I thought a lot about writing this blog post, and in fact as I write it (now! live!) I’m still not sure I’m actually going to post it. I don’t really know who reads my blog any more, I’m not even sure why those who do, do, but I suspect this post isn’t what any of you are expecting.
Don’t click or read on if you’re squeamish or don’t feel you know me well enough to listen to me talk about my bollocks being handled by a strange guy.
About two weeks ago, maybe a little longer, I found a knot or lump near my right testicle. It varied, sometimes it felt like a lump, other times like a knot of blood vessels. I was pretty sure it wasn’t directly associated or attached to a testicle, but it was also definitely not skin. It felt about the size of a penny. That night I vowed I’d go to the GP in the morning. Which obviously I didn’t do. I really don’t enjoy visiting the docs at the best of times, and I’ve done more of it in the past five years than I care to think about. The idea of having to let some guy check over my scrotum and testicles really wasn’t something I felt I could handle easily.
For the past three or four weeks my blood sugar has been all over the place, while my diet has been reasonably steady. Being unwell can upset your blood sugar, and I had some signs of a UTI, but they cleared up, and then came back again although less severe.
So I knew I had to go to the GP. But it’s easier to say that than do it (if you’re me). I don’t know what you’re like, maybe you just get up and do it, maybe you’re like me and dread the whole process so much that the dread becomes a real thing. You carry that dread around and it stops you making the decision. At night I’d check and some days the knot would be there and other times it wouldn’t be as bad. Every time I felt it there I vowed I’d go to the GP, every time it had gone or lessened I convinced myself I didn’t want to waste the doctor’s time, which is just a cover story for being too scared.
Too scared to find out if the fear you have when you find a lump becomes reality.
The (suspected) UTI means I’ve been feeling physically pretty shit for a while, and before that I had a nasty cold which just wouldn’t fucking go away so all-in-all I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. Then came the added stress of finding a lump, and realising what it might mean and knowing the only way to get to the truth was to basically drop my pants and let some guy I’ve never met check my testicles.
Some people may think I’m stupid, some people are probably thinking ‘prat, just get to the docs, just go, there’s nothing to worry about, just go and do it’, but I don’t think it’s that easy for everyone.
Yesterday it just all got too much – I was tired, bone weary, and the stress and tiredness finally managed to shut up the dread and I called the docs and made an appointment for today. As a side issue, I don’t know how you find your surgery’s receptionists but ours are so variable it’s maddening. Sometimes you get a receptionist who appears to feel that even ringing up the surgery is a waste of their time and you should just have died quietly without making any noise, and sometimes you find them friendly and helpful and they make the whole process easier. As you can imagine, when you hate the whole process as much as I do, the former just makes it harder. I was lucky, yesterday I got a receptionist who was helpful and pleasant.
Then of course it snowed over night, really heavily. Took us 30 minutes to clear snow from the path and drive until I thought it would be safe enough to get the car off the drive way. We checked and the doctor had made it into the surgery. I’m not sure what I would have done had he not made it, I suspect I would have cancelled and the process of building up courage to go would start all over again.
Anyway that didn’t happen and we carefully drove into town, saw a couple of cars skidding but got there in one piece. There’s a few doctors at our surgery, my usual one wasn’t free but I saw another I knew. I avoided the guy who I really don’t respect. Once we’d got there, I knew the whole conversation was inevitable and that it really isn’t the end of the world to have a complete stranger inspect your genitals, it would end, and I would know if there was anything serious to worry about. I explained my concerns about a possible UTI first and the lump second. The GP was really good, very helpful and made an effort to keep me at ease. He was pretty confident it’s a UTI as well, gave me some antibiotics and we’ve sent off a sample for confirmation and in case the antibiotics aren’t the right kind.
Then he did the physical inspection. And of course, it was no where near as bad as I feared it would be (inspection or diagnosis). The physical inspection was brief and respectful and he’s very confident that it’s a varicocele. Essentially, a varicose vein-like condition in the spermatic cord. It’s likely I’ve had it for a long time, and that it’s only recently become noticeable for whatever reason. The reason it sometimes felt bigger and then appeared to vanish is because when you stand up, it’s far more prominent and when you lie down it vanishes almost completely. This is a classic indicator of a varicocele.
The relief at knowing is indescribable. It far outweighs the discomfort of the physical inspection, which we all knew it would, but that dread is a weird thing that skews reality.
I didn’t waste my GP’s time, his own words were ‘well of course if you’re concerned about it, it’s always right to get it checked out’. I can only concur.
If you find something (and you should be checking) go get it checked out. I won’t say if I can, you can, because it’s patronising and not necessarily true. But please. Go.
And don’t self diagnose from this post and convince yourself it’s ok. Go. Get it checked.