This week, Dan tells us of his exploits dealing with one of the most infrequently-talked-about subjects of chronic illness -- sex. We all have it, and we all have issues with it (and those of us who are ill especially so). Never afraid to speak on any subject, Dan gives us a smile and a nod while he gets his point across, confirming that you are not alone when dealing with your own bedroom issues.
Sex. It’s a topic that many people are squeamish about, and some get downright embarrassed whenever the word is mentioned. For those healthy individuals among you, talking with your partner about sex is important, of that there is no doubt. When you are chronically ill, though, sex can get put at the bottom of the list when there are so many other concerns that seem more important.
Of course, as anyone who is in a relationship knows, sex is not something you can ignore for too long. If you do, eventually you won’t have to worry about sex at all because you’ll only be having it with yourself. So, it’s a subject that even the most reticent of us has to breach occasionally. There is no right way or wrong way to approach the topic, and all of us, from the most experienced to the non-experienced, have our own way of easing into this particular conversation.
Unfortunately, those of us who are chronically ill have a few more issues to deal with when it comes to the bedroom. As I’ve said in the past, it’s important to find someone who can help you deal with those issues, and is understanding when it comes to the inevitable problems that you will have. Recently, though, I happened upon an interesting issue in this arena that may surprise you.
As some of you who read my column may know, I not only take medicine for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but since my unfortunate heart attack, I have more drugs running through my system than an elderly thoroughbred. Drugs to lower my cholesterol, drugs to steady my heartbeat, drugs to limit my adrenaline, drugs to thin my blood – I even take a drug that lets me take more drugs. So, with all of these chemicals running through my system, it’s no surprise that my family jewels aren’t shining so bright these days. Even during the rare times when I am able to rock the casbah, it never quite ends up how I hope.
As some of you who read my column may know, I not only take medicine for Rheumatoid Arthritis, but since my unfortunate heart attack, I have more drugs running through my system than an elderly thoroughbred.
It was not easy to live with this manhood-destroying ineptitude hanging over my head, or rather below it. No matter how progressively liberal a man is, this type of deficiency will always take a serious toll on his self-image. Men are supposed to be virile lumberjacks, cutting their way through a veritable forest of women on a quest to find the woman who will father the next generation. Or, at least, that’s what the media has beamed into our psyche for many years. I’m ashamed to say it took hold in my case. I already had a weakened sense of gender due to the fact that my physical strength was less than impressive. By that point I was getting winded stepping on ants, so adding ED to the mix didn’t do my ego any favors.
So, like I often do, I turned to the wonderful world of medical science to help me with my problem. Thanks to Bob Dole, the entire world knows that Pfizer makes a pill that can help anyone plant their flag (I’m running out of euphemisms for sex so bear with me). So, I asked my doctor to provide me with a prescription for that little blue pill. He obliged, and for once, I was actually excited about filling a script. The last time that had happened, I was trying out the pain medication lollipops – who doesn’t have fun licking a lollipop?
When I got home, I decided to take one of my new pills. You can ask me why I did it, and I could give you a number of quasi-legitimate reasons. Ultimately, though, let’s just say “I thought it was a good idea at the time.” So, I swallowed the blue, diamond-shaped, magic bean, and waited to see what would happen.
Like most of you, I had heard a mix of rumors and myths regarding the pill in question. The most common involved “a friend of a friend” who ended up in the emergency room with an extremely sensitive part of his body remaining rigid for hours on end. I, like most of you, assume that if a doctor writes me a prescription it must be safe for me to take, so I did not bother to read much about Viagra before I administered my first dosage. I simply thought that you pop the pill and 45 minutes later, something else pops. Well, let me dispel that particular myth and tell you that it most assuredly does not work that way.
All the remaining parts, joints and limbs included, were left aching after being consistently overused. Anyone who tells you sex doesn’t hurt isn’t doing it correctly.
Now that I have had time to do some research and have read up on the experiences that others have had with the blue pill, I know that all the medication really does is make it much easier for the body to pump blood to the area in question. The taker of the medication is still required to provide the proper stimulation to begin this blood flow. I was blissfully unaware of this when I decided to give the big V a test run, and it resulted in a rather embarrassing situation involving a German Shepard and a very, very, surprised elderly neighbor. Although that’s a story for another website entirely.
So, the Viagra worked. It made me feel like I was seventeen again when I was ready to go at a moment’s notice. I never needed to worry about psyching myself up for the big game, I was always warmed up. Here’s an interesting thing I discovered, though. While the Viagra may take care of the equipment needed for the actual event, it does absolutely nothing for the rest of the body. All the remaining parts, joints and limbs included, were left aching after being consistently overused. Anyone who tells you sex doesn’t hurt isn’t doing it correctly.
So now, here I am, a year later, and I have decided to switch to Cialis. Why? Well, the Viagra worked great, but trying to take a pill an hour before you plan to have sex is a little like putting on a raincoat to go out without watching the forecast. You prepare for rain, but you are never really sure if it will actually happen, and half the time you end up just going to the movies. With the Cialis, which is a daily pill, you can be ready any time the raindrops start to fall.
I can only take a pill once every four days. So, unless I want to pencil sex in every alternate Tuesday, I’m pretty much out of luck.
Unfortunately, the evil insurance companies that pay for most of the medications we take simply can’t have us happily having sex and enjoying ourselves whenever we feel like it, willy-nilly. That just won’t do. So, in order to prevent this spontaneous expression of joy, most medical insurers don’t cover ED medication, and the ones that do limit the amount pills that a patient can obtain in a certain time frame. My insurer limits me to 15 pills of Cialis every 60 days. Now, for those of you who don’t realize what that limit means let me break it down for you. It means that I can only take a pill once every four days. So, unless I want to pencil sex in every alternate Tuesday, I’m pretty much out of luck. Once again, here I am, back with my raincoat and not a clue if it’s going to pour.
So it’s time to sleigh the dragon. I call insurance yet again. I am becoming an expert in fighting for the medicines that allow me to live my life in as normal fashion as possible, and this battle will be no different. That being said, I do find it quite ridiculous that insurance companies can dictate how many times per month I can have sex. Then again, if I was allowed to have sex whenever I wanted, it might prevent the medical insurers from getting their chance to screw me.