When I’m teaching vocabulary, I often ask my students if they recognize any parts of a word. Maybe they have heard part of the word or a word like the new word. When K and I learned that we might see a Urologist I nodded my head, thinking I’ve heard the word urine before. Must be some kind of a private part doctor. Makes sense.
Our primary reproductive doctor recommended us to a Urologist through the practice. We met this doctor at the reproductive office’s main facility downtown. This building is stunning. It was a rainy, overcast day and the office boasted amazing views of the lake and the city bustling down below. The office was full of natural lighting and had plenty of places to wait. This was a completely different feel then the other office we had visited. I felt inspired waiting. I felt hopeful. I felt like I could breathe. I couldn’t stop looking out the window and daydreaming of the future.
At this appointment, K was going to have his “private part” checked out and make sure everything was functioning properly. We would also have the opportunity to go over all of the results from his recent semen sample. You might have had the privilege of meeting my husband, better yet, you might know him. He is physically fit, tall with dark curly hair and striking blue eyes. He is smart, strong, handsome, and incredibly talented. I have found myself annoyed, more than once, at how easily he will pick things up. A couple summers ago we learned to wake surf. I spent the summer trying to get water out of my ears and tending to my wounded pride. K on the other hand was surfing on the first try – “good for youuuu.” He is great at anything he puts his mind to.
The doctor looked us in the eyes and told us that K was normal or above normal in all areas, except sperm count. No blood work or genetic testing could account for why K would have such a low sperm number. There is no pill, diet, or prescription that could change his number. He couldn’t be healthier or making better choices. But what does it all mean for our infertility plan? For a treatment like IUI (intrauterine insemination) K would need a number around 15 million sperm per milliliter or higher. K’s last sample was 1.4 million parts per milliliter.
After reviewing the numbers, the doctor did a physical with K and found a varicocele in his left testicle. I really should have counted how many times the doctor said testicle and testis. If it were a drinking game, we would have been wasted. I’m blown away that neither of us laughed. A varicocele is an enlarged vein in the scrotum. It is very similar to varicose veins that can occur in the leg. This enlarged vein could be responsible for decreased sperm production and quality since pooling blood can cause an increase in temperature. The doctor said that research has shown that taking care of the vein most likely would improve the sperm, but even with improved sperm, it would be unlikely to get the sperm count high enough for the IUI treatment. The doctor said that our best treatment would be IVF (in vitro fertilization) with or without the varicocele surgery.
Ball surgery. Ouch. What would it be like? The doctor drew us a rough sketch of what the process would entail. I was enthralled by what he was saying. I loved that we were having an opportunity to learn something new, something I had yet to even think about googling. The doctor abruptly stopped talking and asked K if he was feeling alright. When I looked at K my heart sank. He had turned gray and was sitting very still. The doctor asked if he would like to lie down on the couch. K got out a “yes” and the doctor quickly rose from his chair and went to stand behind K, all the while speaking to me in a calm clear voice, letting me know that K was “about to go down” and that this was normal and he was safe. Normal?!?! My husband turning gray, seizing, and his eyes rolling?!?! That’s normal?! Apparently, it is normal. The doctor held his head and after what felt like hours, checked his pulse and told me “he is coming back.” K became conscious and was confused by what was happening. He asked “did I fall asleep?” I stared at him frozen to my seat, unsure what to do next. I remember poking him repeatedly. The doctor had him rest his head on the desk and let him know he just experienced Vasovagal syncope, a condition where your heart rate and blood pressure suddenly drops. For K this was from thinking about veins and blood. I suppose it is a good thing that this first happened next to a doctor. I can only imagine what I would have done if I was alone with him when this happened for the first time. K was shocked and a bit embarrassed and SOOO sweaty. He sweat through his shirt, his body was covered in sweat, his head was dripping sweat. It was wild! A nurse brought in a towel and some apple juice. We stopped talking about the surgery and wrapped up our conversation. The doctor left telling us that we needed to decide about whether or not to have the surgery. My mind was preoccupied with “what in the world just happened?!” I was thankful when the doctor left for his next appointment and we had some time to ourselves.
K and I let out sighs and giggles. We talked quickly and wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. It had been an informative, sweaty, crazy appointment and we just wanted to go home. K started regaining some color in his face and we made our way to the car silently. As soon as we were alone, we started laughing and talking through the tension of the appointment.
Ball surgery or no ball surgery? That is the question. �