Living Without Libido

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I’ve written many posts on the negative effects of Lupron in my system. It wreaks havok on my emotions, makes me physically weak, causes a lack of focus, and removes filters. It makes me crazy in many ways. There are physical side effects too, the most prominent one being erectile dysfunction. I also have hot flashes, though not as bad as many men have with this drug in their bloodstream. But there is one aspect of it that I have enjoyed. I love being free of libido.

Before I got my first shot, I could not imagine losing interest in sex. I fought the idea tooth and nail. Even after my shot, I wanted to prove that I still could. And I could. I wanted to prove that I was “still a man.” But over time, my attitude changed. I realized that I had a chance to be able to mute that voice that had preoccupied my mind since I was 14 years old. Once I stopped fighting, I experienced freedom.

Some who read this will be able to relate. If you’re undergoing hormone therapy, you know what it does to your libido. But if you are a man who hasn’t experienced this, I’m sure you can’t imagine being able to ignore that drive that consumes all of us from puberty on. Women lose their libido when they go through menopause, unless they take hormones to keep it. But men’s bodies never stop producing sperm. It’s a pressure that never goes away. The urge to have an orgasm is a biological imperative for us.

Women think they know how much this subject is on our minds, but if they really knew, they’d recoil in horror. It’s always there. Let me give you a couple of examples.

If you are an attractive woman, you may believe that you have flirted your way out of a traffic ticket a time or two. I hate to be the one to break it to you, ladies, but in all likelihood, the cop that pulled you over never intended to give you a ticket. He probably pulled you over just so he could check you out. I know for a fact that that happens.

Likewise, if you are waiting to cross the street, and a man driving stops or waits to let you cross, he isn’t being courteous. He just wants to watch you walk in front of him. Sorry if I’m giving away secrets, guys.

I won’t even talk about sunglasses. I’m sure you already know about that. We may not look like we’re looking at you, but we are.

Don’t get me wrong, I still look. As far as I’m concerned, a beautiful woman is proof that God exists. But I don’t have to look now. And when I do, I’m not thinking anything. Just appreciating. And I don’t have to make myself not look, which all discreet men learn to do. I can choose not to look, and I don’t feel like I’m missing something important. If a hot woman goes by and we miss it, we hate that. Now it’s OK. I’ve seen lots of attractive women, and I’ll see lots more. It’s no biggie if I miss one. I know this sounds ridiculous to you ladies, but that’s a huge relief.

Almost all prostate cancer treatments result in sexual side effects. Surgery, radiation, and hormone therapy all result in ED in many, if not most cases. I don’t know about chemo, but I doubt that chemo makes you feel all that sexy. The difficulty for men with ED after surgery is, they still have the urge for sex, but often can’t perform. For me this would be much worse than what I’m experiencing. Wanting to, but not being able to would be terrible for any man. I’d much rather not want to.

I suspect that this is a major reason that so many men want to keep their prostate cancer private. The last thing most men would want is for the world to know that they have trouble getting an erection. It’s all bound up in our manhood.

I’ve talked about this with guys I know, and none of them can imagine being free of libido. When I tell them it’s liberating, they look at me like I have two heads. But a few friends of mine can see the appeal. It’s like telling anyone with some kind of monkey on their back, whether it be a drug habit, gambling problem, or some other compulsion that their desire for the monkey could be erased.

I talked with a friend about it today, and while he could not imagine what I was describing, he remarked that if he could turn that switch to the off position, he could get so much more done. I can testify that that is true. It’s amazing what you can devote your attention to when you can muzzle the little red devil on your shoulder.

I have to admit that the spiritual growth I’ve experienced during my treatment is related to this. Preoccupation with sex does not contribute to spirituality. I can hear God’s voice much more easily when I can mute that other voice.

I have heard other men on Lupron say that they feel like less of a man. I don’t. I feel like a man who is free to think about other things.

This doesn’t mean that I want to stay on Lupron forever. God, no! As far as I’m concerned, suppressing libido is the only positive effect of Lupron, other than the minor detail of it keeping my cancer from growing. Because of the aggressiveness of my cancer, my doctor thinks it will only work for me for anywhere from 18 months to 2 years. I wonder how long it will take after that for my libido to return. It’s OK with me if it never does.

But until then, in spite of all that’s bad about this drug that we all hate so much, I do enjoy this one part of it. I love living without libido. #waroncancer

OK Either Way

I’ve been spending much of this week trying to get my Medicaid coverage reinstated. As of now, it’s still supposed to terminate at the end of this month. Here’s what seems to have happened.

In Colorado, USA, we have an online state health care exchange. Many insurance companies sell policies on the exchange, and if you don’t qualify for Medicaid, you choose from one of those plans. Hopefully, based on your income, you get some kind of subsidy. For 2014 and 2015, we had private health insurance with a high deductible. We got a subsidy to help with our premiums. But this year, since I make so little, and with my business expenses, my business actually runs at a loss, we qualified for Medicaid. Until recently.

It’s not that I’ve made any more than I estimated at the end of last year. My income has been exactly what I expected. The problem seems to be that the government can’t seem to wrap their heads around the fact that I’m self employed, even though I’ve been filing my taxes that way since 1988. I don’t get a steady paycheck. I have clients who pay on time sometimes, but not all of the time.

My two remaining clients that pay me my monthly income are radio stations. I write and produce song parodies for radio. Topical stuff, mostly. I do a parody each week for them, and get paid by the month. By the way, I’m looking forward to my parody for next week, which I’ll finish over this weekend. I’m doing “S.U.C.K In The TSA” to “R.O.C.K In The USA” by John Mellencamp. That’ll be a good one. Don’t ask me to post it. I can’t.

The problem with radio stations is that invoices frequently get lost, or skipped, or paid late. So some months I get less, others more. It all depends on when they decide to pay. And every December, no one is in the office for the last two weeks of the year. So nothing gets paid in January. They catch up in February. I’ve dealt with that for my entire career. You just have to plan for it.

That’s what happened this year. Nothing in January, but I got paid double in February. Actually, it was more than that, because one station also paid an old invoice from last November that had gotten lost. So my deposit in February was more than twice what it should have been. That apparently raised a red flag, and they decided I was making too much money.

When I went to the local Medicaid office to ask about it, I was told that Medicaid averages your income out for the year, but the Department Of Labor goes month to month. They sent the notification to Medicaid that I was too rich. I guess it’s too much to expect that all of the agencies that are affected by this would use the same rules.

So I ended up back on the phone with Connect For Health Colorado this afternoon. That’s the name of our state health care exchange. A very nice guy stayed on the phone with me and took down all of our financial information. He thinks we should be able to stay on Medicaid, but he couldn’t get it to go through because of some computer hangup. I almost told him to get a Mac, but I was nice. He had to create a ticket, which they will hopefully follow through on before my coverage runs out.

Even though I’m working as hard as I can to keep our coverage, I’m at peace with whatever happens, as I keep saying. I’d like to see my oncologist on July 7th like I’m scheduled to, but if not, that’s OK. It’s just a consultation. I’m supposed to get my PSA tested beforehand, and then meet with the doctor to discuss where we are. No treatment is planned for this visit. My next Lupron shot isn’t scheduled until September. So I have some time.

As I said in a previous post, the one thing I’ll really miss if I lose coverage is seeing my therapist. She takes Medicaid, which many good practitioners don’t because Medicaid doesn’t reimburse well, or in a timely manner, and it’s a constant headache to deal with. I can relate to that! But she is one of the ones who does take it, and she’s been really great. Therapy has done me a lot of good, and I’ve only had five sessions. But I can live without that if I have to.

If I lose Medicaid, and am forced onto a private health insurance plan for the rest of the year, I will probably abandon conventional treatment, at least for now. I can’t pay out of pocket for treatment until I hit my deductible. That’s just not possible. And I don’t feel like I can ask for more help than has already been offered.

If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you know where I’m at with conventional treatment anyway. I’m fine with staying on Lupron for as long as it keeps working, as long as it’s covered, and as long as I can keep taking 5-HTP to counteract the emotional volatility. But I am not paying out of pocket for a drug that has so many negative effects on my body. I’d rather just trust God for my healing than do that. I’d rather try naturopathic treatment than do that too, and I plan to do just that. I have help to pay for that, for which I am very grateful.

Here’s the thing about trusting God, at least to me, in this instance. I know that many don’t like the fact that I frame it that way. I don’t mean to imply that if you seek standard treatment, you don’t trust God. But I feel like I can trust God for this. I have so many people praying and believing for my healing, I’d like to at least see if I’m healed. If I lose coverage, my plan is to simply get my PSA checked every month. If, by the end of the year, it still hasn’t risen, I’ll use whatever coverage I have next year to get a second biopsy. My last PSA was 1.42, down from 15.8 before I got my first shot.

In case you haven’t been following along or don’t know, PSA is a protein produced by the prostate gland. They measure how much PSA is in your bloodstream with the PSA test. Any number above 4.00 is considered abnormal. As long as my PSA number stays the same or goes down, I’m in good shape. Once it starts going up again, I’m in trouble.

Lupron has been holding my PSA down. After my first shot, my number went down to 4.00. Just before my second shot, it was 1.42. Since Lupron is keeping my number low, I have no idea whether God has healed me or not. And make no mistake, I believe that he can heal me if he chooses to. But it’s his choice, and I’m fine with whatever he has decided. But I’d like to find out. I don’t really want any more Lupron shots if I’m healed, whether they’re covered or not.

If Medicaid stays in place, I intend to ask my oncologist if he thinks it would be too big a risk to delay my next shot and just keep testing until my PSA starts rising again. If it does, I’ll get the next shot. If not, I’ll get that biopsy and see if I still have cancer. If I lose Medicaid, I’ll get my PSA tested on my own. If my PSA shoots up and I have no insurance, or a high deductible, I’ll seek naturopathic treatment.

I’ve already gone through losing disability. If you haven’t read about that, check out my most depressing post ever, and my most viewed post, (go figure) Full Disclosure. Losing disability was a much more crushing blow than this would be. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that my first choice would be to abandon traditional medicine and trust God for everything, including my life. Losing Medicaid, for me, would be a green light to do just that. I’ll take it as a sign.

So as I keep saying, I’m OK either way. I’m OK with insurance or without it. I’m OK whether God heals me or takes me home. I don’t want to fight. Except with the government. I still feel that nobody should have to bankrupt themselves to stay alive, especially when so many are using up their retirement savings to pay for treatment, which should be there for them to live on, or at least support their families in the event of their death. It’s not right. Someone needs to tell me what’s Christlike about the system that we have in this country. So even though it’s not that big a deal to me if I lose Medicaid, because I’m not interested in most of the treatments that insurance covers, I will still fight for what I believe I’m entitled to.

One really cool thing happened today, though, that I want to tell you about. Long time readers know that I struggled with weight loss from my cancer, or Lupron, or both. My weight, which should be right at 130, dropped down to 120 for a while. I saw a nutritionist to learn how to gain weight, which has always been very difficult for me. The nutritionist that I saw, a young woman named Lisa, gave me some recommendations.

During our conversation, the subject of my homemade dark chocolate ice cream came up. That tends to happen, in case you hadn’t noticed. She thought it sounded really good, which it is. So I decided then and there that if her program worked for me, I would take her some ice cream. As you know if you’ve been paying attention, I’ve gained 11 pounds since then. I’ve been holding at 131 for about three weeks.

So I tried to make an ice cream run a couple of weeks ago, but she was on vacation. Today was her first day back, so I went over to her office with a cooler of chocolate heaven this afternoon. I was glad that she remembered me. She was glad that I had gained so much weight in so little time. And she was very glad to get the ice cream. She even asked about my dog’s knee surgery! What a nice person. I was really happy to finally be able to do that. It was the highlight of my day.

My nutritionist’s services were paid for by Medicaid, of course. If I had had to pay for that out of pocket, I probably wouldn’t have done it, and I’d still be struggling to stay above 120. Now, since it seems like I have a handle on things, it’s OK if I don’t need Lisa again.

Likewise, since I know what I’d like to do next with regard to treatment, it’s OK if I don’t have coverage for that. If it means I get one or two less Lupron shots and have to accelerate my plan to go naturopathic, that’s fine with me. For all I know, I might be cancer free right now, and don’t even know it.

I’ve never understood, let alone practiced this passage of scripture before, but it really rings true to me now.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)

So whether I keep coverage or lose it, and whether I live or die, I’m at peace. I’m OK either way. #waroncancer