[cancer] More about sex

The oncology nurse called me back this afternoon. I asked her first about the changing sensations in my port implant. She believes that the tissue swelling has gone down enough for me to be aware of the device, and that the awareness will diminish as I become more accustomed to it. At the moment it feels as if someone left a Bic pen inside my right chest.

I also asked her my sex questions, since I’d gotten mixed or unclear answers before. Specifically:

  • How long do I need to use condoms after each infusion? Or should I use them continuously throughout the entire chemo cycle, and if so, for how long afterward? This is specifically to prevent transmission to my sex partners of my drugs or their decay products in my ejaculate.
  • Given that bacterial safety is a huge issue with the immunocompromisation side effects of chemo, is it safe for me to perform oral sex on a partner? She likewise raised the issue of me receiving oral sex, as bacterial transmission can also occur via that path.

The nurse was bemused but forthright. She apparently had not been asked these questions before. Most patients with my cancer profile are 20+ years older than me, and that generation apparently doesn’t ask, doesn’t tell. I told her I was a writer and had no shame.

We also discussed the possibility that chemo would depress my libido sufficiently that the issues might be moot. My libido, however, is infamously substantial and elastic, so I’d sure like to know the answers.

Unfortunately, no answers were forthcoming. She’s going to discuss drug half-lives with the oncological pharmacist, who apparently has charts and everything covering exactly these issues, and come back with guidance on fluid exchange. She’s going to talk to the staff doctors about the bacterial issues of the various forms of sexual intercourse. So, I look forward to an interesting call in a day or two.

Ah, the things we need to deal with. This was so much more interesting than my talk with my dentist.

10 thoughts on “[cancer] More about sex

  1. Jay, so sorry to have dropped in on your cancer life as my first post, but I’ve been trackin you for a few months. Still looking for a reco. from you on the best place to start when getting uptospeed on Jay Lake’s steampunk writing. What should I read FIRST.

    This is a great post. An intense subject and hopefully information for you and your readers when the data comes back.

    Cheers, JMac

    1. Jay says:

      Thanks! Um, steampunk. There’s some short stuff out there, including a couple of novellas at Subterranean Online, but I’d suggest either my stories in STEAMPUNK and EXTRAORDINARY ENGINES, or my novel MAINSPRING. My forthcoming single-title novella, THE BABY KILLERS, will be my steampunk opus, I suspect.

  2. Chang says:

    “My libido is infamously substantial and elastic” may just become my new tattoo or my new band name or both.

    Please continue to kick ass.

    1. Jay says:

      I give you the words to use as you will…

  3. dystophil says:

    Hi Jay! Sort of like John here I’ve been lurking around your blog and your twitter for a while now and finally decided to say hi. And oh dear, are some people prudish or what? Well, I suppose you’re right that questions involving chemo and sex life don’t usually range in the top of an oncologist’s FAQ, but still, hello?! Hopefully they’ll have some more concrete answers soon and things keep improving.
    I also haven’t delved very far into your work yet, but both Mainspring and Green are on top of my reading pile.
    Cheers and good luck with everything,
    ~dystophil

  4. Greg says:

    Hi Jay…

    As ever I am humbled by the openness you approach your blog with and the courage you have to share of yourself with your readers. Thank you for sharing your journey …

  5. Meran says:

    Jay, you’ve obviously never had the aids testing done… Bad boy! 🙂
    use Saran wrap; then all play can be engaged in, safely. I can email you with more detailed instructions, lol
    I, too, am known for the difficult questions, regardless of topic. It’s the sign of an intelligent and questing mind 😉
    I’m also very familiar with “spooning” (tho I didn’t know there was a term already set up for my convenience- thanks for that)
    it’s my hope and wish for you this coming year that you may get back to the writing posts and let this crappy cancer part recede into the background!

    1. Jay says:

      Hah! I get tested at least annually. Goes with the lifestyle. And yes, I know about Saran wrap. If need be… Just trying to find out the medical indications.

      1. Meran says:

        Good luck on that. I’ve found medical personnel to be surprisingly reticent on most topics, beyond the basic info. I have a close friend, a nurse, not local who might be of help, if you don’t get the answers you want/need.

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