Monday, 6 October 2008

Part Five - A Letter


I awoke with a jolt of excitement today. I heard my door open, and through bleary eyes I saw my mother coming into the room with an envelope in her outstretched arm. What could this be? A wistful letter of love from an old flame? A reply from the Make A Wish Foundation about my demand to meet Paul McCartney? A massive order for Jamie Ross charity wristbands? Of course not, it was a letter from my old mates at the sperm bank.

I don’t know how you like to start your day, cancer fans. Maybe some of you like to have an invigorating shower or indulge yourself in a freshly toasted bagel. However, I’d venture that very few of you would choose to wake up by receiving a letter straight from the desk of a sperm nurse which, in its very first sentence, informs you that you have a “slightly low sperm count“. Avid readers of this blog will know that I had to give a sperm sample last month due to the small chance that my treatment could make me infertile. I don’t know who invented chemotherapy, but his efforts to iron out the flaws in his creation can only really be described as lacklustre. If he went on Dragon’s Den he’d no doubt present something revolutionary and fantastic, much like Reggae Reggae sauce, but it would probably cause eight of your toes to fall off and make the earth explode.

Apparently having a slightly below average count is of little consequence to me, but they thought I’d get a kick out of this emasculating piece of trivia anyway. They claim that the low count is “most likely” down to my illness, which reads to me as a thinly-veiled suggestion that I have rubbish testicles. However, I am reassuringly told that they have “great motility” which means that, although perhaps low in number, they are a force to be reckoned with. Much like the Spartan army.

After a load of filthy talk about injecting eggs with sperm, they tell me that, “if I desire”, I can get another sample tested after my treatment ends. This choice of words places me in a terribly awkward situation. Why have they given me the option of whether I want to go or not? Surely I now can’t return without looking like a deranged fetishist who loves nothing more than romancing himself in a hospital? As you may imagine, it’s an awkward enough social situation even when you have a very good reason to be there. I’ve never experienced such shame than when handing over my sample, avoiding all eye contact with the nurse. But when you add the extra dimension of it being a personal choice to be there I don’t think I could ever look at myself in the mirror again without feeling pure contempt and disgust for myself.

They go on to say that I have to contact them as soon as I enter a serious relationship so that they can sort out the relevant consent forms for the use of it. This begs the question, how in shitting crikey am I supposed to bring this up to the lucky lady? At what stage in a relationship is it acceptable for me to suggest that her name should be written onto my bottle of sperm? This also means that somewhere in Ninewells Hospital there will be an inevitably long and depressing record of each successive failed relationship that I have had to cancel consent for. Perhaps the sperm receptionist will also moonlight as a handy relationship councillor for me. ’Oh dear, what happened this time Jamie?’ ’Same as last time Doreen, I told her I needed her date of birth and address to fill out the form for her to mother my test tube spawn’.

In the final paragraph they inform me that I don’t have aids, which was a relief. I think that finding out that I had both cancer and aids in the same month would have been somewhat of a bitter pill to swallow. Due to my HIV negative status, my sperm has now been removed from quarantine and placed into the main storage tank. This is also a relief as I was growing concerned about its limited social options. Anyway, it was on that bombshell that the letter ended and I was left to pick over the prospect of living my life knowing I make slightly less sperm than a normal man, but it’s okay because they could have aids.

Unfortunately I had to postpone my jaunt up to Glasgow yesterday due to a number of the gang coming down with Fresher’s Flu, which could quite literally kill me. Idiots. I bet they wish they were as healthy as me. So, with my free day, I spent my time watching The Wright Stuff on Channel Five where they were discussing a Roman Catholic school refusing to give a cervical cancer immunisation to eight year old girls in the fear that it would make them sexually promiscuous in later life, as the virus that causes it is apparently sexually transmitted. I’m not fully certain I follow this logic, I’m yet to see a man get a tetanus injection and then immediately run out to stamp on as many rusty nails as he can. But even if it were to be true, is a young person being a bit of a slag really worse than a young person, like me, getting cancer? God says yes, but I’m not too sure. I’d probably give some consideration to exchanging my current position for an oversexed teenager. I suppose I can’t really comment though, because my cervix is fine.

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