Today I went to see a urologist. He told me I have a pearl attached to one of my testicles. Said not to worry about it. I was so relieved to have the situation behind me. I hadn’t been that stressed out since Caroline died.
The whole ordeal started last week when my friend Seth and I were reminiscing about The Tom Green Show. We had been drinking, so I don’t remember how the conversation started, but pretty soon we were discussing the unforeseen humor in humping a moose.
“Why did that show ever get cancelled?” I said.
“Because he got diagnosed with testicular cancer,” Seth replied.
“Oh yeah. And he did some special on MTV about it. They even showed all this behind the scenes footage of the surgery.”
“Yep.” Seth smiled. “And then he wrote that song about feeling your balls so that you don’t get cancer.”
We couldn’t remember the lyrics, so we went on the internet and found the video. Some really great lines like, “Early detection is the key. Rub your balls and you won’t get cancer.” We watched some more clips from the show. Seth suggested there were similarities between Tom Green’s juvenile humor and Andy Kaufman’s avant-garde performance art. Was it just a crazy coincidence that they both got cancer? Of course it was, but we still entertained the parallels as if the god of malignant tumors loathed prank comedy. Then we digressed and started talking about Courtney Love’s acting credentials.
“I think she was pretty good in Man on the Moon,” Seth said. “And she was great in The People vs. Larry Flynt.
“Yeah, but she should’ve stuck with music. Live Through This was easily one of the greatest albums of the 90s.”
Seth agreed. We drank more beer.
When I woke up the next morning, Morrison was still at his friend Erik’s house where he had spent the night. I was happy to have the time off. Hadn’t hung out with Seth or anyone else for at least a month. I made breakfast, took a shower and started getting dressed to go pick up Mo. Then I remembered the Tom Green song and did a thorough check of my balls. Felt a hard little lump on the top of my right testicle. It didn’t hurt, and I could move it around a little. What the hell is this, I wondered. Cancer? I called up my doctor. It was Sunday, so all I got was a message telling me that if I had an emergency I should go to the hospital. Was it an emergency? I decided to wait until the next morning to call back.
The entire evening all I could think about was how horrible it would be for Morrison to have both of his parents die from crazy illnesses before he had even turned seven years old. I couldn’t imagine it. Started freaking out. Began wondering what would happen to him without me. Who would take care of him? Where would he live? With his aunt Stefani? She doesn’t have the room. And how would it affect him emotionally? Would he continue to be a great kid, or would it completely screw him up? Turn him into some antisocial orphan? I couldn’t bear the thought.
When I tucked Morrison into bed, he asked me what was wrong.
“Nothing’s wrong,” I said. “Why do you think that?”
“Because you always hold your hands together like that when something’s the matter,” he said. “And you forgot to have me brush my teeth.” He’s so observant. And smart. I can’t even begin to explain how awesome he is.
The next morning, after I took Morrison to school, I called my doctor. The nurse said she’d have to get back to me. A half hour later, she told me Dr. Holsenback could see me at 3:30. I got ahold of Stefani and asked if she would pick up Mo after school. She wanted to know why. Before I could answer, she said that I couldn’t always put my art career first. I told her I had to go to the doctor. I might have cancer. She apologized and asked me details. I told her we could talk later.
Dr. Holsenback had me drop my pants. Felt around and said he couldn’t find any lump. I took hold of the situation – and my balls – and showed him where to examine.
“Oh, I feel it. Yeah. Right there. This doesn’t hurt? Me touching it?”
I told him that it didn’t. He looked curious, then explained that I’d have to see a urologist. He didn’t think it was anything serious, but couldn’t rule anything out. For the next two days I was online researching testicular cancer. If the cancer had spread, I was fucked. Radiation. Chemo. I tried not to think about it. If the cancer hadn’t spread, I would just have to get one of my testicles removed. That would suck, I thought, but I’d still be alive. And there are fake balls you can have put in so that it feels like a pair. You know, to remain balanced and all. But with me not having health insurance, just paying for the surgery was going to be more than I could afford. Hopefully it wouldn’t be an issue with any women I met in the future.
I went back to the clinic on Thursday morning after dropping Morrison off at school. In the waiting room there were two single men and a couple. All of them were at least twice my age. I scanned a ten month old copy of Men’s Health. My hands were shaking.
The urologist’s name was something I couldn’t pronounce. I’m pretty sure he was Indian. He had a young face and caring eyes. His demeanor was incredibly jovial. I wondered if there was something about looking at genitals all day that had such an effect. Like Dr. Holsenback, I had to help him find the lump.
“Okay, there it is. This doesn’t hurt?”
I told him that it didn’t. He examined some more.
“Well, it’s nothing serious,” he said. “What you’ve got there is called a scrotal pearl.”
“A pearl? What, like in an oyster?”
He laughed. “Not quite. It’s a benign calcified nodule. Usually, the pearls detach and float freely around the epydydimus. Yours is definitely still attached. But there’s nothing to be worried about unless it starts to hurt. If that happens, we can give you some medication. If that doesn’t work, we can remove it with a simple procedure using local anesthesia.”
“So it’s not cancer?” I said.
“Nope. Not cancer. And it’s not a cyst either. No need to worry,” he said.
“That’s such great news! Thank you, Doc. Can I give you a hug?”
He laughed again. “Sure, just pull up your pants first.”