Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Family Jewels

While we were waiting to pick up Mihiretu in Ethiopia, we got a medical report that he had one undescended testis. When I discussed it with our pediatrician (the wondrous Nelson Branco, also our friend), he said it sounded like a case of a retracted testis, not an undescended one. Fully undescended testes require surgery and could later affect fertility and increase the odds for testicular cancer. Retractile, on the other hand, are testes that are sometimes dropped into the, er, sac and sometimes pulled up into the body cavity. That, according to Nelson, was not such a big deal.

While we were in Ethiopia, however, the doctor associated with our adoption agency, a very stern, seemingly self-important (and I'm sure overworked) Ethiopian, claimed that both testes, not just one were at issue, and that they were fully retracted. He ordered immediate surgery as soon as we were stateside.

Once home, Nelson advised us to check Mihiretu's jewels while he was in the bath. Warm water, apparently, relaxes the muscles and drops the testes. If we could "milk" them down (poor boy), then we were in good shape.

Every time I checked him in the bath, I could find two happy little critters. Every time Ben tried, he found an empty nest. After months of debate, we finally went and saw a pediatric urologist.

Doctors appointments with Mihiretu have historically been mayhem. Whether he's the patient or one of his sisters is in the hot seat, the small exam room is always a recipe for maximum volume and frenetic activity. He jumps off lab tables, searches drawers, flings cotton balls, you name it. I anticipated the worst.

Once there, however, Mihiretu was surprisingly helpful. He happily took off his shoes before peacefully stepping on the scale and stood calmly to get his height measured. He dutifully trotted after the nurse to the exam room, then stopped suddenly in a panic, crowing, "Shoes!", thinking we'd left them behind. When I displayed his shoes in my hand, he laughed in relief and continued his march down the hall.

Somehow, miraculously, we only waited a moment for the doctor to join us and when he did, Mihiretu sat for him calmly while this stranger palpated his privates. After a total of three minutes in the exam room, the doc pronounced him just fine. I was so relieved. Months of anxiety, or at least testicle-related anxiety, fell away.

"Wow, Mihiretu," I said as I was putting on his shoes. "You might just give me grandbabies."

He smiled as he trooped out of the room.

He shouted over his shoulder, "I like it - baby!"

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