Scuba Gear

Originally posted on mrchair, 7/2/2008.  So Jamie and I were talking about urine tests the other day, and while regaling a classy story of a time I had to take more than one urine test and was unable to go, I revealed a little-known fact. When I was about 12 or so I had a testicular torsion. A torsion is when one of the testicles (or to mrchair readers, 'testacles') becomes partially twisted, cutting blood flow, endangering the testicle and causing a gnawing pain that no 12-year-old boy should ever have to endure. Much less tell his mom about.

As I explained to her, my tangled testicle was of a very mild form, and all I had to do was take some pills and ice it and it went away and now today I have both of them, perfectly fine and full of sperm, ready to be wasted as frequently as I get the chance. But, understandably, this tidy description of what eMedicine describes as "a true urologic emergency," that is "the leading cause of testicular loss" didn't ease her curiosity.

So a couple days later we looked it up on the Internet, and found gritty descriptions that, while funny, didn't match my memory. But anyway, have some knowledge about what happens when your testicle gets twisted:

-"Torsions are sometimes called "winter syndrome". This is because they often happen in winter, when it is cold outside. The scrotum of a man who has been lying in a warm bed is relaxed. When he arises, his scrotum is exposed to the colder room air. If the spermatic cord is twisted while the scrotum is loose, the sudden contraction that results from the abrupt temperature change can trap the testicle in that position. The result is a testicular torsion."

-"If there is the slightest hint of a torsion of the testicle, then doctors will perform surgery; even if the testicle turns out not to have twisted, they will still protect it by attaching the testicle to the scrotum wall. If only one testicle has been problematic, the surgeon may suture both testicles as a preventative effort."

-"A salvage rate of 100% is found in patients who undergo detorsion within 6 hours of pain; 20% viability rate if detorsion occurs after 12 hours; and 0% viability if detorsion is delayed greater than 24 hours."

- "Manual detorsion can be attempted with pain relief. The procedure is similar to the 'opening of a book' when the physician is standing at the patient's feet. For example, in a suspected torsion of the right testicle, the physician is in front of the standing or supine patient and holds the patient's right testicle with the left thumb and forefinger. The physician then rotates the right testicle outward 180° in a medial to lateral direction."

-And my absolute favorite: "Torsion of testicular appendices is one of the most common causes of acute scrotum; it is the leading cause of acute scrotum in children."

And we laughed and laughed. But Jamie a little more than me. And me occasionally saying, "that's not really funny. Hurts." There was one particular section that said "testicular pain is a great source of anxiety for men," that she thought was hilarious.

But pain plus time equals comedy, so a testicular torsion 20 years later must be fucking agonizingly hysterical. Fine, ok, it's funny. But the more we researched, the less satisfied Jamie was with my recollection.

"It doesn't make sense that you could just take pills and it would go away. You must have had surgery, or maybe the doctor untwisted it with his hand and then gave you painkillers," she said. "I have no motive to lie about this, nor is it likely that I'd forget having a doctor untwist my testicle, with surgery or otherwise."

But then I figured it out, and the mystery was solved: The torsion of the testicular appendage.

You see, there's a full-on twisted testicle, where they sew it to your ballsack and a lot of the time they have to cut it off. Then there's the other one, of the appendices. See balls have these little attachments. Inside of the skin, there's a lot going on. Chances are, if you saw the inside of a testicle, you wouldn't even recognize it. You'd think it was scuba gear, or a lizard sunning itself on a river rock.

So one of the lizard's legs, or the snorkel mouthpiece gets all twisty and it hurts really bad and then you tell your mom and it's all embarassing. Then an old man makes you pee in a cup and than another old man makes you do the same, but you can't pee because you just went. But it works out alright and he gives you a bunch of anti-inflammatory drugs and you lie to your friends and sit on the couch with an icebag for a few days and play video games.

So when it was said and done, we all learned a lot. Mostly Jamie. Mostly that I'm usually right, especially with matters of my testicles. But also, now I finally know why I have such acute scrotum.