When most people hear the word “sonogram,” they probably conjure up pleasing images of a young man and woman holding hands and expectantly watching a screen while a nurse gently slides the wand-like apparatus over a smooth round belly.
Sadly, this isn’t exactly what happens in a testicular ultrasound.
I’d been dreading this test from the moment my doctor said I needed one to find out if this was in fact a recurrence or something new. I had one ten years ago, and even though it came out negative, it was still pretty much the worst part of that cancer experience. Would a normal person think this? Probably not.
I went in early. The waiting room was empty except for a woman sleeping under the television and an older couple who was having an animated conversation in what I thought might be Hawaiian. I tried to focus on the TV—some morning talk show was on—but I couldn’t follow the interview.
I turned to see an attractive woman with glasses who looked like she was about seventeen.
“Versaci?” I tried.
“Oh, okay. Sorry. Come with me, please.”
She introduced herself as Hailey and told me that she was a sonogram technician and would be doing the procedure today.
“That’s perfect,” I said.
As we walked down the hall, I asked, “Have you done a lot of these?”
“You’ll be my second.”
In the small, dimly-lit room, she walked me over to a bed and pulled a curtain around. I felt like I had to come clean.
“Okay,” I said. “A couple of things. First, I’m a little tender down there right now. And second, I’m a huge baby when it comes to my balls.”
She just looked at me.
“I mean, I’m definitely going to be your worst patient of the day.”
She laughed nervously. “I’m sure you’ll be fine.”
“I’m sure I won’t,” I said. “But listen. If I pass out, I want you to just go ahead and do the procedure while I’m out.”
She stared at me. “Can you please take off everything below your waist and sit on the bed? I’ll be right back.”
I stripped and waited. I heard footsteps before the curtain pulled back and there was another woman standing there. Also attractive.
“I’m Natalie, and I’ll be doing your sonogram today.”
“Did I freak out Hailey?”
“A little bit, yeah.”
I gave Natalie the same spiel, all in the interests of full disclosure.
“Well, you just relax, and we’ll go slow.”
“Okay, but I want to apologize in advance for the undignified behavior that you’re about to witness.”
She snorted, then arranged me on the bed, a towel over my thighs just below my scrotum, and a towel over my penis just above my scrotum. She spread some gel on the edge of the sonogram wand, which looked like a little vacuum cleaner attachment.
“This might be a little cold,” she said, and moved the wand down to my balls.
At the moment I sensed contact, my entire body tightened up and I clutched the top towel in my hands. The force pressing down on the most sensitive part of my body was more than I could bear. This was worse than I remembered, worse than I could have imagined.
“I haven’t touched you yet,” Natalie said.
It didn’t get much better. She told me to just breathe normally, and I thought I did, but then she warned me not to hyperventilate. She also mentioned at least twice that it was taking a little longer because she was going so slow.
When it was over, I said, “You’ve been doing this for a while.”
“About thirteen years.”
“So, I know a radiologist has to read this, but can you tell me what you think?”
She looked at me. “I really can’t.”
“I can’t help thinking that if I’d been a better patient, you’d tell me something.”
She smiled. “Go ahead and get dressed.”
Just before I left, I said to her, “You should be grateful. Now you’ve got a ‘this one guy.’”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, the next time someone gets anxious on the bed there, you can just say, ‘Listen, I had this one guy…’”
She laughed. “You take care, now.”