Archive | March, 2013

The Testosterone Connection – Part II

Background

It’s been a month since I originally posted “Prostate Surgery and Sex – the Testosterone Connection” on March 27, 2013.  Many of you have asked that I keep you updated on this subject so that you can be informed of the “continuing saga” on testosterone supplementation. Thus, this post.

In the earlier post, we left off with my having to wait until July before my urologist would permit testosterone supplementation. My first blood test, taken to determine how low my testosterone level was, returned a result of 195 when the normal range for men is 300-600. Obviously, I was in tough shape. I had decided to explore “natural”, non-prescription testosterone “boosters” on my own. These included specific food items as well as non-prescription food supplements that were known boosters and could be purchased at stores or websites like GNC.

What Has Changed In the Last Month?

The master plan that I outlined in the last post has been changed. My urologist allowed me to begin the testosterone replacement program on March 4, 2013. I was miserable and ready to cut a large hole in the lake ice and jump in it. Since male testosterone regulates just about everything in your body, including your metabolism, mood, demeanor, and cognitive abilities, Low-T for any length of time can really make you feel miserable 24/7. That’s where I was at. I needed help and I needed it fast.

One interesting fact that I learned while I was interviewing with the urologist’s PA (physician assistant) is that not all men who are experiencing severely low testosterone levels (below 200) are necessarily sensitive to the symptoms of Low-T. In fact, she explained that the majority of Low-T patients that she treats do not feel any different after testosterone supplementation than they did before they started supplementation.

I couldn’t believe it! I was ready to jump off a cliff. I went through a period of approximately four months when I did absolutely nothing. I couldn’t even sit at the computer to compose a blog. I simply had no interest. I had no interest in doing anything. Even watching TV was painful. My mind was functioning about as effectively as a turnip’s. I had chronic fatigue. The nurse could not tell me why I am affected so negatively by Low-T. And now that I’m on the road to recovery, I don’t care. My advice to readers is – you don’t ever want to go there. If you think you have Low-T, get it tested and do something about it. Discuss how you feel with your doctor. Only men over 50 or men who have had other issues or surgery affecting male sex organs need be concerned.

A word of caution – most Low-T conditions are diagnosed by physicians as depression. When I originally described how I felt to my personal physician, he said I was depressed and prescribed an anti-depressant medication. I took that for a couple of months as he gradually increased the dosage. By the end of the second month, I went from chronic fatigue to zero energy and I was sleeping 22 hours a day. That’s when I threw the medication out and demanded a blood test to check my testosterone level.

The symptoms of Low-T and depression are practically identical. If you suspect Low-T, get the test. It’s cheap, easy, and your insurance will pay for it. So do it.

Testosterone Supplementation Options

The “natural” testosterone boosters that I mentioned above which includes food items and non-prescription supplements proved to be ineffective. I still include the food items in my diet. But I’ve pretty much given up on the non-prescription supplements.

The prescription skin patches and gels, like Androderm or Androgel, are expensive since they require a prescription and currently enjoy “brand” status. All new prescriptions receive “brand” status for seven years after their introduction to the market. That means that a particular prescription has no competition for seven years. The drug manufacturer can charge whatever they like. After the seven years of brand status expires, other drug companies can manufacturer cheaper generic clones of another drug companies product if they so choose. Androgel, Androderm, and Axiron are all “brand”. My medical insurance would pick up the majority of the cost of the drug. But that leaves a $60/month co-pay for me, which didn’t excite me much.

On top of the expense, the products that you apply to the skin as patches or gels deliver 20% of the product as absorbed testosterone and 80% of the product is wasted or never absorbed.

There are only three ways to get testosterone into the body. Trans-dermal – absorbed through the skin. Trans-lingual – absorbed through the gums in your mouth with the use of a lozenge. Or testosterone can be injected into muscle tissue using a needle and syringe. I opted for the latter because it’s cheap and effective.

 Here’s How the Injections Work

I had originally chosen to self-administer the injections. That means that I would give myself a shot every month and the urologist would teach me what to do. Doctors actually permit self-injecting all kinds of medicines as long as you have a prescription and receive instruction on what to do. The syringes and testosterone serum can be purchased at my local Walgreens Pharmacy with a prescription.

Once the details of self-injecting were explained to me, I chose to opt-out of self-injecting. The testosterone must be injected into a muscle. It was not something that you injected under the skin. Specifically, testosterone must be injected into either your thigh, or your buttocks. Obviously, if I was going to self-inject, the buttocks was not an option.

The needle was huge. The nurse said that was because synthetic testosterone is oily and thicker than most injectables. So it needs a bigger needle. To make matters worse, this huge needle had to be inserted full-length into the thigh muscle. Then you had to pull the plunger back a bit and check for blood in the syringe in order to insure that you had not hit a blood vessel. If you did hit a blood vessel, you have to withdraw the needle and start all over again. I had performed injections before. But this was ugly. No thanks.

I bent over her examining table, dropped my pants, and she pumped 200 mg. of pure testosterone into my buttocks in a flash. That was that.

In April, I have an appointment at my local clinic for another injection. I get an injection every month for the rest of my life. I don’t mind shots. And driving to town once a month doesn’t bother me either. I’ve already seen what life looks like without these injections and it’s not pretty. So I’ll gladly take the injections.

My Theory of What Happens In the Body After a Testosterone Injection

No one has ever explained this to me. But I’m not your average patient. I like to know what is going on with my health, and medications that are given to me. I like to be part of the “team”.

Here’s what I think happens when a person receives an injection of 200 mg. of synthetic testosterone as a supplement. These injections are pre-planned approximately 30 days apart. So figuring this out should be pretty obvious.

The 200 mg. injection is obviously an overdose. After you receive the injection, your body begins to utilize and deplete the testosterone. So if one were to perform a blood test daily or weekly to determine the level of free testosterone as a specific point in time, this gradual depletion of available testosterone could be charted.

So the objective is to NOT have the level of free testosterone in the blood drop out of the bottom of the acceptable range for men, which is 300-600, before it’s time for the next injection of testosterone. If one does drop out of the acceptable range, then the injection quantity needs to be bumped up to 250 mg. or 300 mg. or whatever until the patient can make it to the next injection without dropping below 300.

I my case, a blood test taken three weeks after my first injection showed that I had moved from 195 into the normal range of 300-600, but barely. My result was 311. I had gained 116 points. But considering that the target level is a consistent 450, I have a ways to go yet.

Fortunately, the change in my symptoms is gradual. I don’t want you to think that I’m ready to tear someones head off when I get that 200 mg. blast of testosterone. The changes in metabolism and other idiosyncrasies that I have mentioned are gradual. I noticed the subtle change over the days after the injection and I noticed subtle changes over time as I was on my way back down to 311.

For those who are interested, testosterone is measured in nonograms per decileter or ng/dL. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram. A gram is about 1/30 of an ounce. A deciliter measures fluid volume that is 1/10 of a liter. A liter is a little bigger than a quart. So there you go. The normal free testosterone range starts at 300 ng/dL.

And the Results?

How to I feel? Pretty darn good. I’m doing things. I’m back to the point of being engaged with my life. Feels good. I have a long way to go yet. I need to get back on my Bowflex and tone up the muscles that have been dormant for so many months. And I need to walk or jog to build my endurance back to what it was. Low-T had caused me to waste away for about six months before I realized that something was wrong.

The bad news? After receiving that 200 mg. dose of testosterone a month ago, my testosterone level is low again. It tested at 311 this week. A bit higher than the original 195 but no where near the 450 mid-range where it should be. It likely dropped off gradually from the day that I received the injection. I’m due for anther blast of testosterone on April 12. Eventually, my urologist will figure out the dosage so that I don’t experience these highs and lows. I already feel my energy level declining. Consequently, I’m pretty excited about that shot on April 12th. I feel like a junky.

Stay tuned.

 

References

Is Sex Possible After Prostate Gland Surgery? – Part 0 to this post published 1/13/2013

Prostate Surgery and Sex – The Testosterone Connection – Part 1 to this post published 2/27/2013

Prostate/Surgery/Sex Photo Gallery – photo gallery published 1/13/2013

WebMD is a great source for information on Low-T.

 

 

 

 

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Does Your Brain Get In Your Way?

I’m going to explain to you how your brain works. Due to the fact that this is a nebulous topic on which one could write volumes, I want to explain the one facet of our brains that impacts your life the most – the past.

Think of your brain as a gigantic computer. It records and stores virtually everything from the time you were born up to the present. You may think, that’s impossible. I don’t remember a thing about my childhood. That may be true, but that information is in there. Science has assured us of that.

A hypnotist is pretty adept at digging around in the depths of your brain and bringing life experiences to light that you feel that you have totally forgotten.

Science also tells us that our dreams, that take place while we are asleep, manifest themselves in the subconscious part of our brains. It’s common for us not to remember those dreams after we wake up. What is even more startling is that science also tells us that we dream every time we go to sleep, even though we insist that we had no dreams during specific periods of sleep. Science says that we are wrong. We just don’t recall all of our dreams because they were not vivid enough to be recalled by our conscious memory.

We are able to recall some dreams. Some are pretty hazy when we try to recall them. Those are usually forgotten quickly after we awake. And some are so vivid that we can recall them in some detail throughout the day. The point is, there are terabytes of information and experiences stored in our brain, some of which we can recall via memory, and other information and experience are forgotten for all practical purposes.

Rather than get into all this complexity, I want to discuss a simpler, less complex, aspect of your brain and memory. One which can both enhance or adversely affect your life,  depending on your attitude and how you think.

You’ve heard the expression “attitude is everything”. You’ve also head it said that we actually use only 10% or less of our brains. Some were born with the capability, or have taught themselves  to use more  of their brain capacity. We tend to call those people “geniuses”, when in fact, they are no more gifted than you or I. They just think differently. Their focus is more inward while most of us are pretty extroverted and our focus is outward. Their primary interest is in thinking and analyzing. While our primary interest is in thinking and experiencing our environment and thinking about the things that interest us; the things that we enjoy.

In our world, there is only one thing over which we have total and complete control. Our minds. Nothing else. That’s how we humans were created. If you think otherwise, tell me over what else you have complete and total control. If you do not think you have total and complete control over your mind, then who or what does? And don’t say a Higher Power. Because we also have free will which means we can accept or reject any thought that enters our brain, regardless of its origin. You are the gatekeeper of your mind; the master of your soul.

I learned how to use my brain correctly about four years ago. I know that sounds strange. It was strange. I realized that I had a bad attitude and alienated most people I came into contact with. So I committed myself to doing the research to find out why I was like that, and fix the problem.  It took four years to undo decades of learning and life experiences so that I could become a new, positive, likable, and happy, person with a positive attitude.

In the process, I learned a lot about how we use, or don’t use, our brains. Leaning all this for the first time was pretty enlightening. I discovered a lot of important information that I didn’t know or never thought about. The most important fact that I learned was that, in order to be the person that I wanted to be, I had to audit what I allow to occupy my mind and discard those things that adversely impact my demeanor.

I was watching a movie on TV with my daughter this weekend and after the movie was over and I went to bed feeling disappointed and regretful. I tend to be a perfectionist;  a bad habit of mine. I wished that I hadn’t wasted  three hours of my time watching a movie based on a fictional subject that is of little interest to me. I avoid most fiction like the plague.  It was one of the Twilight series movies that have been at the theaters recently.

So what was wrong with the movie? While I like the actors, the scenery, and the story line, I don’t buy the vampire nonsense. It leans a little too much towards the evil side of life than I care for.

I think it’s pretty incredible that the Twilight books and movies just dribbled out of Stephanie Meyer’s head onto paper.

The plot of the books and movies in the Twilight series are pretty intricate and complex. I try to fathom all that stuff kicking around in a writer’s brain and it scares me half to death. Some of us would dearly love to be able to craft such a story. But not that one. I wouldn’t want all that biting, killing, and hate bouncing around in my head for however many years it took her to put the story on paper.

Here’s the rub. I’m pretty careful about what I allow to hang out in my head.  My objective is to be a positive person in everything that  I do and say. In order to remain that way, you have to make an effort to keep the negative junk out of your head. No need to watch it. No need to read about it. No need to talk about it or pass it on to others. You have heard this at some point in your education – garbage in, garbage out. Your brain has the uncanny ability to transmute whatever your primary thoughts are into reality. If weeds are growing in your subconscious mind, you need to get those out of there and plant your garden with more favorable flora; like flowers.

Back to the story that I didn’t finish. When I went to bed that night, it still bothered me that I had given up three precious hours with my daughter in order to watch content which I objected to. I enjoyed the time spent with my daughter. Both of us are suckers for a good romantic story. And Twilight is a great story about a blossoming romance between Bella and Edward; the leading characters.

An important thought popped into my mind as I lay there in bed thinking about the movie and the evening. Over the years, I’ve spent so much times inadvertently filling my mind with stuff that cannot and will not benefit me, my character, my demeanor, or my attitude in any way. That’s disappointing.

BUT, you’ve also heard this said many times and I want to take this opportunity to drill this thought home. You can start each new day as if your whole life were beginning anew. If you have read any self-help books in your life, you’ve read this axiom. But you have probably never put it into practice. Even the Bible says “let the day’s trouble be sufficient for the day”. In more specific terms, forget about yesterday and the day before. It’s over, gone, it’s history and there is nothing you can do to change that.

If you end a day with sorrow or regret on your mind, forget about it and start fresh in the morning.

Ninety-nine percent of the people in this world let the past drag them down and hold them back. They go through life dragging their past around like a ball and chain. And because of that, and the fact that a disappointing past is always on their minds, they never make any progress at moving forward. All too frequently, we settle into a path of regret and disappointment and we deceive ourselves into thinking that regret and disappointment must be the norm for our lives.  So we stay on that path because its easier to trudge down that path than it is to try and map a new one. Instead of making a break with our past disappointments, we let the past dictate our futures. Nonsense!

You need to become a “one percenter”.

Let me give you a simple example. I had an inferiority complex all my life. It drove me nuts. I can’t explain how this complex came about. I always felt that people that I encountered were somehow better than me.  Because of this complex, I had no credibility with others. I could tell that when I had something to say, no one was listening. People would talk over me when I was saying something because they were not interested in what I had to say.

Then one day about ten years ago, I had the opportunity to talk to a man whom I admired and respected. He was successful, a leader, financially independent, and respected within his community.

After chatting with him for a spell on several subjects, I came to the realization that this guy was ignorant. He had nothing of value to share. He was a fake. And I thought, could it be that I actually have more on the ball than most of these folks, to which I felt inferior? I don’t mean to imply that knowledge on a number of subjects makes us superior to others. But I’m sure that you sense “vibes”, an aura, or whatever when you are in the presence of others. You know how to read people. I was shocked when I sensed that this particular gentlemen was stupid.

I started looking around at others through new eyes and discovered that most of the folks that I held in high regard knew very little about anything. I decided that I was the problem, not them. Because I had dragged the ball and chain of my past around all my life, my inferiority complex followed me everywhere. I needed to lose the ball and chain, forget about the past, and start over.

Living in the past is a disease that ruins more lives than we can count. Our lives are about making each day better than the one before it. That’s one of the keys to leading a happy and fulfilling life.

So how do we do that? I’ve already shared with you one way to break with disappointment and regret. Start each day like it were the first day of your life. Flush the parts of your past that you have no use for.

Make a conscious decision that you will audit and control what enters your conscious thought, and what will not. This is not always easy. Try it now. Think of some negative gossip that a friend shared with you lately and then immediately push it out of your mind and think of something more pleasant. That wasn’t so hard. That negative gossip will keep trying to push it’s way back into your mind. Just keep pushing it out. Eventually, you will not think about it anymore because it is not important in the first place. Now do the same with any negative information that you have no use for.

My wife and I made a rule in our house that we won’t share negative with each other. And if we do, the violator has to put a dollar in a jar that we keep in the kitchen. Many times one of us will begin to say something and stop in mid-sentence. Because we realized that what we were about to share, was negative information that has little value to anyone. Don’t pass on negative information to others. Let it die with you.

We watch very little news on TV, except for the weather and some sports. Have you ever noticed how totally useless local news is? The primary content of our local news is a lead story that always deals with a sensational killing. Then we get what we call the “body count” which is when the news anchors recite all the auto accidents, house fires, bar stabbings, racial violence, domestic violence, child abuse, construction accidents, death by natural causes etc.. The local news (including yours) is depressing. I’ve heard others complain that either the American public is fascinated with other people’s misery or it’s the fault of the news station. They have the mistaken idea that we only want to hear about bad news or they can’t find enough good news to fill their program.

My wife use to be a news freak; until her doctor told her that she was allowed to watch no more than fifteen minutes of news per day. My wife did not go to the doctor to talk about the news. She had another physical problem to discuss with him. But he realized by her demeanor over time that she was being dragged down and experiencing anxiety due to an overdose of negative information. Smart guy. He was right. She’s much happier now and she doesn’t miss the “body count”.

I’m not suggesting that you become ignorant of what is happening in the world. But filter out the negative information that is no use to you. When the newscaster starts on the “body count”, turn the volume down and go get a cup of coffee or something.

National news is not as bad as the local news. Sometimes, they actually report good news like a recent finding that will result in better health for all. I avoid the reports on Afghanistan and terrorism.

Here’s another tactic you must use to avoid filling your mind with negative information. Some friends that you know are just plain negative all the time. Others are gossipers. What do you do? When the subject turns to useless negative information, just politely walk away. Go get that cup of coffee again. Appear distant while you order your mind to filter the useless information into one ear and out the other onto the floor. Your friend will eventually get the hint that you are not interested in such tripe. Or you can tell them, “Sandy, I’m trying to become more of a positive person. And I can’t do that by listening to account after account of misery, hearsay,  back-stabbing, gossip, and other ugly events. Help me out. Tell me about the good stuff that took place since the last time we talked.”

Keep a good book next to your bed. And read a chapter before you fall asleep. By feeding your brain with information from a positive book prior to sleep, your dreams will be pleasant. You just planted more flowers in your subconscious. Good for you.

Filter, filter, filter. Remember when I said that you and your mind have the ability to willingly filter out whatever you choose? Make sure your filter is always ON. If you have to, visualize the negative chatter entering your right ear, bypassing your mind and memory, and dribbling out your left ear right onto the floor where it belongs. Gone and forgotten. Not worth remembering.

Turn off the radio. Turn off the music. Spend your time thinking. Thinking doesn’t hurt at all. And it happens naturally so it doesn’t take any effort. The only time that you can force your conscious mind to stop the thought process is by going to sleep. But your subconscious mind never stops working. That’s why you must program it. So that while you are away (sleeping), you have already given your subconscious mind instructions concerning how it must spend it’s time. You want that time to be spent enriching you and empowering you for the next day. So program your subconscious mind to clean house (flush the negative information, weed the garden of your mind) and build a mansion with expansive shrubs and flower gardens in your mind.

Did you know that you can program your mind? 

Do not be put off by my use of the word programming. The trick to taking control of your subconscious mind is repetition. Remember when you were in grade school? How did you learn and remember your subject material? You spent much time memorizing your subject matter. And your teachers repeated the important material again day after day until their students could perform well on a written test on the material. Repetition is how you reach and program your subconscious mind.

Again, I dare you to try it. Make a short list on paper of your most important priorities and objectives. Then recite that list out loud twice a day; once when you go to bed and again when you rise from sleep.

Those objectives will not only become a permanent part of your subconscious mind, a little known law of nature will begin to take over and automatically act upon your deepest thoughts thus bringing them to fruition. No kidding. Your subconscious mind must by it’s very nature actualize your deepest thoughts, priorities and objectives.

This is a very deep and complex subject which we will address in another post. For now, let’s summarize the important points of this post.

    • Let go of the regret and disappointments of your past. They only hold you back. Flush them from your mind. The past is gone, over, there’s nothing you can do about that.
    • If you stumble on your new mission to become a more positive person, start fresh in the morning.  Each day is a new beginning; a new opportunity. You can start again. Don’t allow failure to cause you to quit. Never quit. Remove that word from your vocabulary. You won’t ever quit. All failure is is a temporary stumbling block; a learning experience.
    • Get the negative out of your mind and your life. Choose what information you will accept and filter out the rest. You must do this constantly during your waking hours until it becomes natural; a habit.
    • Begin to program your subconscious mind with good information and experiences. You will be surprised at what happens when you do this.
    • Make sure that you retire at night with good positive thoughts in your mind. This is what your subconscious mind will work on while you sleep.
    • If you do the above, you will become a more positive person. You will attract others to yourself. You will live a more rewarding and happier life. And one filled with more success and less disappointment.

AUTHOR’S NOTE – Many of the controversial statements that I have made in this post are supported by the writings of the late author, Napoleon Hill, who at the bequest of the steel magnate, Andrew Carnegie  embarked upon a 20-year quest to interview 500 of the most successful men of his time, and document an eight volume treatise on success principles. Mr. Hill is considered by many to be the father of self-improvement writings; with all later books referring back to principles which he had already documented decades ago in his own writings.

Napoleon Hill’s books are still selling world-wide in many languages. They can be found on Amazon.com in the book section. If you are in need of excellent, positive, and instructive material to keep your life on the right path and moving forward, I recommend all of Hill’s books. If you are new to Hill, do not read his most famous book “Think and Grow Rich” first.  Many modern Hill enthusiasts feel that this book is quite dry. (I read it first and loved it) Read it. But read “The Master Key to Riches” first.

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