I am faulty. I don’t work properly. Who would want me?

This post has been written by the brother of one our friends. It is a very honest account of something devastating that happens to around one third of men over 50, but that is rarely talked about…

I am faulty. I don’t work properly. Who would want me?

I’ve suffered with erectile dysfunction since contracting a debilitating disease 46 years ago at the age of 18. It wrecked most of my relationships, my first marriage and brought me to the point of suicide.

Statistics are unreliable as, rather understandably, men don’t like discussing it. I’m not alone. Medical practitioners think one in three can’t get it up properly over the age of fifty.

Stentra, Viagra, Levitra and Cialis are all current drugs available. None work for me. My doctor has told me there is nothing they can do.

It’s all about nerves and circulation, giving up smoking, reducing alcohol intake, losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle. You probably know all this but I’m told it’s too late for me.

Amazingly there are women out there who accept penetrative sex is not all it’s about. A hug and a head on my shoulder means I am still worth having. To me that is remarkable.  

Hettie and I met on a dating website and discovered we lived ten minutes drive from each other. She said yes when all the rest said no. Why? Because she has been through the mill too in every way you can possibly imagine including a botched removal of her left breast. She worried no-one would want her either. So we share a kindred spirit.

I also saw beyond her scars. To the person she is. To the mother who has sacrificed everything to launch her two sons. She continues to worry about her physical and emotional upsets too whilst, as front line uniformed NHS staff, she daily goes through the kind of hell none of us would dare to.  

As a young man in 1974 the feeling of seeing my penis getting bigger with every heartbeat was so amazing. So to go from not being able to get it down to not being able to get it up remains upsetting. How did it happen?

I love music and wanted to be on the radio to play it. To do this I started on the bottom rung and this meant collecting requests for songs from patients in hospital. I used to go from bed to bed chatting to patients especially those who didn’t have a visitor, as this was my chance to make things better for those very ill and alone. One of them I touched gave me MRSA.

I paid a heavy price.

Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is commonly referred to as the Super-bug. It’s transferred by skin contact and is better understood now but remains one of the many viruses you really don’t need in your life. Just like C19, if you contract it you’re in for a seriously rough ride. Today there is still no vaccine but it is better understood and less of a threat. In 1974 no-one knew what the hell it was.

I dragged myself up the steep stairs at my Nanna & Grandad’s house to bed where I stayed for 3 months sweating, hallucinating and numb from the waist down unable to walk or eat and wasting away.

I hazily remember doctors coming and going and my father being angry with them for being so useless. They told him there was nothing they could do.

My grandmother nursed me through this. She tried feeding me various foods but everything came back up. I was slipping away. Finally she tried arrowroot in warm milk. It stayed down – and that’s why you’re reading this.

I’m an Aries. We are fighters. If someone tells me I can’t do something, you can imagine what happens. Plus I had youth on my side. I started the fight-back, gritting my teeth and supported by my grandparents’ love.

Despite having no feeling from the hips downwards because my nerves had been destroyed, I got stronger, learned to walk again, studied, passed exams then got back into the saddle. But my ability to have an erection was history.

I went through my 20’s and 30’s seriously failing on the female front. Women were not interested. I tried to explain but penetrative sex and babies were what they wanted. I was a reject.

However I was convinced out there must be a woman who understood that being limp didn’t mean I didn’t fancy her. I just had to find her. As you might imagine this took some doing.

Joanna was happy to have me despite the situation I presented her with. She was patient, sexy and remarkable. It worked. In 1992 Catherine was born in Dunfermline. Today, our daughter has a family of her own and they are blossoming.

Making love when you’re older is not much different from being younger. We’re just more forgiving and sensitive – often the key to sexual happiness. In recent times we’ve finally discovered how wonderful just holding someone feels.

Recently I found a map among my father’s papers pointing to a memorial bench where his parents, who saved my life, are remembered.  Sometime soon I will sit there to honour them and their remarkable love. I will take a picnic – and share it with my daughter.

If anyone you know needs help and advice regarding impotence, the NHS website remains the best place to go to.

More articles from guest writers can be found here