How a Swollen Nutsack Made Me a Believer (Part 1 of the Road to Peace Pilgrim Series)


Like I said on the About page, there’s a lot that went down between my life in New York and when I  attempted my peace walk.  I’ve decided to chronicle the events that lead up to said walk.  This is the first part.

When I woke up on the morning of August 7, 2005, I felt a massive pain in my groin.  Definitely not the best way to start my 25th birthday.  I pulled down my boxers and had a look.  Everything seemed normal.  I’d been drinking and smoking weed the previous night, so I figured I’d pulled a muscle while in the middle of doing something stupid.

The next day, the pain was worse, and it wasn’t just in the general groin area.  It was coming directly from my left nut.  It was a deep, dull, insistent pain, the kind of pain that makes you nervous because you know something is wrong.  I had ignored it most of the morning.  By the afternoon, it had gotten so bad, it warranted a second look.

I went into the bathroom, took a breath, lowered my drawers, and was greeted with the sight of this…

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  Okay, I was going to post a picture of a pair of testicles (not mine!) with an epididymitis infection, but it was so gross I almost puked all over my keyboard.  Since I want you to come back to this site, I decided to omit it.

However, if curiosity is getting the best of you and you have to know exactly what it looks like, you can click here BUT I would advise you not to do that.  Just use your imagination.  Unless you have a stomach of iron or you’re close to a toilet.

For those of you who couldn’t help yourself and ended up clicking on the link, 1) Fucking gross, right? and 2)  Now imagine it black and circumcised – and longer, of course – and you’ll get an idea of what I was looking at.  

Back to the story…

I was in unknown territory.  My balls had never given me much trouble in life.  Now this.  Was it an STD?  I hadn’t had sex in a while, and I always used protection.  Was it ball cancer?  Holy shit, what if I had ball cancer? Would they have to amputate it?  I’d be like Tom Green and Lance Armstrong, only not famous.  I couldn’t even be like, “Well, I only have one ball, but at least I’m famous.”  No.  I’d be a normal, un-famous guy with one testicle.

I called my dad, who’s a doctor.

“You’re fine,” said my dad.  “Don’t panic.”
“Is it testicular cancer?”
“Testicular cancer doesn’t just sprout up over night.  It sounds like you have epididymitis.”
“What’s that?”
“It’s an infection of epididymis.”
“What’s that?”
“It’s the tube that connects the testicles to the vas deferens.”
“It’s really swollen.”
“Uh huh-”
“And red.  And angry-looking.”
“Yep.  That sounds about right.”
“How’d I get it?”
“It’s a bacterial infection, so you could have gotten it a number of ways.  Sex, urinary tract infection, or sometimes bacteria just works its way down there.  It’s hard to say.”

Sometimes bacteria just works its way down there…

“What do I do?”
“I’ll prescribe you some antibiotics.  It should clear up soon.  Just relax and don’t panic.”

As promised, my dad prescribed me the antibiotics.  It was around this time that the pain intensified.  I developed a fever.

Sometimes bacteria just works its way down there…

It hurt to pee.  It hurt to lie down on my left side.  And forget about masturbation.

Sometimes bacteria just works its way down there…

Eventually, the antibiotics did their thing, the infection went away, and the swelling went down.  Physically, I was fine.  It was the psychological damage that got me.

I’d never been a germaphobe before. Now I was.  I constantly washed my hands.  I always had a bottle of hand sanitizer wherever I went.  I was afraid to shake people’s hands and touch door knobs.  I became adept at turning sinks off with my elbows.

I talked my job into giving me health insurance and made regular visits to the doctor.  She told me I was fine, but sent me to some specialists just to make sure.  I complained about pains coming from my liver, so I got an MRI done of my liver and groin.  Everything looked fine, though my doctor noted that my prostate seemed larger than usual.  She recommended I see a urologist.  I went.  The urologist seemed annoyed that my regular doctor had even bothered sending me to him, because my MRI didn’t look the slighest bit unusual.  But since I was already there, he might as well give me a prostate exam.  He noted that I was probably the youngest guy he’d ever examined.

Everyone kept telling me I was fine, but I didn’t feel fine.  Every now and then, I’d feel residual pain in my groin. I also felt a weird tingly sensation throughout my entire body.  My dad kept telling me that it was all psychological.  But the symptoms felt too real.

My OCD got worse, spreading into other areas of my life.  I would check the burners on the stove multiple times before leaving the house.  I would check the locks as well.  My imagination ran wild as I visualized the worst possible things happening to me and people I loved.  I had trouble sleeping.  I developed chronic acid reflux.  My stomach felt like it was on fire.

One night, I was rolling around in my bed, unable to shut off my thoughts.

This is hell, I thought.  I’m creating my own hell.  I’m torturing myself with my own thoughts.

For the first time since I’d left Christianity almost four years ago, I missed God.  I missed the feeling of comfort and security it gave me to know that there was a Supreme Being looking out for me.  Even if that wasn’t true, and I was making the whole thing up in my head,  it didn’t matter. I needed to believe in something.

I was a happier person when I believed in God, so who cared if it was all just make-believe?  As long as I was happy and didn’t hurt anybody, it was my own business what I believed.  So I resolved to start praying again, learn meditation and yoga, and eat better foods. I’d do whatever I needed to do to get back into a healthy state of mind.

There’s a quote from the Kabbalistic text The Work of the Chariot which goes as follows:  “When a man takes one step towards God, God takes more steps toward that man than there are sands in the worlds of time.”

I don’t pretend to know anything about God or the nature of the universe.  I can say this though: once I took that first step, some seriously weird shit started to happen.  My swollen nut and the OCD was just the appetizer.  The main course was still on its way.  And I found out that once you open certain doors in life, you can’t close them.  Ever.



2 thoughts on “How a Swollen Nutsack Made Me a Believer (Part 1 of the Road to Peace Pilgrim Series)

  1. I’m interested in hearing more of this story. Not because my nuts are swollen (they’re not) or because I’m going through my own spiritual pilgrimage (I am) but because I appreciate your writing style.

    I got here after listening to the NPR show that featured you. You have a fascinating story that I can relate to. Looking forward to reading more of it.


    • Hi Victor,

      Thanks for visiting the site and for your comments! I’ve fallen behind on writing the next article for this series, but I should be catching up on it soon.


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