We used to hear stories about the high birth rate nine months after a severe snowstorm. I think they called them blizzard babies. In fact, there are a group of blizzard babies from the epic 1978 snowstorm in Boston who boast of having been conceived in February of that year.
We also hear about the emergency room phenomena which occurs during a full moon. Sometimes called full moon madness, there are those who swear that the roughest time in a hospital emergency room is during a full moon.
There is the combination of the blizzard of February 1978 in Boston with the accompanying early November full moon of 1978 that gave journalists a field day once they heard the staff say they would be knee deep in babies. New Bostonians were flooding the nurseries.
That kind of madness is less heard about today, but a new wave of hospital and clinic concerns now arrive in March when there is a 40 percent rise in vasectomies the Friday before March Madness. In 2014, Cleveland, Ohio, reported a 50 percent increase. It is no coincidence that this 20-minute procedure requiring some rest afterward has expanded to couch coaches with frozen peas and a can of beer recovering for a full weekend.
The first round of the NCAA tournament produces a 30 percent rise over a regular week, and with about 500,000 vasectomies a year, this requires planning on the part of clinics.
When we were driving through Iowa recently, there was a full-sized billboard advertising vasectomy. Only $600. Across the top, it boldly stated, “She did her part. Now it’s your turn to do yours.”
Yes, I was shocked, too. I don’t know why, but I just wondered if there is anything that is sacred anymore. Is there anything that we don’t see on billboards? Where is the dignity or privacy or none-of-anyone’s-business factor?
But there it was, reminding us that about 10 years ago, there was a radio ad in Oregon for the Oregon Urology Institute. “Sit back and watch non-stop basketball guilt-free,” it said. It promoted the benefits of scheduling your procedure in March and having three or four days of viewing.
The clinic reserved a dozen extra slots for the first week of March Madness and another dozen for the second week of competition. They offered a recovery kit, which included sports magazines, free pizza delivery and a frozen bag of peas, of course.
What started in good humor and as an advertising gimmick spread around the country. From Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the Michigan Medicine Department of Urology, they are offering extended clinic hours and posting available appointment times.
Some say it is basketball season; doctors say it is vasectomy season. Even businesses are tapping into the madness. A restaurant in South Carolina offered a post procedure seat on ice called the jewel stool. I can hardly type this without grimacing.
One group of friends all got their vasectomies together during NCAA in California and even received a group discount. In Kansas City, Minneapolis and all around the country, they have their own versions of ads, offers and humor.
When you can get a doctor’s permission to watch basketball, who wouldn’t take advantage of the timing? I like to think that in Wisconsin, we are a little more tasteful. Some brochures in the area suggest that while nothing can prevent the pain of watching your team lose, our anesthetic can prevent the discomfort of swelling and the basketball shaped cooling pack is yours to take home. Others offer ice bags with team logos and most have extended hours to accommodate the demand.
Just to be clear, Boulder Medical Center included Masters weekend and the World Series in their increased scheduling for these procedures. The bracket for vasectomy crosses over to other sports, but remains in one location: the easy chair.