Not a Mark of Inadequacy

I came across this website when I was required to fill out a medical form and needed to put a name to my condition. It has uncovered memories and experiences I had long buried.

On the one hand, it’s gratifying to know that I’m not alone and to find others who relate to the scars, psychic and real, trivial and more profound, of this surgery. I too have had to clean many toilet rims over the years. I too have been shy in the locker room.

But I cannot relate to shame or anguish. C’mon guys, get a grip! It’s a medical condition, one that can be repaired, not a mark of inadequacy or a sentence to a life of misery.

I was born with several medical conditions. A cleft palate, imploded eardrums, a lazy eye. And mild hypospadias. I had one operation on my urethra as an infant, a second at about 5 or 6. I vividly recall the second operation. The trip to Manhattan, bonding with the boy in the next bed (whose operation was first, and who returned bandaged and with tubes everywhere – a shock for this 6 year old who thought the boy might have been castrated), examinations by teams of doctors, etc. I also remember ice cream and special attention and seeing the dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History on the way home.

I was lucky to have parents who attended to my conditions. My cleft palate was repaired and I was given speech therapy. I had ear surgery and still have a moderate hearing loss – hearing aids help. If you think hypospadias is embarrassing, try wearing an eye patch for lazy eye on the playground in grade school and you’ll know what teasing means. But never have I felt deformed or disabled.

At age 13, I awoke at a sleep over with my best childhood friend with excruciating pain in my testicles. Talk about adolescent crisis. I was rushed to the hospital for an emergency operation for testicular torsion.This operation left faint scars on my scrotum.

I am now 56. Hypospadias has been mostly a minor annoyance. Yes, spraying during urination can be messy. Keep a special sponge handy at home, use urinals when you can, sit down when visiting friends. I have full, ramrod straight, normal erections – a little larger than average size – very sensitive around the urethra. My glans was split and the urethral opening is located below the glans. I am having an adventurous and satisfying sex life. I’m gay and have had many partners over the years. Some decades-long relationships, lots of sex along the way. It certainly never interfered with sexual pleasure. Some odd looks or questions when a guy gets up close and personal, but no complaints either. (This is a good time to interject that condoms might protect from embarrassment as well as disease. Always wear a condom!)

I know I carry the effects of the condition and the medical attention. It’s just part of who I am, but it has never shamed or limited me.

Name Withheld