Limbo Update (plus I-told-you-so to Leslie)
by, March 21st, 2009 at 10:27 PM (3410 Views)
As habitual vlog readers/viewers/olefactory sensors may recall, the past several weeks have been characterized by various tribulations and unsettlements in the life of your correspondent. In fact, dealing with these is one of the chief reasons I have been MIA from my vlogging obligations of late.
Though none of the individual areas of concern have what could be described as definitive resolutions yet, there has been some slight movement towards same.
Let me plink off a few of these developments now, and for those who would like to see them at least tangentially related to my swimming, permit me to add that as the stress levels become even slightly less crushing, I am finding a few more corpuscles of blood are able to escape the hypertensive constriction my circumstances have been placing upon my cardiovasculature. And with this ever so slight easing, there is more oxygen and nutrients available to my alleged (and, as you shall soon see) increasingly neutered musculature, and thus allows me to swim a wee bit better in practice lately.
Hormonal Limbo: Part 1.
As part of my investigations into soy protein and its attendant phytoestrogens, you may recall that I had my blood tested for testosterone (both the total level and the so-called "free" or more biologically available amount) as well as my estrogen (both estradiol and estrone, the distinction between which I do not fully understand.) Both genders have both of these sex hormones, of course, it's just that normal men tend to have higher t and lower e, and normal women tend to have the opposite pattern.
Normal is expressed in a lab's "reference range"--the upper and lower limits that hopefully bracket your own readings. Here are my "Before Soy Milk Guzzling" readings:
This may be hard to read, but suffice it to say that both my testosterone and estrogen fell within normal limits.
IRS Limbo: Part 1.
For the next month, I worked on writing my article, trying to make sense of bewildering (and often contradictory) study findings on the health benefits (and putative harms) of soy protein and phytoestrogens on bodily systems. These range from cognition to erections (the latter measured in rats force fed daidzein in puberty; this is, sadly, a remarkably close animal model for my own teenage years only instead of daidzein, you need to substitute prep school swill.)
In the middle of my journalistic labors, I got a notice from the IRS that they were auditing my 2006 tax return, with an eye on 2007, as well. I don't want to go into the clammy fevers and prison terrors this seemingly innocent request by my own government precipitated within my manly breast. But suffice it to day, it was... horrible.
A postcard sent to me by the wonderful Amanda Hunt, AKA, Chicken of the Sea, a fellow USMS vlogger who hails from Australia, and thus most likely comes from prison stock herself. This, at least, is what I imagine to be the source of her epistolary kindness and empathy.
Hormonal Limbo: Part 2.
At the end of the month, I returned for the follow up hormone tests.
For those of you who somehow managed to miss the blood extraction process by which a local nurse secured the test sample, I invite you to watch--or indeed, rewatch--the film at the bottom of this earlier vlog: http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=1973
The fact that I fainted during the hypodermic needling, which the lab technician assured me was manly, had me convinced at the time that my initial normal results--man-like T, man-like E--would not have changed after one short month of relatively moderate soy protein ingestion (20-30 grams a day, or about as much as you would find in 4-6 cups of soy milk.)
The results, alas, were to prove nothing short of....flabbergasting
Again, this may be a little hard to read, so let me summarize. Rather than increasing my estrogen levels, as I hypothesized all this soy might, my E plummeted to the absolute bottom of the normal limits for males. In one fell swoop, my dream of swimming as a woman in future USMS competitions, where presumably I could rise one or two places in the TOP 10 listings in the penis-free division, well, these dreams were completely cut off at the roots, leaving all former sense of hope stump-like.
Despite initial disappointment, a wee bit of macho pride, I must concede, eventually began to burgeon up.
I've always felt that maybe I am a wee bit of a girly man. Now I had proof, however, that I was as far from girly manhood as one can chemically be and still maintain tenuous contact with the elastic cusp of normalcy.
It was at this moment of chagrin (can't race women) and pride (I am no pussy!) that it occurred to me I should check out my other hormone level result post-soy hyper indulgence. At first I couldn't find this and assumed the doctor had foregone testing my T the second time around because I had only expressed interest in my E.
But then I found it.
I wish I had not.
My testosterone levels had also plummeted. But unlike my E, which was still technically normal, both my "free" and total testosterone were so whoppingly below the bottom definition of manhood that I am not sure I qualify as a mammal anymore. Or a crustacean.
I am, in other words, a gender freak: not a man without gender, nor a woman, but a neuter, as comfortable guarding a harem for a sultan as I would be guarding a harem for, well, a woman with a harem, be these male or female concubines.
I am an "it" with no juice. Perhaps this is why CreamPuff left Facebook so abruptly and no longer seems to come for visits to the Vlog. She must have sensed something. Poor concupiscient tart! She must be devastated.
As would I be, that is, if I had any hormones whatsoever to encourage me to give a whup.
And that is when it occurred to me: I am quite possible the fastest Neuter in USMS history. You will not see my records in the Men's listings. Nor will you see them in the Women's, where Leslie (here is the I-told-you-so moment) and her supposedly minor assist of a B70 suit just got a PR today in the 100 SCM fly.
You will not, in fact, see my No. 1 times IN ALL USMS RECOGNIZED EVENTS, for the simple reason that we hormonal cypher-mutants have not been given our human rights yet. But in our hearts, I think we will all agree that in future years, the following will be said of Jim Thornton, swimmer circa 2009:
"Rarely has there been a swimmer so dominant in its category as Jim Thornton was when it swam in the 55-59 age group. It was truly an outstanding athlete. We will not see its likes soon again...Magnificent!"