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|
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|
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|
So that's my painful story, and I'm glad I finally got it off my moderately-hairy chest.
"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