This week we present two stories from people who had disastrous moments with their own genitals.
Part 1: Lonely after her move to New York City, Adrien Behn finds a friend in her copper IUD.
Adrien Behn is a triple threat storyteller: she is a podcaster, writer, and live story performer. She has been featured in the New York Times and has self-produced her first podcast, Strangers Abroad, a narrative travel podcast. You can find her performing around the city or in her kitchen making pies.
Part 2: While recovering from prostate cancer surgery, Dana Strout finds a creative solution to his incontinence.
Dana Strout is a Maine native, with roots in this state going back over 300 years. He is a practicing attorney in the Camden/Rockport area, specializing in construction law. He is a photographer working in 19th and early 20th century processes, and was an on air programmer for many years on WERU Community Radio. He currently lives with his wife Dorie and two cats in Camden, and enjoys gymnastics, a warped sense of humor and a good story.
Part 1: Adrien Behn
This question is for the uterus owners in the room. How many of you have felt so lonely that you thought your copper IUD was your best friend? Anybody else? Am I alone in that one too? Okay.
I moved to New York in 2015 and I was so lonely, hence that. So I moved here because I had a small group of friends but I didn’t really know what I was doing in life. I was dabbling with this podcast. It’s called Strangers Abroad. You can download it on iTunes or wherever you get podcasts. So I was trying to figure out what to do with that and I just had a weird jewelry part-time job and I was really lost.
But I had a good group of friends to kind of go back to and, one night, we decided to go to a party on Williamsburg and that was the first time I heard Jose’s voice. It was deep and rumbling, like the sound of a thunderstorm in the distance and I was so gravitated towards him. I’m very sensitive to voices since the podcast and he had the kind of voice where he could read an encyclopedia to me and I would be wet by Albuquerque. I was like I needed to be around more of this.
So I go up to him, we start chatting and he just has this energy about him. He seems a little bit older and we’re just chatting and he tells me that he's a writer and he's a storyteller and he used to be an editor of a really big magazine. It was like, oh, my God. You have power and direction and you're hot and you're older and you're mature and I’m into this. You're like a man. Like, yes!
By the time the party is over and we’re the last ones there, we lingered throughout the entire night and they're kicking us out. By the time we left, I knew what flavor our cake was going to be at our wedding. I was ready for it.
So after about a month of hanging out and going on dates where we just laughed the whole time, we had such deep conversations, he gives me a phone call. He's like, “Hey, I got to tell you something. I’m 20 years older than you and I think we should be platonic.”
I was like, “Well, that’s a lot of information to track in one sentence.”
And as I’m trying not to calculate the age difference between him and my dad, he goes, “But I do really think that we could have a great creative partnership. I really didn’t think that we would get along so well. You can help me with my writing and I can help you with your podcast…”
And I was like, “Yeah, we’ll be like a writing power couple and we’ll improve each other and we’ll take over New York with our writing skills and we’re just going to be…”
Okay, it won’t be physical but it will be great. I'll still get to be with him.
So our dynamic turned into he would call me and we’d start working on his stuff and he'd be like, “Okay, we’ll get to your podcast last just because I have a deadline.” So we’d work on his stuff, but by the time we would be done with it we’d feel kind of tired so we’d be like, “Well, let’s just Netflix.” That’s it. Just Netflix.
After bingeing an entire season of House of Cards, I would fall asleep in his bed and we would wake up not spooning but just cusping each other and feeling a lot of back-of-the-knee heat just like… so but we would still fall into those patterns of when you wake up with a partner. We would flirt and make each other laugh and pick out each other’s outfits and get ready with like, “Go get coffee.”
There was one time where at coffee we were just bantering with the barista and she was like, “You guys are so cute.”
And he goes, “Oh, she's not my girlfriend,” which is not what I wanted to hear at that time.
But it didn’t deter me because I knew that Rome wasn’t built overnight and I would have to just put in a little bit more time. I just need to be more patient. So if we were going to be this writing power couple I just started doing more, because I wanted to prove that I could be his girlfriend.
So I just started taking his mail out for him or cleaning his room or being just an overall emotional atlas for 40-plus years of issues.
My real friends at the time were like, “What the fuck are you doing cleaning a 45-year-old man’s apartment and he's not eating your pussy out? What is going on?”
I was like, “Yeah, but someday we’re going to have a little place in the Hudson Valley and we’re going to have a little writer’s cove and make omelets with eggs from our chickens. I just have to put in a little bit more time.”
Until one day, I go to his apartment and I knock on the door, he lets me in. It’s one of those tiny Brooklyn apartments. I get into the kitchen. His roommate’s room is to my right and his room is to the left and I walk into the kitchen-living room-yoga studio-writing workshop-dining room because we live in closets in New York.
I was like, “Hey, I've got some podcasting stuff I want to go over with you,” and he's like, “Yeah, yeah. Let’s just shoot a video for my storytelling thing and then we’ll get to your podcast.”
I was like, “Okay. All right.”
So I'd written out the script for this video. He takes a look at it and then he tosses it aside and starts to improv like he thinks he's Wayne Brady from Whose Line Is It Anyway? and it’s so bad. He's just messing up and we’re doing take after take after take and I’m like this is no amount of UCB classes can fix you. Like, oh, my God!
So he could tell that I’m getting a little frustrated and that this is taking a long time so he's like, “I heard a trick. We’re only being shot from the waist up so what if, just to relax, we could just take our pants off, just to ease tension.”
I was like, “Fucking 45-year-old. I see you. Like I know what you're doing. Yeah, I’m going to take my pants off.”
So I take my pants off. We’re sitting next to each other and, again, not touching but a lot of thigh heat. And we do a take and it actually works, which is amazing. It’s a really good trick. You guys should try it some time.
So we’re like awesome. It worked. We’re done. We’re good. And he's like, “Let’s reward ourselves. We’ll watch some Rick and Morty,” and I was like, “Sure, that sounds great.”
So I get up, pants still off, I get up and I turn the lights off and we sit down and we start watching.
So side note, I’m not like a super traditional girl. I don’t really need chocolates or flowers, but a kiss would be nice before you start fingerblasting me. And out of nowhere it’s just like hand, hand, hand. I was like, “Holy… oh, this is happening! Okay.”
So I roll over, we start making out and he scoops me up, he brings me to his bed and he throws me there and we’re just at it like two squirrels running up a tree. It’s like four months of sexual tension, we’re like at it.
After about 15 minutes, he has this weird anxiety thing. He's like, “Oh, shit. Can you just go up and lock the door to the apartment just so my roommate doesn’t come in?” It’s a small apartment.
I was like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s all right.”
So I get up, turn the lights on and I look back at my conquest, and I've never seen so much blood in my life. I've never seen… like you know the scene from The Shining when like the hallway doors… and it’s just like a river of blood. It looks like we just came up from that.
So he jumps up and I’m standing at this… I don't know if you've ever seen blood, like blood on a human body before but it looks like a haunted house had just hired a character of naked man covered in blood just run around and freak people out. It was a lot.
So we’re looking at each other, we’re looking at our own bodies and we’re looking at the bed. And we’re looking at the bed and we’re looking at each other, but he's not screaming and I’m not screaming so…
I realized in that moment that I’m not into BDSM because I don't like the feeling of being horny and horrified at the same time.
He breaks the silence and he goes, “I’m going to take a shower.”
I’m like, “Okay.”
He goes into the bathroom and he turns the shower faucet on and I look over at it and I’m like I’m not really… because it doesn’t look like… and then he screams. He shouts from the bathroom, “Your copper IUD lacerated my penis.”
My copper IUD was not adding his nonsense. My copper IUD was like a lady praying mantis decapitating her lovers post coitus. She was not having this bullshit. My copper IUD was being the best friend I needed because she was preventing me from making all the bad decisions with men that not even my real friends could do.
So he runs in and he's like, “What the fuck!” He says, “How could you not tell me that this…”
And I was like, “Hey, I had sex with much more men who are much larger than you and with more aggression and this has never happened before.”
He's like, “Okay, we need to go to the hospital.”
I was like, “Yeah, let me just wipe this Game of Thrones episode off of me.”
I go into the shower and I’m just kind of wiping myself down and being like, “Is this what it feels like to have filmed Psycho?”
I get out and I’m trying to dry myself off and then, ladies, Day 2 on your period when you just feel like a big chunk of it come out of you, I have that feeling. I look down and I’m bleeding his blood, like someone else’s blood is coming out of my body, which is something I do on a monthly basis but when it’s someone else’s blood it’s just less empowering.
Anyways, he's shouting at me and he's like, “We need to go to the hospital.”
I was like, “You know, I have needs too. I need to take care of myself right now.”
So I find some semblance of clothing, I find a pad, we put it on, we get in a cab and we get to the hospital. We must have looked like a very strange odd couple because he walks in holding himself like a gangster and I am bowlegged because I don't want my thighs to touch.
We walk up to the receptionist and she's like, “How can I help you?”
We explain the situation and she just, unfazed, just marks us down as if it’s her third lacerated penis that day. It’s a Sunday afternoon.
So they take us into a separate room, they kind of wrap him up before the doctor really comes and talks to us, and we’re both just quiet. He reaches out his hand for me and I just interlace and it just feels like an obligation. I was tired of cleaning up his mess.
So the doctor comes in and he starts asking us questions about, “Okay, what’s your sexual history? How long has this ever happened before?”
And I just go, “Oh, he's not my boyfriend. No, no. Definitely, no. He is not my boyfriend.”
Because I realized that the love that I was so craving from him would have to come from within. Thank you so much.
Part 2: Dana Strout
Well, it’s January 3, 2003, a cold, winter night. 6:00 in the evening I’m having dinner with my wife, the telephone rings. I pick it up. It’s my doctor. He says, “Well, I got your biopsy reports back.”
I said, “Oh, how did I do?”
He said, “Well, you've got prostate cancer. There's a lot of it and it’s really aggressive. But, given your age and the shape you're in, we should be able to manage it pretty well.”
I’m thinking, “Manage it?” Incontinency, impotency. This will be interesting. So I go back and I sit down.
My wife says, “Who’s that?”
I say, “Oh, that was the doctor. He says I've got prostate cancer. Can I have some more potatoes, please?”
She says, “What?”
I said, “Yeah, give me the potatoes.”
She says, “Wait a minute. You’ve got prostate cancer?”
I said, “Yeah. There's nothing we’re going to do about it tonight. We’ll go see the doctor later. Can have the potatoes?”
So this is what started what I thought would be a long, dark and humorless winter, but I was wrong, at least part of it.
She says, “We got to tell somebody.”
I said, “No.”
Now, my wife, if she has a hangnail, she has to tell her friends. She says, “We got to tell your mother.”
“We got to tell someone.”
Now, I’m a pretty task-oriented guy and so, to me, that translates, “Okay, this is my disease. I'll manage it. I'll do the research, I'll find out what I need to know and we’ll go from there.” And so I did.
I get right into the computer, I do the research. After three weeks, I knew as much as I knew after the first ten minutes. If you have it out, you got eight to ten years. If you have seeds, you got eight to ten years. If you do nothing, you've got eight to ten years. I’m looking at it thinking, “Hmm, I know a lot of guys who have had it for a long time so I don't believe any of this stuff.”
And the reality was I never thought I would die. Never. Not one instance. But I was concerned about a couple of those management issues: incontinency and impotency.
So I go to the doctor. We do the research. We talk to him. We look at the different ways and then I head down to Johns Hopkins and on April 15 I have it out. They put me under, they wheel me back to my room. I got a roommate. Now, at Johns Hopkins it’s all prostate cancer surgery.
So they wheel me in at 4:30 in the afternoon. I got a roommate. He leans up on an elbow and he says, “What are you in for?” And he passes out.
Well, okay. I’m in this Demerol fog. I don't know what the hell is going on.
Morning, I wake up. And as I start to come to, I’m curious. What do I look like? So I pull back the sheet.
There's a couple of drain tubes. I didn’t realize Home Depot had had a sale on garden hoses because I got one as a catheter, and that thing is as big as my thumb and I’m not exaggerating.
So I spend a week there and I go home. When I get home, I know I've got another week to have the catheter in. They say, “You just go to the doctor. They'll take it out. You'll be okay. You're going to have a little incontinence.”
But I’m wondering what ‘a little’ incontinence is. Is it like when the dentist says, “Oh, this will hurt a little,” as they're strapping you in? Or just what does it mean?
So I go to the doctor to have it out and Nurse Nancy is there. She says, “Nothing to this. I've done it a hundred times. You're going to have a little incontinence.”
I said, “Okay.”
She says, “Here’s a pad to put on because, after I take it out, you're going to pee a little, I think.”
I said. “Okay.”
So she takes it out and, believe it or not, seamless. Doesn’t hurt. You don’t feel anything. And she sticks the pad down my shorts. I get up and do I score. I mean that thing is soaked. I mean not a little. It’s soaked.
She says, “You may want to stop by the Rite Aid.” So I do.
The wife is in the car, I go in and I’m looking. She says, “Try Depends.”
So I walk over to the wall and they got the Depends there, but to the left of it they’ve got the women’s pads. That’s the Pro section. They’ve got long, they've got short, they've got wide, they've got super, they've got thick, double thick, super extra thick, super extra thick absorbent.
Now, I’m an obsessive compulsive, so what does an obsessive compulsive do? I bought one of each. I had about a five-foot stack of these things in my arm as I hobble over to the counter and, on my tiptoes, I get them up there.
And I hear this voice. “Does this person have Medicare?” And around from the back this little old lady appears.
I said, “What?”
She says, “Does this person have Medicare?”
I said, “No, Ma’am, it’s me.”
She said, “Oh, you poor dear. My husband had the same thing. Don’t worry. 90 days you'll be dry.”
I said, “Okay.”
So we go home and I’m sitting in this wet pad, so as soon as we get home I change them out. I get a nice, super absorbent one. I stick it down there. That’s pretty good. I’m feeling okay until I move. Now, the thing with this is if you're standing up, like I am now, there's no problem. If you're laying down, there's no problem. It’s only when you flex. So you flex and you squirt. You flex, you squirt, you flex, you squirt, you flex, you squirt.
All I can do is sit on the couch and watch TV. Every time I move, guess what?
A day-and-a-half later, I look down and I've got the world’s worst case of diaper rash. I mean that thing should be in a textbook. I’m looking at it thinking, “This ain’t going to work. I got 89 days to go so I got to figure something out.”
I’m smart, right? I’m a lawyer. We figure things out. So I hobble down to the kitchen and I get a great, big, white trash bag. Then I hobble back into the bathroom and get a great big thick bath towel. Then I hobble over to the kitchen, I reach up and I take down the box of Ziplocs. I take them upstairs to the TV room, put the towel out. First, I put down the plastic bag and I put the towel on, take all my clothes off, because I got to dry out. I mean, I cannot go like this.
So I take the baggy and what do you do? You zip it on. Now, when I move, now, I can see myself. I can see what’s happening. And after a day or so of sitting there, I’m pretty good. I go to sleep with the thing. It’s okay. But it’s not real good for walking around because it wants to come undone. We got to figure something else out.
All right. I’m smart. I’m a lawyer, so I’m sitting there thinking, thinking. I got it. Unlubricated condoms. That will work. I'll just put one on and tape it. Unroll it a little bit, a few inches, and when I move, it will be fine.
When you've had cancer your friends say, “If you need anything, give me a call.” So I do. I call my buddy Mark.
“Hey, Mark, you want to take me to the drugstore?”
Mark is a discreet person. He doesn’t ask why. He knows I've had the surgery. I did tell him. And we go over and I head to the Family Planning section.
He says, “A little optimistic, aren’t you?”
I said, “No, no, no. I’m going to buy some condoms, some unlubricated ones, so I can tape them on the end of my dick so I don’t pee on everything.”
He says, “Whatever,” and walks off. He's not going to be part of this shtick.
So go through and I find a box, just what I’m looking for. 36 Trojan Unlubricated Condoms. I didn’t know they were that expensive. So I got money and I walk up to the counter. I put them down, the girl says, “Anything else?”
I said, “No, this should get me through the weekend,” and so I leave.
He takes me home. I go upstairs, I sit down in my favorite TV spot. Now, I’m careful. I still got my bag, I still got the towel. I tape this thing. I take a little quarter-inch piece of tape. This is not a surgical operation. So I unroll the thing a little bit. I put it on the side there, tape it, and I’m good to go. It’s freedom. I get up, I squirt. Sit down, I squirt. If that’s enough, I take it off, put on a new one. It is like a kid that’s just learned to ride a bike.
I can go out to dinner. I mean, I can go out to dinner now with friends and have a good time. All I have to do, if I move too much, go to the restroom and change. So I go around with eight or ten of these in my pockets all the time.
And things are feeling pretty good. I can move. Of course my diaper rash starts to go away. I’m feeling pretty good about this. And so my wife invites me back to the marital bed. I'd been relegated to the studio because the last thing you want is a 53-year-old incontinent guy sleeping next to you, right? It’s just not going to work. Poor mattress, you know. I don't have to tell you about that.
So I’m there the first night in bed. 3:00, the call of nature comes so I get up and I start to shuffle off into the bathroom, like all us guys do.
Now, I have to regress a little bit here. When you've had this surgery, one of the things they do is they have to cut your ureter off the bladder then sew it back on. One of the fears I had, and one of the fears all the guys have ever either mentored or talked to about it and have is this, what if it comes apart inside? They have to go back in and redo the whole thing. I mean this is serious major abdominal surgery so you're really afraid you're going to come apart.
So I do what every guy does. I shuffle into the bathroom, eyes half closed, and every guy here will understand this. You reach down, you pull up the toilet seat, put your hand out, lean against the wall, got your eyes closed, you’re positioned right above the toilet and you let it go. And God, does it feel good. It’s the first time and it’s just going.
Then it dawns on me, there's no sound. There's no sound! I've come apart! I’m peeing inside of me!
And just as I have that thought… now, you've all seen these World War II movies with the submarine and the torpedo as it heads towards your favorite boat? Well, I mean to tell you when that condom took off, it put those torpedoes to shame. That thing buried itself so deep in the water and made so much noise it woke up my wife. And I’m in there laughing, and I’m laughing and I’m laughing and I’m laughing.
And she says, “What the hell is going on?”
So I tell her the story and she starts laughing. I walk over to her in bed and we’re both laughing and we’re holding each other. I think that was the moment we knew it would be okay. Thank you.