The Solitary Life


He called me from rural northern California and the phone conversation went something like this:
“Er… hello. I…I was wondering if you could help me.”
“Sure, sir, how can I help you?”
“Well…I’m single and haven’t dated in 20 years, but would really like to.”
“I’m not so sure that I am the one to ask on matters like that!”
(Laughs nervously) “I just haven’t had the nerve to date anyone.”
“If you are worried about your erections, I can certainly help with that.”
“No…no…it’s more that I’m worried that they will find out…” (goes quiet)
“Find out what, if I may ask?”
“Well, that I only have one ball left” said the Solitary Man.
And so it goes. A man is his mid-40’s diagnosed with testicular cancer in his 20’s and cured by removal of his right testicle. And now, after leading a solitary life for 25 years, he wants his sex life back. Surely, losing a testicle wouldn’t affect a man that much.
An unusual story? Not at all. In 1996, I led the study team that investigated the safety of using a newly designed testicular implant in boys and men who had never had, or had lost, a testicle. At this time, the FDA required extensive safety data on all new implants because of the cancer scare associated with leaking breast implants in the past. That same scare led to the pulling of all kinds of implants off the market, including a tried and true testis implant that had a perfect track record. Several years later, collaborating with 14 university medical centers nationwide, I published the research that showed that the new testis implant was entirely safe and it became the first (and still only) FDA-approved implant to replace this organ.
Proving that it was safe is only half the story though. It was also effective, very effective. What does that mean? For the study, we had men complete validated psychological questionnaires, termed “instruments,” that addressed confidence, self-esteem and body image before and after implant placement. We asked questions that no one had ever asked these men before. And what we learned was impressive: Men felt better about themselves, were more confident, and felt whole again. And these gains translated into real changes in their lives, both socially and professionally.
I recently placed the testicle implant that I had designed and studied into The Solitary Man. I put it right where his original testicle was before it was removed and placed it in less than an hour. He went home the same day and I saw him again 3 weeks after the procedure.
If it weren’t for the Pendelton wool shirt and boot jeans, I might not have recognized him; he was a changed man. He had a grin from ear to ear, a deep sparkle in his eye and a new bounce in his step. I asked him how he was doing and he responded, almost wet eyed: “I’m dating again.” Miracle? No. Magic? Yes.