So I’ve discovered that my problem is that I’m a low testosterone gingerboy. Okay, maybe not the “gingerboy” thing (that’s the name of a cookie I ate the other day that causes me to hear Arnold Schwarzenegger in my head calling me a “little girly man”), but my testosterone levels are significantly low. I knew something had to be wrong, because in the last few months my energy levels have remained way down, I’ve felt “off” constantly, and I’ve gained a lot of weight…as in 30 lbs a lot. And that’s despite weight-training four days per week with a trainer and doing cardio afterwards.
After feeling bad for so long, it was gaining so much weight in such a short time that finally pushed me to the doctor Thursday afternoon to get things checked out. All my blood work and vitals ended up being normal, except for my testosterone level. An optimum level would be in the 400-600 range, low would be under 300…mine was 70. That’s so low that he wanted me to come back and be tested again in the morning, since testosterone levels are highest in the morning. If the morning test showed less than 150 then I’d have to go for an MRI. Thankfully I squeezed by at 162, so no MRI, but they started me on Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT). This amounts to an injection every week, a blood test again in a month, and then blood work every three months after that for, well, forever.
I did a lot of research and read a ton of articles before continuing, because I’m not comfortable with the thought of potentially having to get an injection every week for the rest of my life. The main difficulty I have with it is that there have been no large, long-term studies done yet. All of the studies I read about (as positive as they are) have been fairly short-term, such as two years or less. Bigger studies are being done, but they’re not finished yet. The short-term benefits, however, do look very promising, and the known potential side effects are relatively minor and manageable as long as you are monitored.
The cost is significant, but if it solves the problems I’ve been having then I’ll be happy to pay it and deal with the modest risks, because I want the part of my life back that I feel like I’ve lost in the last year. The expected results from TRT vary, but the research so far indicates that about 10% of men in my position are ecstatic with the results, 10% see no improvement, and the other 80% have varying levels of improvement. I’m just hoping I’m not on that “see no improvement” side. The doctor told me that the results aren’t quick, but some improvement is generally seen within 30 days, but most is within 90-180. In any case, I had my first injection this morning and I’ll regularly post any progress I see.
One side note. I’m getting the therapy at the Low T Center, which in retrospect should have a giant banner flying above the building reading, “Caution! Testosterone Stereotype Work Zone Ahead.” All the employees seem to be “perky” young women who lead you past the waiting room (equipped with a large HDTV that apparently only gets ESPN) through a building where every foot of dark, oak, wall space is covered with sports memorabilia. There are framed and signed things everywhere: photos, jerseys, shirts, balls in cases, helmets in cases, Wheaties boxes, NASCAR models, and so on. I had my blood drawn in a shrine to UT Football/Peyton Manning and got my injection in the NASCAR shrine next door. I’m positive that the doctor who saw me today replaces his lab coat with quarterback pads after work and hits the field for practice. Strangely, on one of the walls in a hallway there was single, forlorn frame with a couple of signed photos of the ’70s rock group KISS. I guess the doctors figured they needed to throw a bone to their 50-year-old-rocker patients. I’ve never been a sports (or KISS) fan, so I was left feeling a little cold and out-of-place by the whole thing. But who knows, maybe next time they’ll give me my injection in the heretofore unseen Classic Movies room. Oh well, what’s a gingerboy to do?