I’m a 43yr old Australian man with two sons. I was intact until my twenties when a doctor gave me some poor advice on managing phimosis and I “chose” to undergo a circumcision. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into!
They gave me a general anaesthetic for the operation, and I was assured that the pain during recovery would be easily managed with over the counter analgesics. When I woke up I was violently ill from the pain, it was not well controlled at all. They gave me more pain relief and sent me home.
My wife (who was a fairly new girlfriend in those days) was horrified when she set eyes on it. It was black and blue and covered in dried blood and messy stitches. The dressings stuck to it badly. Suffice it to say that the over the counter meds really didn’t cut it that first night but I didn’t want to appear less than stoic to my nurse (AKA now wife) so I soldiered on.
The next morning I was awoken by THE MOST EXCRUCIATING PAIN OF MY LIFE. The morning glory so to speak, with stitches, is NOT fun. I went rushing to the bathroom and dived into the shower, I hid tears from my worried girlfriend. I couldn’t believe what I was going through!
That day I couldn’t walk and I started to get a temperature. By evening I was literally delirious with pain and fever but when my “nurse” suggested that we go to emergency I brushed it off and told her I’d be fine by morning. I was wrong.
Morning glory split stitches and more pus than I’ve ever seen came squirting out. I was so weakened by this stage that I didn’t argue as she bundled me into the car headed to the emergency department. Every bump, every corner, everyTHING on that drive is etched in my memory forever. The pain was beyond description.
When we got to emergency I was in such a state that they admitted me straight away. That’s never happened to me before, even when I broke my arm and there was bone sticking out I sat in the waiting room for forty-five minutes. I managed to grin and bear that, but this? There just isn’t any way I can describe it.
After much poking and prodding I was told that I had a really bad infection – no poo sherlock? – and get this: It was so severe they weren’t sure they could save it. I had to have a drain put in to drain the pus. I don’t remember that because I fainted when it was merely suggested, so they sedated me and went ahead.
I had seriously strong antibiotics (elephant strength I was told!) and they restitched it when the swelling went down. Four days later when I was discharged, the doctor who came to see me said “so why on earth did you volunteer for this? You know there’s other ways to manage phimosis right?”. I was flawed. Totally and utterly speechless. I was forever scarred physically and emotionally for no reason!? If I lived in a country where legal action against medical professionals was a more normalised practice, there is no question in my mind that I’d have dragged that doctor through the courts by his nether region.
Fast forward through the wedding, the honeymoon, and a few uneventful but happy years, we discovered that we were soon to become a family! My wife and I have brought two amazing daughters into the world, they are of course whole – and we have also brought two delightful sons into being as well.
I spent a moment wondering about whether they would end up having the same problems I had but it doesn’t look like they do (I’ve seen some fairly eye watering antics that I really didn’t need to see ….). One of my daughters once had a urinary tract infection which we treated naturally with cranberry juice but neither of my sons have ever had a moment’s trouble with their foreskin.
I simply can not imagine putting my sons through the same pain I went through. Sons who depend on me to keep them safe, sons who would have no way to understand the pain, sons who may never forgive me if I made decisions that weren’t mine to make and there was – heaven forbid – an unplanned complication. I could have lost my penis and I was an adult who consented to the surgery.
I was asleep while they did it. None of those kindnesses are afforded to new babies though.
It’s been almost two decades since I made the life altering decision to be circumcised and I still feel physically ill when I think of it. Please PLEASE, if you wouldn’t go through what I went through, let your sons decide for themselves whether they would or not. It’s not kinder to do it to babies, believe me, there is nothing kind about it. It is the cruelest, most inhumane experience imaginable.
If ever you’re teying to work out whether circumcision is right for your own son I implore you to remember this: If they could get it so terribly wrong on me, as an adult, imagine how wrong it could go on a newborn. This isn’t a decision for parents, it’s a decision that only an adult can make. I made it, and I lived to regret it.
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