An unsuccessful circumcision and its consequences (2023)

Within 48 hours, the skin bridge had fractured in two, "a small stump in the distal part and a larger stump in the proximal part," according to the doctor's notes, the latter being an ugly flapping piece of skin. with the summer wind I've always imagined that beyond its pleasurable uses, the penis must be something dark to most straight women, like a caped walrus that pops in every once in a while for a quick round of gardening. Neither my ex-boyfriends nor my wife had commented on the state of my phallus, but now my genitals were truly as loose as I'd always imagined, their insanity undeniable. It was time to head back to the city for the second circumcision of my life, an unlikely double mitzvah or good deed.

On September 8, 2020, my wife took me to a pharmacy on Second Avenue where Dr. Funnyman had left a note for Valium. Agitated and distant, I floated to her office and changed into a dress. The doctor, nurse and I wear masks as a precaution.COVID-19, which reminded me of being seven years old again and having a mask put on my face and counting down in a language I barely understood when the general anesthesia started. I remembered the colors around me turning into a mix of greens and yellows as the world receded, like the impossible feeling of entering a tunnel. I reminded myself that she was scared even when I passed out and that she needed my mother even more than usual. When I woke up, I would be named after Abraham's son Itzhak (a name I never used after making my exodus from Jewish school), but on this day in 2020 I hoped to still be Gary. It's minor surgery, I told myself.

They lifted up my dress and bandaged a metal grounding pad to my left thigh. Dr The Funny said that he would prevent me from being electrocuted during the cauterization. This phrase did not inspire confidence. I held the nurse's hand as lidocaine was injected into the shaft of my penis and she gave me a ball to spray. (Dr. Funnyman later laughed and said that I was "a lightweight." He also explained that he was joking about electrocution.) The distal end of the stump was simply flared with a precise bovie, the proximal end was resected and then flared, resulting in an excellent cosmetic result.” "Fulguration" in medical terminology means destruction by the heat of an electric current. From my rear perspective, I saw and smelled smoke, parts of my penis burning. After it finished, I checked the result. The skin bridge was gone. , which was "cosmetically" positive. But parts of the remaining redundant foreskin were inflamed and, along with the tips of the old leather bridge, covered in what appeared to be a thick layer of Eastern European soot. Dr. Funnyman told me that I would soon be able to resume normal activities, but in the meantime, parts of my genitalia would swell and "feel weird" for a week.

Four days later, when I was back in the Hudson Valley, my wife and I had a barbecue and I shared the story of the event. Two close friends who live upstate have cancer, and I hit the humorous notes in the story as if trying to emphasize their ridiculous nature compared to what they were going through, but perhaps also to show that I now understood something about pain as well. physical. In any case, my prognosis was a speedy and complete recovery, and I envisioned the excision of the skin bridge as a brief interlude in a future work of fashionable autofiction.

The affected area was slowly getting better, but urinating was now painful. Part of the superfluous foreskin, which had always looked like two lobes, was swelling more and more. Two weeks post-op, when I finished an hour's walk, it felt as if hot clothespins were being stuck where the skin bridge had been removed, pulling it lower and lower. Every time clothing came in contact with the affected area, a honk of pain reverberated through my central nervous system.

I wrote to the Dr. It's funny that he replied that given my initial pain, he wasn't surprised that it took longer than expected to heal. "For slow learners like you, this could take six weeks," he wrote. I assumed he meant "slow healers" rather than "slow learners" but I felt the fault lay somehow with my body and its inability to "learn" how to respond to a little genital fire. In a subsequent email, the doctor suspected that "something in his skin chemistry is different than your average bear." I was offended until my wife explained Yogi Bear to me. Maybe the doctor was right. Something inside me was not right. I was not a very average or fast learning bear.

My condition began to take over my daily life, like a game of Twister, but with every wrong move resulting in groin pain. In order to get out of the car without the affected organ excessively scratching my panties, I started getting up from the seat in one quick motion until one day I hit my head hard on the door frame and had a headache for weeks. At some point, I stopped driving. Lifting grocery bags became impossible. Sitting on a hard chair is unbearable. Drying my crotch with a towel is unbearable. Wearing jeans is awesome (just jogging pants would do). Playing hide and seek with my son is out of the question. Even sleeping required lots of strategically placed pillows to keep my penis up at night. I was advised to use anesthetic lidocaine jelly and a soothing xeroform gauze held on with a makeshift bandage. When my wife saw that my organ shaft was covered in bandages and gauze, she sadly compared it to the Elizabethan collar dogs wear (not that I was in danger of getting licked). The erections became dangerous and at night I would stay away from my wife so as not to smell the delicious smell of her hair. I began to wonder: Was this the rest of my life?

(Video) Why Circumcision Is A Bad Idea - Doctor Explains

I decided to broaden my medical horizons. My GP referred me to a specialist in "outpatient minor urological procedures" who I call Dr. you'll call him a neuroma. I visited the doctor's room on the medical slab in the Weill-Cornell Tower on York Avenue. The doctor, younger than Funnyman but not nearly as funny, was unable to perform a full examination because touching one end of the old skin bridge caused excruciating pain. He ventured an opinion. He in all probability suffered from a penile neuroma. Some readers may be familiar with Morton's neuroma, an extremely painful condition that often occurs between the toes and can make walking difficult. But that was on the penis. "A little nerve is swelling up," the doctor said. “During surgery a nerve was severed or severed and the proximal end is irritated or inflamed or trying to reach the other end but there is no other end to receive it and this can be felt as pain.” In this interpretation, my nerves were those of a band of soldiers stranded on a remote island, without being informed by the General Staff that the war was over.

"That kind of, you know, that thing."

Caricature of Paul Noth

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(Video) Real Questions - What are the pros and cons of circumcision?

The doctor was gone for what seemed like twenty minutes to respond to an urgent text. When he came back, he said my problem was weird: "One chance in a hundred, bad luck for you and bad luck for the doctor." I would learn to live with the rest of the pain. In the meantime, I was told to "keep it wet and lubricated down there" and to take gabapentin, a medication used primarily as an anticonvulsant but can also relieve nerve pain. I walked out of the hospital building on a surprisingly warm October day and the doctor's soft but irreproachable words rang in my ears. "Neurinoma of the penis". "Too bad for you." "Living with pain"

My GP had recommended another doctor, Dr Will Call Cortisone. After Cornell's drunkenness, this doctor's office felt more familiar in a smaller, lower-level urology context, walls festooned with Maimonides quotes, and a waiting room filled with old Rothian Jews hunched over copies of thePostwhile they have one last fight with the prostate. The doctor examined my penis and thought it was wonderful. He even thought the initial Lubavitcher-inspired circumcision had been done with care and did not speak ill of the superfluous and now inflamed bits of foreskin. Dr. Cortisone told me that he did not have a neuroma. He recommended three warm baths a day and instructed me to apply 1% cortisone cream to the stumps three times a day to reduce inflammation. He also felt that the anti-seizure drug gabapentin was too strong to use so soon. "This is a small problem that will heal over time," he said. I was not a lifelong lame patient with chronic groin pain. The key was to forget about the pain and move on.

Back home, I took off my Elizabethan collar and applied my first cortisone patches. My cock burned, but with a sensation of pleasure. Everything would improve. And yet Dr Neuroma was a highly respected Cornish urologist and, when she wasn't texting back, she exuded an air of deep institutional knowledge. So was it a neuroma or not? Would she heal up to eighty percent and no more, or could she just live a normal life? Why does everyone have a completely different approach to the subject? And what was the problem?

Dr. Neuroma had told me that when it came to the male genitalia, MRIs and other modern tools did "little work" and that any further surgery would only make things worse. When I talked to my friend Mary Karr, the poet and memoirist, she was surprised at the number of diagnostic tools available for the penis. "Why can't you break it between two glass panels?" She asked. "As much as people love dick, I can't believe this." She was right. I was surprised at how little knowledge my male friends, who had other educations, had about the organ. When I mentioned the acorn, some responded with a version of "You mean the mushroom part?"

Things got worse. The cortisone dried up the affected areas and my pain eased somewhat, but my wounds were now covered in long, ugly scabs. Dr. Cortisone took this as a sign of progress and assured me that the scab would fall off during one of the long hot baths. "You made it ninety-five percent of the way there," he told me. Not entirely convinced by the doctor's excitement, I took some photos of my penis and sent them to my doctor. "This is awful!" he yelled he. He told me to go back to the city and get more treatment.

After seeing a dermatologist and getting another lidocaine prescription, I visited a highly recommended and very handsome surgeon who worked close to the dermatologist. He was a good listener and did not downplay my concerns. Dr. Bonito agreed with my doctor. The scabs were a problem and his mere presence prevented me from healing. He made an analogy between my penis and the hot, molten magma that forms in a volcano. (Dr. Handsome doesn't remember this, but I remember at least one of us drawing a volcano on a pad.) "If you want," he said, "I can get rid of the scab with cotton swabs and saline." " ." True to his word, he removed the thick scabs with great care and with a minimum of pain. For the first time since the first surgery I felt cared for and taken care of. Is that? I thought. Is this my release? "In seven to 10 days," the doctor said, "the new skin will grow back and I hope you feel great."

After seven to ten days, I felt the worst pain of my life. There were some improvements. My penis was no longer covered in scabs, and yet it was impossible to walk for more than ten minutes. I lost my head. I ended up trying gabapentin, but it gave me a mild psychosis during which I didn't know what was real and what wasn't. The penis is a privilege of the male of the species, but it is also a pleasure palace that constantly sends signals to the brain. The pain in the region is equivalent to an endless genital buzz. It is impossible to think of anything else.

I've always had a rational fear of death, but imagining life without being able to walk, swim, have sex, travel, or do anything without pain or an Elizabethan collar made me wonder what it would be like to commit suicide. I looked out the window at the fresh snow that was piling up below and contemplated the coldness of its eternal compress. Soon after, I read a BBC article about Alex Hardy, a Briton who committed suicide in 2017 after being circumcised as a young man in Canada. He did not share his postoperative labor pains with anyone, but in a lengthy suicide note to his mother he wrote that “these ever-present sensations stimulated by the rubbing of clothing are internal torment; They have not been attenuated/normalized by years of exposure... Imagine what would happen to an eyeball if its eyelid were amputated? This analogy perfectly expresses my own experience.

(Video) Circumcision - Pros and Cons

Male circumcision is an important part of Islam (two-thirds of circumcised men are Muslims), as is Judaism, though with a modicum of knowledge I can only speak for the faith in which I was raised. My friend David Fine, the rabbi, has a progressive view on many issues, but he is adamant about it. He tells me that a man does not need to be circumcised to be a Jew; In the religion's matrilineal tradition, a child born to a Jewish mother is automatically Jewish, but for Fine, circumcision means "we are God's partners in creation."

The Talmud states that if a boy's older brothers die from complications of the procedure, the boy should avoid circumcision. In "Why Don't Jewish Women Get Circumcised?" Shaye Cohen writes, telling Rabbenu Tam, the well-known 12th-century Talmudist...should not be considered an apostate, for his 'heart is turned toward heaven.'" .you may be excused from the procedure due to your fear, what about a child who is about to experience what will probably be the greatest pain of his life, or a seven year old who just wants to please his father?

The Jewish religion generally seeks to alleviate unnecessary suffering among its believers. And outside of orthodoxy, much of the Torah is subject to interpretation. Is a practice that grew out of ancient Egyptian feats of endurance essential enough to continue traversing one of the most delicate parts of the male anatomy, where any misjudgment can lead to tragedy?

"I thought they were less afraid of me, but let me tell you..."

Caricature of Pia Guerra and Ian Boothby

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(Video) The Cases For and Against Circumcision

But even for highly assimilated Jews, according to Diane Wolf, a sociologist at the University of California, Davis, circumcision "is really the last ritual to give up." In these families, she points to the parents as the main drivers of the practice. “What is the connection between masculinity and circumcision?” She asked me. When it came to her own child, she opted for the Brit Shalom naming ceremony (a version sometimes called a Brit Bat is also performed for girls). When her son asked him why he was not circumcised, she told him: "You are a Jew in head and heart, not in penis."

The question of who circumcision is for becomes even more explosive for Soviet Jews in North America and Israel. Sasha Senderovich, who teaches at the University of Washington and was born in the Russian city of Ufa, said of the post-Soviet foreskin: "It can be seen as a distinctly Jewish physical sign, a sign, for example, of a circumcision that would not have been performed because it could have attracted unwanted attention from suspicious neighbors or the state.” For Senderovich, “the uncircumcised Jewish penis is not an issue that needs to be addressed.”

In the 19th century, circumcision expanded beyond a religious practice. Squeamish Victorians believed the procedure would lead to better hygiene (and discourage masturbation). American doctors argued that Jews had far fewer sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis, due to the lack of a foreskin. In fact, Jews may have suffered lower rates of these diseases because they had less sexual relationships outside of their communities. Today, some doctors support circumcision because studies show it can reduce the risk of contracting HIV. Transmission and urinary tract infections in infants.

However, on the other hand, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, two out of every million circumcised boys in the United States die from the procedure; other studies raise the number of deaths. Complication estimates range from around 0.2 percent of operations to 10 percent. Most are relatively minor, but some have resulted in amputation of the glans penis or the entire organ. In ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, the centuries-old practice of mohel, or ritual circumcision, of sucking blood from the penis through the mouth, has resulted in several infants being infected with herpes; In 2011, a child died. The belief that babies do not feel pain during circumcision because their central nervous system is not developed has been shown to be wrong. A 1997 circumcision study at the University of Alberta ended enrollment early because doctors found the procedure too traumatic for babies who were not anesthetized, while even one type of injected anesthesia, the dorsal nerve block, penis, it did not take away all the pain of circumcision.

Many people around the world, from parents to lawmakers, are rethinking the practice. Parliaments in Denmark and Iceland debated banning the procedure, and the proportion of boys circumcised in the United States between 1979 and 2010 increased, according to the CDC. dropped from 65% to 58%. One can imagine a near future in which the majority of American children begin life with their genitals intact.

Outside the snow-covered window of my New York apartment, the pandemic raged, and the president declared that he had won an election he had just lost. As a former citizen of a bankrupt superpower, he was always on the lookout for signs of irreversible collapse, ready to drive my family to the airport and then to the half-decent country that would take us (Ireland at the time). But how was I going to propel myself to the airport with my Elizabethan collar? How could I outrun almost a dozen doctors (and an excellent hypnotist) who were now taking an active interest in my situation?

(Video) Foreskin problems and circumcision | Healthy Male

My seven year old knew something was wrong. During our short walks through the countryside, one of my hands would hold her child while the other would stuff it into the pocket of my sweatpants, trying to keep her neck in place. He made me a menu of the day where he could mark the dishes he wanted for lunch and dinner. I was the child now, dependent on hugs and comforting words from my son and my wife.

Following my psychologist's advice, I began keeping a journal that recorded my pain levels on a scale of zero to five. Peeing was the most painful (now I could only pee sitting down). The relatively pain-free moments were almost always accompanied by the presence of family and friends:

11:00 [Compartment.] Pain level around 3
12:02 [Clock] after talking to tony bass [my psychologist] and paul [my friend paul la farge]: up to 1.5
12:05 after urinating straight to 3
12:15 hot shower until 2
12:20 p.m. for 1 happier thinking about the family
At 1:30 back at 3
2:30 pee then shower until 2
Lidocaine cream 2:50 up to 3 depressed
3:15 to 2 working out in underwear sad
3:29 I finished writing the day in a panic
3:40 pee 3 bandage go for a walk
4:15 Hike 3, but a little happier to be outside
4:46 I return home after approximately 50 minutes of walking. 3
5:20 after the shower and about 20 minutes 1 or up to 0.5
6:30 Dinner sitting in chairs 1-2. Happy time with family spirit without pain.
6:45 after peeing in the first episode of 3 [my son] of The Simpsons
8:20 am to 2 pm after the hot shower
9:14 applied up to 3 lidocaine cream
9:35 Immobile pain that puts Ativan to sleep
2:54 [Compartment.] wake up to urinate. Painful 3 or 4


What are the consequences of botched circumcision? ›

While incidents of injury resulting from the circumcision procedure are rare, surgical errors do occur and the severity can range from excessive bleeding to significant tissue loss, and even partial amputation. A botched circumcision can have life-long effects ranging from deformities to pain and erectile dysfunction.

How do you know if a circumcision was done wrong? ›

Complications of Circumcision

The main finding is spreading redness up the shaft of the penis. Bleeding (Serious). Normal bleeding from the incision site should be a few drops. More than that suggests a bleeding problem.

What is the most common complication of circumcision? ›

The most common complications of male circumcision are bleeding and local infection [2,6,7], followed by unsatisfactory cosmetic results (too little or too much skin removed) and surgical trauma or injury.

Can I sue over my circumcision? ›

In all cases of medical malpractice, a doctor is held to the same standards as any other reasonable physician in the profession. In order to win a malpractice case based on a circumcision error, the injured patient must show that the doctor performed the circumcision using less than the acceptable standard of care.

What happens if too much foreskin is removed? ›

Excessive Foreskin Removed

In most cases the denuded area will epithelialize spontaneously and give a satisfactory end result, but the inital appearance can be quite distressing to both parents and practitioner.


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