Monday, September 28, 2009

The Bank

I'm pretty sure I'm the only person I know my age who's been to a sperm bank. That's unless any of my friends are lying to me, which is entirely possible.

Back when the diagnosis and the repercussions and the plans were all being laid out to me, the doctors told me that one aspect of chemo would be that my body would be unable to maintain its normal "metabolic fervor," we'll call it. It's not always the case, but more than likely my body would stop doing some things that it usually does. They told me my hair would probably fall out, which everyone knows, and while it would probably grow back, it might not be exactly the same color or consistency.

I'm not so concerned about my hair right now. I don't plan on entering any beauty pageants, and I have this peach fuzz thing going so I want to run with it for a while. For some reason, though, that was the first time I really confronted the possibility that this could keep me from having kids. I don't feel adversely towards adoption, and I'm sure I would adopt if I were married and it was the best option for my wife and I, but I just always expected that I would have kids. I'm obviously my dad's son, and he's his father's son, and so on, so it just seems natural to me that I would have children of my own someday.

Apparently, hair regrowth is much simpler than remembering how to make sperm. The doctors told me it was possible and sometimes it just takes a while, but the reality is that sometimes it never comes back. They told me that my best bet for having children would be to deposit at a bank where my sperm could be stored until I need them. All I had to do was make the deposit before chemo started, or else the viability of my specimen would be jeopardized.

Normally, this wouldn't have been a problem. We ordered the containers and I closed the curtains in the room and everything, but at this point in time I was still in crippling pain from the tumors and I couldn't temporarily cut off the I.V.'s flow of narcotics through my bloodstream. Whatever I was on was stronger than any morphine I could ever imagine, yet somehow the "pain team" was still at a loss every time I told them it wasn't managing my pain. It clouded my head though, that's for sure; I feel like I'm still reshuffling my thoughts. And, unfortunately, the prospect of me depositing into that cup was about as likely as me impregnating a stuffed animal. As it turned out, I had to wait until after my first round of chemo to really have a shot at making a deposit. If the chemo hadn't wiped out the pain the way it did, I don't know what would have happened. I guess I would still be in the same pain and hopped up on the same drugs, which honestly would have driven me insane.

I was relieved to learn that our bodies actually make sperm something like a month in advance, so whatever sperm was in me at the time had been made before the chemo had been administered. That meant there was a good chance some viable sperm would be left over, unless the chemo had killed every one of them. This time, I made an appointment at the bank to avoid the mailing process. My sperm's safety was of utmost importance to me, so I wanted to make sure it was hand-delivered and wouldn't get lost.

The sperm bank experience itself was rather uncomfortable. First, they sat me down in a conference room to ask me one last time if I knew what I was doing, and to confirm that my sperm would be offered to my parents before being destroyed if I were to die. Then, I was brought to a small room like would be at any doctor's office, except this one had a television with a leather swivel chair on the floor in front of it.

"The video's already in the DVD player," the woman said, instructing me to fill out the form and to use the equipment next to the t.v.

I laid paper towel out on the chair before sitting down, and it was unnerving to hear people walking down the hall outside the room, making what sounded like normal conversation while clearly in earshot of my wholesome entertainment. I wondered if anyone was keeping time on me, as I was still really nervous that I was on too much morphine and that the endeavor would fail. So I focused extra hard, but even after I was done I was convinced it hadn't worked.

I tried not to think about it too much as I waited for the results over the next day or so. And, as you can imagine, it came as such a pleasant surprise when I found out that my deposit had been successful. While my fish weren't actually swimming, they were good enough to work and that was good enough for me. I was so happy; I made three more deposits before my next chemo just to be safe. It felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I guess I wanted to hold onto some idea of normality in my life, where things can still turn out the way I've always planned them. And now I know that as long as I can persevere, I can still make that happen.


  1. This takes humility and humor to write. Thanks.

  2. they only give you one choice of DVD??? Ridiculous.

  3. It's really inspiring to read a post like this, man. It takes a pretty incredible amount of courage to write with a sense of humor about something so serious.

    "the prospect of me depositing into that cup was about as likely as me impregnating a stuffed animal." That had me laughing pretty hard.

  4. yeah, I probably wouldn't have been posting about it if I never actually made a successful deposit. Funny how easily things could go one way or the other.