Nothing is more devastating, destructive, or shattering for a man than losing his sexuality. In chapter 3, I wrote about the surgeries that Dr. Robert Pugach performed and their role in making me impotent; however, Dr. Robert Kawatchi of the City of Hope was able to miraculously resolve that issue by prescribing me a very costly compound pharmacy solution called Tri-Mix-PGE 1/phetolamine/papaverine injections, made at the University of San Diego. My beautiful Marisela had to inject me if I had the desire, which I rarely did, for my penis to become erect. Sadly, my body became resistant to the medication; we increased the dose from five milligrams to twenty-four milligrams, but the result was not that satisfactory.
This aspect of the divine comedy was quite damaging to my spirit—and damaging also for my beautiful wife, Marisela, who is seventeen years younger. Life’s divine comedy did not stop here—no! Not long ago, I suffered a serious problem with enlargement of my prostate. My urologist, Dr. Hightower, had decided to operate and shave my prostate. The surgery I underwent at Long Beach Hospital left me in pain, bleeding, and with urinary symptoms I had never experienced before. After the surgery, my dear reader, I was completely impotent; my penis would never be erect again. This would not have been much of a problem except that I still had sexual desires, and I had a young wife to whom I needed to attend. What might be more a sign of both deep confusion and divine comedy? To nature, however, I would be the last man standing.
What perturbed me about these circumstances were the expressions of sympathy from my friends and colleagues. They all knew about my old sexual escapades and felt how troubling my impotence must be for me, so they expressed their thoughts of pity, and I abhorred that. After the surgery, however, I lived my sexual life vicariously, experiencing it in my imagination through the actions of other people.
Comical measures and trials may vary, but they are always thriving. One occurrence is certainly unforgettable; that is when I had to go to Long Beach Hospital because I had an unsubsiding erection. How whacky is that? It was a Thursday afternoon when my beautiful wife, Marisela, and I decided to play husband and wife. She injected me with twenty-four milligrams of the Tri-Mix. We made passionate love for a much longer time than usual; we were both very happy. One drawback evolved, though; I suffered, or enjoyed, an unsubsided erection that lasted for hours.
Although I believe in no gods or demons or angels or witches, I think Marisela is an angel who was sent to me from somewhere. I cannot think of anyone who can endure such a life. Indeed, Marisela is what others might call an angel.
My stepchildren came home from school, and I was dreadfully mortified, trying to hide my, at that time, painful erection. There was nothing to make it subside. I called Long Beach Hospital, and the dialogue was very uncomfortable; it sounded like a lewd phone call. I explained to the nurse the condition, and I had to assure her of the veracity and that it had nothing to do with sexual desire. The nurse asked that I go to the hospital without delay. When I arrived at the hospital, in a taxi, hiding my erect penis with papers in my hand, I approached the registration desk and very softly said, “I have an unsubsiding erection.”
The female clerk said in such a loud voice that I thought people throughout the United States heard of my dilemma, “You have an unsubsiding erection?”
I felt that everyone at the emergency room was looking at me, and in embarrassment, I replied, “Yes.”
The triage nurse moved me to a private room and asked me to take off my pants and underwear; they covered me with a white sheet. I looked so peculiar when my legs were straight, as my penis showed like a rod under the sheet.
I waited for a doctor, but while I was waiting, many female nurses and other women who appeared not to be nurses came to the room for one excuse or another. I felt that all the nurses called their relatives from around California to come and see “the man with an unsubsided erection.” It was both disconcerting and gratifying at the same time, but I cannot explain why it was gratifying. Then came a young female doctor; she asked me if she could touch it—holy shit! She rubbed my penis softly with her delicate thumb and index finger up and down. Instantly, I felt a stronger, more solid erection. What a haunting situation! The condition turned into desire even though I was thinking that my naughty past was receding fast before my eyes and the memories of my yesterdays were on their deathbed. But, like a phoenix, I rose from the ashes and became a gentle butterfly.
I wondered if my growth and change were a forgery. Then I realized that, like in paintings, everything, including love, hate, relationships, and even personality changes, could be a forgery. However, I believe that in every forgery, there is some authenticity.
I was still experiencing the effects of that last prostate surgery in terms of urgency, frequency, and the continuous feeling of a urinary-tract infection. It would take about eight weeks to heal. This was not all that nature presented me with. I also had an urgent surgery of a different kind.
Only weeks earlier, Dr. Trivedi discovered through an MRI that my gallbladder was almost destroyed. It was full of stones—practically blocked. He sent me to surgery at once. My surgeon was the great doctor Stevens Grant, the best in America in this specialty. He operated on me; my recovery was very quick, and it was as though nothing had happened, though my life had been in extreme danger. This was another blow from life’s divine comedy; it seemed that it worked so against me, but I did not take it personally. It is for all of us. Nature is about destruction. “Many call this process ‘the destruction of nature.’ But it’s not really destruction; it’s change. Nature cannot be destroyed,” wrote author Noah Harari. So nature is about change, constant change, and we have to be flexible enough to bend. I try.
On a different note, here I am reminded of Joseph B. Wirthlin’s thoughts about taking life for granted; he once told us that the more often we see the things around us—even the beautiful and wonderful things—the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, and the clouds—even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less. The reason I remember this is my inability to walk for more than ten minutes before I either fall or must sit down. It was not long ago that I would stroll along the beach, admiring the Pacific Ocean’s vastness, the birds of all species flying, the dogs passing by and playing on the sand, the children building sand castles, and the kites flying above as though asking us to join them. Those were good days that cannot be relived. It is a lesson, nevertheless, that makes me more aware of my existence and the existence of all that surrounds me.
Whether this is a divine comedy plan or not, I tend to live in the past; perhaps it is because the present is challenging, and the future is oblique. I do realize that the longer I live in the past, the less I enjoy the present, and the further away the future seems. I cannot help it, however.
Another matter of concern is my sense of coordination; I can no longer button my shirts, tie my shoes, or pick up something from the floor. It appears as though each part of my body has a mind of its own and does its own thing regardless of orders from my brain. So my brain is no longer the commander in chief. It is amazing and quite ironic, since the imbecile president is actually now America’s commander in chief.