Nuts, a ball and other four-letter words. A young man’s journey with testicular cancer. Part 2

{This is Part 2 in a series. Read Part 1 here.}

So, we’re at the doctors, like I said. I’m trying to concentrate on the really uninteresting ceiling while he feels around. It’s slow going, this examination, cause even though I’m trying to relax and he’s treating me casually, there are certain physical reactions that just happen, regardless of how interesting the ceiling is. He keeps on reminding me to relax which is frustrating me even more. Doesn’t he think I would if I could? So my sack keeps tightening and shrinking up, which is bloody hopeless for the doc. Finally, either from boredom – white ceilings aren’t really much of a distraction, or from sheer dumb luck, my body does what it’s supposed to and the doc gets a chance to check out the lump I had felt not long after Craig kneed me during the game. I’m a little bit sore and that’s a bit scary, especially when the doc covers me up and tells me to get dressed and sit back at his desk with Mum.

While I’m dressing, he and Mum are talking pretty quietly on the other side of the curtain. They’re not trying to keep secrets from me, I don’t think, but I can’t hear them properly and I’m still zipping my jeans up as I walk back to the chair by Mum. I want to say something casual and funny to show that I can take it, whatever it is,

“So, no grandkids today, hey Mum?”

But I can’t and the doctor looks me over before telling me what he’s obviously already told Mum,

“Sam, I felt the same swelling that you did and I’m a bit concerned about it. Considering your previous history, I’d like to get a closer look. I’d like you to have another ultrasound and we can see what it is we’re dealing with exactly.”

I don’t really get it, but the doctor must see that in my face and continues with more explanation. He thinks that the cyst I’ve got, a damaged bit on my ball, like a blister, is changing and not in a good way. The ultrasound is going to give a clearer picture of it, an ultrasound being a bit like an x-ray for bits of the body that aren’t bones. The short of it though is that it means another trip to another doctor; another indecent exposure and another experience of gel and a kind of microphone looking thing skidding about around my scrotum. Forgive me if I’m not thrilled by the idea!

“Shit! No.”

“Sam,” Mum starts to warn me of my language, but then must realise how I feel and breathes out deeply, “Well, yes, fair enough.”

Referrals are made and Mum and I are on our way home. I can tell she’s freaking out a bit, and I am not really sure what I am feeling. Are there emotion rules on this?

Dad and I get on ok. I’ve been visiting him every second weekend for about 8 years. Best of both worlds, Mum used to say; that I could be with her and my brother and sister during the weeks and then to Dad’s every other weekend. I used to spend a bit of each weekend riding down to this little fishing spot with my step brother. We’d sit there for hours; not always catching much, but it was good to hang out. Jake is about my age, a year younger, another thing Mum said was good about going to Dad’s, and we hung out together, fishing and biking and stuff. I didn’t tell him much about the whole check up thing. If I did have to do any explaining, if anyone asked, I’d just say I had a third nut. That was as easy as it got and it was pretty much what I thought anyway. Going into detail about epididymal cysts and ultrasounds just wasn’t a topic of conversation. Still isn’t. It’s not the sort of thing you generally share with anyone, and most of the time it was just a hassle, part of the stuff I did at Mum’s house.

Mum said that she would keep the school in the loop and I wouldn’t have to say anything. She was trying to save me the embarrassment of talking about it, but you know what? After you go through what I have in the past nine months, you get pretty casual about it. What might have been embarrassing before is now just routine. Words, technical or slang or swearing, are just words and whether or not I tell a teacher that my nut had to be removed or agree with a counsellor that I do freak out about sex and getting it up makes no difference really. Not compared to what I’ve been through.

The doctors ultrasound it again and decide that the cyst has changed some and they need to go in and have a look. My understanding of the op was that once I was under the general anaesthetic, the surgeon would open me up, like cut my sack, and take out the original cyst and kind of scrape the left testicle to get the still swollen, enlarged bits off it. So that’s what I expected to have happened when I woke up; scar and stitches in my scrotum and to feel pretty sore around the balls, as you would. When I woke up and came to, that’s not what I felt like. I put my hand down to check it out, to see if I could feel the incision, but I felt nothing. Honestly, nothing. No ball on the left side at all. What the hell? Then I panicked. What was going on?

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