Friday, January 13, 2012

Of Erections, Side Effects and Orgasms

If you're anything like me, you've embraced drugs as a way to live a better, more contented, life. And I don't mean the illicit use of crystal meth, heroine, cocaine, et al. I'm talking about socially acceptable (socially celebrated, really) prescription drugs like anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, tranquilizers, and anti-epileptics. All of which I'm currently taking. Not to mention drugs for my heart, thyroid and testiclelessness. Not a word? I'm inventing it.

In Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, everyone has an affinity for Soma, a drug that has replaced the need for religion. It makes people hallucinate about the importance of their little lives, reduces anxiety, and generally makes everyone happier and more passive. Huxley's prediction, that pharmaceuticals would become ubiquitous and necessary for peace of mind, is almost eerily accurate, except that we don't have one state-produced drug here in the future. We have thousands of privately produced drugs manufactured for profit, all advertising to find a way into your face and turn you into an Uber-human. Yay!

The problem with all these chemicals partying in your body and putting a smile on your face are the side effects, which are often worse than the desired effect itself. And the side effects of psychiatric medications can be hair-raising (literally, that's probably a side effect). Not all the drugs I take are for my broken mind, some are for other broken things. The side effects are more acceptable when brain chemistry isn't changed for fun and profit. When I take propranolol to keep my chest muscles from squeezing my heart and making me dead, the side effects are minor and kosher. The same is true of levoxythyroxine, my thyroid medication. You wouldn't think that a thyroid drug would be a life-saver, but it is in this household. If I don't take it, I'm always hot, like a post-menopausal woman. So I open windows and turn the heat down. This makes my wife, who is always freezing her ass off, angry. An angry wife (particularly if she is Nancy) is a threat to life and limb. So I make sure I take my thyroid pill every morning. My mama didn't raise no dummies.

Testosterone, another drug I take to get me back to normal, has side effects, sure, but they are minor compared to the unpleasantness of not taking testosterone. Without it, I'm always tired, libido-free, and my penis won't work. Between you, me, and the Inter-tubes, I'm fond of a working pecker, specifically my own.

Epilepsy causes seizures, and nothing ruins your day like picking a candy bar out in the Walgreen's one minute and waking up in an ambulance in a neck brace the next. Whatever the side effects of my anti-seizure medication, it sure beats floppin' and twitchin' at random moments. The last time I had a grand mal seizure, I woke up in the emergency room and spent the rest of the day there. When I had to poop, they gave me a bedpan the size of a shoe box. Have you ever taken a shit in a shoe box while strapped down with a neck brace? No? Well, it's no picnic.

Naturally, most of the drugs I take are for the craziness. They are anti-crazies. Venlafaxine works for anxiety and depression, lorazepam is for panic attacks and insomnia, and lamotrigine is also for racing thoughts, social anxiety disorder, and panic attacks. It's taken a loooong time to find psychiatric medications that work, and don't make me drool and sleep for days at a time. Unfortunately, psychiatric drugs have side effect warnings that will scare the hell out of you. They surely will. In fact, one side effect of psych drugs is that you'll live in fear of the side effects. Then they'll try to sell you something that will help with your newly developed side effect phobia.

There is the haunting doubt. Does this drug really do anything? Am I just weak and pathetic? Is my feeble brain really benefiting from this thing? Am I a rube for taking it? Is Tom Cruise right, is my problem really all about the souls of long dead aliens wrestling for control of my fat little body? The mind boggles.

Clearly, I've already made the decision that crazy meds help me. I'd have to be, well, more crazy than I already am to take them and endure the side effects for no good reason. And my, oh my, can those side effects suck. The side unpleasantness from psychiatric drugs are, at least for me, mostly sexual in nature. They are as follows, in no particular order (you'll notice that the famous side effect of the 4 hour erection isn't here. As far as I know, only boner pills can cause it):

1. Difficulty getting an erection. This bothers me because I like my erection, and the synthetic testosterone should keep me as stiff as a 17 year old towel boy on a woman's beach volleyball team. But sometimes the lunacy reducing medications overtake the testosterone in a battle for supremacy, and my wang loses out. This is an uncommon problem for me, thankfully, but when it happens I want to cry like that guy in the hilarious viral video most of us have seen. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Blondie here can't get his cock to work.
2. Premature Ejaculation. Now this is a frustrating problem. Once the erection decides to work, I think all is well and sex is going to be just wonderful. The pets are off the bed, the cock is stiff, and the planets are aligned...I'm ready. My wife even seems to desire me in that heated moment, despite the fact that I look like a fat Muppet. Then I notice that I'm getting a little too excited. My penis has decided to go on without me, chasing that orgasm. Thinking about baseball, Gilbert Godfried, Chewbacca, famine in Africa, terrorism, economic policy, and/or cold mashed potatoes does nothing to cool me down and allow me to engage in the physical act of love at my own pace. Instead, I make a little wet spot in the bed and have to apologize. It's humiliating, sure, but also very annoying. When it comes to orgasms, women are like an AK-47. They can just keep having them. Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang! With men, in case you didn't notice, our genitals are like a musket. We pour the gunpowder in, then the lead ball, tamp it down with a metal rod, take aim, and fire. Then we take a nap, wake up, and maybe do it again. When it comes to orgasms, women are working on whole 'nother level. Damn ejaculation. Dammit!

It's best to pretend it didn't happen. Quietly have an orgasm, then excuse yourself and get a facecloth, come back, clean up, and go back to foreplay. Since it takes 5-15 minutes for the average man to reload his little musket, the added cunnilingus can make you a star in the bedroom. Still, it would be nice to have some self control, to be the master of my domain.

3. Anorgasmia (inability to achieve orgasm). On the other end of the spectrum is the inability to come at all. This is my most common problem. After about twenty minutes of intercourse, we just want to go smoke and watch an episode of "30 Rock" or "Breaking Bad." Not to mention the chafing, charlie horse, and burning thigh muscles. Intercourse that goes on longer than 20 minutes (actual penetration and thrusting) starts to feel like a workout. If it goes on long enough, I begin to wonder about my limits. Could I do this for an hour? Two? I don't think so. I'm not in great shape. When this happens, my ass and high muscles burn the next day, like I ran a marathon. Good exercise, though, I'm sure.

4. Dry Mouth. One of only two non-sexual side effects that bugs me, and it usually happens at night, whilst I sleep peacefully with Nancy, a dog, and at least one cat relying on me to be a warm pillow. Everything is dry, from the tongue to the teeth to the throat, and water doesn't seem to help. So I gargle with mouthwash, drink water, stumble back to bed and seek forgiveness from those I forced to move.

5. Spontaneous Death. Obviously, this side effect has yet to afflict me, but I think about it a lot. It could be Tardive Dyskenesia, or Neuroleptic Malignancy Syndrome, or a massive heart attack, or anything else you can think of (ask your doctor if you experience spontaneous human combustion). This is especially true of "anti-psychotics" like Zyprexa and Seroquel, which I rarely take, but I do sometimes when the craziness gets stuck on 11. When I was in the nut-house years ago, my roommate developed Neuroleptic Malignancy Syndrome. We were talking one day, he was vomiting like the little girl from, "The Exorcist" the next, and simply gone after that. I asked what happened to him, and they told me. When I asked if he was OK, my doctor looked nervous and said, "Oh, I'm sure he'll be fine."

I'm sure he was fine, too...fine and dead. Or perhaps a cucumber with lips.

Do any of these side effects afflict you, dear reader? Do you take different medications than I do, and suffer from more exotic and heinous side effects? If so, send me an email. Personal experiences only please. Some drugs, like the smoke-cessation drug Chantix (recently mocked on Saturday Night Live), really take it up a notch. A pleasant voice relates the horrific information, and then has the audacity to say, "Ask your doctor if Chantix is right for you!" Nancy and I have already considered the question...we're going to keep smoking.

Talk to me, people. What effects you on the side?

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