Yes, you read that right. With all the talk recently about changing the disability mindset in this country, this story, while not workers' comp related, highlights much of the mentality we deal with in the industry. A 47 year old man in Las Vegas has an extremely rare condition that has caused his scrotum to swell to over 100 pounds. There is a surgical procedure available to correct the condition, but the man turned down an offer to pay for the $1 million procedure because he has grown accustomed to the publicity, and wants the right to sell his story. He is opting for a disabling condition when he could have been cured already.
Ok, now that you are back, have been physically ill, and can now comprehend the issue a bit more accurately, let's analyze this. He wants his 15 minutes of fame, and I am only too happy to oblige. Plus, I get to write about a guy with a freakishly large ballsack. (Hey, they say that on TV now, so don't get mad at me!)
The swelling is a condition called scrotal elephantiasis, which is more common in Africa or South Asia, and causes significant pain and discomfort for the man. I am sure that is true, as I felt tremendous pain and discomfort just watching him. His penis is apparently buried somewhere within, and he now has to urinate on himself as a result. Televisions Dr. Oz offered to pay for the entire procedure to correct the condition, but he declined, as he wanted to maintain the rights to tell (sell) his own story.
There are a couple things that disturb me about that notion; 1) that someone would apparently think this is worth selling, and 2) that someone else might think this story is worth buying. What would the book title be? “My Scrotum and Me?” “Tale of Two Testicles?” “Where's Balldo?” I suppose a movie could be called “Attack of the Killer Testicles”.
Even a second physician has come forward offering to fly to Nevada and perform the procedure for free, but the man has not responded to him, ostensibly because Howard Stern wanted him back on his show for a second time.
That would mean two enormous ballbags in the same room, I suppose.
The man claims that his condition started after he twisted in bed one morning in 2008, causing his testicles to immediately swell. He said they went to the size of soccer balls overnight. I cannot imagine spending 4 years just watching them grow and doing nothing. If that had happened to me “overnight” I would have driven so fast to the hospital I technically would have arrived at the emergency room before I left the house. Nothing would have stopped me, even if I had to steer with my own scrotum. “Soccer ball status” would be enough for me to take some sort of remedial action.
Instead, here we are 4 years later, talking about a 100 pound scrotum. How do we know its 100 pounds? I suppose someone had to weigh that thing. It's not every day a doctor can tell someone to “swing your scrotum up on the scale and let's see how he's doing”.
At least the swelling is apparently, um, proportionate. It would be really bad if it only affected one testicle. Imagine the frustration of the other testicle when its fraternal twin became a zealous overachiever.
I know I am being harsh, but I think the guy is making bad decisions. He has already passed on one opportunity to be treated for this, and is currently ignoring another offer. Granted, there is a slight risk to this procedure, as there is a chance that complications could force a surgeon to cut off his penis and testicles if his scrotum won’t stop bleeding. While I admit one would have to (literally) have pretty big cajones to do that, the chance of something going wrong is not what is stopping him. Of course, one could argue that something has already gone tragically wrong. He claims he is planning to continue to pursue publicity to raise money to pay for the operation, but a free procedure from a skilled and competent surgeon ostensibly awaits him.
The doctor who has made the no strings attached offer to fly in and perform the surgery for free is a University of California surgeon named Dr. Joel Gelman. Dr. Gelman says that he has “never lost a patient or a testicle”. While that seems like a terrific marketing slogan, I am not sure if it is printed on his business cards. Nevertheless, a skilled surgeon awaits, but the lure of fame is apparently strong enough to keep this man comfortable enough with his own disability.
There is something wrong with that picture.