Wednesday 9th June 2010
Gestation: 36 weeks, 5 days
One year ago.
“Hello, Doris speaking,” says the spritely Asian girl through the end of the phone.
“Hi there, I was just ringing up,” I say, hearing my voice waiver slightly, “as this was the number on the top of the pathology slip…”
“…For a semen analysis?”
I pause for a moment.
“I’ll put you through to Cheryl.” Happy, chimey muzak pipes through the end of the phone. Clearly, I’m the umpteenth male to have rung up today sounding awkward.
Clearly, I need my sperm checked.
“Hello, Andrology, Cheryl speaking.”
What a way to answer the phone.
“Yes. Hi Cheryl, my name is Mark, and I’m ringing about a test I need done…”
“A semen analysis?”
“Is it that obvious?” She laughs kindly. “I mean, I think so. It seems to say SA and IBT.”
“Yeah, a semen analysis.”
“Sure, but what’s the IBT bit?”
She sighs slightly. “It’s just part of the analysis.”
“Okay, but,” time to pull out the card, “I’m a doctor, and I’m just interested in what the IBT bit is?”
“It’s an immuno-B assay.”
“…Right.” No response. “ ‘Immuno-B test’, I guess? IBT?”
She sighs again. This time it’s an ‘I don’t get paid enough for this shit’ sigh. “I guess,” she says finally.
“So, anyway, we’re pretty booked up for the next few weeks. The first available is on Friday 2nd July.
I flick to my diary. “What time?”
“Anytime you want. Open slather.”
I blink at the use of the phrase.
“Okay. Open slather on the 2nd of July,” I say, blinking. “Maybe, 9.30am?”
“Do you want to do it here, or do you want to bring it in?”
“You can bring it in?”
“Right. In anything in particular?” Rag? Tissue? Hand?
“A sterile specimen jar will do.”
“Just any old specimen jar?”
“Any sterile specimen jar, yes. You just have to bring it in within an hour. Don’t cool it, don’t heat it, just keep it in your pocket.”
“Okay, then.” I’ve been a doctor for twelve years, but all the same, this is weird. “And if I…”
“…Do it in here?”
“Yes. What’s the time… how long are the appointments?”
“As long as you need.”
“We’ve got several rooms, so you’ve got as long as it takes. It’s not like we’ll come knocking on your door after ten minutes, or anything.”
“Okay,” I say.
“The IBT is to see whether there are any antibodies to your own sperm,” she says, thawing a bit.
“Cool.” It comes out before I can stop it. “I mean, not cool. You know.”
“I know.” She sighs again.
“And, I guess there’s abstinence times?”
“Three to five days. No more than five days though. After that, things become stagnant.”
Stagnant. She’s describing by sperm as stagnant.
“A little stagnance. Just not too much. I get it. And lubricant use?”
“No lubricant allowed.”
“Mmmm,” I say. “That’s going to make things a little unpleasant.”
“If you must use lubricant,” she sighs again, “just use saliva. A lot of the lubricants have spermicide in them.”
We pause, it seems, waiting to see if I have any other stupid questions.
I think I’m done.
“So the cost is $198,” Cheryl continues. “Of which, Medicare gives back $65.”
“$130 out of pocket.”
“Yep.” Leave the pun, Mark. Just leave it.
“And Health Insurance?”
“I don’t think they provide anything.”
“Yeah, right. They only cover inpatient stuff, and I guess this is outpatient. Although, if I come in and do it there, maybe that counts as an inpatient stay. Imagine! They pay for me to use your facilities, but not if I use my own.”
“Imagine.” All monotone. “Just come up to Andrology on the fourth floor. At 9.30am on the 2nd July. You’ll either have a jar, or you’ll use our facilities.”
“See you then,” she says, trying to sound light. She hangs up.
Not even allowed to use lubricant.
Now that really is a two-hundred buck jerk off.
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