Once upon a time, Dad and I took our first vacation since our honeymoon two years earlier. It was nothing especially elaborate, a weekend-long getaway to Kennebunk. We stayed in this inn along the beach, ate too much and drank nothing in the hopes there’d be you. We bought a painting in an antique shop on Ocean Avenue: a tribute to Modigliani in the long, lean, colorful face of a lady we don’t know. We went to bed early, woke without an alarm and, all except for how it ended, it was a nice little distraction from infertility and first-time home-buying. Which, for the record, both suck. Don’t be told any different.
Over hard-boiled eggs for breakfast, Dad announced he’d developed a dull ache down there. Which is to say in the very same testicles we’d been informed are plagued with problem spots that, very probably, make making you such a challenge. And since we’d also been informed that if ever you get an ache down there you best not waste time getting to the doctor’s – penis pain is no joke! – we left for home and, because it was a Sunday evening, the emergency room. And not just any emergency room, mind you, but one of the finest emergency rooms in the country at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital.
“Assess your pain. Scale of one to 10, where 10 is the severest pain you’ve ever felt in your life, where would yours rank?” inquired the nurse of Dad who looked about and noticed so many people, coughing and broken, before replying with the wrong – albeit truthful, but wrong – answer. “One,” said Dad. “I’d say one.” You see, Kid, it’s important to be honest but there are a handful of times – and chatting with a triage nurse in the emergency room of a city hospital constitutes such a time – where honesty comes back to bite you in the ass.
So it was that we sat and we waited. And waited. And waited, surrounded by people who were coughing and broken. And grumpy. Oh, were they grumpy! Grumpiest of all were the nurses and doctors who had more important things to worry about than our fertility. (To wit, there was the gal on the stretcher with a t-shirt covered in blood, her neck stabilized by one of those plastic cones you require if you’re right fucked. She was a perfect 10 on the pain scale.) They tucked us away in this closet-sized room in the corner: dried blood that wasn’t Dad’s caked alongside the uncomfy-looking cot on which he’d spend the next few hours, hooked to an IV, awaiting a battery of tests. Each one more unpleasant than the last. Think: anal catheter here, Kid.
Nine hours total we waited to learn it didn’t appear anything especially dangerous was causing that pain. Nine hours we waited and the last thing we had to eat was hard-boiled eggs for breakfast. At 1:30 the following morning we sleep-walked to the car, swearing on Dad’s balls that we’d try to forget this ever happened until the bill arrived in the mail or his hand bruised from where a grumpy nurse made a botched attempt to insert the IV. Whichever came first. Turns out, it was the bruise.
The morals of this story are two. First: Nine hours is small shit. We know this because, however unpleasant and despite what our bitching would have you believe, we’d been waiting for you for nearly 11 months when we strolled into that ER looking for answers that night. Answers, I might add, we didn’t get. Whatever. You’re worth the wait. Second: If waiting isn’t your bag, repeat after me, 7.3. Seven-point-three.