Firstly, understand the context. This was the 1960s and ’70s, the advent of the more caring society had not yet happened, and this was Britain, with its stoicism, ignorance and taboos.
The main thing I remember about going to see the urologist was the fear. Sick, gut-wrenching fear, combined with humiliation and shame. My father was of the old school that Doctors were gods, their words Gospel truth, their deeds miraculous. All I knew is that my father (NEVER my mother, as it was deemed inappropriate for her to be with me whilst such examinations took place) used to take me every 6 months to a place. In that place a man would want to look at and examine my willy. I didn’t understand, I was just a child for crying out loud. And, when I was aged 7 and a half, the Doctor said “All’s ok” and I didn’t see another urologist until 2 weeks ago.
Looking back now, as a psychotherapist, I can see that child feeling abused. No explanations were necessary, as I was unable to comprehend what the doctors were saying, but I FELT ABUSED.
Then came grammar school and puberty. Obvious differences appeared and I became fearful of the changing rooms, communal showers, even going to a public toilet (the ability to wee around corners wasn’t much appreciated, and wet shoes and trouser legs were always good for a laugh). I was aware of the pubescent changes in my fellow pupils and that they weren’t happening to me. OK, I was well over 6 feet tall at 14, so physical bullying wasn’t considered an option. The masters at the school (yes we didn’t have teachers, we had masters, mortar boards, we were always addressed as “Master . . . . . . . “, old fashioned isn’t the word) thought me lazy and indolent because I refused, where possible, to partake in any sport. Not that I hated sport, I hated changing rooms and communal showers. In this environment, anything that made you different was enough for the bullies.
So, unable to talk to anyone, unable to find information (I knew the name of it, that’s all), I just felt that I was a freak. God made me a giant, then emasculated me. A celestial joke.
I tried everything, stretching, vacuum, anything. God, I was desperate, suicidal, scared, and very, very alone. If your children are like me, they could not face talking to their parents about something so intimate. I mean, they are just realizing their parents had to have sex to have them, a really repulsive thought to a teenager! I went through many, many difficult times, fell in love with girls but could never have the courage to form any kind of relationship, just in case we got too close, and I would have to be naked. Then they would laugh. (For information, I have an erectile length of approx 5 inches, a flaccid length of less than one half inch).
One day, to quote the Bard of Avon, “I screwed my courage to the sticking point,” and you know what? She did laugh. Then she went on to tell all and sundry. So I moved back to Birmingham to escape the shame and humiliation and fear. I hated my parents for having me, for having me when they were so old (Mother 40, Father 38) when, even in the 1960s, the risk of genetic malformation was well known.
I then entered into the only world I could feel comfortable in, academia. My first nervous breakdown was in 1986. I have had repeating episodes until the final one in 2000, resulting in my medical retirement aged 41 this year.
Then, when I was 36 years old, and newly on the Internet, I discovered I wasn’t the only “freak,” that it was more common than I thought. Was I relieved? I suppose I was until I tried to find more out; then the rages came. Then my final mental collapse. I survived to tell the tale, as you can see.
So, why am I telling you this? So you can prepare for the worst and expect the best. So you can understand the viewpoint of an adolescent male. Women have different issues. Can we as men understand motherhood, menopause, childbirth? We can try but never really, truly understand. Neither can mothers really understand their boys with hypospadias. So you can prevent the pain and suffering, the emotional turmoil, the sheer heartache that MAY happen. I pray it doesn’t.
I have been alone with this all of my life till now. I have never had a partner, nor will I. I’ll never have children, a family of my own. Maybe it is a good thing to remove myself from the genome.
I’ve only started posting here to plead with you NOT to take the easy road of ignoring it. Or even belittling the harm it can do. In case you think my experiences are unique, I can tell you they aren’t. They are a common as the disorder itself.
Be gentle on yourselves.