Mike’s Vasectomy Monologue

May 4, 2016

Jubilation fills the operating room when Mike Murray snaps to. Nurses are hugging, doctors throw high-fives. Machines sing in unison, a steady beep beep beep keeping time with his heart. All eyes are on Mike. Mike’s mind, oddly enough, is on surfing. He has just emerged from the eternal wave, man.

Mike likes to say he died that day. Technically, he’s right. But it wasn’t the vasectomy that killed him.

38-year old Mike must have health issues, right? Nope. Besides a touch of low blood pressure, Mike is in peak shape. He swims almost every day, walks home from work, surfs when he can, eats well, and has an uncannily positive view of the world. He is downright sunny almost all the time. Think Jack Johnson meets happy-go-lucky quarterback. Even so, Mike faints pre-snip on his first vasectomy attempt. His doctor is unfazed but he books him in to the IWK for the next one, just in case. Still, no alarm bells go off for the Murray family.

Two weeks later, when he showed up to the hospital for his second try, the mood was light. “So, you’re a fainter, eh?” a nurse asked Mike, gently ribbing him. Both times Mike’s been under general anesthetic before, he came out feeling rejuvenated. “When I woke up the last time I was under,” he says, “the first thing I did was start flirting with the nurses, cracking jokes. I felt awesome.”

This time would be slightly different.

The anesthesiologist put Mike under and the next thing he knew he was awake, feeling—you guessed it—awesome. Vasectomy done. No more stress about pregnancy. Family fully planned. The nurse, who was just about to go off shift, checked his status and deemed him fine to sit up. As soon as she ratcheted his bed to sitting position, a dizzy feeling washed over him. The last thing Mike remembered saying was, “I’m gonna faint.”

And this was Mike’s afterlife vision: he was on his surfboard, staring down the line of a head high, glassy right-hand wave.

“I’m surfing backside,” Mike says, “and I’m looking down the face of this wave. The sky is blue-blue, just bright, and there is a strip of white sand framing the left side of the picture. The water is aquamarine and really warm. The whole feel is warmth.”

Even more striking to Mike is how time, once wholly relevant, lost its meaning.

“It was a moment that was hours or days or months or years,” he says. “Everything was uber slow motion. Just this peaceful moment. And then I woke up.”

Back in the OR, the head doctor was the one giving the biggest high-five. He put his hand on Mike’s arm and said, “How do you feel?”

“I…feel good,” Mike replied, even though his grey-green face told another story.

“Well…we just performed CPR on you. We revived you,” the doctor said.

“What?!” blurted Mike. He couldn’t believe it. He was in for a routine vasectomy. Nothing was supposed to go wrong. This was not in the script.

All told, Mike flatlined for a minute and three seconds. His heart had an “unshockable rhythm,” as the doctor later put it, so they weren’t able to use the defibrillator. It took 4 rounds of physical CPR with a bag valve mask to bring him back. All hands were on deck. One nurse, a 20 year veteran, told Mike it was the first time she had done CPR on someone who then woke up the way he did. “It was just like the movies!” she said.

Mike tasted death, saw the light. It came through the tube of a barreling wave.

So how does an experience like this register with a man of Mike’s station in life? Mike, always humble, comes up with this description: “I swear to God, when I’m surfing—and I’m not a religious guy, I don’t go to church or anything—I feel very close to God. I do, I really do. It’s a peaceful place for me.”

“What I seek out in surfing is peace,” Mike says, smiling his trademark smile. “I’m not one of those aggro guys looking for double overhead waves that make a session a battle. I’m always looking for a very chilled out kind of surf experience.”

Mike thinks his mind took him to the wave because it’s where his subconscious wanted to go. As he says, “There are moments in my surfing—and not many—perfect moments when you’re feeling it. The wave is really walled up and you have that moment of peace. It only lasts for a second, but it lasts forever in your mind.”

Coming up from the philosophical deeps, Mike has a laugh. He knows he’s a lucky guy and he plans to keep his attitude light. If anything, life has gotten even sweeter for Mike Murray. What makes him most happy is that he didn’t actually die. “If I had died getting a vasectomy,” Mike says, “I would’ve been really pissed off.”

Ryan Shaw