1. Germ cells are immortal.
2. Germ cells contain half the number of chromosomes needed to make an organism, and so are specially made for sexual reproduction, but they can divide and differentiate into any kind of biological tissue. They can even create complex organs made of multiple tissues.
3. A teratoma is a germ-cell tumor—a bunch of inappropriate tissue in some inconvenient spot on the body, replicating wantonly. The best teratomas (the ones with gory, romantic stuff like hair or teeth or—gasp—eyes!) are collectible, formaldehydable medical oddities.
4. Though they form prenatally, teratomas commonly become large enough to notice only much later. Some are detectable by prenatal ultrasound. Some develop so rapidly in the womb that they endanger the fetus.
5. Teratomas are benign in themselves but, for reasons not yet understood, occasionally undergo cancerous transformations.
6. Words that rhyme w/ teratoma: adenoma, carcinoma, granuloma, hematoma, melanoma, myeloma, Oklahoma, papilloma, tokonoma.
7. My teratoma swole my entire right ball w/ almost nothing but cartilage. When I first noticed it, it was the size of a peach pit. By the time I had a doctor look at it, it had grown to the size of a jumbo egg and it was hard as a rock. I didn’t know what a teratoma was when I dropped my pants so the urgent care doctor could get a good look.
“Jesus Christ!” she said. “It’s hard as a rock!”
The urgent care doctor wanted to know how long had it been like this. It had been like this a year and half. Well then, why was it suddenly such an emergency I had to come in here on a Saturday?
8. It could be a few things, she said. It could be cancer, which was unlikely; or it could be like four other things which I don’t remember—and which don’t matter now anyway ‘cuz it was cancer. (She never said the word teratoma, which is in hindsight like duh the only thing it could have been, right?) Whatever it was, I had to get an ultrasound immediately, and then go see a urologist.
9. If you pay in full at the time of your visit, it costs $100 to have your balls touched and screamed at by a real doctor.
10. The ultrasound technologist held a tube of ultrasound gel upside down over my human junk.
“When did you first notice a lump?”
“Like, a year ago.”
“And it’s some kind of emergency today?”
“Um, yeah. Uh, my wife…”
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July 30th, 2013 / 1:24 pm