Excused Trousers

I will begin by apologising to at least 50% of my readership who will, at best, have to read this post with their legs, if not their eyes, crossed and at worst will be on the phone to the doctor in the morning to cancel the appointment, because once again, the Devil has found work for my Idle Hands.  My twice weekly search for something new to say has once again led me into the past.  You will know, by now, that I often fill these pages with fond memories, but today’s slightly asymmetrical limp down memory lane is a rather more uncomfortable one for me.  On this occasion, a bit of an office clearout has unearthed a little poem (which I believe I may have used on these very pages once before) and a picture which I have not, and together they set the ghost of recollection whirring…

I will begin with the little poem…

A Small Deception in the Vasectomy Clinic.

He smiled at me, lain on the table
And said, “Now this won’t hurt at all.”
Then rammed over 6 foot of needle
Right down my wherewithal

…and the recollection of writing it – excused trousers – on the morning after my first vasectomy.  Yes, I did say first.  Allow me to fill you in…

It will have been thirty years ago now.  My youngest daughter was about eighteen months old and it was decided that it was up to me to ensure that we didn’t have to go through all that again.  I made an appointment with the doctor.  “Yes,” he said, he would refer me if I was sure.  I said “Sure?” and he said, “Yes, ‘Sure.’”  I said, “You sound doubtful.  Don’t you recommend it?” and he said, “It’s not up to me to recommend it, it’s up to me to ensure that you know what you’re getting yourself into.  Do you understand everything I’ve told you?”  “Yes,” I said.  “Not a word,” I thought.  “In my position,” I asked, “would you have it done?”  “No,” he said.  “I’ll refer you for counselling today and you’ll hear from us very soon.  There’s a new clinic just opened in town.  They’ll do it before you get the chance to change your mind…”  I left the doctor’s somewhat less than reassured about the operation, but assured that at least I would be counselled before it took place.

The counsellor said, “Right, are you sure?”  I said “Sure?” and she said, “Yes, ‘Sure,’ after everything I have told you, are you sure you still want to go ahead with this?”  and my wife said, “Yes, he is,” so I was referred to the clinic which would, she said, do the operation very soon.  I was slightly uneasy that she did not say they would do it very well.

Cometh the day, cometh the pallid man and I was led into a small operating theatre (ex-broom cupboard with a single new light fitting, one fresh coat of eau de nil emulsion and all shelves removed as per) at the back of the doctor’s surgery in my NHS rear-ventilated operation gown.  “Lay on there,” said the nurse, who looked almost old enough for her own paper round, “feet in the stirrups and pull the gown up to your chest.”  And there I lay, stranded walrus-like, when the doctor entered with his assistant (who was also his wife).  They both looked at me intently.  “I know you,” they said in unison.  And so they did.  We had known one another for years.  The area being doused with iodine was slowly dying of embarrassment.  “There’s a nice soothing photo on the ceiling,” said the assistant, “You might like to look at that.”  She had, I thought, the widest grin I have ever seen as she lifted the hypodermic needle out of the tray and I stared fixedly at the waves crashing on the shore…

I will honestly tell you that after the injection, there was no pain, but the unsettling discomfort of somebody rummaging about in the family treasury.  They chatted happily away as they worked and, when they had finished, I was surprised that they did not bring me a mirror so that I could admire their handiwork.

They fit you with a little hammock then, to keep everything secure whilst it settles down overnight.  It was, I remember thinking, more than adequately roomy.  Come the following morning, it was not quite so spacious.  There was no room to spin a cat, let alone the two over-large aubergines to which my little knotted pocket now provided sanctuary.  Surely this was not the way that things were meant to be.  So, a quickly arranged visit to the doctor who didn’t actually say, “Well, I did warn you,” contenting himself instead with a quiet ‘tut’ and a whispered “Oh dear.”  He advised me to take some Paracetamol and lie down.  As I could barely walk, I was happy to do so.

I arrived home to find this little gift from my great friend Crispin Underfelt:


…and I discovered that this was not a good time to laugh out loud.  (N.B. I feel it only fair to offer a little reassurance here: it is perfectly ok to read on; there are no actual photographs.)

Time passed, swelling subsided and eventually I was tested, only to find out that the doctor was obviously worse at knotting than I am: all had been in vain.  “Do you want to try again?” asked the doctor.  “I’m not doing it myself,” I said.  “I’ll book you in,” he said.  “Not the same butcher,” I said.  “No,” he said, “I think he’s taking a little time off.” (I hoped for everyone’s sake, particularly for those that might be tied below him, that he was not going on a mountaineering expedition.)  “It will be done at the hospital this time.”  And so it was. 

Thankfully on this occasion, I was unconscious throughout.  I awoke, already ensconced within my little hammock, which was feeling, I thought, rather more snug than it did the time before.  And so it was.

The doctor sucked his teeth.  “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear,” he muttered.  “Did you walk here?”
“Well I certainly didn’t come on my bike,” I said.
“Take some paracetamol and lie down,” he said.

Eventually things settled down and I was able to look an aubergine in the eye once again.  A first test was not clear, but second and third were.  “If you change your mind,” the doctor said, “we could always try to reverse it.”  I could not imagine ever being that desperate…

And today, hindsight being the wonderful gift it is, I ask myself, would I do it all again?  Well possibly, although I would certainly investigate the alternatives a little more assiduously, like neutering, or life as a monk – although, if I’m honest, I’ve always thought there must be some reason why they all appear to be permanently excused trousers…

12 thoughts on “Excused Trousers

  1. How brave of you Colin! I’ve only ever known one chap who had a vasectomy. He didn’t talk about it but he had a tie pin that was a broken arrow. One of our more innocent girls was gazing at it with interest and it had to be explained whereupon she turned purple.

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  2. I have a friend like Mr. Underfelt as well.
    I can’t imagine the ordeal you went through. Sounds nightmarish. I may live under a rock or in the United States or something but I have never heard the term, “excused trousers.”

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  3. I, on the other hand, was up and walking out the door with ‘nary a limp once the upon being fitted with the soft cosseting banana hammock.
    Ps; What were they looking at when they said in unison they knew you? Was it some very twisted facial recognition? Just wondering…

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    1. I believe that I am exception other than rule. Fills me with pride 😬. I have never thought about that before. I’ve just gone back and checked the paperwork. My name is down as Mr Bollock-Face

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      1. The formal first name ‘Richard’ or the less formal ‘Dick?’ (So long as the sterile theatre nurse doesn’t call me ‘Sad Sack’ as I’m wheeled away I’ll reply to almost any name!)

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