Thursday, January 11, 2007

Andrology Blues

There was a time in my life when I became acquainted with a hospital "andrology lab". It's a very clinical place, where a nurse (who seems to have a perpetual, barely suppressed smirk on her face) leads you back to a nondescript room, distinguishable from all of the other hospital rooms by the presence of a rather broken-down (and probably very unsanitary) couch. After she hands you a plastic sample cup and instructs you to hand it to a laboratory assistant down the hall and around the corner (once a sample has been deposited therein), she asks, "Would you like visual materials?" and directs you to a nondescript portfolio containing a small collection of outdated popular soft porn publications, from which many of the (presumably most stimulating) pictures have been torn out.

It's a fairly depressing and sort of humiliating experience that does not predispose one to "perform", as it were, unless a peculiar mix of clinical atmosphere, cheap tawdriness and embarrassment is what does it for you.

So in order to make the experience more palatable, I decided to treat it like a date. Over the course of my adventures with fertility science, I kept a number of such “dates” with myself.

If it ever happens to you, I suggest bringing your own porn.

Oh, and don’t sit on the couch.


Keifus said...

Andrology = "the study of men," doesn't it? You'd think they'd have learned a little more.

Different world, this "trying"--I thought kids just happened. When I finally get my ass (well, not my ass) over to the lab again, it'll be to prevent that sort of thing from happening again.*


TenaciousK said...

Hmmm - I initially said something about various birth control strategies and the seeming virtue of stoicism at times (it ain't), but I see you've edited, so I'll drop it and mind my own business*.

I think they used "Andrology" in order to get away from that distasteful "ure" in "urology", limit themselves to men, and branch out into the fascinating field of hypotestosterone treatment, or something.

But no, nothing about the setup was designed to make me comfortable - or even to mitigate the potential embarassment. It's a good thing I'm too polite to have asked the nurse for a hand. Though it might have been amusing, in a "laugh about it 20 years later" kind've way, I suspect solicitation charges would've been forthcoming.

My daugher was bron 13 years ago. I hope they've at least replaced that couch...


Anonymous said...

sofa shenanigans

nsfw: google images "stained couch"

hmmm ... something to laugh about 20 years later ....

Keifus said...

anon: if they passed that law in the early 90s, it'd've ruined my whole college experience. (Of course, I simultaneously flouted the ordinances against public intoxication, so maybe The Law would have turned another blind eye.)

TK: no, it ain't. Jesus, that's the truth. Discretion can occasionally be wise however.

And also, the couch? ewwww.


TenaciousK said...

Keifus: I'm sure we could have a long, mutually illuminating and fascinating, though perhaps ultimately depressing, conversation on the subject.

But, no matter what the specifics are, I have just this to say:

My heart goes out to you, brother. Good luck.

I hope any solutions you might find are more elegant than mine, less excrutiating, are accomplished with more grace, and turn out to be as deeply satisfying.

Anon: A friend of mine observed that "sofa shenanigans" might be an apt metaphor for psychotherapy. I like it.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I'm currently going through the Andrology situation myself and I guess I'm pretty lucky. The lab I deal with has a comfy La-Z-Boy that the nurse carefuly puts a disposable cover onto when she leads you in. They have some mags, but they also have a DVD player+TV with some random porn DVD in it, and they even have you deposit the sample in a little cubby when you are done and just leave so you don't have to face the fact, I'm actually quite impressed at the effort they've put into it. (This is Cornell medical center in New York City). I still think it's absolutely hilarious that someone from the hospital actaually goes out and buys the porn for this, though!

TenaciousK said...

I was at the University of Utah, and this was 12-13 years ago. I hope/trust they've gotten better, but I do have a mental image of that same couch (sans sanitary cover) and the very same porn (sans the majority of pictures). I was tempted to pick some up and donate it to the center - for all I know, that's where their original collection came from!

Buying porn: Don Strassberg at the University of Utah psych department had what he claimed was one of the largest private porn collections in the state - he used it for "research" (riiiiight).

No, he really did. Why didn't they have any of those studies running when I was a psych 101 student? I wonder what it'd be like for him if he ever got audited and had to justify purchasing videos with names like "Backdoor Bootylicious XIV"!

He should've made a deal with the andrology lab - set up some kind of a loaner program, the selfish bastard!

I just finished reading "Naked" by Sedaris. There's a funny chapter at the end about going to a nudist colony, and how staff insists you bring your own towels and that you always sit on them.

I thought about that damn couch again...

Good luck with the fertility. We kept at it until I ran out of money (and I think we were both emotional wrecks by then. The damn HCG shot would make her feel pregnant!) At that time, in vitro was still running around 30 grand - we did (worthless) clomid for awhile, but then got on the metrodin bandwagon (PCOD - pergonal would've given her hyperstimulated ovaries). There are horrid and priceless moments involved.

Best of luck to both of you.