One of the possible side effects for chemo is lowering your fertility. So for men of my age who get cancer they suggest that you freeze some of your guys, aka Cryopreservation, aka Sperm banking. That’s the term they most frequently use. I don’t like it. Sounds like something that happens during fraternity rush week. “Ok- first step- sperm banking. Next step- alcohol poisoning. Brothers for life!”
Now as the doctor is telling me this my parents are, of course, sitting in the room, and my mother likes to write every thing down. So the doctor is like, “You bank some sperm.” And my mother has her pen out repeating what he says, “Bank…some…sperm….” I’m like, you can cancel that appointment because I’m done getting erections now.
Now chances are good for someone my age that everything will bounce back down there once the chemo is done. The sperm bank is more of a precaution, he said. More of a JIC.
This was not my first time going to one of these places. In 2007, my ex-wife and I were trying to have a kid and the first few times didn’t take, so I went and got things checked out. My guys were fine but the the experience was not. It was the hospital that was in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, and I wound up jerking off on the floor of a uni-sex bathroom in the middle of the lobby while three old women were laughing about what I was doing in there. I didn’t think it was possible to climax out of a completely flaccid penis, but lo and behold… it is. The images I had to use to finish though… to this day I am still not proud.
So my appointment was on a Thursday and you are not supposed to, you know, “do anything” for the 48 hours before. My girlfriend was very supportive and said, “Just to be safe let’s make it 96 hours.” I was like, “Can you seem less happy about that. Thanks.”
This was not at my normal hospital. This was taking place in downtown Atlanta, which I liked. Let me go to a neutral location to do this. I don’t want to see the concierge at the hospital I’ll be going to for the next six months and have him remembering the day I went upstairs and “you knowed” into a cup.
I wore sweatpants. Not sure why. I never wear sweatpants. I was surprised that I even owned a pair. The reason I did was because I read an article that said it is good to wear sweatpants to hospital procedures. I think? I don’t know. I already felt creepy enough going to a public place to “have private time,” and now wearing sweat pants made me feel the part as well.
So I get to downtown Atlanta, and I’m a little nervous about being able to perform. Not that that is a problem with me normally. And at this point nothing has happened in 120 hours because my girlfriend was like if 96 is good, then 120 would be even better! I was like, “Better for who?” She said, “Our possible future child, duh.” Meanwhile, she has never looked happier. She’s watching Parks and Rec in bed and eating cookies and wearing sweat pants. Fucking sweat pants.
So the day of, I share with my girlfriend my anxiousness of being able to perform, thinking back to the last time I was in the position. So she offered to help. She said, “I’ll send you a picture of my boobs.”
First off, she said boobs, which makes me feel like I’m 15. While I appreciate the gesture, I’m also 38 years old and I’m not sure a simple boob shot is going to get me over this hump. Plus I love her and don’t want her to feel like she has to do that for me. She is an object of respect and dignity is what I am thinking, but what I am typing is, “Awesome.”
So two minutes later she sends me a picture, and to tell you the truth, I have no idea what it was. So I texted her, “What is that?”
Now there are lots of things you want to hear when you send someone a sexy picture- “What is that” is not one of those things. It would be like if I had sent someone a picture of my penis and they were like, “Sorry can’t see anything.” That would be so depressing. But I literally could not tell what it was because she stuck her phone up her shirt like she was putting on deodorant. It was like the underside of her bra. She was like oh yeah that’s sexy and I was in this waiting room wanting to be turned on by what my beautiful girlfriend was sending me but I literally had no idea what was happening. She responded, “It’s a sexy picture!!!!” And I said, “Oh yes I see that now!!” (I didn’t see that then or now.)
So there I was, sitting in this waiting room, in my sweatpants, trying to look normal. But not too normal. I mean you don’t want it to seem like this is something you do every day. You don’t want to know the receptionist by name. Like:
Me: What’s up Sue.
Sue: What’s up Davey. Have you ejaculated in 48 hours?
Davey: Oh you know me. Also I know your birthday is next week, here’s a little Starbucks gift card.
Sue: That’s so sweet- you know I like hot milk.
Davey: That’s why you work here!
(Sue and Davey high five.)
End of play. And you reading this blog most likely.
So I’m sitting in this waiting room with my ear phones in but nothing playing. The ear phones are acting like a shield to protect me from the rest of the people, but I don’t have anything on because I want to hear my name called the first time. You don’t want them yelling your name over and over again. “David Nelson! David Lee Nelson the Second!” Then they get on the intercom “David Lee Nelson II, your room is ready!”
And of course for this procedure there was a problem. My one doctor didn’t send over the order because apparently you have to have an order to get your sperm frozen. And the system was down. Well at this point my system is probably going to be down as well. Then after a half an hour they ask me to call my doctor and get him to fax over the order and I was like, “My doctor treats cancer, I don’t think he has time to fax an order over.”
And people are still using faxes? I thought this was a state of the art medical center and now we are relying on technology no one really fully ever understood. A fax. That was always a mystical thing wasn't it? Sending a fax. Waiting for them to get it. Hoping they got it. Thinking there was no way they were ever going to get it. Then the sound it made. What a horrible sound. Like “fjfslkjfdljfdlkjf”
An hour, later they faxed it over. By this time, I had been there so long they offered to validate my parking.
Then the nurse came out to get me. Each room I passed I was like, “Is this it, is this the one?” She didn’t answer. She just led me down the hall ringing a bell like it was the Walk of Atonement in Game of Thrones. “Shame. Shame Shame.”
We finally got to the room and she made me sign some forms and fill out some papers, and she put the container on the counter and she could not have left the room faster. And then there I was. Alone. Everything worked fine. By that point it had been 144 hours, so I was in good shape.
It was so weird. This thing I had always thought was so shameful and so sinful, was now a medical procedure with instructions on what to do with the evidence. I had to put it in a jar and then put that jar in a cubby hole. That was the bank I suppose. Or the medical equivalent of a Glory Hole.
But that weird after feeling was still there. That feeling that guys get after they do that. I can only describe it as a feeling of hopelessness. I don’t know if women have that same feeling, but for a guy it’s like, “This feels great this feels great oh oh oh wow I’m a horrible human being what is wrong with me.” That is just inherent in the males: do that thing, process. Maybe it’s tied to the fact that I literally killed what could have been millions of babies. Women don’t have that. It’s not like every time a woman has private time she’s like, “Oops, there goes an egg.”
So I walked to my ’97 Mercury Sable in a shame spiral. Which led to another shame spiral.
I texted my girlfriend it was done and she said, “Did the picture help?”
I said, “Sure.”
She said, “Great, can you bring me Zaxby’s?”
I smiled. And thought “thank you God, for the absurdity of it all.”
(P.S My girlfriend is the best and super sexy. Just FYI.)