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I find it amazing that there was a time in my life when I really didn’t care about sex. Masturbation wasn’t a thing for me. Neither were orgasms. My ex-husband’s attempts at “seduction” fell flat — mostly because I just wasn’t interested.
Fast forward several years, and now I like the sex, I want the sex, and I get cranky when I’m not having the sex. *Sex is more than penis-in-vagina penetration but in this post that’s what I (mostly) mean.*
“When was the last time we had sex?”
“Are we going to have sex anytime soon?”
These are real questions I’ve asked John Brownstone over the years. How long would it take before I complained about the lack of sex in the distance past? No longer than a week, maybe less.
These days? A few times we’ve gone longer than two weeks without fucking (by any definition). Over the past year or so, the amount of sex we’ve had has been sporadic at best. It’s always good but it’s not enough.
One of the main reasons has been due to my ongoing health issues. Now that I can see light at the end of the tunnel, I’m ready to catalog them here. (Note: I’m not looking for nor do I want health advice, although I understand people’s desire to help. I’ve lived with this for a while, been through many options, and have found what works for me. This post is simply a bit of navel-gazing and looking back in order to see how far I’ve come, nothing more.)
Oh, My Stomach!
I wish I’d written down the first time I figured out I couldn’t eat certain foods. All I knew is that something wasn’t right. Every time I ate, my stomach hurt, and I bloated up so much I looked pregnant. I lived from day to day, not knowing if today would be a good day with no pain or bloating or a bad day. I also couldn’t lose weight no matter what I did. Nothing worked, and my blood pressure was doing nothing but going up.
First, I thought it was IBS and read something about going gluten-free. So many things are made gluten-free these days, it was no hardship. For a few weeks, I felt great! I could eat without pain. What I couldn’t do was lose weight without drastically (in a scary way) cutting calories, but at least my stomach didn’t hurt.
Then it stopped working. I read about low FODMAP elimination diets and tried that. From there, I cut out white sugar and switched to maple syrup, learned that soy probably wasn’t my friend, and eliminated specific fruits (like watermelon) that I love. I lost a few pounds and felt great. For a few weeks.
Next, I tried Whole30 — as an elimination diet, not a weight loss tool — because I knew something was causing my stomach problems but didn’t know what. On day 31, I took a bite of the overnight oatmeal I’d been craving all month. My throat became scratchy and my stomach cramped violently. I bloated up like a balloon. Fuck.
Over the next couple of weeks, as I slowly (and nervously) added foods back to my diet, I learned I could no longer eat wheat, rye, barley, corn, rice, or soy. Only wheat made my throat scratchy, but they all caused an enormous amount of pain. I was pissed. Sad. Worried. And then really fucking pissed off.
A Diagnosis and a Fix
I knew the responsible thing was to stop eating things that caused me pain, but these were my comfort foods. My celebration foods. How can I eat my feelings if I can’t have cake, bread, or pasta?! Before John Brownstone and I got married, I’d spent a month with no sugar and none of the foods I wasn’t supposed to eat but still did (pain be damned). I lost weight and felt great! But I was going to have wedding cake, damn it! And I did, although he watched me closely to make sure I didn’t have a bad reaction.
In October 2017, my doctor told me to get checked for a food allergy. I did it, even though I didn’t think it was an allergy. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. I’m not allergic to any foods, so says the allergist.
Over Christmas, I finally realized this wasn’t sustainable. As we walked into a store, I watched and felt my stomach distend. It felt like my organs were being squeezed and compressed (maybe they were). The picture that came to mind was the scene in Downton Abbey when Robert Crawley pukes blood across a table because of an ulcer.
“Do you think I have an ulcer?”
I have no idea why I thought I might. But in February 2018 I finally saw a GI doctor (who I don’t like that much), and it was confirmed — a bleeding ulcer. Two months of being very careful about what I eat and taking a daily medication, and the ulcer has healed. So has my grief about what foods I can and can’t eat. Two solid months of no stomach pain will do that to you, I guess. I’d rather “give up” foods, feel good, and be able to fuck my husband.
Oh, My Neck!
Over the holidays, as I battled stomach problems and John Brownstone and I adjusted to only fucking in the mornings — when my stomach didn’t hurt — I felt a new kind of pain. I went to bed one night just fine and woke up with a stiff neck.
“I’m sure I slept on it wrong.”
Happens all the time, right? You get a crick in your neck, wait a day or two, and move on. Except this time, it didn’t ease up. It got worse. The day I felt pain shoot down my arm and watched my hand tremble, I knew something wasn’t right.
After having spent so many months with stomach pain, I wasn’t putting up with neck and arm pain, too! A call to the doctor, and I got a same-day appointment. During the visit, I learned it was a pinched nerve (which after three weeks of neck pain, I’d kind of figured that out) and was put on medication.
Unfortunately for me, the meds and the endoscopy/colonoscopy I’d been scheduled to do for the GI problem (see above) had a major conflict. I had to stop taking them five days before the procedure. I hated doing it because they worked. The doctor had warned me that if the meds didn’t work, I was going to physical therapy. I told myself I didn’t have time for PT (and I didn’t — I was working 60 hours a week at the beginning of 2018), so I needed the meds.
After the endoscopy showed a bleeding ulcer, I had to stop taking those meds as they could make it worse. Damn it. The pain had come back in the five days and I didn’t have time to go back to the doctor! But I had muscle relaxers. So, during the day, I bore the pain with clenched teeth and at night, I slept with the help of a muscle relaxer. And by “slept” I mean I tossed and turned part of the night trying to find a comfortable position.
Pain Even I Can’t Handle
I spent all of Eroticon in excruciating pain. Looking up for too long made it hurt, so did looking down for too long. And don’t even get me started on the flight back home. By the time we got off the plane, pain shot down my back, down my arm, and up the back of my head. I was at the doctor’s office three days later.
I was doped up with new meds, sent to physical therapy and told to get an MRI and see a spine doctor. The pain scared the hell out of me. I was willing to do whatever anyone said. I took all of my new medications — even though they made me fuzzy as fuck.
The pain was also fucking with my life. There was no kinky hotel sex with John Brownstone in London. There was no celebratory we-made-it-home sex. Hell, we couldn’t even celebrate the fact that my stomach felt better. He kept me doped up on pain meds once we got them and told me to stay on the couch. Not only was I not having sex, I didn’t even feel submissive.
Did I drag myself up and around to work? To do stuff online? Of course I did. I can grit my teeth through a lot. But ask anyone who feels chronic pain, and they can tell you — pain is exhausting. I walked around like a zombie most of the time. Still do after a bad day.
What’s the end result? Unlike the ulcer which has healed, this is still an ongoing process. Today is a good day, and I feel no pain. Yesterday was a bad day. The day before was worse. But a week ago, I felt no pain for two days. Every day is different right now.
The MRI shows bulging discs (which are very common). My physical therapist continues to search for creative ways to make me feel better. The spine doctor suggested an epidural in my neck. I’ve got to adjust my desk and laptop, learn new habits, and try to make sure this doesn’t happen again in the future.
All of it means we’re barely fucking. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Gentle, slow sex happens on occasion. No hair pulling, no rough smacks, and no quick movements, but I’ll take what I can get. Even better, my desire to orgasm has returned. Yes, that was gone for a while too. My health was only part of that. I think my stress level contributed more than anything else — and I’ll write about that soon, too.
As my health improves and I learn what it means to feel good again — and what to do to continue to feel good — the desire for sex and orgasms builds. So does my impatience.
My brain says, “Fuck me, damn it!” while my body says, “But maybe not right now.”