Author’s Note: This is the second installment of a multi-part tale. Readers wishing to begin at the beginning should click here:
Part Two: The Finger.
Infertility may be hideously complex emotionally, but practically (at least at first) it’s really quite simple. Odds are somebody is to blame, and that somebody needs to be found. Since there are only two suspects, the chore is easy – no nationwide manhunt required. And because the Man has been equipped by nature with external reproductive organs, easily reached, dangling out in the open, shining in the sun, it only makes sense that he should be the first under the medical microscope. The wife made an appointment to get Schwimmer checked out by a Urologist.
Up until age forty, most men have never been to a Urologist because their plumbing doesn’t begin springing leaks until later in life. Schwimmer was an exception. After his bout of Epididemitis the Doctors wanted him to see a specialist to get everything checked out. At this point, thirteen year old Schwimmer had almost made his peace with strange hands palpating his testes by the dozens (the hands, not the testes), so off he went.
Unfortunately, as bad as the whole testicle thing had been, there was something much worse in store for Schwimmer at the Urologist. Something so bad he’d never dreamed it could even be done to him. Something so nightmarishly, humiliatingly, intimately violative that it made what had been done to him so far seem as casual as a handshake. Something all men go through later in life, which they all hate except for a tiny minority who really don’t seem to mind so much and even seem to enjoy it.
They call it: The Finger.
Dr. Laney was everything one could expect from a doctor; mid fifties, gray hair, soft spoken, competent, experienced. He went through the whole foul experience of the illness with young Schwimmer, clucked with sympathy as Schwimmer described the various tests they’d put him through, including being shot up with radioactive isotopes and made to pee in front of an x-ray machine (which he could not do – he developed a terrible case of stage fright, frustrating the hell out of the technician). The dreaded palpation was performed gently and deftly. Young Schwimmer began to relax.
Then out came the rubber glove and the tub of petroleum jelly. “Okay, young man,” said the Urologist, “all we have to do now is check out the old Prostate and we’ll be done.”
Years later, in his late twenties, Schwimmer received his second prostate check, performed by his Internist as part of a routine physical. That check was quite simple and quick and it raised suspicions in him about the first one. The Internist had made him lie on his side with knees up to his chest. It was over in a jiff. But young Schwimmer had received no such gentle treatment. The Urologist made him bend over the exam table, spread em wide, and then went into his rectum with a finger that felt as thick as the head of a croquet mallet. And it went on and on and on.
His clearest memory of the event was the aftermath, squatting in the office bathroom digging gobs of thick petroleum jelly out of his anus. There was so much wedged in so many nooks and crannies he was unable to get it all out and walked out into the waiting room with a queasy, greasy gait.
These lovely memories all flooded to the surface as he sat in yet another Urology waiting room with his wife, awaiting his third meeting with The Finger.
The nurse led them into a room and after a bit the Urologist came in, looking nothing like Doctor Laney, to Schwimmer’s enormous relief. They talked about his underwear, his diet, his drinking habits. Then the doc got out his medical history and spotted something.
“I see you had a bout of Epididemitis when you were thirteen.” He said. “Any reoccurrences?”
Schwimmer flushed. His wife looked at him with alarm and then turned to the Doctor. “Epi-whatsis?” she asked.
“Epididemitis, it’s an inflammation in the scrotal sac. Think of it as a cold of the Testicles and sperm carrying tubes.” The Doctor said.
She scowled and punched Schwimmer in the arm. “You never told me about this!”
Schwimmer winced and rubbed his arm. “It was a long time ago and it wasn’t fun. I think I blocked out the experience because it was so nasty. Anyway it was over in a week and never came back.”
“Could this be the problem, Doctor?” she asked.
The Doctor shrugged. “Could be, especially if there was some scarring. But there’s no point in worrying about it now. In these cases we pretty much always do the same thing no matter what the past history is, then we look at other issues if it’s warranted.”
He opened a notepad and jotted something down. “I’m going to order a sperm sample. We’ll get that under a microscope and see what we got swimming around down there. If it’s normal then we don’t need to worry about scarring and whatnot.” He passed the slip to them. “Take this to the nurse and she’ll set you up. Good luck.”
Good luck indeed! No finger! No rubber glove! No palpations of any kind! No strange hands on his nether parts! Free!
Schwimmer nearly skipped into the reception area. A no nonsense middle aged woman intercepted them and steered them to a cubicle. “Okay, the Doctor has ordered a sperm sample, so here’s what we have to do…” she began.
Sperm sample? Schwimmer’s good mood popped like pin struck balloon. This did not sound like it was going to be fun.