Emasculated By A Female Surgeon - A Sobering and Important Warning to Any Man Who Is Considering Hernia Repair Surgery

S Marshall's picture
By S Marshall Conditions: Men'sImpotence

WIPE THAT silly smirk off your faces, gents. This is a true story. It happened to me as of a result of a hernia repair. There are something like a million of these operations annually in the USA. Almost all of them use a plastic mesh prosthesis. You won't be given a choice; we are all guinea pigs of the medical establishment. Nerve damage very often results from entrapment in the scar tissue that forms around the mesh.

Snip & Snap
Loss of male function is admitted to happen in the single-digit percentile range but is not the worst complication. Though one percent of a million is ten thousand guys neutered every year! Chronic life-long pain results as often as 25% of the time. The quick fix for this (drugs can't touch it) is surgery to remove the damaged nerves. They can't repair nerves but they sure know how to cut them out, resulting in life - long numbness. Some surgeons deliberately wreck the ilioinguinal nerve first, just to get it out of the way and keep it from giving you any pain-—or feeling. Triple neurectomy is generally used after hernia repair with nerve damage—our groin nerves are all interconnected, pain or pleasure.
Infection is also common and you might need to have the mesh ripped out (it grows into the skin). Don't be too surprised if you wake up minus a testicle: The mesh is basically a plastic noose around your spermatic cord. Plastic inevitably shrinks inside the body so what you've got is a very slow torture of genital garroting. I'm not making this up.
I had to learn these facts myself. Your doctor won't tell you. Doctors are in the same class as lawyers and politicians: The way you can tell they're lying is when their lips are moving.

Final Moments of My Masculinity
Over a year ago, in June 2008, I was working hard in the vegetable garden. I'd had a right inguinal hernia, the typical male one, for a few years and was keeping it in with a mail-order truss. It had slipped out without my notice. I felt pain but thought it was some abdominal cramp. Actually the truss was keeping the herniated tissue from sliding back in. By the time I realized what was happening it was good and swollen and I could not "reduce" it (push it back in). Medics call this "incarcerated", like being in jail. From here it can easily become strangulated, a real medical emergency.
I showed up at the Emergency Room and quickly met a very pissed off, scolding bitch of a surgeon. "You let this thing go and NOW you want ME to fix it?" she practically screamed. When I said I didn't want plastic in my body but rather a skillful tension repair (the way it was done before mesh, the kind athletes demand), she hit the roof. She hadn't "done a tension repair in nine years and (didn't) think (she) could do a good job. So what's it gonna be?"
My last masculine words were, "Use your best judgment"—unknowingly abdicating my gender.
Waking Up Without A Penis
I awoke with the damnedest sensation, besides the pain and tightness of the new surgical incision. I feel something round and movable touching my leg. I reach down and find a cylindrical object that seems to be attached to me. I look down and find I'm holding my penis. I give it a shake, stroke it, try to stimulate the secret magic places that are my most personal intimate pleasure points. NOTHING! Besides being completely numb, the organ is all black and blue and the skin is all swollen with edema as if there'd been an insect bite there.
The surgeon huffs in, opens the gown and checks the cut. It runs from just inboard of the hip to almost midline, three inches above the penis. We both look at my manhood, and my questioning eyes meet hers. "That's normal after surgery," she goes.
My first words as a different person: "I can't feel my penis."
"Well, that's..." she trails off and averts her eyes. She knows she's crippled me—more than I do at that moment.

Accidentally Stolen Manhood
Somehow—by accident or vicious Freudian intent— she's given me a penile dorsal neurectomy. Back in Eugenics days this was secretly done to asylum boys to stop them from masturbating and to prevent offspring. Any guy will tell you it would have been kinder and more humane by far to have just shot them.
Cutting the dorsal nerves permanently ends sensation and male function. The mechanical parts— erection and ejaculation—continue to function for about five weeks. Without any inhibition from the brain, it pops up all the time like an adolescent's. But this is just the reflex action of a hanged man. Without sensory input, the muscles soon forget the precise coordination needed for these functions. They can never re-learn it. Slowly at first, then with depressing rapidity, the function just dies out and you are neuter. I only learned the full horror much later after lots of research and zero help from the medical establishment.
At the point of waking up from the surgery I'm drugged and naive enough to think the numbness is only due to the edema; that it will wear off. Men just do not connect that these life-affirming sensations that we have from BEFORE BIRTH can be so carelessly and permanently snatched away.

Discharging A Lot Less Than From Just The Hospital
I'm discharged with a list of do's and don'ts. Significantly, there's no mention of when to resume sex; but there is a bunch of stuff I have to sign about quitting smoking (which I never started). I live in a real uptight town, I'm thinking.
Funny, I have this sensation that the bladder is always full, even after going. A year later, I find this sensation mentioned  as a side effect that will resolve" in a few months. You probably think that means it will go away, get better. But it's more medical bullshit. "Resolve" means that your brain will find a way to cope with permanently destroyed sensory nerves. More distressing to me is that I can no longer feel if I'm urinating—I now have to watch for the stream. Wow, I think, have I got a lot of questions for the doctor!
The Monster and My Destroyed Penis
A week later I'm in the surgical office. "I want to see the one who cut me," I say, not knowing where I came up with that untactful expression. I get checked out by an assistant, then the surgeon shows up still looking pissed. I complain of the sharp burning pain that flashes in the inguinal region at odd times. She commands me to take NSAIDS.

"I can't feel my penis."
She gives me that I-know-better-than-you look and recites: "Of course we strive to preserve function. But the ilioinguinal nerve runs right by there and is hard to avoid. It may come back, but you'll have to resign yourself to the fact that it may never come back." With that she dismisses me. Later I learn she served in Desert Storm combat.
Testing The Limits of Numbness
A few days more and it's time for me to check myself out sexually. I can't feel it but the organ obviously enjoys the attention and jumps up just like always. "I might be able to cope with this," I think out loud as I try gentle jacking. Hard as ever, I get to the place where there ought to be waves of pleasure transporting the mind out of the body. Funny, I'm not getting there. Soon I feel muscle contractions, see healthy spurts. But NO ORGASM. This has never happened before.
Next day my partner wants to try. She gets me up in no time flat. I'm not even aware until I grab it with my hand. Sure enough, it's ready and willing. "I must be turned on; what's a little numbness?" I think to myself. We get together and I start thrusting. I'm horrified. "I can't feel you, can't feel myself inside." The missing sensations bring me to anguished tears and end love-making. That has never happened before either.
Not only do I have numbness and pains, I've left a few odd scratches on my partner. Checking out the incision, I see I've got three sharp pieces of stiff medical fishline sticking out of my skin an eighth of an inch or more. It's the fourth of July and I need an appointment with the one who cut me; but I have to settle for the holiday staff.
More Lies To Make My Penis Feel "Better"
"Migrating stitches, nothing to be concerned about. Happens all the time. I know someone whose stitches are still coming out from a C-section six months ago."
Another female nurse is using me to demonstrate nipping off migrating plastic to a student nurse and a trainee. I'm alone in a room with three women. So in a low voice I say to the practitioner, "I'm missing an important nerve."
"Sensory or motor?"
"Sensory. I can't feel my penis. lt erects and ejaculates, but there's no BOOM."
She brings in a fourth woman, a surgeon, and they proceed to bullshit me about how surgeons are so careful with nerves, know where they all are, that even so sometimes nerves get yanked on and pulled and stop working for a while. "But they almost always come back. You shouldn't have anything to worry about."
Interestingly enough there was no record, later, of this visit. When I demanded a report, they RECONSTRUCTED the event; it was a lot of trouble for them. When I saw the report there were three sentences about the migrating stitches. Nothing at all about the numbness and lack of orgasm. I complained and was thrown out of the office. Such caring people.

Digging Beyond The Broken Nerves
I taught myself how to do medical research on the internet. The more I learned about how to work a computer the more I hated the whole idea—but that's another story. Nerves, it turns out, don't survive being pulled and yanked on. In fact, if you stretch one ten to fifteen percent of its length, the internal scarring finishes it for good. The supporting structures and blood vessels heal too quickly and the scars interfere with axon regeneration which is agonizingly slow.

In Denial of My Penile Sensation Massacre
Another week and it's time for a follow-up with Doctor Death. I question her on the placement of the mesh, how tight on the cord, and so on. She resents questions, even says so sarcastically in the written report. Lady, this is MY body; I've taken care of it for such a long time, and now WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME? Out loud I bring up the numbness and anorgasmia (medical name for it) again. Maybe she just doesn't understand the importance. "You can't DO this to a guy," I plead.
"You looked like a hand grenade went off in there," she screams at me. "I didn't see any nerves; couldn't identify any anatomy."
She would not respond any further, and I haven't seen or heard from her since.
Time for Legal Action
FOLLOWING some serious thought I lodge a formal complaint with the hospital and start calling lawyers. The hospital CEO is actually decent about it. I watch him pale as he reads my hand-delivered letter. I think men instinctively relate to this universal primal male fear—that of having what projects cut off. I located a urologist in the phone book, the hospital to pay for an independent evaluation on my demand.
After talking to four lawyers, I find that medical malpractice suits are practically unknown in Maine. There are suits, of course, but damn few succeed. Worse, the statute of limitations is a mere two years. AND unless I submit a damage claim—a formal legal paper—within 90 days I forfeit all rights. I read of jury awards overturned and the money awarded to the doctors' malpractice slush fund. Much later I'm told there is no precedent for a lack-of-informed-consent case in the state's history.
I begin a series of detailed symptom letters to the urologist. He does hernias himself; just the guy I need, I think. Besides, the only two or three other urologists in Maine are up to their armpits in un-needed TURPS procedures they've frightened men into. Again, another story.
Another Broken Nerve
Around this time I have what must be the genitofemoral nerve break free of its suture entrapment. Let me explain that when surgeons use a retractor, a tool like a tire iron, to spread you open, sometimes they hook a hidden nerve. Later it gets sewn in far from where it belongs. In my case there are both fishline and dissolving sutures; the incision is a ragged ugly scar; and there are all kinds of cordlike bulges diagonally crossing the incision under the skin. The skin itself is sewn together haphazardly like a puckered seam. There are hair follicles turned sideways into the scar. I've been keeping the area shaved in anticipation of an ultrasound, and can see the even ray-line rows of hairs all bent and twisted into the incision. The midline end of the scar has a three-eighths-inch section where akin, fascia and muscle are all sewn tightly together in a knot. It tugs like being impaled with an arrow.
One day I feel something small inside break free from this knot, whip across the lower abdomen under a great deal of tension, and rebound into the inguinal ligament. A split second later I feel it retract diagonally around the trunk, first quickly then dying out like a pulled strand of spaghetti. There was no pain or other violent sensation, but I knew with a sinking feeling it had been a nerve. The ilioinguinal, iliohypogastric, and genitofemoral are three at risk in hernia surgery, and I knew full well it had been stretched 25% or more ever since the operation. Boy, have I got symptoms for the urologist.
As soon as I felt healed enough, I started palpating myself deeply to see if I could feel what's wrong inside. Way down the perineum, where the right leg or crus of the penis is attached to the pubic bone, there is a painful tear in the minor fascia that covers the uro-genital diaphragm. The underside of bone is all sore as well. Reaching it through the scrotum skin, I can put my finger into the opening. This is frighten-ingly close to where the penile dorsal nerve exits to join the "neurovascular bundle". The left side is smooth as it always was. You don't need to be a genius to see why a man must never be poked here with an instrument. I've learned that the bone soreness is called periostitis, and it is typical of mesh repairs: "Inflammation of outer membrane of the pubic bone due to the presence of permanent suture material inadvertently placed into this layer resulting in chronic inflammation and pain.*

The Disasters Keep Coming
The visit to the urologist turns out to be another disaster. He hears my story, checks me over, then tries to convince me that a hernia repair couldn't possibly affect the penis; it's too far away.
I'm sitting at a table on top of which is an ultrasound machine. No, he won't use it. Regular ultrasonic doesn't show smaller nerves very well. "Besides," he says, "even if you found the cut ends of a nerve and got someone to sew them together, it would have practically no chance of ever working again." Okay, doc, but what about this tear in the perineum?
He puts his finger through the scrotum and goes right to it. "Gently, doctor. I've lost sensation but I do get pain. Do you feel it?" He says he does and I can feel he's there.
"I don't know what that is. I don't know what's wrong with you but it couldn't possibly have resulted from the surgery."
When I got his written synopsis, he had changed my painful tear in the perineum and pain in the nearby pubic bone to "He complains of pain in right testicle." My loss of feeling and anorgasmia was "subjective". In other words, I'm making it up.
Turning The Tables
THE LAWYER clued me in. They call it the white line. Just like the police blue line where cops lie and cover up for one another, doctors will cover up for and lie when one of theirs screws up. I'd have to hire someone from Boston or even farther away to get a halfway honest evaluation. Of course the urologist was working for the hospital, not me.
Fighting depression, I tried another tack. I got my "primary care provider" (a subsidiary of the same hospital) to refer me to a physical therapist for myofascial scar release, getting it down on paper that it was to treat problems from their surgery. I had found a wonderfully kind and compassionate woman Physical Therapist who was willing to take me as her first and only male patient.
It turns out that women get their pelvic nerves stretched all the time, from pregnancy and giving birth as well as the more Invasive hysterectomies and C-sections. We're talking about the same corresponding nerves as in males. The layers of fascia are meant to slide freely over one another; when they adhere from surgery they can trap nerves so tightly they stop conducting. Freed, they very often recover. She didn't realize how badly men can fare from hernia surgery.
(I told her of the three other men I had by now met —just through chance in this tiny town—who were likewise suffering some sexual impairment as a result of hernia repair surgery.)

The First Signs of Revival
I could get only four treatments. After the second, I actually had a brief flash during which some erogenous sensations did come through. Men, you don't realize what a wonderful heavenly feeling you have literally at your will—until you lose it.
Don't have hernia surgery with mesh repair unless you are prepared to deal with the consequences.
Don't wake up as I did, missing life's primary pleasure. Don't suffer the added indignity of having to watch as you become unable to provide certain pleasures to someone else as well. Don't bear the insult of receiving not even a perfunctory expression of regret from the medical establishment because you let them do it to you.
When I was whole I knew the secret of how to have an orgasm quickly and without the slightest inhibition. That knowledge always gave me a feeling of confidence and power. What do I have now?
Profit from my experience, and BEWARE!
UPDATE, January 2010: Having exhausted all medical and legal means of redress I applied for a settlement with Medical Mutual Insurance Company of Maine. This is the doctor-owned company which wrote the Maine legislation Instituting mandatory boards (tort reform), effectively eliminating medical malpractice claims.
My claim was denied; the reasoning is instructive. "Mesh is the current gold standard for surgically repairing inguinal hernias" (in the U.S.). It is so golden that "Nerve damage is a known risk" at least among surgeons. I'm supposed to know this. By near-circular logic, since nerve damage is bound to happen, it is NOT negligence for the surgeon to fail to locate, identify, and protect your nerves. By extension, the surgeon can deliberately destroy nerves.
I've given fair warning. Canada has a world-renowned hernia clinic where they use mesh only as a last resort. It's where doctors go to have theirs fixed.

First Published September, 2009.
Second Edition, October, 2010.


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