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A real, first-time dilemma for me ...

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Old 03-04-2008, 02:35 AM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
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A real, first-time dilemma for me ...

Please forgive me. This is a bit long out of necessity.

I have been with my second wife for almost 18 terrific years. I was previously married for 16 years to a nice lady, who is happily remarried and now a friend. We had a great sex life, but no real personal relationsship, probably because we got married after only spending two days together. It was doomed from the start, but we did have two great kids.

For the first two years my current wife and I were together, we had a wonderfully playful sex life. Right from the start we recognized that sex was a renewable resource, that no one had to be perfect, and that as long as we had fun in the bedroom, things were going great.

At close to the end of the second year, at age 50, I had a massive heart attack that came close to killing me. It was only because I had it in the lobby of a Toronto medical school, where I had gone to interview a doctor, that they were able to save me. I was in cardiac intensive care for two weeks, and had to take it very easy for the next six months.

During that six months my wife, who survived uterine cancer at 28, was stricken with severe rheumatoid arthritis in nearly every joint in her body. Her pain was incredible, she was virtually bedridden for almost two years, and was treated with massive amounts of medication -- up to 3,000mg a day! These included anti-inflammatory drugs and anti-depressants.

Sadly, she was hit very hard by a serious side effect of some anti-depressants. It was a reaction that affected the part of her brain that stimulates sexuality and interest in sex. She no longer had any physical interest in me whatsoever. I understood this because I'm a medical writer and had written several articles on the subject.

Shortly thereafter we moved from Toronto to a lovely little rural town, where life is a lot safer, a lot slower, and a lot more pleasant. Unfortunately, the back side of this is that we only have local access to a very small six-doctor hospital. The closest major one is 45 miles away.

On New Year's Day of our first year here, my wife, who was only 36 at the time (there's a 15 year age difference between us) experienced very serious chest pains. I took her to the local ER, where she almost immediately had a massive brain seizure. She survived, but it wiped out more of the part of the brain that controls sexual interest.

A year later, she began experiencing severe headaches and was diagnosed by a neurologist with a very rare deteriorating brain condition called "Sneddon Syndrome" that causes calcium depots in the brain and which interferes with cognitive functions like spelling, counting, memory and other simple tasks. They told her at the time to expect early Alzheimer symptoms by the time she was 50, and she is now experiencing significant short-term memory loss, even though she'll only be 51 in June.

We dealt with this like we do any problem. We talked it out and decided that while it may disrupt out life, it wasn't going to interfere with our personal relationship, which is superb. I must point out, also, that we live and work together from home and probably haven't been apart more than a week in the last 10 years. In all that time, I doubt if we've had five arguments about anything, because we are so open and comfortable with each other.

My health problems began in 1998, two years after we got married. I fell off a ladder and shattered my ankle and foot, both of which have been put together with enough screws to build a small garden shed. I was in a wheelchair for two months, on a walker for three, on crutches for three more, and a cane for the last of the nine months I was in a cast.

I developed a couple of blood clots during my surgery,which were successfully treated. However, six months later I began experiencing severe chest pain and extreme difficulty in breathing. I went to the local ER where, I found later, they gave me the wrong meds. I signed out of the hospital and went to my GP who, after putting me on oxygen, had me rushed to the closest teaching hospital. A superb specialist there made a lucky guess and ordered an emergency CT scan which showed my lungs were blocked with 11 blood clots called pulmonary embolisms. I spent two weeks in intensive care on constant IV blood thinners and had to have two treatments with heavy-duty clot busters before I could breath without oxygen again.

I should point out that 80% of pulmonary embolisms are found at autopsy. They are the major killers of cancer, heart and lung patients.

While in the hospital they discovered I have a genetic flaw in my blood that makes me very prone to such clots. My children have both inherited the gene, and both have also experienced clots that were fortunately caught in time.

This changed our life tremendously. I had turned my entire lifestyle around after my heart attack, began eating very healthy foods, cycled up to 100 kilometers a week and lifted weights for an hour a day, seven days a week. The exercise was out after the multiple embolisms.

In the time since then I have had a total of 22 pumonary embolisms, one brain seizure and seven blood clots in my legs that severely damaged the veins. My feet and lower legs are hugely swollen a large part of the time and pain, sometimes intensive pain, is a constant companion. I need vein transplants in both legs in order to have any chance of saving my feet, but have been turned down by two major hospital transplant committees because I'm such a high surgical risk. My risk of death from any kind of general anasthesia is upwards of 85%. I have also had to have several potentially malignant melanomas surgically removed, but they are only able to do the work under minimal local anesthetic, which is not always a fun experience.

The gene problem also causes me to have periodic internal bleeding which, on one occasion, was so severe that I needed a blood transfusion.

Now to the dilemma ....

I love my wife dearly, and I like and respect her enormously. I also know she loves me unconditionally and has been a rock of support through all the tumultous and uncertain times. We have not had sexual relations in almost 15 years, and I have learned to live with that because affection is still a big part of our relationship. Sadly, though, it's been moving more toward a comfortable, companionable relationship, not unlike a brother-sister one.

I should point out that in all this time I have never once been unfaithful, even though I've had some pretty pointed offers. It's not for me. I take my marriage vows very seriously.

In the last year, however, surprising to me, I have had some pretty vivid fantasies about some of the women with whom I have long and very close personal relationships. They are dear, dear friends who my wife knows quite well. Unlike my first wife, she completely understands that men and women can be very close friends and even love each other as friends. I feel the same way about her. Most of her long-time friends are male, partly because of her long working relationship with the police, and partly because she's such a sports nut. Trust me, you only knock the Green Bay Packers within her hearing if you've got a fast car and driver waiting outside!

The fantasies bother me, because part of me would like to act them out, and that leaves me feeling very guilty. I'm fortunate enough to look about 15 years younger than I am, and even have more hair and less grey than my son!
I've talked to a psychologist, which was a waste of time. I went to a female, because I thought she'd have a better perspective than a male, but all she advised me for a big bundle of money was that I should tell my wife that she has a "duty and responsibility" to meet my physical needs. I found that to be a large crock of crap!!

I've talked to my two closest female friends about the situation a little bit, and their advice, which I know was given with my best interests in mind, was to try to keep being patient. That I can do. My marriage is certainly worth it, but I don't like the guilt I feel for just thinking about taking up one of the offers I get.

Anyway, after this long-winded discourse, my question is: Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions on how to handle this situation and its moral dilemma? My family is very, very long-lived. My father was the youngest to die in almost four generations, and he was 86! I certainly don't want to carry these feelings around for another 20 or 30 years!

Thanks for taking the time to read this rather lengthy explanation.

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Old 03-04-2008, 03:35 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: ashdown, arkansas
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cyndi62765 HB User
Smile Re: A real, first-time dilemma for me ...

first of all i am so sorry for all your pain and medical worries and problems that you and your dear wife one should have to endure as much problems that you and she have prayers are certainly with you.

second of all although i am not versed in alot of your medical problems i am glad that somehow you have survived all this and hopefully on the track of a continual recovery for you both.

what i hear in your post is that you and your wife have a wonderful and understanding relationship with great amounts of love and respect for one another are so very lucky to have this with someone in this life...not very many people do.

do you think that there is any way that you could talk to your wife openly and honestly about your feelings on this matter?

maybe if she knew how you were really feeling {without dropping any names}...she may be more inclined to realize the seriousness of this situation and try harder to find a way to meet your needs...

i am not sure if you are looking for someone to say its okay to act on your feelings because of the situation or not...

no one can decide that for you but you...given your high morals and respect for your marriage i think that you are not looking for that...

i truthfully sympathize with my mom and dad went through something similar due to his heart attack and the meds he had to take afterwards....which left him sexually unavailable...for along time....

since you have such a good relationship with your wife i think talking this out would be the best start before any rash decisions are made...its her right to know how her husband is feeling so she can at least have the chance to help fix the situation..don't you think?

i wish you the very best in this life and my prayers will be with you seem like such a wonderful person i feel that you will be richly blessed in this life....if he brings you to it , he will bring you through know that already yourself from your not give up....!!!!

keep i touch....

Last edited by cyndi62765; 03-04-2008 at 05:00 AM. Reason: spelling

Old 03-04-2008, 06:53 PM   #3
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 3
canscribe HB User
Re: A real, first-time dilemma for me ...

Thank you very much for your kind and thoughtful message, Cyndi. I have considered discussing this with my wife, but elected not to, mostly because it would only raise the whole "guilt thing" again. I know she misses our earlier relationship, but it's something she really has no control over, so why add more hurt to the equation? Neither of us have ever wanted "duty sex" in our relationship.

What I so very much want, and know I'll never have again, are the passionate, joy-filled, playful encounters that were so much a part of our early life together. Her deteriorating brain syndrome is permanent and cannot be treated. Fewer than 100,000 people in the history of medicine have ever had it, which makes it very, very sad, particularly since she once had an enormously bright and inquisitive mind; the kind of mind, attitude and faith that led her to quit her job at 35 and start college!

She was an "A" student and had already completed her first-year internship in a criminal forensic holding facility when the arthritis struck and simply wiped that whole opportunity out of her life. She bent under the disappointment, but she never broke!

As soon as she was back on her feet I taught her how to do some of the medical and scientific research on the Internet that I need for my work, so she still has some productive job fulfillment that I know is helpful. It also helps that she's not afraid to talk about her fear of the future with me, since she knows that her cognitive decline is only going to get worse, never better.

I come from a much harder school, having grown up in orphanages and some pretty brutal foster homes because my parents walked out of the hospital four days after I was born and just left me there. I did find my father after 33 years of searching, but it was three years after he died. His widow, however, did give me some connections and I did find some family members in Maine several years later. We visited them once and still stay in touch through the odd phone call or note. It's sad, but there will never be more than that.

Laura has a wonderful Mom (a widow) and one terrific brother. The other brother has some serious health issues, not of his own making, that he's trying to deal with. He just hears a different drummer than the rest of the family. She had two sisters, but one committed suicide about 20 years ago. The other hasn't spoken to her in almost three years because she decided that Laura married beneath herself and that I'm a jerk, all because I left a very well-paying job running a PR agency nearly 20 years ago to work as a freelance writer. The whole "corporate crap" package finally got to me, and I was tired of travelling all the time, working 70+ hours a week, and being an unmitigated phony and horse's ***.

I only make about a quarter of what I once did, but material things don't matter to us (to wit, I was delighted to get a set of frying pans for Christmas!) and we have what we need. What we lust after just isn't quite as important as it once was.

I'm bright enough to realize that I'm going through some kind of minor crisis of confidence, or perhaps a test of my own somewhat strongly held beliefs. It won't last forever, but it does bother me to even think about stepping outside the boundaries of our marriage. She has told me, though, that if my one idol, Heidi Klum, ever invites me off for a romp-filled weekend, I can go with her blessings!!

The self-doubt, and perhaps too much thinking, isn't very different from what I went through after coming home from Vietnam. I was married to my first wife then, and her whole attitude was "you're home, forget it". That "forget it" part took me more than 10 years, some agonizing soul searching and, ultimately, the guiding hand and spirit of a wonderful psychologist who made me seek out my own issues and my own answers. It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't fun, but it did end 10 years of nightmares, stress and repressed anger, and that was a blessing.

I'm 95% happy and content, Cyndi, and I guess that's more than most of the world's men have. There's not much I can't handle, even knowing that either my heart or the blood defect is eventually going to kill me. I'll deal with that when it happens. Oddly, we can even laugh a little at that. I want to donate every organ they'll take, no funeral, no memorial (I believe that if I don't live in your heart and your memory, I haven't touched you very much, have I?) All I want to do is leave some money behind for her to gather all our friends at our favorite local pub, have a small party, and laugh and talk about all the good things and good times that happened. Isn't that better than a slab of carved granite?

Of course, there's always the chance that someone will try to interfere (our government is famous for it) and change those plans, so Laura's promised me that if I have to go on view in a coffin somewhere, she'll put a sign on my chest that says, "If you say one word about how good I look, I'm moving under your bed for all eternity!" Now that's the woman I love!!

Thank you very, very much for listening, Cyndi. This is the first time I've ever told anyone the whole story about this problem and doing that has helped a lot (sort of like unburdening the emotional donkey). The fact that you were not only willing to "listen", but also took the time to respond, was a wonderful bonus. So, one more time, "Thank you!"

You take care. You sound like a pretty special person. I hope your Mom and Dad are doing well.


Old 03-04-2008, 07:43 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: ashdown, arkansas
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Re: A real, first-time dilemma for me ...

Patrick,...thank you for asking of my mom and dad first of all..sadly to say he died 14 years ago of prostate cancer...ironically we always thought it would be his heart that killed him and boom something else struck...but my mom is remarried and happy as can be.

there is one question i would like to ask you. If you were in your wifes shoes and the tables were turned...what would you want and how would you feel? would you want your wife to tell you of her feelings or just act on them as if it were okay and then go on with life like nothing ever happened?

Before you make a decision, could you go on with your life like nothing ever happened...? the soul searching you must do right now is very important not only for the respect of your marriage but for you as well..could you live with yourself?

this is such a hard and heartwrenching want to show love to the person you are deeply in love with and also fill your needs as well...and you so rightly should be able to....but we also must remind ourselves when we took vows in sickness and in health right?

i think you have well proved that you have stuck by her through sickness and she has done so as well with you...

i would love to say "go for it , you deserve it" but it so scares me to do that or should i say , say that because we never know what situation we may fall into .

i hope it all works out for you tho..and now i may change my prayer up a little...i will pray for ~heidi klum~ to come knocking on your door soon!!!!

until then? be the wonderful person Laura married....and think of yourself too tho...a mans needs is important i must agree...think about the question i asked...and i am always here to listen and respond..

have a good night....

Last edited by cyndi62765; 03-04-2008 at 07:48 PM. Reason: spelling

Old 03-11-2008, 11:41 PM   #5
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
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canscribe HB User
Re: A real, first-time dilemma for me ...

Hi Cyndi!

So very sad to hear about your Dad. It's been hanging over my head ever since I had my heart attack, so I just take things day by day. I look out the front window every morning, and if I see grass (or the foot of frozen snow that's out there) I'm happy. The day I look out and see only dirt, I think I'll start to worry.

I've given the situation a lot of thought, and have decided to say nothing. Laura's dealing with enough now; I don't need to add guilt into the package. I've lived with the situation for many years, and I believe I'm quite capable of coping for many more. I try very hard to keep things as simple as possible, and the simple truth is that I love her more than life itself, and what I do get back is far more than I ever expected from life, so I guess that puts me ahead. The situation was, as I look back on it, a combination of perhaps a crisis in confidence and a bad case of the "poor me's".

Thank you every so much for "listening", Cyndia. You're an absolute delight, and I really hope you keep in touch.

And by the way, if Heidi should really come along, please do give her directions, okay? She's yummy!!!!


Old 03-12-2008, 04:02 AM   #6
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cyndi62765 HB User
Re: A real, first-time dilemma for me ...

Patrick, you are a very wise man. Laura is so lucky to have you in her life for the rest of her life and i am so sure she knows this already...i believe 2 people cross paths on purpose and for a have found yours and she has found hers...

my prayers are always with you both and i shall look for more of your threads on here we cannot associate otherwise its in the rules and i have already been banned once for breaking the rules and won't do it again.

Had to beg my way back in !!!

P.S. Heidi would be oh so lucky as well...maybe Seal will leave her!

{Doubt it}

Have a beautiful day!!!

Old 03-21-2008, 10:35 PM   #7
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redsoxgirl2418 HB Userredsoxgirl2418 HB User
Re: A real, first-time dilemma for me ...

Considering, despite your past and ongoing severe medical conditions, sex is something that you want and hold of importance in the grand scheme of things, you should think about the fact that there is a possibility that you wife feels the same way as well. Perhaps what she knows of your weak heart, susceptibility to blood clots, and damaged legs causes her to believe that you wouldn't be up for sex.

There is no need to communicate with her about it in a way that would exude guilt or force her to do something she didn't want to. Get a little frisky with her. Flirt with her. Change things up a bit so all of your relations during the course of a day aren't like that of a brother and sister. THen maybe you will see a change for the better.

Old 03-31-2008, 02:16 PM   #8
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Re: A real, first-time dilemma for me ...

I would have to agree with redsoxgirl. Bringing up your past sexual life and verbally telling her that you want something similar to what you once had will make your wife feel guilty. Changing your daily routine in little ways so that you still feel like husband and wife is a much better idea.

I don't know much about the illness your wife is suffering and how much of the sexual interest gets wiped from the brain. I don't mean to ask for personal details, but in looking for ways of helping you out i will ask does your wife still feel any emotions? eg: wanting to be held/cuddled, does she still want to kiss, does she mind any type of foreplay (without the actual sex part).

What i figured was that if she still had a tiny percentage of the emotions that make two people like to cuddle up close and be together in a loving way and even perhaps kiss, then that is at least something. The next step would be her allowing or being able to handle something akin to pre sexual foreplay. I realise if her brain isn't triggering those sexual responses she may not feel any desire if she is 'touched' in her private area, but then again she may not object to allowing some degree of sexual intimacey for your pleasure, even though she knows she wont be feeling any/much pleasure herself. I'm not saying go "all the way" and make her submit to sex, that wouldn't be nice unless she herself agreed to it now and again just so that you had some form of sexual outlet.

I know i'm not wording this right, but it's really difficult to attempt to help someone and give suggestions yet not know fully what circumstances you have to work with and i most definitely don't want to offend either you or your wife. I am only suggesting the above as obviously you have needs and desires and even men who have healthy wives and don't get regular sex end up using the internet to masterbate to porn pics/videos etc. I would gather that that would be your only avenue and would get boring an monotonous. That is why i thought if your wife was fine with kissing and cuddling then that keeps the emotional bond of two people open. The next stage is if she is fine with being 'touched' along with any other nonpenatrative forms of foreplay. The ultimate stage i know for you would be if it were possible to have actual sex, which even if she agreed to it, i don't know whether you would even want if she doesn't feel a thing and i know you don't want to put her through something which will make her feel bad. If she could meet you part way so that there was at least a small degree of connection between the two of you.

Now i'm going to be really bold and ask, even though there is no sex and you both work from home, does she still make an attempt to dress nice, even sexy? That is important i believe. She may not feel like actual sex, but she is still a woman and one to whom you are still deeply attracted to. Even if you work from home, there is no reason you both can dress to impress one another. I hope you still pay her compliments. A woman likes to be noticed by her man and complimented, regardless on whether there is any sex happening. Aside from dressing sexy or in something really nice every so often during the week, would she mind wearing something sexy to bed, without it meaning sex?

Now i'm going to be really bold and once again hope this doesn't come across rude or crude, but if she allowed a certain degree of intimacey or even enjoyed a tiny bit of intimacey, would she allow you to actually have an orgasm there in her presence as a sexual thing which would be as though she were included, yet didn't involve actual sexual penetration thereby not making her feel guilty for not feeling any sexual desires. No need to answer that question on here, just something to think about. I ask that question only b/c there are couples (or one part of a couple) who for whatever reason can't have sex, but can orgasm and are willing to do so in one another's presence which makes them feel as though they have more or less had sex. This has often made the partner who can't have sex still feel desirable that you came b/c you were turned on by them and makes them feel that they still fit into some form of a sexual life with their partner. It also makes them feel better knowing you are doing that with them rather than in secret behind a closed door while checking out internet porn.

I suppose you have investigated whether there are any med's or herbs to help her libido?

Well that is about the extent of my suggestions. I hope i haven't embarrassed you or anybody else. I haven't answered whether you ought to run off and have an affair as i don't think you are quite bursting at the seams quite yet to do that and i dont believe that is the answer to your current dilema. I believe if you can find little ways of interacting with your wife it will sustain your feelings for quite a while.

Best wishes

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