The Worst Time To Not Give Someone Your Undivided Attention Is When You’re Giving Him A Vasectomy

Every doctor has one of these stories. You’re in the middle of performing a routine vasectomy. You’re lowering the scalpel, slowly, carefully making the incision, and BOOM: you feel your phone vibrating in your back pocket. Obviously, you have to check it; it could be an emergency. But no, it’s not an emergency. It’s just a push notification from Words With Friends. It looks like your friend Janet has nudged you. Uh-oh: It also looks like blood is streaming out of your patient’s scrotum.

It just goes to show how important it is to give someone your undivided attention, especially when you’re slicing that someone’s vasa deferentia.

Take the patient I was referencing above. Let’s call him Brian. Brian was lying on his back, completely trusting in my ability to stop him from procreating. He trusted me. And what do I do? I stab the local anesthetic into the interior of his thigh, completely missing the mark, and why? Because my wife was texting me, wondering what kind of pasta I wanted that night: rigatoni or cavetelli? I texted her back “Cavetelli,” as Brian writhed in wretched pain due to the fact that I apparently stabbed his other leg with the local anesthetic shot as well—without even realizing it. Simply incredible.

You’re probably thinking, ‘James, why don’t you just leave your phone somewhere else when performing vasectomies?’ If only it were that simple.

Let me just say that tying two vas deferens tubes together takes focus and agility. And tying two vas deferens tubes together while connecting with someone on LinkedIn takes even more focus and agility—perhaps too much focus and agility for one man to handle.

And yet, these instances are inevitable. There’s simply nothing we can do to stop them, nor should we try to stop them. Think how many lives are being saved simply by carrying these phones with us in our back pockets at all times. Or at least think how many lives could be saved if such a life-saving call were ever to come in, which it hasn’t thus far.

Typically, vasectomies take 20 to 30 minutes. Brian’s, however, took an exhausting one hour and forty-five minutes. What was even more exhausting was telling Brian why his scrotum looked like an old catchers mitt caught on fire.

Putting aside the extra procedure time and the Frankensteined scrotum, it all comes down to one simple question: did the vasectomy take? That is, is Brian now sterile? And the answer to that question is a resounding “I don’t know.” I’ve yet to hear from Brian. In fact, I wonder if I’ll ever hear from Brian. I wonder this a lot. I wonder this even now, as I type this article on my iPhone’s Notes app while, at the same time, thread a tiny camera into a patient’s urethra during a routine cystoscopy.