and went straight through to A&E, I was booked right in and was told that the waiting time was just less than two hours, the waiting room didn't look too busy at all, it was all rather promising and opposite to the Saturday visit to the other A&E. I got called through to the triage nurse and again, told her the story from day one until me being there that morning, she was sympathetic and appeared to care, we got talking about things as she was filling in the forms on the computer and she got round to asking what I did for a living and when I told her, she laughed and said that that explained why my explanation was so good, I laughed and told her that she was the second person to have told me that. We had the same conversation about pain management, and I explained that I was popping paracetamol and ibuprofen now so was 'all good', off I popped back to the waiting room where I sat for another half an hour or so before being called through to the nurse for my bloods to be taken.

When my name was called, I got in to the room and started to explain to the nurse why I was there, as asked by them, it was as though I was in the wrong and that they had an issue with me, it just struck me as being odd and a bit rude, they took my bloods and then I left for the waiting room again.

Not at all long afterwards, my name was called again, to go back to the same room, the same nurse was there but also a consultant. He explained as to why he was there, and he wanted to look at it. I'll be honest, it felt like it was a bit rushed and cobbled together, almost like it was a 'Hey, Sheila, you're going to want to come and have a look at this, it’s like the pride of Manchester' type scenario. They wanted to shine a light through it, but didn't have a light, when I offered up that I have one in my bag, on the other side of the door, it was almost like I was stood with my boxer shorts on my head rather than round my ankles, they couldn't grasp why I had one, anyway, they unlocked the door at the rear of the small room and left on the hunt for a light. I had my back to this door, with my pants and boxers around my ankles. The door was opened a couple of times, to people looking for either one of the two people that had been in there and I am sure that on one of the occasions, it was a group of student nurses being shown around the hospital. Anyway, they both appeared back, with two poor poor excuses of flashlights, one of which didn't work, thankfully, the other did, albeit not very well. We got back to business, the nurse sat down and picked her phone up off her desk, this made me a bit uneasy if I'm honest. The doctor tried to shine his light through my scrotum and testicle but couldn't. He went on to tell me that I should leave this room, fill this pot up with a urine sample and come straight back into the room and there will be a doctor from urology waiting for me. So, I nipped to the toilet, which was next door, I'm glad I had to fill the pot, I was really needing a wee and had been holding on for this moment. Whilst I was urinating, I heard from outside the toilet, the nurse shout someone else's name... When I came out, the door was closed, I waited for the door to open and when the old couple that were in there had come out, I popped my head in, there was no one there, I entered and stood at the rear door that went on to the ward, I was waiting for the urology doctor... the consultant that I'd already spoken to, or the nurse, anyone that would want this warm pot of pee in my hand really. The nurse appeared and, she wasn't happy, I may as well have just done a poo in the wastepaper bin in front of her, I explained to her (even though she was present, albeit on her phone) what the consultant said, she took the sample and ushered me out.

The times with me getting seen by someone had all been good up until now, I became a bit worried that I may be not sat in the right place, maybe some urology doctor is shouting my name out on a ward somewhere and I'm a no show...? So, I went back over to the booking in desk where there is a 'Navigator', they seem like the right person to ask, I explained that I wasn't moaning, I was just concerned that I may be sat in the wrong place, the consultant said that this person would be with me straight away, that was two hours ago. They confirmed that what I had said was right and that they would chase it up as it was a bit odd and what I was worried about, would probably be the case, I'm in the wrong place. Another half an hour passed, and my name was called, there was a man with a wheelchair, to take me up to the 'surgery assessment unit'. Now, the first thing, I was in pain, I was still hobbling around, but I didn't want to be pushed round in a wheelchair either so I opted to walk... the guy walked really quick, I regretted it instantly... remember the jeans... well, they didn't help. The other thing... surgery assessment, this is it, oh my god, I'm not going home, they're keeping me in. Sure enough, when I'm upstairs, it is a proper ward, I had a bed and was told to get on it and wait. A lady came round with evening dinner and tea, so I ate a cottage pie, I was adamant that as I was getting food, I was staying in hospital.

cottage pie

Eventually a doctor came over, I explained everything to her, again in detail and again, we laughed as to how descriptive it was and the job, I do... I again had the 'do I move my penis, boxers down, lowered, what's the protocol' game going on... amusingly, the doctor said, 'you can hold that' pointing to my penis, she felt around and then informed me that she thought that it was an infection, she will give me some antibiotics but also book an ultrasound appointment for the morning, she also said that I could stay over... or go home... I opted to go home. I had a prescription for the antibiotics which I had to collect from the dispensary when I was there. As I was talking to the pharmacist, the questions that she was asking were all relating to me having a sexually transmitted disease, which was news to me. Then, a different pharmacist came over to me to dispense the medication to me, he was the same, explaining that it was a sexually transmitted disease, the medication will clear it up, all the while some floor layers are ripping up the old flooring in the reception area where I was, ready to put a new one down in the morning... The floor layer now thinks that I have an STI.


Tuesday the tenth of January, managements birthday, I had planned on baking a cake for her, just like I had done for our wedding day as a bit of a joke, I had ordered a couple of items to store that I was to collect on my way to work on the Monday as well as picking up a bunch of flowers from her favourite florist... well, none of that happened, which upset me a bit, I had had to order a card on funky pigeon, which was more to do with me being last minute, but, only having one gift (the one that was the wrong size of course) and not being able to go out for the things we had planned, just ruined it and made this even harder.

Anyway, I received a call at about 0920 from the hospital to tell me that I had an appointment at 1100 for my ultrasound, it was the only testicle appointment available, once I had the ultrasound, I’d be back upon the ward I'd been to the previous day to discuss the results. Due to the timings, I would have to set off straight away, me not being able to get in the car properly, let alone driving was quite the feat... I didn't drive of course; I physically couldn't have.

Getting to the radiology suite was slow, I got my shuffling technique down to a tee. I was in pain, although, the least amount of pain that I had been in for a few days, it was like a little back room, there was a lady sat there in a hospital gown and wheelchair, she looked poorly. When I was called in after the lady had been seen to, it was the old dance of, trousers down, have this piece of paper for modesty and lie on the bed all over again. The chap who did the ultrasound, again, seemed like a nice guy, he explained everything that he'd be doing and took his time to do so. He looked at it beforehand and said that it looked bad and apologised for possibly adding to the pain, but he'd be careful. As he started, I could only just see him, I saw him looking at the screen, and I could see his face change and then he pressed something on the keyboard, I'm guessing, that was saving the image. I even heard the heartbeat, if I had been up to it, I would have probably asked if he knew it was a boy or a girl, I am sure he would have never heard that joke before. The way he moved I thought that he had also seen this lentil sized lump that I know I found. When he finished, he just said I could get dressed again and the nurse handed me paper towels to wipe the gel off. When I had got my trousers up and coat back on, I stood there, I didn't know what to do or what to expect and I said 'Is that it then?', now I don't know if its normal practice or me being silly prompted him, or, he was just being nice by telling me but, the doctor said that I had a clear tumour, the cancer would need removing as soon as possible, that would mean the removal of the testicle, he referred to the size of my testicle as being 6 x 5 x 3cm. He asked me how I was feeling and what I was expecting to have heard, I couldn't really lie, I had set myself up since before seeing the first doctor as to it being cancer, I know that I joked, I'm no doctor, but I knew from what I had read and how I felt in myself, I just knew. Again, I appreciated his honesty and him telling me what he did. He will see cancer in this form daily, amongst all other manner of things that may be thought to be cancer, he would know exactly what it looks like and the differences, I would say that he was a credible source.

As I walked out of the room and towards my wife, who was stood up, looking at me, smiling, I could have, for the first time, had a bit of a cry... I could feel my face rushing a bit, I almost, almost had tears in my eyes, but I didn't. We got upstairs and sat in a side area waiting for a doctor, she came through, explained a few bits and then said that she would get a colleague to come and speak to me in more detail as they would be better suited to it and they’d go through the surgery process with me and what not. A short time later, the next doctor came in, he was good, explained everything, absolutely everything, from what would be the immediate things to things that I don't need to think about as they're worst case or way in the future, but I appreciated it, it was the real information I had received and information that google is hard to navigate around. He explained that they were going to book the surgery as a matter of urgency, it was slightly unorthodox as I'd not had a CT scan at that time, but, he would be trying his best to get me one that day or failing that as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, as best as he tried, he couldn't get me the date for the surgery or, the scan before leaving, but said that I could probably expect both within a weeks’ time.

Happy Birthday


On the Wednesday morning, I had a telephone call to tell me that there was a CT scan available for the following day. Half an hour after that call, I had another call from the consultant to say that my operation would be on Friday the twentieth of January and they would send me a letter with it all on, I let them know that my scan was now booked and they may have the results by the time I go for my operation, so they made a note. I would also have to go for a pre operation assessment a few days prior to the surgery, this was to be the seventeenth of January.


The next few days were a bit of a blur, this was where I did a bit of binge watching things on TV, mainly the star wars films, in order of story, before you ask, I know that that is a thing... even though I have never watched any of the Star Wars films other than the old ones, when I was a kid and they were on at Christmas... anyway, moving swiftly on.


The pre-op day came, it was an early appointment, 0900, so with rush hour traffic, it was an early get up to get there before the main rush. The appointment was short and sweet, the nurse that did it was nice, an old school nurse I suppose I'd say, clearly knew her stuff and was well versed in all manner of things with what she was asking me and telling me. Once I was done, I was good to go, I had 'sort of' got a little dressed up... By this, I mean that I was wearing  actual trouser type pants and a shirt, this was on purpose as I had decided that my driver could take me out for breakfast, it was the first time I had been out of the house in a week or so and even though it was a bit late, something that we could do for her birthday... so off we went to a place that we had wanted to try that does some great coffee with good food that wasn't too far away from the hospital. I had some poached eggs on potato cakes... just in case you were wondering, they were amazing... even if the poached egg did remind me of a testicle...


Poached egg

The day of the operation was an odd one, I had to be up early, the appointment was to be at hospital for 0800, again with the drive and traffic, would mean setting off earlier. As I was going under a general anaesthetic, I couldn't eat after 0200 or drink water after 0600, luckily, I was up in time for a pint of water as I do every morning as soon as I wake up, but, I had not eaten since my dinner, the evening before, and I think because I knew I couldn't eat, I was sort of hungry.

I got dropped off as close to the front of the Hospital as I could, there was no point in anyone staying nearby, so we said our goodbyes and off I toddled... shuffled... in my tracksuit bottoms... I never wear tracksuit bottoms especially not out in public. When I'd shuffled my way up to the ward, there were already people waiting, I know it was a waiting room... but it was just like a waiting room... lots of different people, old, young, male, female just a mix, clearly all with different things going on, not what I was expecting in one way, but it made sense when I sat and thought about it. I wasn't nervous or anything like that, but it cropped in to my head, 'what happens if I don't wake up?' that thought was quickly squashed as a load of nonsense, not before me chuckling to myself about my wife getting handed my tracksuit bottoms as part of my property if I didn't wake up... knowing that she would know that I would absolutely have loved that...

Anyway, I digress... again... as time started ticking on, a couple of different nurses appeared and called people's names and then they went off, I was the fourth or fifth that was called and I followed the nurse down to a small side ward, there were eight beds, four on each side, the board behind my bed already had my name on it and I was directed to sit on the bed or in the chair... I opted for the high backed, comfy looking chair. As I sat there, a few other people were brought in, an elderly gentleman In a wheelchair who was clearly quite frail was directly opposite, there was a man to my right, who I had heard through those super soundproof curtains was having his big toe removed, so it was apparent that there were people all for different things on this ward. The man to my left had pancreatic cancer and whilst having surgery for that, they found something else wrong with him and he had to come for surgery for whatever that was. The guy diagonally opposite from me to the left was having a camera thingy but would have to stay overnight as well and the last person in our little ward was a bloke having a tooth removed.

I sat there, another nurse came over, a young female student nurse and she plugged me in to the machine, checked my blood pressure and what not, then it was time to get gowned up... I had two, one to wear in the traditional manner, then one as a bit of a dressing gown and a pair of fetching paper knickers. At some point whilst I was sat there, someone came and fitted a cannula in to my right hand.


Op ready

Once I was dressed and ready, I had a string of visitors, the first being the surgeon, he explained that we were here to remove my right testicle... wow wow wow pal... it’s the left... he had a quick shuffle through the notes and said, yes, the left, that's what I meant... he then went away and came back with a marker to draw on my stomach the side I was to be worked on, which I know is a general thing anyway. As we were chatting, he mentioned about the anaesthetist and I think he assumed that they had already been in, which they hadn't, then, as if by magic, the super curtains parted, and the anaesthetist popped her head through...  they had a quick chat and decided to swap places.

The anaesthetist, she was nice, we had a bit of a laugh, professionally of course, she explained what would happen and what her role was, asked loads of questions, ones that I had already been asked and she explained that there would be a couple more times that I would be asked the same questions again and then she said that she will see me again soon, as the surgeon came and swapped places again.

The surgeon said, 'so we are here to remove the right testicle... which is the left one' we both laughed, which was good and lightened the mood a bit, I guess. He explained the full operation, they they would cut me open in the pelvis area, cut the tubes to my testicle up as high as they can into my body and then pull out the testicle... in layman's terms. He did go on to tell me about the prosthetics and that he doesn't fit them at the time of the operation, just in case there is any complications, they can cause swelling of their own and what not, it was a little deflating for me really, I had got it in to my mind that I was having one at that point. In the days after the surgery, I thought about this a lot, it had bothered me, but as it got further along, it really didn't bother me. I will say, when I was going to the toilet, I was conscious, not just because of the pain, but the lack of a ball, so I was pulling my trousers down a little, or sitting down, which did hurt a little. Now, why am I waffling on about this, well, you know, if you’re a bloke, you have a set way of how you pee in a urinal or toilet, some people will undo their trouser button and get it all out or just unzip and poke the penis through... this whole surgery changed the way that everything looks and feels down there... obviously... but, I got used to it pretty quickly, I don't know what the other option would have been really though. Reading up on stuff after the event, I found that several people seem to have had issues with the prosthetics. I do know that a prosthetic will never get you to like what you were before, it will feel different, it may now be the smaller ball, it may now be the higher one, it will never be 100% like it was prior to the operation. They apparently stitch it in place and that in itself makes it feel odd, I just have it in my mind that it would have been like a horrendous pair of fake boobs. I am now content with the fact that this is the new me and that I don't need a prosthetic to feel adequate in anyway, but, I do think of those younger chaps going through this same thing, if this was me twenty years ago, even ten years ago, no loving wife or a family, maybe a little more... vain than I am, I may have had different thoughts on this, maybe that it was threatening my masculinity, I don't have anything to prove to anyone, especially not anyone that I would be showing my balls to.

I didn't have to wait long before another nurse came to take me and two others down to one of the theatre waiting areas, I felt odd, wandering through the hospital with my two gowns on, my Solomon hiking trainers with a pillow and a brown file with my notes in, under my left arm, it could have been a scene in a poor-quality spy film. When I sat in this area, another nurse came to see me, she explained that she would be in theatre with me and again asked the same sort of consent-based questions and if I knew why I was there etc.

Again, I didn't have to wait long before I was walking down the corridor to the actual theatre. When I got there, the same anaesthetist was there again, I was asked to take my shoes off and the second gown and to jump up on the bed, but pulling my gown from under me, so it didn't trap itself under me. I was again, for the last time, asked the questions again and then I was plugged in to various bits of kit, checking my blood pressure and what not, all the while, the anaesthetist and nurse were explaining what they were doing. Then it got to the bit where, when I had my tonsils out, they asked me to count backwards from ten, I seem to think I got seven out and was about to say six... and then I woke up and it was later in the day... anyway, I was asked what my hobbies are in general conversation, I panicked, I could have gone on for some time and sent them to sleep... so I said walking, which isn't a lie by any stretch of the imagination, just something that had been neglected in the last year or so. It was explained that I may get a tingling sensation, I would need to take a few breaths from an oxygen face mask and then think about somewhere I liked walking. I had in my head, a walk that we did as a family, a section of the Pennine Way, on a hot summers day, making as coffee at the top of a hill, a gentle breeze, with a great view of nothing but rolling hills and the odd sheep, then, as if by magic, a little tingling, warm sensation rushed into my face, across my cheeks, almost like a pins and needles type feeling and that was it.


I woke up to two nurses stood next to my bed, I can’t really remember what they said to me, but I know that they told me that I was ok and that I had had the operation, they would be moving me back up to the ward in a minute and not to worry, I had a drip with fluids with antibiotics and anti-sickness drugs attached, but that it was all normal, they did tell me that prior to the operation as well. I do know that I just felt... drunk. I asked what time it was, and they said 1008, I was puzzled and asked as to what time I went into surgery, they looked at the documents and said that the anaesthetic was administered at 0901... I was amazed... and the was wheeled to the ward in a bed, via a lift.


Back on the ward, and my parking spot where I had been before the operation. As I say, I was a bit drunk, a little spaced out. I know that I tried to reach into my bag to get my phone out so I could start searching Instagram... I mean contacting my nearest and dearest... I couldn't move too much as I was sore... not too sore, but aware that I had just been cut open, so it was a hard, my bag was on the chair, I was reaching into the pocket, I tried to do it carefully as to not to knock the cannula in my hand... well, that didn't go to well... before I knew it, I had some sort of clear liquid running down my hand and a little tube flapping about in the wind... otoh... the nurse came over and completely detached me from it, after I apologised profusely.


I was told that all I needed to do was eat something and use the toilet and I could go home, that is quick turnaround from getting into hospital to going home, having had the operation, I passed the info on to my taxi driver so they could set off back to pick me up. Hospital toast consumed and a racehorse esque urination, I was good to go. I had drunk quite a lot of water, a litre or so that I had taken myself plus a jug or two that the nurses gave me, I was thirsty. I began to feel a bit ill; I thought I was going to be sick; I was handed a sick bowl and seconds later, I went full exorcist on that bowl and filled it until it was brimming.... then a second bowl. Speaking with the nurse, she went away and got me an injection form of the anti-sickness medication, this went into my right buttock. This seemed to work... I didn't feel sick and wasn't sick anymore... soooo, I shall take that as a win.

When I got notification that my driver had arrived, the nurse was concerned that I was walking out and kept offering me a wheelchair to go and meet my wife as she escorted me out... luckily, my wife had come up to the ward to meet me and had just walked into the waiting area. The nurse did again offer the use of a wheelchair before letting me go with my wife... off I toddled... well... it was more of a shuffle, a walk which I will come to master in the coming days.


Getting in and out of the car the day of the operation was not that bad really, I am guessing that it is because I was probably still a bit drunk from the anaesthetic.  I was to set up camp on the sofa in the living room for the next few days and the art of sitting and standing was to be an art form that needed to be properly mastered, that I can tell you. It came in peaks and troughs, as the pain seemed to move around a little. The clothes that I could wear would also be an issue, it isn't that well known, but I may (or may not) have taught Gok Wan, the famous fashion consultant everything he knows back when we were at school together (we did not go to school, nor have we ever met) and I have certain standards to uphold. I ended up wearing a pair of comfy combat type bottoms, these were to be the best trousers I had and became the ones that I wore for a good few month until I quite literally 'wore the arse out of them'. They served me well, they were possibly the best nineteen pounds worth of Primani trousers out there, the waistband was narrow and the built in cinch type belt just worked to spread the pressure evenly, whilst not actually putting pressure on the wound in any way but keeping them from being around my ankles.


My wife's birthday had been ruined by spending it in hospital for the day and in a reasonable amount of pain and my birthday was approaching, my wife and I had discussed about possibly trying to go out for a coffee, not just because I was going stir crazy, only a few days into my recuperation, but because it was my birthday. We laughed that as I couldn't always get on the sofa with the utmost grace and not moaning, groaning, complaining and sucking through my teeth, getting into my wife's Mini which is far lower than the sofa would be even more of an arduous and undignified task. Anyway, the day of my birthday came, we had said about going to a local coffee shop in the village, I said that I would walk, but, thinking about it, the shuffle speed was not the fastest, it wasn't that warm out and factoring the distance in to the calculation would mean that I would be there at some point the week after... not even considering if anything went awry pain wise, too much too soon and all that... so, it was decided, the car would be the better option. Now, if it was just me, I honestly wouldn't have bothered going out at all, I was quite content in my living room, listening to music, perusing the odd book as well as catching up with all the trash on the Facebooks, but, going back to the wife's birthday, I couldn't not do something, so... it had to be done, something had to be done. Thinking on about it more and more, driving the five minutes down the road to the village, if I had struggled to get in the car, it all seemed a little pointless and excessive, If I was to get in the car, I would want to go somewhere further afield, a more worthwhile journey, so, a coffee shop that was on my list of places we wanted to visit was on the cards... a whole twenty five minute drive to Salford was on the cards to Procaffeinated. The first proper task was selecting my outfit, If I was going out, I wouldn't want to be seen in a hoody and Primani bottoms, I wanted to at least sort of try and make an effort with a shirt of some description, that was the easy bit. I got a couple of pairs of trousers out, the first being a light pair of jeans... I instantly regretted buttoning them up and could not get them off quick enough again, the next pair was a pair of Arcteryx hiking type trousers I have, they again, have a narrow waistline and an elasticated belt built in, they sat just right really. Getting into the car was a task, holding on to the roof and slowly lowering myself in, swinging the legs round, seemed to work just well. A couple of flat whites and one serving of Turkish eggs later, it was time to do the journey in reverse which went without hiccup.Turkish Eggs

The days passed with no real thing to mention, my scar seemed to be healing well, the swelling took a good two weeks to do down on the outside, but, underneath, the sort of scar tissue was still swollen up a bit and is still lumpy a good six weeks later. One thing that did start to become apparent was that my left hip was sore. When I first noticed it, I thought that it may have been that they had my left leg behind my ears whilst having surgery and that it would subside, however, it never really did.

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