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Making Nico

by c m

Chapter 10

The rest of the vacation passes all too quickly; I spend a week at home with my parents, and Josh and I do a couple of weeks working at the food bank in Bristol before term restarts. His third, and my final, undergraduate year.

Our house arrangements are all working like a dream, and Ollie, Nikki and Mikey are all keen to stay on for another year, which suits Josh and me just fine. My course is still going fact, according to my tutor, I'm well in line for a First. The only cloud that appears is when Josh comes up to me after showering one morning.

'Nico…could you just have a feel of my balls?'

''Anytime,' I say.

'No…I don't mean it like that, it's just…'

'What, Josh?'

'I think I've got a lump on one of them and, well, you probably know them at least as well as me so…would you mind?'

'No…no, of course not. Come here.'

He comes over to me and I take each of his balls one at a time in my fingers and gently rotate them.

'Which one are you worried about?'

'The left one.'

I feel and yes, on one side of his left testicle, there's definitely a hard sort of lump.

'Yes, Josh. I can feel something. Does it hurt?'

'No. But when I was soaping myself up just now, I thought I could feel something.'

'You haven't noticed it before?'


'We need to get it checked out. Do you think it's…cancer?'

'It's a possibility. I know that lumps are most often just cysts, but you can't tell without getting it checked. If it IS a tumour, and if both of us have only just noticed, then at least it's probably in its very early stages in which case the treatment, from what I understand, is almost always successful.'

'OK. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Get booked in to see the doctor.'

'OK. I'll put it on my list.'

'No, Josh. Do it now. Please?'


There's something in his eyes. I wrap my arms round him.

'It's fine to feel worried…but don't be scared. Like you say, it's probably nothing serious and if it is then I'm right here beside you. And anyway, you're going to be a doctor, so it's a real-life learning experience.'

He gives me a little smile. 'Yeah…yeah, you're right.'

Josh makes the call. He gets an appointment for the following day.

And I go away and start doing some research.

The following morning, I ask Josh if he wants me to come with him to the doctor.

'Would you mind?'

'Of course not.'

There's a student medical centre on the other side of campus, and we make our way there later that morning. When Josh asks if it's OK for me to accompany him in to see the doctor, the receptionist smiles and says it's fine.

The doctor is in his mid-forties and listens as Josh explains.

'OK. Well, first of all, very well done on coming to see me. Not everyone checks themselves and if there is a problem, the sooner we can treat it the better. What I'm going to do today is examine you, and if I think it's possible that it might be a tumour, we'll take some bloods and send them off to the lab. I'll also arrange for you to see a specialist who'll give you an ultrasound scan of your testicles which should enable them to tell whether it's a cyst or something more serious. Right, let's take a look at you. If you'd like to go behind the screen and drop your trousers and underwear, I'll be in to see you in a moment.'

Josh steps behind the curtain in the corner of the room. The doctor gives me an encouraging smile.

A minute or so later he reappears, followed a moment later by Josh.

'Right. Well, there's definitely a lump and I think it warrants further exploration. Better to be safe than sorry. If you can roll up your sleeve, we'll take some bloods, and I'll write your referral this afternoon. You should expect an appointment within two weeks. Try not to worry. You've already taken the biggest step. Do you have any questions?'

'If it is cancer, what's the treatment?'

'The most likely treatment would be to remove the testicle. I know that must sound scary but it isn't. Men can function perfectly satisfactorily with one testicle. It wouldn't affect your fertility or your libido or your ability to have sex in any way. The testicle would be biopsied, and you might require one or more courses of chemo just to be sure no cells have migrated, but you might not need any chemo at all. I strongly suspect that if you've only just noticed the lump…and if your boyfriend hasn't noticed either,' he gives me a smile, 'then it is highly likely that we've caught whatever it is at a very early stage. OK?'

Josh nods. 'Thanks, doc.'

The doctor takes two phials of blood from Josh's arm, labels them and puts them in a clear plastic bag.

'These will go off to the lab later today, and the results will be waiting for you when you see the specialist. That's it…unless you have any further questions.'

Josh shakes his head. 'No…and thanks.'

'A pleasure. And tell your friends to examine themselves as you did. It could save their lives.'

We make our way back to the house and sit in the kitchen while I make us both a coffee.

'You OK, Josh?'

'Yes…well, mostly. I'll be happier when I've been seen by the specialist. It's going to be the longest two weeks of my life.'

I put my arm round him.

'I know. But like the doc said, you've done the hardest bit.'

'The idea of having a testicle removed is a bit scary.'

'That may never happen. And if it does, you'll still be fully-functional. Most of what's in your semen is fluid from bits other than your balls anyway. You'll produce fewer sperm, but as having babies probably isn't high on our agenda, that scarcely matters, does it?'

He laughs.

'How come you know all this?'

'I've…done a bit of research.'

'Yeah,' he says, '…so have I.'

And that makes us both laugh.

'And if I do have a testicle removed, they can put a false one in its place so that I still look the same.'

'If that's what you wanted.'

'Would you prefer me with just the one real one?'

'This all feels like we're talking about something that may never happen, but I'd have no problem with you having just the one. It would just be another thing to add to all the other things that make you the uniquely special person that you are.'

He gives me a kiss.

'Thank you,' he says. 'Now, I guess I better tell my parents. I think they'd want to know.'

'I agree. Why don't we pop round this evening?'

'You want to come with me?'

'Of course. If you want me there.'

'I'd like that.'

His parents take the news pretty well. They're concerned, of course, and anxious to know how they can help. And they make Josh promise to keep them informed about what the specialist says.

'Of course I will. And don't worry, I've got Nico with me so he'll be right by my side all the way,' he says, turning and looking at me.

I see his mother and father exchange glances. And there's a hint of a tear in his mother's eye. And I suddenly realise why. She's been the one to be there for Josh whenever he's been hurt, or got into difficulties or needed comforting. For all nineteen years of his life so far, she's been the one there, she's the one he's turned to. But now he's turning to me. I catch Tamara's eye.

'I'll look after him, Tamara, I promise.'

'I know you will Nico. And I'm so pleased he's got you. But I'm his mother so I won't be able to stop worrying until it's all sorted out.'

'I know. And your love and support will be just as important as mine.'

'Of course it will be, Mum,' Josh says, going over and giving her a hug.

Back at the house, we talk about when and if to tell our housemates. Josh says that he'd rather wait until after he's seen the specialist, which makes perfect sense.

Josh's appointment is confirmed by post a few days later. It's ten days away and the letter suggests that Josh shaves his groin before attending to assist with the ultrasound scan. We go out and buy a pack of disposable razors and shave each other the next morning in the shower.

'You don't have to do this, too,' he says.

'Yes I do. We're in this together. And it's scarcely a big deal given that our balls are already shaved and we trim the rest of our pubes anyway.'


The process does, however, result in us both getting rock-hard stiffies…which we retire to bed to take care of.

There's something rather sexy about Josh's hairless groin.

The day of Josh's hospital appointment arrives. I go with him, although this time I can't accompany him for the tests they do. But a nurse comes and asks me to follow her to the consulting room where Josh is sitting once the tests are complete. I sit down beside him, and he immediately takes hold of my hand.

The consultant smiles.

'First, please don't worry about what I'm about to tell you. The blood test showed up a number of markers for testicular cancer that the ultrasound test strongly supports. We can't be absolutely sure about the nature of the cancer until we've performed the biopsy, but the good news is that the level of markers in your blood and the small size of the growth means that this has been caught very early on and is easily treated. I know that this isn't the news you wanted, and it is only natural to feel a little worried, but you should be proud of yourself for taking the action you have and be reassured that this is unlikely to have any long-term consequences. I assume that you've done some research into testicular cancer – especially as I see you're a medical student, Josh – so you are probably aware of what the treatment will involve.'

'Orchidectomy?' says Josh.

'Exactly so. We will remove the affected testicle and its spermatic cord through a small incision in your groin. From experience, I'm reasonably confident that no further treatment will be required, but I can't guarantee that until we've done the biopsy.'

'What further treatment might be necessary? Chemo?'

'Yes, but we can talk about that if and when it proves advisable. For now, what I'd like to do is get a date in the diary for the procedure that you need – if you're happy for me to do so.'

'Will you be performing the op?'

'Yes. Me and my team. It takes about 30 minutes, and you should be able to go home the same day. You'll need to take it easy for a couple of weeks afterwards. We'll give you all the aftercare information you need nearer the time. Do you have someone to help you with things you mustn't do…like heavy lifting?'

Josh jabs a thumb towards me. 'Nico and I share a room, so no problem there.'

'Excellent. It will probably be about three to four weeks before we have a slot available but that's no cause for concern.' He can see the same slight frown on Josh's face as I can. 'Josh – you're a very fit and healthy young man who has caught their problem at a very early stage. Add that to the fact that this a simple cancer to treat when caught this early and you should expect to have an entirely normal life once the operation is complete. OK?'

Josh raises a little smile. 'Yeah…OK.'

'Good. We'll talk you through the procedure in more detail when you come in for the operation, and in the meantime, you need to decide whether you want us to put a prosthetic testicle in your scrotum in place of the testicle we remove. Any other questions?'

'No. And thanks.'

'See you in a few weeks.'

Now we've got a positive diagnosis, we discuss when to tell our housemates what's happened.

'I think we ought to tell them sooner rather than later,' Josh says. 'I mean, it's no big deal but if I'm going to need treatment and have hospital appointments and all that, they're bound to notice and I don't want them speculating – or finding out from someone else'

'Sounds sensible.'

So we get everyone together on Friday evening and Josh tells them that he's been diagnosed with testicular cancer and that he'll be having an op to sort it out in the next few weeks, but that everything should be fine and they shouldn't worry.

Everyone is charmingly concerned and full of offers of help and support. Ollie asks if Josh wants it to be common news.

'Not yet, Ollie, if that's OK. I'm not going to hide it from anyone if they ask, but until I know exactly what the prognosis is and what treatment is going to be necessary, I'd like it to be between us for now.'

And everyone's fine with that.

In bed that night, Josh cuddles up close to me.

'Nico, is it silly of me to be a little bit scared?'

'Of course not. It's perfectly natural. I'd be more worried about you if you weren't.' I wrap my arms round him and pull him as tightly as I can to me. 'You heard what the doc said; you're fit and healthy, we've caught it at a very early stage, and it's simple to treat. And I'll be right here beside you all the way. But it's OK to be scared. I'm sure I would be if it were me.'

'I think knowing you're here beside me is the best bit, Nico. Knowing I don't have to go through this on my own.'

'You bet I'll be here beside you. Now and always.'

'I love you so much, Nico.'

'And I you, Josh. And I you.'

In the course of the period until Josh's op, we get a WhatsApp call from Karim.

'HEY! Karim! Good to hear from you.'

'You too, Nick. You're looking as sexy as ever. Is Josh there too?'

Josh comes into frame behind me and waves.

'Hi, Josh! Great to see you.'

'Hi, Karim. How's things?'

'Things are great. I love Oxford. And how are you two?'

'I'm fine. Josh has got to go into hospital for the day in a few weeks but otherwise he's fine too.'

'Hospital? What for? Nothing serious, I hope?'

Josh takes my phone.

'Just a partial castration,' he says, straight-faced.

I nearly spit my coffee out.

'A WHAT!?' says Karim.

'I've been diagnosed with testicular cancer. Very early stages, but they are going to have to remove the affected testicle.'

'Omigod. When…how…?'

'I found the lump about a month ago. In the shower. I've always checked myself and well...there it was.'

'And they have to remove the whole testicle?'

'Yup. It's OK. Everything works just fine with one.'

'You sound very…calm about it all.'

'It's just one of those things. The important part it to have found it early. I hope you check yourself regularly too?'

'Umm…no…no I don't.'

'Then start.'

'I will. So when's the…operation…happening?'

'Just over two weeks.'

'And will you be in hospital long?'

'No. Out the same day.'


'Yes. Have to take things easy for a few weeks, but otherwise no big deal.'

'Can I come down and see you once the op's over?'

Josh looks at me. I mouth 'it's up to you'. Josh nods.

'Sure. We'll sort out the details. So, you found a boyfriend yet?'

Karim laughs.

'No. Not yet. Well, no one special. I've met some nice boys - but they have a lot to live up to.'

'How so?'

'Well, after you and Nick…I have some very high standards now!' he says with a big smile.

'We'll take that as a compliment.'

He passes the phone back to me.

'If you want to come down it'll probably need to be the last weekend in November, Karim, or the one after that. Is that any good?' I say.

'Sounds fine. I'll double-check.'

'Great. Hope to see you then. And thanks for's great to hear from you.'

'Very good to catch up with you both too. Love you.'

He blows us a kiss and we do likewise. The call ends.

'Well, that was an unexpected surprise, Josh.'

'Sure was. Nice to see him, though. Is he going to be OK on the pull-out bed in the lounge?'

'He's going to have to be. Unless he's sharing our bed.'

'Don't know if I'll be recovered enough for the sort of action that would involve.'

'Let's see how you are…and how we feel. Sex with him isn't mandatory.'

'I hope he sees it that way too.'

'He's a nice guy. He'll understand - whichever way we want to play it.'

'You're right. And it will be good to see him. He's good company with or without sex.'


The night before Josh's op, given that we're not sure how long it will be until we can have sex again, we stroke, suck and fuck our way to complete exhaustion.

The day of Josh's op arrives. He needs to be there two hours ahead of his theatre slot so that the nurse can complete the admissions procedure and the surgeon can talk him through the op, as well as discussing his aftercare with both of us - and answer any questions. We've discussed the issue of a replacement testicle. Josh would prefer not to have one and I wholeheartedly agree. Josh with one testicle is no less Josh than Josh with two testicles. We've also agreed to ask about how soon we'll be able to have sex again after the op. No point in being embarrassed about these things, we both know we're going to want to - and we'd hate to do anything that caused problems.

Josh's Mum and Dad call to wish him good luck, and I arrange to give his Mum a call once the hospital says that Josh is OK to be discharged.

At the hospital, we're shown into a side room with a bed in it where a nurse takes various details about Josh and leaves him with a surgical gown.

'You need to take your clothes off and put this on, please, and then the surgeon will be in to see you shortly.'

I help Josh put the gown on and tie it around him. It's not very flattering. We put his clothes into a holdall we've brought for the purpose, and not long afterwards the specialist who we saw previously comes in.

'Good morning, Josh. All prepared?'

'I think so.'

'Good. Let me explain what's going to happen. Please interrupt me and ask if there's anything you're not sure about, OK? First, we'll give you a general anaesthetic, but you should still be able to go home later this afternoon.' He looks at me. 'Nick, is it?'

I nod.

'It can take up to 48 hours for the effects of the anaesthetic to completely wear off, so you'll need to look after Josh and make sure he rests and doesn't drive or use machinery or do anything that requires intense concentration. How will you get home?'

'Josh's Mum is going to pick us up and drive us back,'

'Good. The procedure itself involves making an incision in your groin, Josh, probably about two inches long. The area will need to be shaved, and you may prefer to do this yourself if you haven't already done so. We will remove the affected testicle through the incision along with its spermatic cord, then close the wound with stitches. You'll need to come back for us to remove them, which we'll do at the same time as we have our follow-up consultation in about ten days' time. Your scrotum will be pretty bruised and swollen for a couple of weeks, and it's important that you wear very supportive underwear, including at night, for at least a week. Either jockey shorts or a jock strap. You'll almost certainly experience some discomfort, but we'll provide you with medication for the first week or so. There may be some residual discomfort for several weeks after that, but paracetamol is all you should need to cope with it. If you're up to using ice on your scrotum and on any swelling around the wound, that would help too. Put some ice cubes in a plastic bag, wrap a towel around it and hold it in place for a maximum of fifteen minutes. Do that at least twice a day if you can. If you develop substantial pain, you need to call us at once. It's OK for you to shower after 48 hours but not before, although try to keep the wound as dry as possible, and you shouldn't take a bath until the wound is completely healed. You'll find walking a little uncomfortable for a few days, but it's important that you so – as far as you can – each day. I suggest you try shortening your usual stride. You should eat plenty of fruit and fibre to keep your bowel movements soft; straining to go to the loo would be a bad idea. Once the testicle has been biopsied, we'll talk about any further treatment – if it's necessary. Have you thought about whether you want an artificial testicle implant?'

'Yes we have, and I don't.'

'Fine. If you want to change your mind in the future, it's a simple thing for us to do. Any questions?'

'Can I ask why you remove the testicle through the groin instead of the scrotum?'

'Good question. We do it that way because it means that we can remove the spermatic cord as high up as possible. That minimises the chances of any cancer cells migrating to other parts of the body. Anything else?'

'Umm…how soon can Nico and I have sex again?'

The surgeon smiles.

'Well, there are no rules as such, but it's important that you don't do anything that might tear either the internal or external stitches. You both look like fit young men, so don't let your…passions…get the better of you. My advice would be not to attempt penetrative sex – either giving or receiving - until the wound has completely healed. That will be at least two weeks and probably nearer four. You can have gentle, non-penetrative sex any time after the op, but you'll probably want to wait for the scrotal swelling to subside at least a little simply for reasons of comfort. I'd suggest giving it a few days. But it's perfectly normal to want to make sure that everything's still working in that department so masturbation, for example, is fine. Listen to your body. If you do something that causes pain, stop.' He smiles again. 'How long have you two been a couple?'

'About two years,' says Josh.

'Then I'm sure you know each other well enough to make sensible decisions. Anything else?'

'No, I think that's it. And thanks.'

'Right. If you'd just like to hop up onto the bed, I'll need to mark the side of your groin on which we'll be making the incision; wouldn't want to remove the wrong testicle, would we?'

Once Josh is on the bed, he opens the gown and puts a purple arrow on the left side of his groin.

'Right. The anaesthetist will be along to give you a pre-med in a few minutes, then we'll take you down to theatre. Nick, you'll need to wait in the relatives' room, but a nurse will come and get you once Josh is awake – unless you'd rather go home and we can contact you there. It's likely to be several hours at least until Josh is recovered sufficiently to see you.'

'It's OK, I'll wait. I've brought a book.'


The surgeon leaves and I give Josh a hug and a kiss. Despite myself, I feel emotional and have to brush away a tear.

'Don't worry, Nico. I'll be fine.'

'How stupid am I? I should be the one telling you that you'll be fine!'

'Hey, it just means that you care. And I know you do. And that's lovely.'

'Love you. See you in a few hours.'

'Love you too. See you later.'

A few minutes later an orderly arrives along with the anaesthetist and Josh is wheeled out of the room.

An hour later, a nurse comes into the room where I'm waiting for news.

'Hello Nick, just to let you know that everything went well. Josh is back in recovery. Once he's awake, I'll come back and take you to see him.'

I know they must have done this operation hundreds of times. Thousands. But I can't help feeling relieved. And I ping a message to Josh's parents.

Another hour passes before the nurse returns.

'Josh is awake, although still a little groggy from the anaesthetic, but he's asked for you. If you'd like to come with me?'

I follow her through some double doors and down a corridor into a small ward with six beds in it. The nurse pulls open a set of curtains…and there he is. He gives me a weak smile.

I go over and take his hand.

'Hey gorgeous,' he says a little croakily.

'How are you feeling?'

'A bit…woozy…but better for seeing you.'

'They said everything went really well.'


'You in any pain?'

'No…meds still working fine.'

'Mr. Ormrod will be down to talk to you both in a minute,' the nurse says.

In fact, it's nearer fifteen minutes before the surgeon appears.

'Hello, Josh, how are you feeling?' he asks.

'Fine…thank you.'

'Good. As I'm sure you've been told, everything went very well with the procedure, and the biopsy showed that what we removed was the simplest form of tumour. And as you know we caught it at a very early stage. The test on the cord shows no signs of any cancer cells, which is also extremely good news. That means that the team and I see no need for any further treatment, although we'll want to keep an eye on you for a year or so to make sure everything is as good as we think it is. For now, we'll keep you under observation for another hour or so and then you should be free to go home.'

'Thanks, doc.'

'Not at all. Any questions?'

Josh looks at me. I shake my head.

'No...and thank you again.'

I sit with Josh, holding his hand. A nurse comes and takes his blood pressure, as well as giving him some additional analgesia.

'We'll keep you topped up, and send you home with a course of antibiotics, and enough pain medication for a fortnight as well as changes of dressing for the next five days. Will you be alright with doing that yourself?'

'I'm sure Nico and I will manage between us.'

'If there's any sign of infection, contact us on the number on this sheet.'

She shows us a card with details of what to look for, what to do and who to call.

'I've also made you an appointment for two weeks' time when the surgeon will want to see you to check that everything is OK and remove your stitches. The details will be sent to you through the post. Are you feeling well enough to get dressed?'

'I think so.'

'Good. Then I'll leave you to it and be back to double-check you're alright in a few minutes. If so, then we'll get your discharge papers ready and you'll be free to go,'

She pulls the curtains round the bed, and leaves. I get Josh's clothes out of the bag.

'Guess you'll want to see the handiwork, then?' he says.

He takes off the gown. There's a dressing across one side of his groin. His scrotum has already started to show signs of swelling and bruising, and he moves with care. I hand him his shirt and then help him into the jockey shorts. He puts a hand on my shoulder to lift each foot. He's a bit wobbly and I have to wrap my arms around him to hold him steady. We repeat the performance with the track bottoms he's brought to minimise any unnecessary contact with his groin.

'Sit on the bed and I'll put your socks and shoes on,' I say.

He does so. I've undressed him many times, but this is the first time I've ever had to help him dress. It feels intimate in a way that makes me feel unexpectedly emotional.

'All done. How are you feeling?'

'Bit of a headache.'

'OK. We'll tell the nurse.'

When the nurse reappears, I tell her that Josh was a bit unsteady and has a headache.

'That's perfectly normal. The anaesthetic can leave you feeling wobbly and also give you a headache. You should be fine by tomorrow. Go and lie down when you get home, and drink plenty of water. Stay off the alcohol. Now, I've got your discharge papers signed by those who have to, and here's the medication you need. Remember to finish the course of antibiotics.'

'I will.'

'Right then, you're good to go.'

'Thank you, nurse.'

My phone pings. Josh's Mum is outside. Perfect timing. Josh stands up little gingerly, and puts an arm over my shoulder for support as we get him into a wheelchair for the journey to the car. Once we've made our way outside, I help him into the car. His Mum helps too.

'Are you alright love? Nick told me that everything went well.'

'I'm fine, Mum…and thanks for picking us up.'

'Will you have to have any further treatment?'

'No. Apparently, the tumour was the least serious one - and small. They don't think I need chemo, but they'll keep an eye on me for a while.'

'Well, that's very good news. Are you in much pain?'

'A little, but nothing too bad. I've got meds and stuff to help.'

'Are you sure you don't want to be at home while you recover?'

'That's kind, Mum, but Nico is going to look after me. And while I know you've seen it all before, given where the dressing is, I'd kind of prefer Nico to be the one changing it.'

He grins at me, and I laugh.

'Ah. Yes. Well…I'm sure you would,' Tamara says. And then she laughs too.

Back at the house, I tell Josh to sit down while I make us a cup of coffee. He says it's less painful to stand. Of course it is. I should have realised that. While I'm boiling the kettle, Nikki arrives back. She's fully aware that Josh was having his op today and wants to know how everything has gone. Josh gives her the details.

'Oh, I'm so pleased everything is OK. You must have been worried. Both of you.'

'Well, it's certainly a relief,' says Josh.

'And how long before you're all healed up?'

'Probably four weeks or so. Might be sooner. But there's quite a lot of bruising and swelling.'

'I bet.'

And we go through more or less the same conversation with Ollie and Mikey when they return.

With these conversations out of the way, I help Josh upstairs, and he goes and lies on the bed.

'Have a snooze if you're feeling tired, Josh. How's your head feeling?'

'Headache's gone which is good.'

'I'll go and get you some water.'

'Thanks, Nico.'

By the time I get back, Josh is asleep. I cover him with a blanket, give him a kiss on his forehead and leave him to rest.

He wakes up an hour or so later.

'Hiya. How are you feeling?' I ask.

'Thirsty. And my throat's a bit sore.'

'That'll be from the tube. How's your groin?'

'That's a bit sore too.'

I check the time.

'You're due for some more meds.' I pop a couple of pills out of a blister pack and hand them to him.



'A bit.'

'What would you like to eat?'

'Some scrambled egg maybe? I don't think my throat can take anything more solid.'

'Want me to bring it up here?'

'No…I'm OK to come down to the kitchen.'

He's just got off the bed when my phone buzzes. It's Karim on WhatsApp.

'Hi, Karim.'

'Hi, Nick. Is Josh back home? How did it go? Is everything OK?'

'Yes, he's back here; yes, everything went very well, and yes, he's OK.'

'That's great. I'm so relieved.'

'Would you like a word?'

'Yes, if he's there.'

I pass my phone over to Josh.

'Hi, Karim.'

'Hi, Josh. So everything went well?'

'Yes. Tumour removed, no sign of it having spread and no further treatment required.'

'That's great. How are you feeling?'

'A bit sore and bruised, but that's normal.'

'Hope you're fully recovered soon. Can't wait to see you both in a few weeks.'

'We're looking forward to it too.'

'If you're not feeling up to it, you will say, won't you?'

'We will.'

'OK. Bye for now.'

In bed that night, Josh finds lying on his back is the most comfortable position. I cuddle up to him, being careful to keep away from his groin.

'I'm so pleased that you're alright, Josh. I was SO worried.'

'Me too,' he says, 'but it's been wonderful having you with me. Having a partner. Not having to go through it alone. I mean, and this may sound weird, but even something as seemingly unimportant as whether to have an artificial testicle….if I was single, maybe I'd have been self-conscious about wanting to look 'normal', but knowing that you are totally OK with me having just the one…it means a lot.'

'Having a testicle removed may not be what anyone wants, but it's now just a part of what makes you, you. I'd rather have 100% real Josh with one testicle, than partially artificial Josh with two.'

'See? That's why I love you so much.'

We kiss and he pulls my head onto his chest.

'It's been quite a day...' he says.

'It sure has. Sleep tight.'

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[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead