Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Sperm Count

Paulo is a close friend who peddles airtime and whatever else that utl throws at him for a living. He is also a person who believes in a healthy living. He drinks at least two big bottles of Rwenzori mineral water a day and over the weekends, he goes walking with some of the elderly and distinguished men who are regulars of The Pub in Kansanga. He also goes to the gym. But the funny thing is that I never see any change in him. His potbelly gets bigger by the day so he consoles himself by talking to William aka Willo who sells tobacco for a living, and who also goes to the gym and like Paulo, his belly grows bigger by the day.

My belly does not grow bigger by the day so there is no need for me to go to the gym and get barked at by some sadist fitness instructor or go wandering around the hills of Muyenga on a Saturday morning with Paulo and the regulars from The Pub while nursing a hangover.

So I guess I must be fit and in a good healthy state with no need to go for a medical check up apart from the usual things like malaria. In fact it has been well over 10 years since I last went for a full medical check up. I was living in England then and I only felt the need to have a full medical not because I was under the weather, but because a rather vivacious young lady doctor called Farah had been drafted in at the medical practise I used to go to. Farah was born to a Lebanese mother and a Mexican father so you can imagine what she looked like. She was really smokin’!

With the consent form signed, I was at the mercy of Farah’s nimble fingers for two days. But in my haste to have her prodding at my body, I really hadn’t read through the consent form properly for one of the tests listed was a sperm count.

Until then, I had no idea that there was a test called a sperm count and I also didn’t know what or why it was done. But as Farah explained, it was done to find out if the sperm is healthy enough to sire off spring. And like a blood test where a needle is stuck into you and blood drawn, I thought that was the same way sperm is drawn. I smiled to myself at the thought of Farah nudging Little Johnnie out of the way as she steadied herself to plunge in the needle but the smile was wiped off my face when I really thought about it. Farah is going to stick a needle into my balls to draw out sperm?! If being kicked in the balls hurts like hell, then a needle being stuck into them would no doubt be excorticating!

Farah alleviated my fears when she told me that is not how it is done. With my rue smile restored I went back to trying to imagine what Farah would be thinking as I undressed. But there was another rude awaking that once again took wiped away the smile.

To get a sperm sample, they give you a plastic container no bigger than the smallest ice cream cup. And to make things even worse, you have to do it yourself either at home or in one of the private cubicles at the clinic. “Do what?” so I asked Farah. Slightly embarrassed she explained that I had to get Little Johnny in a state of arousal that he can produce enough sperm for the sample.

I couldn’t believe this. Farah was asking me to go and lock myself in a room and play with Little Johnnie! That is disgusting. “At school our house matron told us that if God ever found out we were playing with Little Johnnie, he would strike us with lightening and we would end up in hell. And what would my parents say” I protested.

She ignored me but went on to tell me that once the sperm was in the container, I had to wrap it in cotton wool to maintain a certain temperature and have it given to the people in the lab within two hours or else it dies.

I tried cubicles in the clinic first. While neat and tidy, whoever designed them had also installed a television set that showed adult blue movies – presumably to help you get into a state of sexual arousal. But the cubicle didn’t work for me though I did spend a good hour or so watching the movie.

At home and though I lived alone, I locked myself in the bathroom and drew the curtains lest Mrs. Gunnerson my elderly neighbour caught me in the act and reported me to the morality police.

Rather messily I eventually got a sample into the container. On the bus to the hospital I sat there looking all sheepish because I felt everybody was staring at me. They knew what I had been doing to myself and they were saying things like: “You dirty young man, how could you do that!” I wanted to stand up and shout out: “I am sorry and I did it because the clinic said I had to and that it was done for medical reasons and so self gratification!” but freaked out.

Worse, at the clinic the young lab assistant who received my sample had the cheek to tell me she could have used a bit more sperm but would work with what I had given her. What the hell did she want me to do? Spend two days locked in my bathroom or in the cubicle watching adult movies?

I got my results four weeks later. It was a clean bill of health including my sperms though I was told to watch it on my salt intake and that I was slightly underweight for my height.

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