Whoever first used the analogy “life is like a roller coaster ride” was on target. Just when things seem to be going along smoothly, a steep drop or wide turn can throw you off balance and it sometimes hurts, really bad. Unfortunately, life doesn’t have those rails to bring you back to normalcy. You have to fight your way back.
In the fall of 2008, I was staying in good shape, running 4-5 times per week and mountain biking occasionally. At a holiday party in my backyard, I injured my right knee when my overzealous brother-in-law knocked me to the ground playing basketball. Several doctor appointments later, I was preparing to have cartilage repaired in my right knee. I had to deal with another setback to my running exploits. But this one really hurt because I couldn’t run to relieve stress. To add to this situation, I had to sit on the sidelines and watch the Manchester Road Race because I was still healing from the surgery. I had only missed the race twice since 1978, both times because of illness.
Again, with my down time, I was able to spent more time writing and supporting the UCONN men’s and women’s basketball teams, just getting into the regular season schedules, in between my physical therapy sessions. I did learn one thing around the holidays though. Drinking beer had a negative effect on my ability to control my bladder. More than once, I found myself in the bathroom drying my underwear and pants when sometimes out of nowhere I would feel a leak. I didn’t want to back pedal and start wearing pads again. So I had to make sure when I felt the urge to pee, I didn’t hesitate. I also would wait to make sure my payload was entirely spilled because premature zip-up was a sure way to end up having to use paper towels or hair dryer. I starting doing my Kegel exercises again too.
Thirty years ago, in 1988, the worst year of my life, my wife and I had to deal with the loss of our first son, who was born three months premature and didn’t survive because his lungs weren’t developed enough. Talk about your downturns, we hit rock bottom during this time and we almost didn’t make it. These situations put an incredible amount of stress in your life and many couples end up getting divorced. I guess you could say that this tragedy perhaps helped me in some small way to deal with the uncertainty of my cancer diagnosis. To be honest, I couldn’t help saying to myself, why us again? Hadn’t we been through enough? But that’s not the way life works. Not that I want to wish these things on anyone, but some people seem to skate through life without these types of problems and I just don’t think it’s fair.
While I’m clearing my chest of issues, one year earlier my wife’s doctor found a suspicious growth during some routine testing and we didn’t know that it was benign until she had surgery to remove it one week after my cancer surgery. Believe it or not, our insurance company thought we might be trying to scam them, with the two surgeries less than a week apart. We received several calls from the insurance company about this issue. I was mad about the calls too. As you can see from this article, we literally had to fight our way back. We were fortunate to have a very good insurance policy, which covered almost all of our expenses. It also helped tremendously when in 1989, our second son was born perfectly healthy. But we were very nervous throughout the process. Can you blame us?
By the time spring arrived in 2010, I had pretty much figured out how to use Viagra effectively. Sometimes I didn’t need to use it at all, while other times I used a pill or two for insurance. I did notice that after using it, I tended to have a little heartburn and dry mouth. However, these symptoms did not worry me at all. Most of the time, I would sleep it off since it was usually late at night when I took the medication. I strongly believe that two important factors were pivotal to my sexual function recovery. One, I had finally gotten that old confidence back. I felt I could get aroused with not much effort. This really reduced my performance stress levels. Two, we had learned to be patient about my progress, which also relieved our stress and frustration levels. To conclude, I’d like to quote one of my old baseball coaches, who used to say, “Practice makes perfect”. That helped a lot too.