Do not consider the contents of this blog as professional medical advice.

23 December 2011: Acceptance

I have been depressed about the new scars for a while now.  Fortunately, I reached the breaking point of this depression the other day.

The breaking point came when I could say it aloud, and admit to myself my situation without my voice shaking.  "My penis is a twisted, scarred piece of s***, and I'm okay with that."  It felt good to say it, like getting a weight off of my chest.  In regards to my penis looking unusual and scarred, I suppose that things have not really changed that much, when I consider the before and after of this surgery.  I started with an abnormal scar tissue formation on my penis, and I still have unusual scar tissue.

A part of me was hoping that things would turn out looking "normal" after the surgery, but another part of me that adheres strongly to Murphy's law knew that this would probably not happen the way I hoped.  I didn't go to that urology office because I wanted things to look normal, though--I went because I wanted to be able to sleep at night without waking every few hours in pain.  At any rate, the old painful sensations are gone.

Although things have improved for me, alas, it seems that new problems face me after the surgery.  The two new scars now have an unusual sensation coming from them during erections--much like the pin-prickly feeling of sensation returning to a numb limb.  This isn't pain, per se, but it is not necessarily comfortable.  It seems that having those scars pulled tight produces this sensation.  I don't know if this is a normal thing for this procedure or not.

Also, the hemotumescent erectile corpora of the penis have grown considerably during my five year hiatus with erectile pain/dysfunction (puberty was kind to me).  This means that erections are very tight, if not uncomfortable.  The inner chambers that fill with blood are too big to comfortably fill because of the strain on my outer penile skin.  There is no mobile skin on my penis during erection, and the shaft of my penis "borrows" skin from my scrotum and pubic pad, resulting in pubic hair creeping up onto the shaft of my penis.  It feels like a dull ache, like an over inflated balloon, but the sharp pains are gone, at least.  Not only was I once botched by a circumcision, it also seems that they have taken too much skin for me to have comfortable erections.

I had not planned for this.

Time to improvise:

Problem: not enough outer skin on the penis.

Solution?: slowly grow the penile shaft skin under gentle tension until there is enough skin slack down there for these unpleasant sensations during erections to end.  The below picture comes courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

I was born at step #1, as all males are, and right now, I currently stand at #4 during erections after an infant circumcision.  To make erections more comfortable, I will probably follow through steps #6 or #7 to eliminate the discomfort, maybe even beyond that in order to be able to hide the scars.  Step #6 is my minimum goal.

If I can remove excess strain from those scars during erections, I may be able to be rid of the worst of the pin-prickly sensations.  This will be a long-term process, I admit, but if it ends my discomfort, and even ends up hiding my new scars, I will follow through as I can.

There is little more I can write about my surgical recovery at this point.

Having reached this point of my tale, I invite readers to sign the petition in the upper right corner of this page, if you feel so moved.  I would think that people deserve to know that complications can and do arise from routine infant circumcision.

If you ever want or need to contact me privately, I invite you to use the suggestion/contact-me box on the right side of the page.  

If you are like me, and are botched by circumcision, I hope that this account proves useful to you somehow.  I know how hard it is to find somebody you can talk to face-to-face about this, or even find informational resources about this sort of thing.  Feel free to contact me.  We can talk about this.  I will understand.

Happy holidays, all.

Be well.

12 December 2011: Family Descriptions

I have been somewhat vague about my family's role and participation in all of this mess, and describing their participation in this seems like it might be important.  I should state first that none of them directly know about this blog, nor do I intend on telling them about this blog.

As my parents divorced a couple of months before I was born, only one of my parents had the decision to make about circumcision, and this was my mother.  Were my father present, as I later learned, he would have still had the circumcision done, even if I were intact by the time he first won full custody of me when I was one-and-a-half years old.  In short, I never had a Sno-Cone's chance in Hell of keeping my body intact.

I have spoken to my mother, long divorced from my father, once already about my botched penis and the pain, in spite of my father's urges not to do so.  I spoke with her again as of late, after the surgery.  Last time she said to me something along the lines of "I'm sorry that you feel this way and that that this has become an issue for you."  It hurt so much to hear that from her.

Things change when you go under the knife once more.  This time around she was sorry.  She didn't articulate a direct apology for having me circumcised, but she said she was sorry for the pain I went through, back then, and today.  She tried to weakly justify her choice as a tradition (of the US, not of a religion that we don't have), but at the very least she showed remorse and questioned her decision 21 years later in retrospect.

This is the extent of what I expect from her, and I am taking it and pushing things no further.  She wasn't malicious back then, just misguided.  In spite of the terrible things that have happened throughout my life, my botched circumcision included, I have always been able to forgive her because she feels grief.  For simply being my one parent able to admit mistakes or feel grief she earns my love and my respect, and I can forgive her.  This alone, for reasons I cannot fathom, grants me some semblance of peace of mind.

(Lest I forget, Judith, my thanks for the kind comment you left me in my first entry!)

As my "go-to" parent is my father, and in spite of him not having to make this decision years ago, he has been by far the most difficult to deal with about this.  He marginalizes the literal physical pain I have been through, and is in blatant denial about circumcision even being possibly harmful, probably due to his own state of circumcision (his father is intact, so do the math).  He was born in the age of hospitals simply doing it while cleaning up the baby after birth without parental consent, and I feel that the state of the difference between him and his father contributes to his unrelenting attitudes of what I refer to as "cut superiority."

He so desperately wants to believe that what was done to him was the right thing and that it made things better for him, and it is obvious.  For him to admit that what was done to me was wrong would be to admit that what was done to him was wrong, and I don't think he wants to front with that because it would be emotionally difficult and fundamentally emasculating for him.

The mere notion of letting a stranger take a knife to your child's genitalia with no anesthesia being unethical is beyond him, and he clearly doesn't want to think about it in these terms.  As a result of this, he spews forth irrationally misanthropic things about how much he thinks the world hates foreskin, or how having an intact penis means that people think less of you.  I prefer not to elaborate further on such things here, but his words do disgust me.

I express remorse about the new scars on my penis from the operation a month ago.  "It's your dick" he barks.  "What do a few more scars down there matter?  Everyone has a scar down there.  It's normal, so get over it you f***ing pansy" (this is seriously what he said).  No, father, it is not normal, and this interaction is not normal.  What if I never wanted to have any scars on my penis in the first place?  Granted, his attitudes about the penis may have changed considerably since his divorce 21 years ago.  He doesn't understand that I find it difficult to cope with the fact that I have a scarred penis without ever having tried physical intimacy.  The insecurity I feel about this having possibly ruined things for me down the road shows through, I guess.  At any rate, this aggressively dismissive attitude from him is not really that comforting.

This is merely the cherry on top of it all, the apex of the difficulties I have had with my parents, especially my father.  One of them has done all I can expect to redeem herself for this and for other things.  The other is incapable of admitting fallacy about anything, and I doubt he ever will be able to do so.

At any rate, I will likely continue holding them both at a disgusted, emotional arm's length away, much as I have done for the majority of my life.

My sister with whom I am very close knows of my situation, but not of my strained interactions with our parents about this.  Our family is the type that shares almost everything on our minds, at least on my father's side, a quality for which I am grateful.  It means that no topic is taboo for us to discuss, sexual matters included.  Speaking with her about this, I learned that she has, independently from all of this, been in her own way a supporter of a man's right to have an intact body for a few years, now.

My sister is a few years older than me, and in lieu of our parents who really didn't pick up the ball in taking care of us as children until a year or so after our grandparents stepped away, she adopted a role as a primary caretaker in my life, which I feel adds to the mutually understood and unconditional trust between us.  Speaking about this with her, she says that she remembers me articulating something being wrong with my penis as a toddler when she would bathe me, and was wondering if I would ever bring it up again.  I was surprised that she remembered this for so long when neither of our parents knew before I brought it up.

This sister is already married.  When I told her about my botched circumcision operation, without any provocation on my part, she began talking about how circumcision was wrong.  She wasn't always conscious of this, but she stated that when she started thinking about it a few years ago, she felt that the things they say in hospitals seem like fear-mongering tactics employed by hospitals and by culture to justify what we already do.  "It's bullshit," she said to me.

She later told me that her husband is intact, has no problems with his foreskin, and that the reason that he managed to escape the hospital in one piece was because his mother started crying when they asked her the question of "do you want to circumcise?"  "It's natural; being intact isn't a problem like people say it is," my sister tells me.  We have confided in each other that we will both be leaving our children intact in private covenant of sorts.  It won't be a problem for her to try to justify this with her spouse, understandably.  I only wish I could face such certainty with my future wife and in-laws.  Perhaps my future career as a medical professional and my experiences of this will put weight behind my words.  I can only hope.

In addition to this, my sister and I have spoken about whether we want to have our children exposed to our parents, as neither of them are very emotionally healthy people.  I don't want to go into too many details, but it is that bad, I fear.  On top of our parents' more obvious short-comings, having heard the biased and degrading things from my father's mouth about circumcision, I can think of at least one parent I don't want hanging around the hospital when my nephews or my own sons are born, or even bathing them, ever.

3 December 2011: Three Weeks Later

The fibroid fissure has almost completely disappeared, but the raised area and the new scar are still tender to the touch and are still painful to manipulate.

The fleshy crater has almost completely filled in from the bottom, and there is now a scab there.

Nevertheless, I will still keep the areas protected by bandages and ointments until they are completely healed and no longer painful.

To the regiment of ointments I now employ, I will be adding topical vitamin E soon.  The penis is a terrible place to have scars, and it is said that vitamin E is a good substance for the reduction of scars.
In the same way that my wounds are now closing, I suppose I ought to begin putting down my closing thoughts on all of this.

In spite of the stress of all of this--the penile surgery while still conscious, the stitches, the blood, years of painful insomnia, denial from my parents that anything was remotely wrong and countless trivializations of the pain I was in--I feel that I have become a stronger person.

It has been more than a month, now, that I have been writing about this.  I had long had feelings buried deep inside about what was done to my body, and things have certainly gotten shaken up by my simply bringing this matter forward and talking/doing something about it, but this was all a necessary process for me to be able to live a better life.

I just wish I could stop thinking about it.

I have been on that operating table, conscious, and aware of the surgery going on, and I was in little pain at the time.  I already had hated needles before this.  The sensation of needles slowly entering the penis and injecting is not so easily forgotten, and I doubt I ever will be able to forget that sensation.  I still wake up to reliving that moment in my nightmares.  Even while mostly numbed, it was by far the most stressful moment of my entire life within recollection.  The mere knowledge that someone I had barely met was cutting off a part of my penis was overwhelmingly panic-inducing for me.

I am a student going into a health-related career.  I have seen disturbing medical events, fresh burn victims, purulent cases of road-rash, more types of bodily secretions than I can count on my own two hands, and many similar things.  I can handle doing and seeing this much.  I can live through it.  Even so, my comfort for human gore as high as it is, I cannot explain how different the situation is when it's your own body in question--your own body on that operating table and being conscious for the entire process.  Merely writing this paragraph is making my body shake.  To look down and see bloody gouges and surgically exposed tissues and the demonstrative manipulation of these open, bleeding wounds on your penis is not something easy to relate to, but believe me, it can change you.

To think that something much more drastic was done to my body shortly after birth with no anesthesia astounds me.  I can't even begin to fathom the sheer terror and stress that the infant goes through.

I don't say this out of conjecture--I say this because I have been there on that table, now, twice: once outside of my elephantine memory's range, and the second time while conscious three weeks ago, and I am still reeling from it.

Routine infant circumcisions are even much more stressful for the baby in question because a much more drastic procedure is done without any form of appropriate anesthesia, all because neonatal physiology cannot stand up to the drugs involved.  I will never be able to idly stand by and allow my own children to pass through that same eye of Hell.  I can never allow this to be done to my children.  Ever.

The anxiety I felt on that table, even as horrid as it was, is nothing compared to that which a baby feels when he is merely days old from a circumcision.  The child invariably screams in agony during the entire bloody procedure, that is unless he goes into a rare form of neurogenic shock (coma) from the pain.  This is unacceptable.  If I ever have a son, I will love him enough to think he is perfect the way he is born--no disassembly required.  If he ever asks why it wasn't done, I will tell him that the very idea of routine infant circumcision is archaic, barbaric, pointless, erroneously "prophylactic," and that I had no right to make that decision for him.  I'll tell him that I loved him enough to think that he was perfect the day he was born.  I have no right to make a decision to modify another's body for no legitimate medical reason.

What we are doing in the US on a grand scale is not so different (in principal, at least) from what people do to little girls in Africa in the case of female genital mutilation (hereby to be referred to as "FGM")--both are amputative, painful, and unnecessary procedures that impugn upon the basic right to bodily integrity, and both have bullshit "justifications" that run alongside.  It is just a question of the tint of the cultural lenses we wear.  We abhor the FGM practices in Africa, but if we were to be objective and remove the colored lenses that we call "cultural perspective" from our own eyes, we would look down upon our own mutilating hands and recognize in horror that the substance covering them is blood of the very same color.

On one hand, we can hear no amount of medical study done about supposed "benefits" (and I am sorry to say that such studies do exist, and that they were even written in the US up until around the 1960s) of FGM--we simply prohibit it on a federal level.  In the same way, I consider both male and female underage genital mutilation/modification practices to be irreconcilable; medical studies be damned!

As a student going into the medical profession, I find the rate of surgical complications (which I can personally atone to being a living hell) and mortality rate (about 9.01 per 100,000, minimum in the US alone in 2010) of routine infant circumcision unacceptable. 

I am very decidedly against any genital modification, alteration, or mutilation being performed on any body part of unconsenting minors of any gender, and this is not ever going to change for me.  If the topic comes up in conversation, I will be able to speak out about it from experience that bad things can and do happen.

The part that frightens me is that if I didn't grow up botched and were to have kids, I don't know what decision I might make for my sons in this matter, although I now recognize that this shouldn't even be a parental decision.  The thought haunts me that if I weren't botched, I don't honestly know if I would have the audacity to break this bloody cycle.

My own father speaking favorably of having my circumcision done to me even in spite of the surgical complication (which is a very alienating thing to do) speaks volumes about where our society is on this issue.  To merely be a circumcised father in America and to not pay forward the pointless and harmful toll of infant circumcision would be to admit in some way that what was done to the father was wrong, and I get the impression that this is more emotional baggage than this type of man can bear.

I can be strong enough to admit this.  I can be strong enough to endure that emotional baggage.  I refuse to pay this pointless bloodshed forward to the next generation.

I originally intended this journal to only be a document about my healing procedure.  The things I write here beyond the bare details of my body are genuinely a part of this healing process for me.  Were these feelings not relevant to this process, I would not include them.

That is all, for now.