This next and last section details the specifics of my own experience with ED. It is not a pleasant story.
My ED started around 7th grade with me worrying about an apparent size difference in my testicles. I did some research on dissimilarly-sized testicles only to be reassured it was quite common for one to be bigger than the other. It took a while before I realized that what I had going on was different. One day, with a shaking voice, I revealed to my parents, (not without ample embarrassment) that I thought there might be something wrong with me down there. I remember them asking me to show them, and how at the age of 12, it wasn’t easy. But I lowered my pants and their reaction was enough to at least reassure me that the worry I had was not unwarranted. They knew immediately that what I showed them was abnormal. That actually lessened my embarrassment since I was able to see my exposure as something truly serious rather than having just shown my privates to both mother and father only to be told, “you’re fine.”
We went to a doctor. I was diagnosed as having a hydrocele…...a kind of water-filled cyst surrounding my right testicle, but mine by this time was big. An operation was scheduled. To this day I don’t know whether there was some sort of botched job, an unfortunate reaction on my part, bad luck, or just the inevitable result of cutting in that area, but I remember having complications that sent the surgeon rushing to deal with me in the recovery room. After that I had a long recovery. And after THAT I realized that things were just very different down there. Not only did I have a lot of testicular scar tissue, but a propensity for my penis to always go to one side….the side opposite the incision. I was young so erections still occurred pretty easily, but they never felt the same as they once did. Imagine pulling on a sock with just one hand. Research on my part has been inconclusive in solving this mystery, but the fact is that something was missing from the side with the incision scar that helped keep my erection centered, stable, and somehow helped with staying erect. A particular tightening sensation, like voluntarily contracting a muscle, that used to 'pull' on my erection was just gone on my right side forever.
Through practice and by virtue of needing a 'replacement skill', I had become quite accomplished at cunnilingus. But, despite this expertise, many females just sometimes flat-out desired something hard and pole-like inside them. And I simply could not deliver. It was a hard lesson, but I did learn from it.
Sometimes, I would get lucky though. I could get erections, just not maintain them for long. But if I managed to get myself inside someone quickly, I could often do well. This was the case with my first wife. We managed a bit of intercourse when dating but our wedding night was asexual….mutually written off to being ‘too tired’ and …..’.there was no rush’. We had had sex previously and we had our whole lives ahead of us. But when our honeymoon ended up devoid of intercourse, she became upset. She embarrassed me and even scolded me, flipping the limp penis she had unsuccessfully tried to coax into rigidity aside dismissively, saying “what good is this to me?” That was in 1985 and I have never forgotten it ………..and it didn’t help. I should have known then what type of person I was married to, but I was too much in love. And the odd part was she was a woman who admittedly did not prefer intercourse nor felt capable of having an orgasm that way. She had plenty of orgasms. I made sure of that. They just didn’t happen with my penis inside her. Yet this was her honeymoon and I had yet to “consummate” the marriage and that seemed important to her in some legal/technical way. (She was a lawyer)
Eventually, in those pre-viagra days, we experimented and found the regimen that I mentioned earlier worked at least often enough to remain optimistic. If I either woke with an erection, or conjured one up and I could get it inside her quickly, I could not only maintain it, but it would get pretty stiff. The trouble was my ex was not willing to employ any birth control method beyond condoms, so this meant that to reach conclusion I would have to eventually pull out, don a condom, and get back in quickly before the erection faltered. This was like some cruel, stressful game for me, and one I often lost. Even if I executed the operation with the skill and speed of a pit crew and made it back “in” in time, with a condom on I just felt nothing and could rarely stay hard for long. Sometimes. But rarely. It was horrible.
Then came my next operation down there. More cuts, more scarring, and less blood flow.
But interestingly, after a few years, when we decided to have kids, and I didn’t have to worry about the deft switch to a condom, everything worked pretty well. I was no stud, and things still needed to be just right…..but with just a tiny bit of luck, I functioned. These were the only times in our marriage where we had frequent intercourse and each time I grew more confident so that each subsequent time became more reliable and enjoyable. We had two kids. And between them and after the last, I asked her to please consider another form of birth control. She looked into a few and then demurred to the method that made intercourse return to being a nightmare: condoms.
Things went back to their pre-child state, and then to add insult to injury, I needed yet another hernia repair. The second operation now contributed to things being a little more challenging still. After that I developed hypertension. It seemed all circumstances were conspiring against me, including, I'm sure, a growing psychological component. We experimented with cock-rings. Again....sometimes they helped, sometimes they didn't. (sometimes even now they can help a bit, though not to the degree necessary for intercourse.)
This was my life, until…………………... Viagra! One would think this would be the long-awaited solution to all of my problems …..and in some ways it was. I went to a doctor, got a prescription and tried it. I was still pretty young compared with now and it worked! In fact I don’t recall ever having such a rigid erection…….and one that wouldn’t relent. But at what a price! Not the monetary cost, but in terms of side-effects. Blue-vision is a common one and frankly…..if after being impotent for years you can now be a poster child for erections, except you’ll see blue tint everywhere? Who the fuck cares?! Hell, I could see in psychedelic LSD-like rainbows and I wouldn’t object, but the headache? While listed as a side-effect, for me this was no ordinary headache, but a devastating, migraine-like killer that hurt like a spike through the skull while robbing you of any ability to think. And it would last for hours, both during sex and after! And yet? Faced with the opportunity to offer intercourse to a deprived loved one? I did it willingly and just suffered the consequences.
One of the many injustices of my divorce was my feeling of how little all my trying in so many areas meant in the end. And this was certainly one. But eventually I saw the necessity to end one chapter of my life and start another. And the best part of that decision was eventually meeting someone with whom I managed to have both regular and even anal intercourse (courtesy of the brain-skewering Viagra). This relationship made me wonder how much of my issue with my ex was more psychological than I thought. It was not that I no longer had ED, I most certainly did, but with my ex, even Viagra didn't always 'work'......but it sure worked with this person.....along with a list of other things. And even if my ED wasn't cured, my confidence certainly was restored since she would praise my oral skills as uniquely talented and even exceptional. Unfortunately this relationship was never going to be a permanent thing and eventually we moved on amicably.
After a few more short relationships, I met Rosa......for whom kink was ‘natural’ and intercourse an annoyance to be avoided. She was actually relieved that I would not be the kind of boyfriend or husband to insist upon it. After marrying Rosa intercourse was reserved for special times when she was in a particular mood and achieved only with medicinal aid which by then was already becoming hit-or-miss. An erection with staying power again became difficult and unreliable, but my side-effects remained extreme and could always be relied upon. I was getting older and I think everything was taking a toll. Eventually Rosa asked me how bad the headaches were and I told her. She said she rather we use other means of having fun, feeling that such extreme pain was hardly worth it. And then? Another hernia operation.
At the time of this one my surgeon said frankly, “I hope you have all the kids you want, because you’ve been cut so many times down there that even if I go in from your abdomen this time, you are probably going to have a lot of difficulty sexually.” He was not wrong. I am practically useless as far as erections go now. I can get plump with enough stimulation, but never truly rigid…..even with the excruciating side-effects of Viagra or Cialis. If I took one now I would get the blue vision and almost migraine-like headache…...and STILL not achieve a working erection.
Now at this point in my life a lot of this is moot, but when you look at my life, there is an unmistakable pattern of me employing compensatory behaviors to offset my limitation. I have always been interested in a lot of things, but when I look at how many of the things I routinely do that also benefit a spouse, I wonder how much of who I think I am is really me, or a ‘me’ looking to compensate for a significant shortcoming? Have I accumulated skills with genuine personal interest, or have I obsessively added them to tip the scales back in my favor and away from this mocking inadequacy? How many perks to a spouse are enough to make up for being impotent? How many pedicures? How much obedience? When is it all enough to fill the gaping hole? And when it comes to my interests and abilities, another issue steps forward. How many of the things I am capable of would I happily trade away to just be capable of something so many other men never give a single thought? Quite a few.
Looking at it all, I wonder if I have ultimately learned to deal with ED, or has ED managed to influence every aspect of my life in some way from early on, and create the me people see? Did I 'make it through' and defeat the demon through determination and effort, or is the one ugly, embarrassing thing I hate most about myself more responsible for me being who I am than any other inspirational influence? At my best, am I merely the product of a gross deficiency? Not the "monster" created by the "mad professor", but maybe the "mad professor" created BY THE MONSTER. And is THAT the real reason why I never wanted to talk about it?