2:00 p.m.: The pain starts out of nowhere. You’re just sitting on the couch and watching football when suddenly the throbbing begins. It feels like someone lightly tapped you down there. Every man knows this feeling, every man dreads it. Only you weren’t hit—you have no idea where the pain came from or why it started. It’s mostly on the left side. You worry a bit but figure it’s just one of those things, something that will pass, like when your back aches or hamstring feels tight. And anyway, you’ve got the great Scott Hanson and the glorious RedZone channel to help take your mind off the pain. You adjust yourself a bit, sit back, find a position that you think works, and direct your focus back towards the TV.
3:47: You’re starting to worry a bit as the pain has yet to subside. It hasn’t moved either. Still the left side, a bit towards the back. You think. It’s kind of vague and hard to pin down. You stand up and take a trip towards the full-length mirror hanging on the bathroom door. Yep, everything looks OK. You then sit down and open your computer. You know you shouldn’t go to WebMD but it’s also so hard to resist. You need to know what you’re dealing with. This is, after all, kind of an important body part. But first, you open an “incognito window.” You’re not sure what Facebook and Google could do with a search of “left testicle pain” but you know you don’t want to find out.
3:49: Regret going to WedMd. Awful decision. You’re now convinced that you have a mixture of cancer and an STD and also something called torsion, which you never heard of until a minute ago. Torsion, apparently, is the twisting of the testicles. Apparently testicles can twist. Apparently this is really bad. Apparently you can lose a testicle because of torsion. WebMD never fails. You send your girlfriend a text telling her you’re bugging out.
3:53: The ice is working. You saw on one of those nutty Yahoo Questions message boards that applying some could help so you gave it a shot. You have the perfect ice pack, too—one of those thin sort-of bendable ones, which you mostly use for your head. You sometimes get migraines and once read that ice could help. But now you’re not worried about the head, only one body part currently matters. At first having ice in your shorts feels strange, then you start to feel some relief. Hey, maybe it’s working, you think to yourself. Also, a mental note: buy new ice pack for head.
4:19: RedZone channel out of control as the 1 p.m. games come to an end. No time to think about your balls, which, at this moment, are extremely cold. Maybe that’s why you can’t think about them—you can’t feel them.
5:23: Wake up from an hour nap—football Sundays can be draining—hoping that you’ll feel better. And for a minute you do. Just for a minute. After that the pain comes back. It probably never left, it just took a minute for the brain to process that it was still there. More worrying, wondering what it could be. Testicles are not supposed to hurt this long. You’re no doctor but that you know. You decide it’s cancer. That’s the only possible explanation. You’re going to either die or spend the rest of your life walking around with one ball. FUCKKKK! You need a doctor. NOW!
5:24: Peyton Manning is driving on the Seahawks’ D. Big game, a Super Bowl rematch. The doctor can wait. It’s probably not cancer anyway. Decide you need to stop being such a pessimistic drama queen. Body parts hurt. That’s what happens.
6:15: “Groin problems” is the reason you give as you walk into the CityMD Urgent Care clinic. Saying, “because my left testicle is killing” just doesn’t seem like something a gentleman would say out loud in a waiting room.
6:59: A man wearing a kippah is now fondling your balls. You didn’t go to Yeshiva University, but you now know what that experience would have been like. Nice guy, this doctor, though you wouldn’t mind if the nurse sitting behind him didn’t look like a person tuning into a special on National Geographic. Around 30 seconds pass and the doctor tells you to have a seat. He asks you a bunch of questions. You answer them. No, it doesn’t burn when you pee, no, there’s no way you can have an STD, no, there’s no was no blood in your “stool,” though you don’t normally make a habit of analyzing your—or anyone else’s— stool, so you can’t be sure. He then tells you that he’s about 95 percent sure you’re OK. Normally this is a good and comforting number but when it comes to your testicles anything below 217% seems like something worth worrying about. He says it’s “probably” something called, well, you’re not really sure. You think he said some sort of inflammation, something that starts with an E and ends with an itis. You forgot that part of what the doctor said because, immediately after, he told you that you need to go to the ER to get an ultra sound. That, he says, is the only way to rule out torsion, the twisting of the testicles WebMD told you about before, the diagnosis that leads either to surgery on your balls or loss of one of them, which is kind of like being told that your options are either hell or having your eyes poked out by a wolverine. The doctor says normally they’d send you to a radiologist, but because it’s a Sunday night and none are open you have to go to the ER. Oh, and immediately. If torsion is discovered you’d be rushed into emergency surgery.
7:00: Doctor and nurse give you paperwork, ask if you have any more questions, then you leave the room.
7:01: WHAT THE FUCKKKKKKKK?!!!!!!!!!!
7:20: Discharged from urgent care.
7:21: Broncos have almost erased a 14-point deficit and are driving late in the 4th quarter. The game is on in the waiting room of the urgent care center. Ball surgery can wait—Peyton Manning is doing his thing. He then throws an interception. You walk back to your apartment to get some magazines and a phone charger to take to the ER. During that walk you call your mom and girlfriend to tell them what’s going on. Mom says she’ll get in touch with a urologist she knows and says to take a cab to the ER where he works.
7:40: Get in cab.
7:45: Mom calls, says the urologists said he’ll have someone meet you at the ER. She also tells you that he said that you shouldn’t be eating or drinking anything. She tells you this in a calm voice but you’re no novice and the message is clear: the chances of you requiring surgery are high enough that this doctor felt it was necessary to have you start prepping for it, just in case. Bug out commences.
7:53: You’ve decided that you’d trade your left testicle for a new cab driver who didn’t drive as if he had a 100-pound boot attached to his right foot.
8:05: Arrive at ER and sign in. Nurse asks you what’s wrong. You show her the paper that the Urgent Care center gave you. Her eyes open big. “Are you in a lot of pain,” she asks, her eyes alarmingly wide. This doesn’t make you feel very calm. You tell her you’re in pain, but it’s not so bad. Afterwards you realize this was dumb, a rookie move. You always say it’s an emergency when they ask. Oh well. You find a seat, take out your charger and sit back. If there wasn’t a possibility that one of your testicles could be dead you’d be really comfortable.
8:20: Some weird ABC show with witches is on TV. You wish football was on, but also don’t want to be the person to change the channel. What if the person watching the witch show has cancer? You don’t want to be the person who prevented the person with cancer from watching his or her witch show.
8:55: Finally taken inside. Some guy, you think he’s the floor manager or head nurse or whatever that person is called, brings you into a room and asks you to fill him in. You do so, and then he tells you to stand up and drop your pants. He becomes the second man to fondle you that evening. It’s a new personal record. He then hands you a cup, points you towards the bathroom and instructs you to do your thing.
8:56: “Sit tight,” he tells you, “we’ll bring you back for the ultra sound in a few minutes.” He then leaves the room. A minute later the urology resident comes in. He’s also wearing a Kippah. Apparently lots of Jews become doctors. He introduces himself and extends his hand. You shake it, though reluctantly since he is a urologist. He then asks you what’s going on. You tell him. You also know what’s next.
8:57: Your balls are now being fondled by a yarmulka-wearing man for the second time this evening.
9:00: You meet the radiologist. He tells you that this is his domain and so he needs to know all the details of what’s going on. He asks you, you tell him. You also know what’s next.
9:01: Your balls have now been fondled by four men this evening. This time you started dropping your pants before he could even finish asking. You’re also standing straight up with your hands behind you back, whereas before you there was a bit of a hunch to you while the men were cupping. Having male hands on your testicles is no longer a strange feeling.
9:05: Turns out, the guy who you just met isn’t the one doing the ultra sound. That honor belongs to another woman in the room, who tells you to take everything off below your waste, cover yourself up with a blanket and lie down. She then gives you a bunch of directions. Push this part up and move those parts down and squeeze this in. It’s a lot of choreography for a part of the body more accustomed to just sort of flopping around and doing it’s own thing. It’s all kind of like trying to get a break dancer to do ballet. She then rubs some sort of cold goo all over you and gets to work. Usually you have to pay extra for that kind of action, Cotton.
9:06: Your legs are shaking and you can’t get them stop. You’ve been laughing at the situation all night but now none of this seems funny. It’s certainly not to any of the doctors or nurses who have seen you tonight, each of whom has greeted you with a serious expression. You start going through the what ifs? What if it is cancer? What if it’s a tumor? What if it’s torsion? What if I have to lose one of my boys? What if I need ball surgery? The leg is still shaking, especially the right one. The radiologist asks, nicely, if you can try to keep it still. You tell her you’ll try. She asks you to contract or something like that. She’s been going at it for about ten minutes now. Her face is very stern. So is that of the resident looking over her left shoulder. The room has bad lighting. Why won’t they say anything, you wonder. What is going on? The legs start moving even faster.
9:09: “You don’t see anything, right?” says the resident. Finally! “No,” she says. You’re told you have nothing to worry about and that there’s definitely not torsion. For the first time all day you feel at ease. The sense of relief passes through you, from your brain all the way down to the legs which are no longer shaking.
9:10: More complicated instructions. We’re now in the “crossing the ts and dotting the is” phase. Extra goo has been applied.
9:20: What did men who had testicle pain do before we knew what torsion was? Your mind starts to wander when you lie on a doctor’s table for 20 minutes. These are the things you think about—how many men in the 1800s were walking around with dead testicles because no one knew what torsion was, or how to check for it. Boy, are we lucky.
9:50: Still waiting for test results. Ten minutes ago you had to pee into a cup again because your original sample was lost. No worries—an hour ago you thought you might be losing one of your best friends. At this point you feel so at ease that you’re willing to offer your pee to anyone who wants some.
10:00: There is now a yarmulke-wearing man with his hand up your ass. You didn’t know it was possible to reach that far. “Lean further forward,” he says. “Move your elbows toward the edge.” The head-doctor dude apparently thought it was necessary to have a rectal exam administered, in order to check the prostate, too.
10:01: “Does that hurt?” the resident asks as his hand pokes around inside you. It came in one end and you now feel his fist in your stomach. If his question is not a rhetorical one, then it’s a real silly one.
10:03: Thank the resident for all his help. No hand-shake.
10:40: Discharged. Finally. Final count: four men fondled you, and one of them put his hand up your ass. Also, there was the female radiologist. All told, a pretty eventful Sunday night. Next stop: CVS. In desperate need of a pack of baby wipes.