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Nick’s nuts

Nicholas Booth rolls us back into the world of Talking Balls with this reflection on testing testicular times. 

Illustration by Allan Deas and Chris Sav

Occasionally, you get a lump on your nuts. I’ve probably had loads but been oblivious to their presence, because I never touch them. Why would you want to? Unless you’re protecting them from a stray foot or ball? At one stage I got so fat I couldn’t even see my scrotum, let alone check the internals.

It’s not the prettiest organ in the body. Nor is it well designed. Why put the most precious assets in a flimsy bag and dangle them between two massive moving parts? Mother Nature was having a laugh with that bit of engineering.

Even though I constantly sneered at the media hype about testicular cancer, one day I did check my nuts. What was even more galling was that the patronising twats appeared to be right. I found a lump. To make things worse, I was abroad, so there was a delay before I could even start trying to get an appointment.

Why put the most precious assets in a flimsy bag and dangle them between two massive moving parts? Mother Nature was having a laugh with that bit of engineering.

My GP at the time said it was probably nothing (easy for her to say!) but kindly put me forward for a hospital examination. A few weeks of worry later I got the good news that it was a harmless epididymal cyst, a softish lump caused by swollen blood vessels.

 

In the decades since I’ve had several cysts and not panicked – which is odd as I’m quite cowardly about health matters. I don’t like to examine my own nuts as they seem so squidgy and vulnerable that I’m scared of breaking them. In the last few months, there’s been a new development. My scrotum got so massive it was impossible not to notice. I wouldn’t mind, but it makes my penis look even smaller than normal. All the skin has tightened and the sac is as round as a match ball.

This was nothing like the previous cyst incidents. For some reason the whole left testicle has swollen up and hardened – the right one is completely over shadowed. Another professional examination was in order.

My scrotum got so massive it was impossible not to notice. I wouldn’t mind, but it makes my penis look even smaller than normal. All the skin has tightened and the sac is as round as a match ball.

My new local health centre is much more modern. The doctors all look like teenagers now. They offer you a chaperone when you’re being examined, which seems a bit wastefully labour intensive. I’ve had five examinations and a sonar scan. Initially, they thought it might be an infection and prescribed some antibiotics. I was alright with that until my sister told me about a man of my age who was admitted to her ward. He’d allowed his testicle infection to fester so long they had to remove it. Worse still, to kill the anaerobic bacteria responsible for this carnage, they had to leave the wound open for days to let the air get in.

That had a terrible psychological effect on me. Suddenly I was checking my nuts at every opportunity. I wrote a note to the health centre receptionist, in a tone that’s best described as polite desperation, pleading for more tablets. (My dad was a GP and he hated pushy patients.) I even ground up some of the tablets and applied the powder to my foreskin, so the antibiotics wouldn’t have far too travel.

Eventually the GP told me it couldn’t be an infection as that would have been killed off in the first week. It turns out I have a Hydrocele, a collection of fluid around the testicle. The only plausible explanation was an incident, some months back, when someone blasted a football into my nuts at very close range. (He had the whole goal to aim at. A side footed pass would have done. But he hit a pile driver right into my scrotum, which went purple a few days later. It looked like a baboon’s bottom, which is the closest I’ll get to being alpha male.

The surgeon says the Hydrocele doesn’t need treatment if it’s small and causes no other symptoms. Otherwise, fluid can be drained, but I really don’t want that if I can avoid it. Once drained, the fluid can come back and, in the meantime, you risk infection and a weeping wound.

I’m happy to be a water retainer for now. I’m just relieved and enormously grateful for my luck. My brother lost a testicle to torsion, which is – at the risk of over simplification – getting your gonads in a twist.

When you think about what they do, they are incredible. We are very lucky to have them and we should look after them and never take them for granted.

The doctors I mean. I love those medical professionals. We should cherish them.

Not sure about my nuts.

Follow Nick @OhThisBloodyPC

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