Update* 24 Sept 2014:
Two months after the official end of my two years of ADT3 my PSA remains undetectable but my testosterone remains a disappointing 14. Still easily within the castrate range. This means that any subjective changes I may have reported were all in my head. I will continue to research and report.* To spare other members from having to scroll through a long, and often silly thread, I will put a summary of my latest update here at the top.
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I have received complaints before that after reading one of my long, pointless, rambling posts some people want the time back that they spent reading it. Sadly, current shortages prevent me from refunding anyone's time, since my own often seems in short supply, so read at your own risk.
I'll start with a study I found that doesn't seem to have much to do with anything. Here it is: Late positive potential to explicit sexual images associated with the number of sexual intercourse partners.
Prause N1, Steele VR, Staley C, Sabatinelli D. (Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2014 May 11).
Here is how one of the reporters at Time Magazine saw it:Some People Are Wired to Want More Sex, Brain Study Shows
by Alice Park.
Since my score on the "sexual partners in the past year" question has never exceeded one in my life, and since it has been zero for the past year, you wouldn't think this has much to do with me. But there is one thing the study shows, in passing, that does interest me. It shows that different people have different levels of sexual interest wired into their brains.
These differences can be seen on EEGs and correlate to measurable real world differences. That may partially explain some stuff that has been puzzling me.
When I talk to other guys who are also on Androgen Deprivation Therapy about
their side effects they will frequently say they have no libido, which kind of sucks, and that they aren't having any sex, but that it's OK because they have no libido and don't really miss it. While that is perfectly, if somewhat circularly logical, it is so different from my experience of ADT that my first reaction is to suspect that they are lying... to me, maybe to themselves...to the world. I've asked a couple of them if they were lying and they deny it, saying "No, really. It's not a big deal for me."Not. A. Big. Deal...
How Extraordinary! How Strange.
It's kind of a big deal for me. Maybe parts of my brain would light up on that EEG sometimes when theirs don't. Becasue the lack of "libido" caused by ADT bugs the hell out of me. I feel it as a big hole in my psyche. I drag part of myself around as if I were a siamese twin whose brother has died.
The difference they saw between responses in the study wasn't to the explicitly sexual images -- everybody responded to them -- but to the neutral or mildly pleasant stuff, where the high-responders' brains lit up for those too, just like for the raunchy stuff.
Since I am claiming here to probably be one of their high-responders I will offer a first-hand example of what the mental process is like, at least how it was for me when I was myself. My wife likes to watch design shows on Home and Gardens Television and I frequently will keep her company. She will ask me to critique the various designer's work and when she asks what I think of the new decor in a bedroom I will first make sure the colors aren't too awful and everything looks comfortable, but then I will imagine a man at various places in the room and put an attractive, largely unclad woman at various other places so I can evaluate the sight-lines. If the man in my imaginings generally has a good view I will think, yes, a man could be happy in that room: It's OK. But now when she asks I think "It's a bedroom. There's a bed. It's fine. I don't really care.
And it's not just HGTV, nor is it only things were I can explain why something falls under the general heading of Libido. There are a number of sensory/sensual pleasures that don't work for me any more. A cool breeze while I am walking my dogs at night. The first fireflies of the spring. Sunsets. Vistas. Scents. They are mostly environmental things; I still seem to enjoy eating. Food is the one pleasure that ADT doesn't seem to mute for me. Maybe that's one of the reasons guys on ADT get so fat. They are simply looking for something they still enjoy.
It gets kind of old, having the part of your brain that enjoys stuff on the fritz. I get gloomier and gloomier, despite the antidepressants I take, and crankier and crankier. My wife's interpritation is that between surgey and the hormones I am incapable of sex and am sulking. I suppose that's another valid way to look at it. But not that helpful.
On the bright side, I will be getting my last one-month shot of Firmagon on the 25th of June (just after I return from GFMPH Alaska) and when that wears off I will be done with my ADT, at least for the present. But that wearing-off period can often drag on for months and months -- sometimes years. And sometimes it doesn't happen at all.
I expect the recovery time to have it's own problems. A number of the guys on the forum have found it an anxious time during which they ocillate between highs and lows and they find themselves stressing out their wives trying to rush things that aren't working yet. I want to avoid that as much as possible -- to bring a little "science
" into the monitoring of my, hopefully resurgent, libido -- some way to tell when the dead part of my brain comes back online. So I hit upon a plan.- - - Feel free to reconsider your decision to read this posting. My "plan" is not for everybody. - - -
We have a nice little strip club in the town where I live. I used to be a member back in the day. They have been
open for a quarter of a century now and I went a couple of times when the place was more-or-less new. It occurred to me that sitting at a table and watching pretty, naked girls dance on stage once a month would be a fairly low-pressure way to monitor my libido as it returns. I say low-pressure in that I don't have any role to play there where I can fail. All I need to do is sit quietly, sip my beer, and politely decline any offers from the girls of individual dances. No stress. No anxiety. It is what it is.
Oh, and I have to bring my own beer or wine and pay a small corkage charge. The club gave up their liquor license to qualify for more "liberal" rules on nudity. But you can bring beer and wine and they have a Keurig machine so they have coffee.
I made my first visit this past Wednesday. My ADT is still in full force so the first few data-points will be taken to establish a baseline. [ For those engineers among you, no I do not
plan to quantize the data. It will remain purely subjective. No numbers. The results of my surgery make the obvious instrumentation unlikely to produce any results, and the instruments that would
work strike me as being too much like a polygraph machine and I would worry about
the wife wanting to monitor the resulting data. ]
I wasn't at all sure what sort of reaction I would have, actually. The ADT seems to have made me moody and my reaction to sexual topics is quite frequently bizarre. Pop songs on the radio seem to all be about
sex and they make me feel old and dead. I have read a few stories lately about
"sex workers." There was one story about
a coed at Duke who financed her studies by flying out to LA twice a year for a few weeks to appear in triple-X videos. When I read the parts about
other students on campus being unkind to her it made me franticly unhappy and anxious. Some of the professional dancers on "Dancing With the Stars" are quite attractive and watching some of them dance makes me sad -- sort of the platonic ideal of what I will probably never have again. So, my reactions to stuff are hard to predict, and I walked into the club with some trepidation about
what would go on in my head during these "baseline" sessions.
What I didn't expect was that the experience would make me -- happy.
That was the last thing I expected. It turns out there is a level of visual stimulus that burrows all the way through the GnRH Antagonists and the antiandrogens and the pursuant depressions and gets that missing part of my brain to come back online just a little bit. Mind you, it takes a lot
of visual stimulus. Those were some limber and hard-working young ladies on that stage. But I could sit there and watch them dance and feel... normal
. All the parts of my mighty brain were firing. I was interested
in watching the girls.
Now, I wasn't totally normal, mind you. There was a television in the corner where they had some sort of grim science-fiction TV show running. I think it was "Falling Skies" whatever that is. I watched a few minutes of it. Had to remind myself I was being rude to the young lady who was working so hard to be kind to me. That lapse of attention wouldn't have happend if I was normal. I don't expect it to happen near the end of my monitoring.
I found my trip to the strip club surprisingly therapeutic. It has been almost three days and my mental attitude is still noticably better than it was. It may be that it also helps that I am approaching the end of my two year sentence in the ADT slammer. I had rather forgotten what it feels like to look at a pretty girl and feel more alive, or at a sunset, or at large waves at the beach. I got a small reminder on Wednesday evening. Suddenly, a few more months doesn't seem quite so much like forever. I am really looking forward to being me again.
One word of caution: so far this seems to be working out OK for me but you shouldn't consider it a suggestion. It is simply too fraught. But it would make an interesting study, don't you think? Take a bunch of guys who are on long-term androgen deprivation down to the local "gentlemen's club" and see if it makes them more or less depressed. Then have Prause N, Steele VR, Staley C, Sabatinelli D. do the brain scan thing and see if the less-miserable ones were the high-responders.