Captain Max’s Big C Battle
You think you’re in love? Ha! You don’t know what love is until you have to irrigate your lover’s catheter. It brings a whole new meaning to “sucking cock.” Seriously, medical fetishists and golden shower enthusiasts aside, the test of true love is how well you navigate the rough waters that are bound to irrigate your life if your beloved goes through a major sickness or surgery.
Take Max, my husband, lover and partner of 20 years and friend of 26, recently diagnosed with the dreaded Big C. Cancer is often the “silent killer,” but in Max’s case, the malevolent little cells, having decided to infiltrate the nice, warm, wet haven of his bladder, announced their deadly presence through blood in his urine. Yuch. Better to know than not to know. But what to do?
Captain Max in the Chemo Sea
We consulted a battery of urologists, oncologists, acupuncturists, raw foodists, faith healers and soothsayers, each hawking their favored brand of cancer-vanquishing snakeoil. But as the aggressive, recurring, “high grade” nature of Max’s cancer became clear, even the soothsayers agreed that the surest way to defeat this terrorist army of malignant cells was 1) BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin) treatment and chemotherapy to kill the bastards, followed by 2) neobladder surgery to make sure they don’t come back.
Having about as much understanding of cancer as the typical American has of Swahili, we decided to go with the flow of expert advice. Max had virtually no side effects from the BCG which, indeed, may have been the most effective part of the whole treatment. As for chemo, we’d heard the horror stories, but we figured if it got too horrible, we’d just quit and go back to sipping blackberry smoothies and poking around with acupuncture.
Thank Eros it never got that horrible. Captain Max steered his ship through the roiling sea of toxic chemicals injected into his veins with a smile on his face and an erection in his pants (the steroids accompanying some of the chemo can be quite stimulating!), and by the end of his treatments, he was pronounced “cancer-free.”
Time to celebrate and get on with life, right? Well, the Bonobo Gang will use any excuse to celebrate—and we did—but the “cancer-free” diagnosis only meant we had won a battle, with a war zone stretched out ahead of us. Bladder cancer almost always comes back, and then it often spreads to other organs, possibly the kidneys, liver, lymph nodes, colon and lungs where it can do more damage and is harder to treat.
So, once you’re “cancer-free,” the next and most vital step, say the experts–from the highly specialized urological surgeons to the folks who are living it at the Bladder Cancer Café–is neobladder surgery. NEObladder? Sounds like a simulated spaceship spinning through the Matrix of your groin. Actually, it consists of removing the old bladder completely and replacing it with a new one literally handcrafted by the surgeon from a two-foot piece of your small intestine.
Make a new bladder out of your intestines? At first, that struck us as something between implausible and weird. My tortured brain took me on a trip down memory lane to raucous, alcoholic “bladderball” games on the old Yale campus which were eventually outlawed for being a danger to students and innocent bystanders. What kind of dangerous game were we playing now? NeoBladderball? Isn’t sewing up a nice new bladder from your intestine kind of like trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear?
I dreamt of a bladderball game pitting me and Captain Max against drunken teams of cancer cells, bouncing the giant bladderball back and forth above us, when suddenly, the bladderball burst and gallons of bloody piss and bile rained down all over us until I woke up, drenched in sweat. At least, it wasn’t bloody piss and bile.
Despite my nightmares, all the experts, including Max’s urologist, one of “America’s Top Cancer Doctors” and “America’s Top Urologists,” the distinguished Dr. Sia Daneshmand, calmly reassured us that radical cystectomy and neobladder surgery was the only way to make sure the cancer wouldn’t return—at least not in the bladder—implying that if we didn’t do it, we might as well send the damn cancer cells an open invitation to play bladderball in Max’s body anytime. Dr. Daneshmand and his associates called neobladder surgery the “gold standard,” which I took as a not-so-subtle reference to the golden showers we would be required to include in our soon-to-be-rubber-sheeted marriage bed.
But our main objection to surgery was that Max felt great and, thanks to the BCG and chemo, wasn’t he now cancer-free? If it’s not broken, why fix it—let alone cut it up and possibly kill it? “Because Surgery is The Way…” so sayeth the surgeons, the high priests of the neotemple, aka the hospital, wearing their sacred white coats and ceremonial stethoscopes, reciting enigmatic diagnoses like rabbis davening, reading tubs of murky piss like tea leaves, as they exhorted us to sacrifice Max’s bladder on the civilized altar of modern medicine to appease the cancer demons. We felt like pawns in the neobladderball game, but we decided to go with the flow.
Fluids flow through us constantly. Blood, sweat, tears, urine, saliva, semen, mucus and just plain old H2O make up about 60% of the human body. Without water, we quickly die and, of course, our waterworks had better work, or we’ll blow up like water balloons.
The Power of Water
Captain Max is a Scorpio, the wateriest of water signs, and as another water sign friend Dr. Tracy Cabot, says, Scorpios always get what they want, one way or the other. Whether they’re dominant, submissive, passive, aggressive or passive/aggressive, their watery ways wear away the Earth signs, douse the Fire and turn us Airheads into gales of bubbles.
For years, Max hated the idea of any operations—military or surgical; though coming through his quadruple bypass in 2009 like a champ softened that hardline stance. Now he actually wanted to be operated on. Soon he was talking about getting a new bladder like some guys talk about getting a new car. What sealed the neobladder deal was that Dr. Daneshmand promised to also fix his bothersome hernia as long as he was in there. Two for one!
Silent or strident, cancer weaves its lethal way in and out of the living, cellular zombies feeding on the delicacies of our bodies. Though, of course, it isn’t contagious, its victims far outnumber those of any plague. So many wonderful, sexy people we know just through the show–Hollie Stevens, Jack Hammer, Kim Fowley, Dave Bautista’s wife Angie, to name a few—are battling the Big C. Now Captain Max must fight these pernicious stowaways for control of his ship, his life.
Speaking of ships, what with Valentine’s Day (for the pagan history of which, see Lupercalia) falling exactly one week before surgery, we decided to spend V-Day on the Grace, our friend James’ lovely yacht in the charming little harbor of Marina del Rey. What better, wetter way for a Scorpio to prepare for the deep sea battle of his life? Besides, it gave us a good excuse to wear our captain’s hats. When five of us went out to Shanghai Red’s for Valentine’s Eve dinner, all topped off with captain’s hats in assorted hues, we looked like a bohemian cruise ship hospitality staff on shore leave.
And we had a fine time on the good ship Grace, enjoying Valentine’s Day sex at dawn, rosy-fingered Aurora mounting the great Poseidon, riding Him into the sunrise. At one point, Max was sure he saw “Death” come aboard like a dark pirate and stand at the foot of our bed, but he told him he’d better go; his time had not yet come. We did let a few invited guests (Helen, Nori, film director Jack the Zipper, fetish model Menotte Bastille, civil rights attorney Barry Fisher) come aboard for lobster and champagne, and we could have stayed a few days, but before we knew it, we had to go. But we’ll be back; James has invited us to do a live show on-board. Stay tuned for off-shore RadioSUZY1 : Dr. Suzy and Captain Max broadcasting live from the bay, like old-time Pirate Radio. Click for pix from the Grace.
Spike TV’s 1000 Ways to Die—Death by Peeing!
Just after getting my land legs, I was thrown into another strangely relevant golden pond. This time I was the “expert” on Spike TV’s show 1000 Ways to Die. The “death” in the segment supposedly occurred when a not-too-bright couple was enjoying some very wet water sports on an old frayed electric blanket that short-circuited and electrocuted them! Fortunately, I didn’t have to comment on this weird way to go. My job as sexologist was to explain why urination in the form of golden showers, aka, urophilia or urolagnia, erotically arouses some people.
First, there’s the obvious reason: pee comes out of the same organ that gives us orgasms. Like a sexual climax, urinating typically involves a build-up of tension and a pleasurable release. Golden shower lovers call it the Water of Life. Just as everyone urinates, every culture practices some kind of repression or privatizing of urination. We do it in a stall or behind a tree, making sure that others will not see. Urination is an essential bodily function all civilized humans must learn to repress and strictly control. Parents and other caretakers inculcate this repression and control with rewards and punishments that can make a big impression on our sexuality at a very impressionable age. Some of us don’t repress it so well and become golden shower fetishists. Others repress it too well and become golden shower fetishists. Many adore the loss of control associated with uncloseted urination. Sometimes it’s associated with humiliation, BDSM or adult baby/mommy roleplay, but some just enjoy the sensuous taboo experience of sharing the flow of pee.
I enjoy playing with golden shower enthusiasts, but I’ve always been the one doing the peeing. The night after the Spike TV interview (which should air sometime this summer), the bladderball nightmare bounced into my dreams again. This time Max and I were inside the bladder, sloshing around On Golden Pond, as the doctors played their dangerous game. And no, I wasn’t turned on. I was scared. Or…was I turned on by being scared?
Sex and Death
Conventional wisdom is that good health is one of the greatest aphrodisiacs, and sickness is a libido-killer. But even cancerous clouds have their silvery linings, and in this case, the lining is fear itself. On many nights (especially show nights!) in the weeks leading up to Max’s surgery, we made passionate love as if for the “last time,” because the fact was that maybe it would be.
On a practical note, it’s good for your sexual health to have as much sex as you can leading up to neobladder, prostate, testicular or any other kind of surgery in the genital neighborhood, since it increases your chances of regaining full sexual function when you’ve recovered. Of course, most doctors don’t tell you this, just as they usually avoid talking about anything to do with sex. If you can’t have sex with a partner, at least masturbate and do your kegel exercises (squeeze and release!).
So…one more round of sex for us, and then the time had come. Or had it? Up to the last minute, we considered escape, going back to the Yacht and sailing to parts unknown, flying to Paris, or maybe just staying in bed, arms and legs wrapped tight around each other, under our dry and golden-shower-free electric blanket. But in “escaping” the voracious leviathan of modern medicine, wouldn’t we be sailing straight into the cancerous abyss? We had to do it…
Curative Butchery and Ketamine-Fentanyl Cocktails
So we did it. Well, Max did it. Actually Dr. Daneshmand and his team did it: seven hours of major surgery, cutting open the body, removing the bladder, slicing off two feet of intestine and stitching it up into the “neo-bladder.” Of course, Max himself slept through the whole thing, anesthetized into blissful oblivion. I waited in the Keck Medical Center lobby, taking deep breaths and sipping cucumber water as my eternally patient brother and sister-in-law tried to keep me calm but alert. Whenever I felt low, I thought of how my seven-hour wait was just a drop in the bucket of tears compared to Max’s excruciating 10-DAY wait for me to come out of my septic shock coma in 2006. One good test of true love deserves another.
Then the Word came down from the angel/nurse, and eventually Dr. D himself: Captain Max was sailing through the storm of surgical strikes with flying colors. When I saw my beloved grimacing from behind a gazillion tubes, bandages and beeping machines, heartily complaining about the pain and flirting with the hot lady doctors, I exhaled with relief. When he saw me, he bellowed like a bear who’d been knifed in the groin. And, actually, he had.
Within hours, he was enjoying a nice ketamine-fentanyl cocktail mixed up for him with everything but a maraschino cherry by a sexy nurse in red scrubs.
Titty Treatment and Sexual Healing
The very next day, they moved Max out of ICU and removed most of his tubes. And the nurse who took out his tubes turned out to be a fan of my show! Too bad he was a buff dude instead of a hot chick or Max would have been higher up in heaven than the ketamine-fentanyl already had him. Though at this point, they were dialing him down to morphine-lite and Vicodin.
At least now I could squeeze into bed with him and step up the “sexual healing.” I don’t think anybody’s done a scientific study on this, but my anecdotal evidence tells me that sex—kissing and cuddling in particular—are, if not actually curative, at least very effective painkillers and natural mood elevators. I have found that simply lifting the shirt, unhooking the bra and letting Max cop a feel of titty was often enough to kill mild pain and distract from the severe stuff. Several scientific studies, such as Harry Harlow’s sensory deprivation experiments on rhesus monkeys, have shown how lack of touch increases infant death and failure to thrive. Stands to reason that positive erotic touching, cuddling, kissing and stroking a sick person will help the healing process. How seriously does the health industry consider this?
To their credit, USC Keck does trot around a big old dog named Roscoe for the patients to play with. The presence of domesticated “pets” is known to lower people’s blood pressure and raise happiness levels. But poor Roscoe’s so elderly, he seems to require medical attention himself. He did love when Max massaged his back, and that, in turn, made Max feel good. But I’m pretty sure he preferred my titties to Roscoe’s tongue…
The 24/7 nursing at USC is top-notch; they took care of Prince Max like the royalty (Lobkowicz on Dad’s side and Filangieri on Mom’s) that he is. Before long, he was sitting up, eating chocolate pudding and doing phone interviews with Richardson Magazine on his revolutionary work publishing reader-written media in the 1970s like the LA Star, Love, Hate, God and Finger, foreshadowing the advent of blogging.
The only problem was that Max did so well, they wanted to release him even sooner than scheduled which meant that within days I would be the caretaker, and boy, was I not ready for that. The upside was I learned some cool new penis tricks. The first time a USC nurse tried to teach me how to irrigate Max’s catheter, and I saw all the crimson, golden and whitish fluids whooshing out of a tube sticking out of the marvelous penis I have known, loved, fucked and sucked, lo these 20 years, I almost passed out.
It took another couple of times before I could pay close attention without retching. Eventually, I “got used to it” and learned how to insert the syringe filled with saline water into the catheter, push the water through and then suck it out (thus “sucking cock”) with all the attendant bile. Yuch! But it has to be done, or mucous (from the intestinal piece that was used to make the new bladder) will plug up the urinary tract. At this point, I’m almost an expert in the fine art of catheter irrigation–not that I’m looking to do it for anyone else, so don’t get any funny ideas.
Naughty Nurse & Doctor on the Big Black Obama Bus Home
As we got closer to the moment of his release, we planned to surprise Max by picking him up in the big black motorcoach that used to be Obama’s campaign bus which we rode to the Girls and Corpses party and the Pleasure Chest’s 40th anniversary. But then, when he asked if we could pick him up in the Obama bus, that kind of blew the surprise. At least for Max. It was certainly a big surprise for Keck Medical Center security which went on high alert as Dwayne pulled the gigantic shiny black motorcoach right up in front of the main hospital entrance. Then when Tasia emerged in her naughty nurse’s uniform with blue surgical gloves, super high-heeled stripper shoes, a green surgical tube wrapped around her neck and a big pink bow on her head, the security staff went bananas.
Getting Max ready for departure, his nurse heard the commotion and exulted, “Looks like I definitely have the most exciting patient in the hospital today!” Unfortunately, he had to stay upstairs and couldn’t take Max out in the wheelchair. For that, they gave us the grouchiest looking nurse in the entire hospital. She and several paranoid security guards hustled us out of there in nano-seconds. Obviously, no other patients had been picked up by a giant private bus with a naughty nurse.
Home Wet Home
It’s great to have my Captain home, and reassuring to know he’s progressing according to plan. Being his primary nurse is a challenge—mentally and physically. Our usually sexy boudoir is now filled w/ syringes, bandages, catheters, tubes, male adult diapers in executive grey (white is for babies) and mountains of fresh plastic wrapped in more plastic. As First Mate, I’m in charge of irrigation (sucking cock four times daily!) and good vibrations (cop a feel, pop a Vicodin!). Plus washing, flushing, fetching, dressing, rubbing, bandaging, cleaning, even taking out a needle! Home nursing tests true love.
As of this writing, no bladderballs of human waste have exploded over our heads, though our usually tight ship has been pretty leaky. When he first came home, Max had three “grenades” attached to his groin that filled up with “bile” plus a foley catheter, each of which had to be emptied every few hours. Thank Eros, they just removed all of that and now we’re down to just regulating normal bodily emissions.
Which brings me to santorum. In case you think that’s just the name of a loony Republican Presidential contender and former US Senator (from my birth state of Pennsylvania, I’m embarrassed to say) who tried to resurrect anti-sodomy laws and may one day control the keys to your boudoir, sexy or not….” Santorum” is also clearly defined (originally by a Dan Savage reader) as “that frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.” Honestly, the stuff that’s coming out of my beloved’s rectum doesn’t smell nearly as foul as anything Rick Santorum has to say, but that’s another bloggamy.
Captain Max vs. Cancer
Political assholes may come and go, but our wars with the Big C will continue, and the dark pirate waiting at the foot of the bed always wins eventually. But there are many glorious ocean battles before the grand finale, and Captain Max is winning this one, wounded but well-irrigated, NeoBladderBall and all.
As for me, I’m still a little seasick from the whole ongoing Deep C operation. But I’m happy and proud to be Captain Max’s First Mate, Admiral and Titty-Treatment Nurse throughout his Big C Battle and all our voyages, passing one crazy, challenging love test after another, as we sail into a resplendent sunset.
Of course, everybody’s Big C battle is as different as snowflakes, but I hope this little bloggamy can provide a bit of help, humor and erotic inspiration to those of you going through something similar, whether you’re the patient, the loved one or just a really caring nurse. Bon Voyage!