It did not look good for men’s health overall at the beginning of the 21st century. An article in the NY Times reported that men committed 90 percent of homicides in the United States and represented 77 percent of homicide victims. They were the demographic group most at risk of being victimized by violent crime. They were 3.5 times more likely than women to die by suicide, and their life expectancy was 4.9 years shorter than women’s.
Harvard Health Publishing noted that “Men die at a faster rate than women; the overall mortality rate is 41% higher for men, and it’s also higher for men for eight of the 10 leading causes of death. In addition, American men are 2.1 times more likely to die from liver disease, 2.7 times more likely to die from HIV/AIDS, and 3.8 times more likely to be murder victims than women.
Men die younger than women, and they are more burdened by illness during life. They fall ill at a younger age and have more chronic illnesses than women. For example, men are nearly 10 times more likely to get inguinal hernias than women, and five times more likely to have aortic aneurysms. American men are about four times more likely to contract AIDS or be hit by gout; they are more than three times more likely than women to develop kidney stones, to become alcoholics, or to have bladder cancer. And they are about twice as likely to suffer from emphysema or a duodenal ulcer. Although women see doctors more often than men, men cost our society much more for medical care beyond age 65.”
Jesus, even inguinal hernias? I asked. Must be from trying to lift heavy stuff all by yourself without asking for help.
All that was before a remarkable movement called MDI (Men’s Dick Institute) gave back to men the power of affecting their own health destinies. Like Dorothy in her ruby slippers, we had it all the time, but just didn’t know it.
In this month’s Notebook column (and March’s, as well), I am pleased to offer the story of this remarkable and largely unheralded journey which has affected communities, states, nations, dare I say the world because men grabbed their future, and their families’ future, by the balls, literally, and transformed their health and even the economy … becoming the Kings we were meant to be.
Interwoven with this story is our interview (transcribed from the recording) with an unlikely hero, one Clifford L. Johansen (whose initials CLJ, interestingly enough, correspond to my own – I liked him immediately), whose idea as a layman was the initiative for all that was to follow.
My interview with CLJ took place in January of 2019 and started with my asking him …
Legacy Magazine – So when did this all start for you?
Clifford L. Johansen – Well I think it was the phone call I got from my son right after he moved to Miami. He’d been there a few weeks and he called me one night in a panic and said Dad I need to talk to you. This was not something he would call his mom, my ex-wife, about. Every time I go to the bathroom to take a piss it hurts and the last time I almost fell down. I don’t know what to do, it hurts so much.
So I said what happened, tell me what’s been going on. Well I’ve been dating this girl and she’s awesome but I came home last night after I’d been with her and that’s when this started.
I said OK it sounds like you’ve got some kind of an STD, hard to say what, and what you need to do is get your ass to a clinic down there, one of those doc in the box places, and they can give you a drug cocktail. It’ll take care of whatever you have, it’s not a big deal. It’s a pill or two then it will all clear up. But you can’t waste time with it, get there right away.
And I think I googled a few places to help him locate one nearby.
LM – Then what happened? Did he get help?
CLJ – Don’t you know I got a phone call from him the next day saying he’d already been to the clinic and had some meds and he felt better. So I kind of filed that away and I thought it didn’t take him very long to take care of something that was related to his dick.
And then I didn’t think about it much more for a while, until one day I had been out for a long run, I’m not sure maybe ten miles, enough to make it meaningfully a long run, you know, longer than usual. And I came back and went to the bathroom to take a leak and I noticed the water was pink, as if with blood, and, let me tell you, I was freaked the hell out.
LM – Oh, man, must have scared the shit out of you.
CLJ – Absolutely, and of course I googled “blood in your urine after running” and there is in fact a condition called hematuria and ten percent of the finishers of the Boston Marathon have it. So, phew, I thought maybe that’s all this is and I did my best to forget about it. So the next day was an off day and I didn’t run and I peed and thankfully the water was clear.
The next day I went running again and it was a much shorter outing, just enough to get a few miles in, and I came back and took a piss and lo’ and behold the urine was infused with red again. Well don’t you know the second I zipped my fly up I was on the phone to the clinic making an appointment, which I went to that afternoon. I went through the whole battery of tests and peed into a cup and had a study of my kidneys, like an ultrasound, and a cystoscopy where the urologist could directly visualize my bladder and then talked to the doc and found out well in fact there was no occult blood in my urine and nothing was wrong with my kidneys or my prostate and it was probably just an incidental and infrequent thing like I had originally thought. “It is important,” he said, “to have all the causes, especially bladder cancer, ruled out before you assume the blood loss is due to exercise. Exercise-related hematuria is a diagnosis of exclusion.” So, I went home and kept running later in the week and the pink urine never showed up again and hasn’t to this day.
LM – What a relief. I can only imagine, just thinking about how I’d feel if I saw red piss. What happened next?
CLJ – Well, it was a shot across the bow and I thought about how it took me less than a millisecond to get my ass out the door and over to a medical facility and coupled that with how fast my son went to the clinic when he thought his cock was imperiled. I just thought “hmmm, there’s a theme here.”
And then I read this, in a Harvard Medical School publication – “Call it the ostrich mentality or the John Wayne Syndrome; by any name, men who skip tests and treatments, minimize symptoms, and disregard medical advice are asking for trouble. Men who look under the hood every time the engine coughs should be as quick to get help when they cough.”
LM – What about it was so important?
CLJ – Oh, my God, I read “Men who look under the hood every time the engine coughs should be as quick to get help when they cough” and I thought “what is even more important to men than their car engines?” That was the moment, the radiant moment of understanding, the seed crystal, that the way to have men give a shit about their health was to have it all somehow relate to their cocks.
LM – Ah, I recognize the seed crystal reference from Robert Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
CLJ – It’s actually a perfect description of how this all of a sudden grew in my mind.
LM–So, that was where the idea of getting men to pay attention to their health by making it somehow about their dicks was first generated?
CLJ – That’s the way I remember it. The phrase transmuted in my mind to “men who are terrified every time they have the slightest thing wrong with their penises should be as quick to get help when they have a cough or are told they have high blood pressure or are too heavy.”
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT ISSUE, as we dig deeper into why men care so much about their penises, why it isn’t just an adolescent obsession and how a non-scientist came up with a plan for changing our gender’s health.