Venereal disease

Unintended consequences

Unintended consequences 

None of this promiscuity, however, was without other unintended yet completely innocent consequences. At least two of us ended up with a case of HPV or genital warts.

The farmer’s daughter also had oral cold sores, otherwise known euphemistically at that time as “the kissing disease,” but better known now to be the Herpes Type 1 virus…which she was good enough to share with me. Call it by any other name; it’s still just a  sexually transmitted salivary venereal disease of the oral vermicular.

The problem with venereal disease is that like any highly communicable disorder, even the common cold, it spreads by geometric multiplication. It is only linear, for example, if a man goes to a prostitute or a mistress, gets something he then gives to his faithful wife, in which case the train stops at that terminal. Usually so does the marriage. But this was an era when the worst of the STDs was still not enough to kill you and, in most cases, was easily curable. If not, they were simply common “ho-hum” nuisances with little or no attached social stigma. Even the cold sore did not have a known etiology, much less knowledge of how easily it could be transmitted. At the same time a wart was simply that: a wart. So what?

But if the 1960s had been the era of not so free love, it was soon supplanted by the 1970s being the era of crass, casual promiscuity. Nobody knew then that HPV is associated with causing cervical cancer. At the same time nobody really paid much attention to any of the STDs until the early 1980s when having Herpes Type 2 or the genital variety became a widely advertised social stigma, a stigma soon to be dwarfed by the appearance of the potentially lethal HIV virus. HPV and HSV should have been a warning that viral VD was replacing bacterial VD and that unlike bacteria, viruses not only do not respond to antibiotics, but also have a nasty knack of being able to permanently insert themselves into the human genome.

That fact, along with the sudden appearance of the super venereal viruses helped to usher in the 1980s as an era of renewed sexual sobriety and gave great credence to Talmudic scholars who in pointing to the traditional religious proscriptions against fornication had warned the world for centuries as they autistically rocked back and forth in their libraries. Or in taking it directly to the Wailing Wall, they might perseverate as they autistically beat their heads with the holy books or beatific bricks:

  • I told ya so, I told ya so, I told ya so, I told ya so.

I only got “the clap,” once, from a very promiscuous nurse when I was a Resident. She had let it be known that she was on a mission to screw every house officer in the hospital, to wit every house officer in the hospital seemed more than willing to sign on to help her accomplish this odyssey. When it abruptly became symptomatic, I knew at once why they called gonorrhea “the clap.” Whenever I tried to pee, without any premonitory warning it was so horribly painful it I stood straight up on my toes like a ballerina on point, only then to segue immediately into a crude version of Flamenco. I was clomping around in my clogs, holding my hands high over my head, slapping my palms together, clenching my teeth and whining through a sheepish grimace. It also left me with a residual urethral stricture that to this day sometimes causes me to pee with a forked stream reminiscent of the forked tongue lies I had told to put myself in this payback circumstance I so well deserved in the first place.

The Urologist who treated me found the whole thing professionally amusing, adding that if all I got was a stricture, I should consider myself to be lucky and then refused to fix it. He said the cure could be worse than a problem that would serve as a permanent reminder of my wayward habits anyway.

  • White man pee with forked stream. Ha, ha.

You would think that would have taught me the lesson that even nice people can get VD…but no. By the time I had married for the second time in my late fifties and estimate I had sex with perhaps fifty or so “nice” women, one of whom was even “nice” enough to generously share her type 2 genital variety of herpes. It may sound like promiscuity, but for the most part, except for a few insane or widely scattered sexual benders in the 1970s and 1980s, most of my relationships would still be categorized as sequentially monogamous. Some short. Some long. But always in a faithful sequence.

Magic Johnson and Long John Holmes, the former having survived HIV and the later who died of it, who each admitted to having sex with 3000 women or more, would come to serve society as more permanent reminders, as well as being unfortunate yet unwilling icons, of the Golden Age of Sexual Promiscuity.

My brother once told me I was lucky that my dick hadn’t developed gangrene and fallen off. His statement harbored a combination of satire, envy, and truth as well as a premonitory HIV vision of a deadly future to come.

He said:

  • Watch out, Al. If you keep this up you’re going to come down with a bad case of the Faccala.
  • The Faccala? What the hell is that?
  • It’s a VD you can get when you indiscriminately fuck the fish in the fish tank. It started in Rome in 49 B.C. That’s why the Italians dry the things out and salt ‘em down before they eat them at Christmas. “

Don’t give a dose

To the one you love most

(Social Proverb)

 

 

 

 

Medical School: “Obstetrics and Gynecology.” But Not Misogyny

Why Not Obstetrics? 

For an elective rotation in Obstetrics and Gynecology I signed up for a thirty-day stint at The Providence Lying-In Hospital. What better way to get exposure than to be in a place dedicated entirely to the biology of the human female and her reproductive system?

Sleeping quarters were provided in a building that also housed female nursing students on the floor above us. Imagine fifty horny nursing students locked up in the same building as three or four male medical students  being almost as good as a seminary student getting to live in a nunnery. At first, I could not imagine what stupid logic went into that demographic, but as time went on I came to understand the point to be moot and irrelevant.

Things got off to a bad start, when on the first day I was assigned to an Obstetrical surgery case; a hysterectomy. The problem being that as no one had taken the time to teach us how to do a sterile scrub and don, the attending surgeon went berserk at our awkward fumbling. This delayed the case while exposing his own paranoia that the operative field would be contaminated. He threw us out of the operating suite.

This illustrates one glaring fault about medical training, especially in a nonacademic satellite facility: Not knowing how much the student does or does not know and usually assuming that he knows more than he actually does; without really asking first; or sometimes not seeming to really care. In this case, the seasoned nurses came to our rescue by kindly showed us how to scrub in and put on a surgical gown.

There is also another glaring deficiency in the tritely overused expression that in procedural medicine all you need to do is to: “See one, do one, then teach one.” I doubt that anyone would agree this axiom should apply to cardiac valve surgery.

Nor did it apply to the situation I found myself in when I had only assisted at several post delivery episiotomies, a procedure whereby the lacerated vagina and perineum is sewn back together after the baby rips it apart while coming through.

The vagina happens to be a very accommodating organ; as both birthing baby heads and “fisting “perverts have empirically discovered; but like everything in life there are always certain limits.

The OB Resident, having been completely exhausted by his duties, delivered a baby, then turned to me and announced as he took off his gloves:

  • Hey, I’m really tired. I’m going to bed. You sew her up.

This was the same resident who had previously taught me to carefully suture so as not to hook the bladder or the bowel and to pay extra special attention to the final purse string cinching by making sure that the vaginal opening at the perineum was nice and tight.

  • That’s what I call ‘the husband stitch’ and there are probably a lot of grateful men out there who don’t even know why their sexual satis-friction is all because of me.

Yes, unless the husband happens to be thirteen-inch-Long John Holmes and it won’t ever fit in there again. Or if so, maybe it just gets stuck.

So, there I was, expected on my own limited experience, to sew up a lacerated vagina as well as to correctly place the husband stitch and make this mother neo-virginal again. I had a serious crisis of confidence and whimpered softly to the vacating Resident:

  • Please come back. I’ll do anything for you. I’ll even send a copy of your personally autographed photo to all the happy husbands so you won’t have to live in un-adored anonymity anymore.

No such luck. Yet once again the senior nurses talked me through it, although to this day I have no clue as to where the stitches really went, or how tight the final cinching turned out. I had nightmares for weeks about a crooked vagina, a loose vagina, an ultra-tight vagina or a nasty vaginal-rectal fistula which would be followed by having to deal with a vendetta from a very ungrateful husband; not to mention litigation.

To back up a bit, this OB rotation was organized into weekly segments that included:

  1. Prenatal clinic
  2. Postnatal clinic
  3. Routine check up clinic
  4. One of many potential routine problems clinic
  5. VD clinic
  6. Labor and Delivery
  7. Obstetrical night call

Also, no matter what weekly clinic we were assigned to, we had to be on standby call every third night for labor and delivery. So, although there are probably some perverts out there who might think that unlimited access to peering at female gonads could be fun, better think again.

This activity is cold, indifferently clinical and involves handling women who would rather be doing anything else than have a frigid slime covered speculum pushed up their crotches, or an equally slimy finger stuck up their rectum; and sometimes simultaneously. They do not like it and they do not like you for doing it.

Next, not everyone looks like a Playboy model, as well as the fact that one is required to examine ages that range from nine to ninety, including all builds, shapes, sizes or body types with levels of hygiene that range from the immaculate to the totally neglected.

There is nothing worse than examining a three-hundred-pound woman who does not believe in soap and water, or who may have a yet unidentified species of fungus growing within the folds of her breasts or her labia.

Then, although the “Routine Check Up” clinic was relatively innocuous, there was always the dread of discovering the unknown surprising disease entities lurking in the cracks at the “I Think I Have a Problem” clinic: Yeast, gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia, syphilis, vaginitis, urethritis, cystitis, trichinosis, and chondyloma. It was a great day indeed if the symptoms were only related to a benign ovarian cyst.

Women of all ages, from all walks of life; from rich to poor; ugly to beautiful, anorectic to obese, hygienic to unbathed with a wide assortment of troubles; with the best part of it all sometimes having to tell the parent of a minor that her good little supposedly virginal daughter had recently been up to quite a bit less than good and wasn’t really virginal anymore. Or worse: knocked up.

Of course, this was the era before HIV and because condoms were not necessarily all the rage, VD and STDs were more a nuisance than a death sentence. But it was still at a time when teen-age sex was quite verboten or severely stigmatized; especially so in Providence, Rhode Island which being a suburb of Vatican City, had no nightlife at all and in 1972 had little to offer a date but a front seat six pack followed by a back seat boogey.

It all became a female genital blur. Pretty pussy, ugly pussy, hairy pussy, shaved pussy, clean pussy, dirty pussy, messy pussy, sweet pussy, sour pussy, pregnant pussy, laboring pussy, lacerated pussy; and then various combinations or permutations of adding to that: big lips, small lips, large clits, little clits, and crotch zits. After the daily assembly line of “pussy galore” I would fall off to sleep at night with visions of pussy-plums dancing in my head.

Now top that off with taking care of women in every stage of pregnancy, finally culminating in the counter-joy of having to listen for hours on end to a large open labor ward housing a dozen or so women who all raise their voices in completely non-syncopated timing as they scream out the raucous chorus of the opera known as the: “The Throes of Parturition.”

And although a baby’s birth can never be timed for perfect convenience, some of the attending Obstetricians would add an alcohol drip to the usual regimen to time the delivery by more propitiously delaying its occurrence from the middle of the night toward a reasonable hour the next day.

This made the operatic chorus all the more interesting for the added feature of having a room full of inebriated laboring women and the interesting quirky things the booze did to their personalities. Some of them became quite psychotic and had to be restrained. It was atavistically primeval.

Then on to the delivery room, where although a rapturous joy for the parents, I found nothing joyful at all about the gush of pee, blood, baby, baby shit, mommy shit, amniotic fluid, placenta; and then secondarily the effect that gallons of all of these body fluids did to the only pair of shoes I owned.

It got so bad that I cancelled a weekend tryst with the woman I was dating at the time by making up some lame excuse, and then told her I would call her back in a few days. She did not take it well, then made oblique references to the fact that I was probably cheating on her with some nurse or nursing student in Providence, while she was alone, lonely, and horny back in Boston. I could not at all get through to her that worse than that; I simply had no desire whatsoever to see her naked, much less do anything else with her body parts or any woman’s body parts for that matter. Like writer’s block, I had developed a serious case of libido block that could be best characterized as nothing more than a bad case of female genitalia burnout.

She said:

  • Sure. I’d believe that just as much as I’d believe you didn’t want me anymore because you and that stupid roommate of yours were gay. I knew that anyway. Goodbye and good luck.

No chance of cheating anyway, as even the female nursing students had also evoked as much negative libidinous attraction as alien body snatchers that came out of vegetable pods. Add to that the fact that their recreational drug of choice at the time was Quaaludes (“Sopors”), which did not exactly make them a boat-load of fun at social gatherings. There is nothing like going to a party where everyone passes out, and truthfully speaking, date rape with a limp dish rag was not my cup of tea.

Yes, lets all get to the point where not only do we not know what we did, or who we did it with, but also do not remember if we even liked it. My preference for pussy was to have it alert, awake and even faking interest if necessary; but not semi-comatose and diffidently snoring.

Despite my girlfriend’s innuendos, it was not even a case of latent homosexuality because I knew I did not harbor the slightest hint of homosexual tendencies. I honestly and truly liked pussy! It was just a simple case of overexposure resulting in a negative feedback loop. Too much of what otherwise might have been a good thing, so to speak because it just wasn’t the Hugh Heffner presentation.

After the OB experience in Providence, I also knew that I would never look at sex and the human reproductive cycle in the same way; and that if I ever chose the OB-GYN discipline as my medical vocation, I would probably want to eventually go ahead and just have myself neutered.

Pussy Galore: No problem for Agent 007

Photo: clothing.cafepress.com