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Monday, May 23, 2011

Going Through Puberty at Age 23


I was born with a testosterone deficiency, but I didn't find this out until I was in my second year of law school at the University of Texas (the spring of 1967). There's quite a story here, one I have rarely told, but it occurred to me that writing about it might help others in the same predicament figure out what's going on and seek the needed aid.

Testosterone is a steroid hormone that's the primary cause of the changes in the male body occurring at puberty, turning boys into adult males/ It typically happens from age 10 upward through the teens. When I hit this period, nothing changed. My voice didn't get lower, I grew only peach fuzz on my face, my muscle mass didn't increase, nor did I develop acne, go crazy over sexual possibilities, etc. My upward growth was normal, reaching just under 5' 10" by age 19 (alas, due to age, I've since shrunken some). My reaction to all this was to ignore and hide the problem, even from myself. Whaleys are famous for ignoring major symptoms that lead to later trouble.

Doug in High School
When everyone else my age began flirting and dating, I shrank from such contacts. I didn't want sexual favors from anyone, male or female, so I let myself become overweight. Mind you, I'm not and never was shy, and my personality and sense of humor made me popular, but when it came to dating, it was hands off. There was much embarrassment in this. At one high school party a game of spin-the-bottle suddenly developed and I overheard one of the girls tell another she wouldn't play if I was involved. I excused myself and left shortly thereafter.


What sexual thoughts I did have were all homosexual in nature, but except for a few pitiful attempts, nothing came of that. When I joined the Navy right following high school, my physical state caused further humiliation (though I was good at covering it, usually with humor, and, due to all that military exercise, now became thin). On guard duty, if a sergeant or officer entered the premises, I'd snap to attention and call out "Officer on deck!" One particular officer was a mean son-of-a-bitch, and he'd loudly mimic my high-pitched voice by repeating these words in a mocking falsetto. My troubles at boot camp with the obstacle course (which I never got through due to lack of muscle strength) made me hate the days when we had to work our way through it. In the part where you had to go hand-over-hand across a rope strung over a swamp, I invariably made it halfway and then fell in, muddying my uniform. One time, tired of trying to clean these uniforms or having to buy new ones, I tried swinging sideways so I would land on dry land, only to hurt my lower half when it hit the solid ground as the upper half fell into the swamp with a splash that spread swamp grime all over me. Crowds would gather excitedly to watch this debacle ("Guys, Whaley's getting to the swamp—come see!").

Doug in the Navy, far right and thin
Looking back on this period, I'm amazed and pleased that it didn't seem to affect me much. As I said above, I was quite popular, made splendid grades, had lots of good friends, was a good sailor (promoted to lead seaman on the forecastle of the U.S.S. Rockbridge), and if anyone noticed something was wrong with me physically, it was only mentioned by brutes and then shrugged off by me. I was busy planning my life, determined to succeed, and even dreaming about someday finding someone who would love me.

Then came that second year of law school mentioned above, and life changed dramatically. While at my parents home in San Antonio, Dad casually commented that when I was born a doctor told him that my testosterone level was sub-normal, but a subsequent doctor told him not to worry about it, that it would likely be fine. I was astounded. My parents, who were loving and always supportive of their two children, had watched me grow up and never thought about my peculiar physical lack of development even though they had been warned. As I said, , Whaleys are great optimists and thus constitutionally ignored important signs. When the truth was revealed in 1967, Dad wondered aloud why the Navy hadn't caught this problem when I first enlisted. I bit my lip to keep from asking why he and Mom hadn't caught it long before that. On some level, I've never forgiven them for this one misstep.

On hearing Dad's information, I went immediately to a doctor friend in Austin, told him this, and, without replying, he picked up a phone and called a endocrinologist, telling him that he wanted to schedule an immediate appointment for a friend with "arrested sexual development." I was both astounded and pleased, and soon was under this new doctor's care. He was very good at his specialty, but was otherwise a jerk, making snide comments like "so you want to be a man!" This doctor said my case was unique and he wanted to do a biopsy for an article he would soon write, but I was done with this cretin and refused (though, looking back, I probably should have said yes, just to help others). He began injecting me with testosterone twice a week, and puberty began at last. These injections continued after I moved to Chicago to practice law, until a doctor there said I was through puberty and my body had taken over.

Could Have Used This in 1960
Almost immediately life changed dramatically. All the usual things happened: my voice lowered to bass-baritone, I grew facial hair, my body mass increased as I worked out and lost weight, I developed a major case of acne (which made this new attorney look strange, but the difficulty eventually passed), etc. The most startling change was an increased libido. I wanted to have sex with every person who passed by (women, men, old, young, handsome, ugly—availability being the only criterion), but I concentrated on women (and didn't have a sexual encounter with a man for years). I'd read that most boys go through a homosexual phase before puberty, and I convinced myself that I'd unfortunately been stuck in such a phase for the past ten years. I initially thought that lack of testosterone was the cause of my homosexuality, but subsequent research proved that wrong—the two things have nothing to do with each other. I was much attracted to the female body, and, trying hard to ignore my primary interest in males, I went to bed with a number of women, enjoying the experience thoroughly (well, there was Rosemary, but let that pass). When I fell in love with Charleyne and we married, that was wonderful and I thought my life perfection. As I've explained before on this blog, that house of cards was doomed to collapse, and marijuana finally made me face the truth about my sexual orientation. But I'm not making this up: I had a great sexual time with the women I slept with (including the aforementioned Rosemary), and to this day can appreciate looking at a sexy woman, even if I have no desire to hop into bed with one (and I've had offers). I did have a low sperm count, and when Charleyne and I decided to have a baby we went to a doctor and told him about my history. He said we would probably need for medical help in conceiving, but we should try it on our own for awhile (we'd been using birth control) and see what happened. Low count or no, my sperm came through, and Charleyne became pregnant almost immediately with our son Clayton. A loving mother, she nonetheless hated childbirth, and had her tubes tied while still in the maternity hospital.

So that's my painful story, and I'm glad I finally got it off my moderately-hairy chest.
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Related Posts:
"My Inadvertent Tattoo," March 6, 2010
"I Married a Hippy," April 14, 2010
“The Boot Camp Fiasco,” April 21, 2010
“Homosexuality: The Iceberg Theory,” April 25, 2010
“Marijuana and Me,” July 11, 2010
“How To Tell if You’re Gay,” August 31, 2010
"Charleyne and the Giant Cookie," September 16, 2010
"Douglas Whaley, Deckhand," December 22, 2010
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013

5 comments:

  1. Can you post an email address where you can be reached? I'm honestly floored at the similarities between the two of us you have just described and would like some advice and more information.

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  2. I have always felt alone in the world due to the same circumstances until my body has taken over thanks to God. Reading your story has been almost like looking in a mirror except for the homosexuality bit. I'm 28 years old and I was always told that I would never marry or conceive. But again, thanks to the Almighty, I have hope. I would like to receive your email address if possible as well. To communicate with someone like myself would be helpful at the very least

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    Replies
    1. My email address is dglswhaley@aol.com. It can also be found in my profile.

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  3. I can't believe I never came across this blog in all the time I did research on Kallmann's Syndrome. I was recently diagnosed and am starting treatment soon for a very similar problem.

    I am 27 years old and am finally starting puberty. Thank god to say the least.

    ReplyDelete