My best friend in high school - Bartholomew - told me he masturbated before making any type of decision. He said, “You gotta release the tension before you do anything, even pick out what clothes to fucking wear.” He said we’re all wound up like springs, so we can’t think logically. Back then, I thought he was just a horny teenager that liked to jack off too much. Now, I think he was onto something.
Bartholomew grew up in a strict, religious home, and his mom told him that touching himself was the devil’s work - said he’d go blind if he did it too much. So, he had to hide the evidence. He’d beat it into socks, then hide them in his closet where she couldn’t find them. He’d wash them all once a month while she was at Bible study.
Well, one day, he went downstairs to move the socks to the dryer, and it wouldn’t start - it was jammed or something. He left it on, thinking it would start eventually, and turned to leave. They lived in an old house with outlets that didn’t work and faulty gas lines. It wasn’t uncommon for shit to stop working. But, leaving it on just meant the gas kept flowing. When he went back downstairs an hour or so later to check on it, the whole thing exploded.
The neighbors heard the noise and called 9/11. They found Bartholomew down there, half-dead, with pieces of metal sticking out of him like a cactus. Somehow, he survived, but a few of those pieces got him in the face - right in the eyes. He was blind afterwards, and he had one of those walking sticks blind people use to move around. I asked him later, when he came back to school, if he still jacked off, and he said no. He said he didn’t even touch his dick anymore.
I still touched mine, but I was too shaken-up to enjoy it. I thought about Bartholomew with pieces of metal in his eyes. I blamed him, and we stopped being friends. Every time I saw him with that damn stick, I wanted to ram it up his ass. Some of the kids stole it from him one day while we were at lunch, and I let them hide it in my locker. He wandered up and down the hallways with the gym teacher, crying about how his mom was going to “kill him” if he didn’t find it, and we all laughed. He transferred schools shortly after, and I went home that day and had my first orgasm in months.
So, when my dick stopped working last year, I thought about Bartholomew. It happened one night when I brought a girl home from the bar - I couldn’t get it up. I blamed it on the booze, but I knew I hadn’t drank enough. She looked at my limp dick and said, “It’s okay. We don't have to.” I went to the bathroom and turned on some porn, hoping to make something happen, but it didn’t work. I came back, and she was already asleep. She caught me trying to masturbate the next morning, and she laughed. I said, “Don’t you ever touch yourself?” She said, “No, I just have actual sex instead.” I sat there, holding my disappointing lack-of-an-erection, and felt my face turn red. She left, and I didn’t call her.
I thought it was just a bad night - told myself it was her fault - and tried again later. No matter how hard I yanked or how much porn I watched, I couldn’t make it work. I stayed up the whole night. I went to work with bags under my eyes and a pit in my stomach. I was noticeably embarrassed. I thought everyone knew my dick was broken, and I hid in the bathroom until my boss sent me home.
I tried again when I got there - it still wouldn’t work. My hands were coated in a layer of lotion I couldn’t scrub off, and everything kept slipping out of them. I dropped a glass of water in the kitchen and cut myself on the pieces. While I was cleaning off in the bathroom, I felt tears welling in my eyes. It had been one night without an erection, and I was going insane. I blamed Bartholomew. I thought the ghost of his memory was haunting me to get revenge. I looked him up on Facebook, and he seemed happy - he had a wife and a beautiful daughter. The rage made my hands shake as I looked through his pictures. Why should he - a man who lost his eyesight because he couldn’t keep his hands out of his pants - get to fuck, but I couldn’t?
I stopped bringing girls home, afraid of being a disappointment. I couldn’t get more than a "semi" on my own, and even that took hours. I knew I wouldn’t be able to perform in front of anyone else. I spent hours on the internet, reading everything I could find about erectile dysfunction. I didn’t have any of the physical risk factors - I didn’t smoke or use drugs and I wasn’t overweight or anything - so everything pointed to some sort of “mental block.” It didn’t make sense. I was a healthy adult male with an active and satisfying sex life. I didn’t have any unresolved trauma. I didn’t secretly hate women or my mother. Still, no matter what I tried, I couldn’t make it work.
It was paralyzing, actually. I thought about the girl who said she didn’t touch herself, and I felt sorry for women everywhere - women who were so far removed from their own sexuality that achieving an orgasm rested solely on the shoulders of the men they fucked. Suddenly, I was just another man who couldn’t make it happen for them, and I felt crippled.
I lived that way for months - limp and frustrated - before I finally scheduled an appointment with my doctor. I sat in the waiting room, tapping my foot against the tile nervously, and felt everyone’s eyes on me. We were all there because we had some sort of ailment or malady that needed to be taken care of, but, somehow, mine felt worse. I locked eyes with a man on the other side of the room after he blew his nose loudly into a tissue, and I was jealous. I wished for a cold or the flu or a broken arm or anything else - anything other than a dick that wouldn’t work.
When my name was finally called, I raced to the back. The nurse - a cute girl with hazel eyes and a crooked smile - took down some basic information before asking the reason for my visit. I didn’t want to tell her. She was a girl I would’ve loved to fuck. I lied and said I had been dealing with a prolonged bout of the stomach virus. She smiled as she walked out of the room, probably laughing to herself about my obvious impotence.
The doctor was a surly-looking man with glasses that made his eyes look twice as big. He sat down, and I blurted out, “I haven’t been able to get hard in months.” He didn’t look shocked. He assured me a lot of men experience issues in the “intimacy department” - like it was an aisle in the grocery store - and summoned the cute nurse back to the room to take my blood. He came back and asked a few more questions before sending me home with a pat on the back. “It’ll be okay,” he said, “We’ll get the results of your bloodwork in a few days, and we’ll know more. Just try not to think about it.”
Except, it was the only thing I could think about. According to the scales at the doctor’s office, I had already lost almost ten pounds. I wasn’t sleeping. Every other thought in my mind revolved around my dick and reasons why it might have turned on me. When the office called a few days later, my phone barely rang once before I picked up - I was a madman on the verge of a cure for his insanity.
“Well,” the nurse began, “your hormone levels are all over the place.” I felt my heart start to race. “You’ll need to come back in for some further testing, but we’re going to refer you to a specialist,” she continued, “We’ve already set up the appointment for you. Do you have a pen to write this information down?” I didn’t need a pen. “These sorts of things usually resolve themselves, but it’s best to get it looked at to rule out other, more serious, causes. I wouldn’t worry too much, Mr. Fortner.” She ended our conversation on a positive note, but I couldn’t have felt worse.
The sleeplessness intensified. By the time the appointment came, I was getting one or two hours a night, with the rest of the time occupied by failed masturbation attempts and the relentless pursuit of a self-diagnosis. The people in this waiting room were different - more accommodating - but it didn’t make me feel better. We were all there to see a specialist for something our regular doctors couldn’t treat. We all had bags under our eyes, and I imagined we all had dicks that didn’t work. I was no longer special- we were all fucked.
They ran a battery of tests. None of those nurses were girls I wanted to fuck, so I didn’t feel ashamed explaining my primary symptom. I needed an answer - it had been almost seven months. Seven months without sex or my own company. Seven months feeling like the odd-man-out in every room. Seven months of watching my manhood decrease in size, shriveling against my body like it was trying to retreat. Seven months of embarrassment and insomnia and disappointment that carved premature wrinkles into my forehead.
After another month of testing and imaging, they were able to find the culprit - a malignant tumor on my pituitary gland. It was operable, and I was assured, with the aid of hormone therapy, I would return to normal in no-time. I finally saw the light at the end of my tunnel, and it was brilliant. We scheduled the surgery, and I was happy to go under the knife. At that moment, I realized just how insane men are - we would go to any lengths to keep our dicks working, even having our brains cut open, all in pursuit of an orgasm.
The surgery went well - they were sure they got all of it out - and I started hormone therapy shortly after. They warned the erectile dysfunction might last for a few months after, due to the psychological stress, but I got my dick up and running a few weeks later. The night it happened was cathartic. I called every girl I knew until one of them agreed to come over, and I fucked her senseless - until neither of us could breathe. We laid there, soaked in sweat, and I slept for the first time since it all happened, finally able to put my mind to rest.
I jacked off so much after she left, I thought it might fall off from overuse. I ran out of lotion, but it didn’t matter - I rubbed it raw. I jacked off until it hurt, and then I did it more. Every time I had an orgasm, it felt like a piece of my dignity was replaced, and I had a lot of holes to fill. I was cleared to go back to work, but I faked sick just so I could stay home a little longer - alternating between inviting women over and fucking my hand on repeat.
It was short-lived, though. Just like before, my dick went limp while a girl was waiting for me, spread-eagle on the bed. I kicked her out without so much as a kiss goodbye and called my doctor. He reiterated the point about erectile dysfunction being a psychological symptom, but I demanded to be seen again. Reluctantly, the office moved my follow-up appointment to the next morning, and I showed up an hour early, angry and scared.
The cancer was back, more aggressive than before, and they were baffled. When they showed me the scan, I almost shit my pants. Before, it was so small, I would’ve needed a magnifying glass to pick it out on the picture. This time, it was loud. It took up space. The plan was to fight aggression with aggression. My incision had just barely finished healing, and we were going to open it up again. I almost couldn’t stomach the idea, but I looked down between my legs, staring at my flaccid penis through my pants, and I agreed without hesitation.
Where I bounced back with ease before, the second surgery was much more invasive and much more intense. I stayed in the hospital for a long time afterwards, trying to sneak in masturbation attempts late at night between the nurses’ rounds, but it was fruitless. I didn’t know if it was the hospital or the pain, but my dick was just as broken as before - maybe even more so. I complained about it non-stop. Each time, the nurse or doctor told me everything I was experiencing was perfectly normal, and they spoke to me like an invalid. I felt like a naughty child forced to wear oven mitts because he couldn’t stop touching himself. Then, a few days before I was scheduled for release, two very important things happened.
First, I woke up with an erection. It was painful and throbbing under the sheets, and I smiled ear-to-ear. When the nurse came in to check on me, I was covered in semen and going for another round. Her face turned red as she realized what was happening. I wasn’t apologetic - I refused to stop. She tried to remain professional as I moaned in ecstasy, but she couldn’t hide her discomfort. I finished and said good morning, grinning at her flushed cheeks and the way she shuffled her feet nervously. Women didn’t masturbate, after all.
Second, my vision went blurry. It started small, just flashes that went away when I rubbed my eyes, but it got worse. By the end of the day, the blurriness didn’t change no matter how hard I pressed, and I started to panic. I didn’t want to mention it, scared it might prolong my stay. My dick was working again - I wanted to go home and enjoy it, even if it meant I’d have to put my porn on the big screen in the living room. But, I wasn’t stupid - I knew eyesight didn’t just “go away” on a whim, with no rhyme or reason. I hid it for as long as I could, but the nurse noticed the squint as I signed some paperwork. Just like that, my chance for freedom was gone.
Further examination revealed they hadn’t gotten it all - there was still a tumor pressing on my optic nerve. They wanted to shrink it first and go in when it was safe, but all I could think about was my dick. It was finally working again. I wanted a few days to “mull it over” - to furiously masturbate in the safety of my apartment - before making a decision, and they granted my wish. I took a cab home since my vision was shit, and I jacked off until I fell asleep on the couch, dick in hand. I did the same thing for a few more days, filling my apartment with the sounds of forced moans and kink, on-screen sex, before coming to a rather large decision, aided by the clarity only orgasms can bring: I was going to forego treatment.
I told my doctor the news to his shock and bewilderment. “But, you realize you’ll probably go blind? It’ll just keep damaging the nerve until it’s unable to be repaired. Not to mention - this is cancer we’re talking about, Mr. Fortner. People die from cancer. I don’t think you understand the magnitude of the situation at hand.” I laughed, thinking about how his dick probably always worked, and said, “Believe me, I understand the situation. I just have more important things in mind.” I left, swelling with pride, against all medical advice.
It’s been a little over a year since the first night I couldn’t get it up, and I’m pretty much blind now. I can see light and shadows, but just barely. I imagine it’ll be a few more months before the damn thing gets big enough to ruin my dick again, so I’ve been taking full advantage of my capabilities. I quit my job - I didn’t see the point anymore when I was going to die anyway. I reached out to Bartholomew on Facebook and told him everything. He called me, and we laughed at the irony. He lost his vision by jacking off too much, and I was giving mine up for the same reason - to spend whatever time I had left with my dick in hand. I said, “I guess your mom was right, after all.” He chuckled and said, “Yeah, I guess so.”