Monday, June 26, 2006

Making Men Squirm

There is a topic that men love, but hate to discuss. Although, they seem more open to it recently given the popularity of Viagra, as well as the growing fear of prostate and testicular cancers. Women, it seem, can talk openly about their breasts. (I even saw a recent breast cancer event where all participants receive an "I love boobs" T-shirt.) Men and their genitals, however...forget it.

Thing is, it is an important topic on various levels. And so, I'm daring to delve into a below the belt discussion here that will likely affect Type 1 and, possibly, insulin-dependent Type 2 diabetic men at some point in their sexual lives. Impotence.

When I was a teenager, my parents didn't speak to me about topics involving sex. At least, not very much. I mean, my parents were passionate people, and I never doubted their own sexual relationship. (In fact, we just celebrated their 50th Anniversary this weekend!) Yet, the times the subject has come up, it seemed rather spontaneous and shocking.

I could share each of these, but really I'll focus on one. When my mother was lecturing me on the importance of being able to detect my own blood glucose levels, to sense them, and to check my BGL frequently. Among the list of reasons?

"Listen, you don't want to be trying to have sex with your wife some day and can't have an erection!"

Uh, excuse me Mom, but I'm not even dating anyone, let alone having sex! Besides, the state of my penis was my own business, thank you very much! So, I tried to get past my momentary embarrassment and change the subject (by insisting I am very good at sensing lows).

But, alas, I grew up, got married, and ultimately have to live with the reality that sexual disfunction can and does accompany lows. I'll admit, I've kind of lucked out in this area, and had very few instances where my diabetes has interfered with my sex life. Yet, there have been times. Usually, if I can tell my BGL is hovering at that border of being low, I'll grab a snack, and prolong things until I'm feeling ready. But there have been times where I wasn't quite to the point of being "symptomatic" with my lows, yet when the time came for the little guy to, uh, grow up...well, it just wouldn't happen! None of these times were really a big deal. My wife is understanding.

Yet, I recently learned something interesting. Failure to have an erection isn't the only consequence of a low. In fact, there can be "after effects" of a low.

A few weeks ago, I had experienced an on-going low. You know the kind? Where you start out low, eat something, but it isn't enough, and pretty soon you've been borderline low for an hour or two. This doesn't happen often with me, since I usually overtreat a low. But it happens. And so, in this case, I had been low for a couple hours.

During this time, I tend to experience a tingling numbness in my extremeties. (No, not that extremity!) Usually my lips, my ears, and my fingertips. This can be misleading because even after my BGL has come up, the tingling persists, leaving me thinking I'm still low.

So, anyhow, there I was with all this numbness and tingling. I tested, and found out I was safely at the 120 mark. My wife and I decided to have some fun. I had no problem achieving an erection, so I didn't think anything of it. But here is where the prolonged low still had its effects...because I found that it took an abnormally long time to reach the point of orgasm. A really long time! Not that I was complaining. Ah, yes, the things we diabetic men must suffer...

Anyhow, the point is, I learned that being in a low state isn't the only problem. Having been low can also affect your performance. Which only goes to prove my mother right.

Which leads me to one more taboo subject related to lows and men. Size matters. And I'm not saying this because of the umpteenth advertisement I've received in my e-mail insisting I'm not big enough to satisfy my wife. No, I'm talking about how incredibly tiny the penis can become when you go low. I mean, really tiny. Puny, even. It is a humbling experience. Yet, it is, in fact, another sign.

I've preached about the importance of detecting lows here before, and even brought up some of the more peculiar things I look for. Well, this is one of them. Because when I'm small...really really is a sign. It means I need to test my BGL. Men should use this sign as yet another means for detecting the state of their BGL.

So there you have it! That wasn't too painful, was it? It could have been could have been a discussion on the importance of the Digital Rectal Exam!


George said...

Thank you so much for posting about this topic. My *ahem* problems seemed to have cleared up since I started using the pump and been in much better control.

FYI - I almost chose to post this as anonymous. Why is it so embarrassing for men to talk about their package? So strange! LOL

RyanBruner said...

Well, George...the topic is one I haven't seen discussed much (or, really, at all) except when coming from the medical professional's end of things.

In the years I've been involved in on-line diabetic discussions, I'm not sure it has been discussed even once. So, I figured it was time. Glad you got something from it!

Penny said...

ryan, i am just catching up on my blog reading after my surgery, and this post had me laughing. thank you for sharing this info, maybe one day i'll find a way to tactfully pass this info along to riley. sorry about the all lower case letters. i can only type with one hand