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May 12, 2010

The Best Laid Plans…

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia – I have never before had to consider abortion in my personal life. I never, ever thought I would have to as I practiced birth control in all my sexual relationships. Even in college.


When I fell deeply, madly in love with my new wife, one of the bonuses was her infertility. My drop dead gorgeous lady had not been married because of this inability. Culturally, children – and many of them – are desired.


In some of my previous columns, I ridiculed men who had divorced their wife of many years and married a much younger woman and started another family. I just could not see me chasing around a two year old with a diaper, or dropping off a kid at a teenage dance, when I was 73. I also met teens and they related how they missed their elderly father who had died during their “coming of age” years.


The chair looked something like a torture device in Hannibal Lecters garage collection. The doctor told me to get naked, climb up and put my feet in the stirrups. My legs were not that wide so he adjusted them commenting it was obvious I had never been in that position. Using his fingers, he found the two tubes to be cut and then inserted a meter long needle, to numb the very, very sensitive area. Well, it seemed like a meter long.


It was a bit painful but not that bad. We carried on a banter as he worked “down there.” I worried about whether I could function later. Being a biologist, I have always wanted to watch what was being done, so I occasionally glanced in the reflection of his glasses. Nope, didn’t want to watch THAT anymore, I decided.


When finished, stitches inserted, he told me to bring in a sample to make sure the little critters were no longer dancing. Since, I was leaving in a few days for Borneo, I told him that would not be possible. Everything I had read insisted the vasectomy was a fool proof method of birth control.


A person I spoke to said to be sure to follow the post operation procedure. He didn’t and had real problems. I got a huge bag of ice and filled the ice pack throughout the night, subconsciously waking up when the ice had change to water. Guys are very conscious about that area of their body and will do anything to protect it.


When I returned from the states, there was some bleeding from the stitches, and I felt I needed to get to a doctor in case the thing might fall off. Men do have these unfounded exaggerated visions when things go wrong especially down there. The doctor assured me everything was fine, but he examined the area closely as he had never seen a vasectomy in his 40 years of practice. Culturally, the more children the better, but when birth control is needed, it’s always the women who have to go through the sterilization.


Fast forward four months. We had returned from a very tiring trip to Bandung and Banda Ache, Indonesia, and we both had tummy problems. This malady is not unusual when traveling through third world countries. I quickly recovered after a few days but my wife did not, with her head in the loo every morning. We both decided she had caught a particularly stronger version of the virus than I had. Nothing improved, so we decided to visit the doctor to find some relief.


After listening to us, he immediately knew what the problem was, even though he knew I had a vasectomy and she couldn’t have children. Over our strong objections that it was impossible, he performed a pregnancy test anyway.


I heard the suppressed giggle, glanced over and saw a huge smile on the face of the Chinese nurse. Then I knew. She and the doctor exchanged comments in Mandarin and he told us the news. In Chinese numerology, 8 is the luckiest number and, by chance, my wife’s chart number is 8888. This, of course was the reason.


Next week: The agony of the big decision


…life is good.


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