He sighed and gestured along the wide table. "We don't have enough room to list them," he said. "The problem with steroids is that they do have some benefits, but nine out of ten people who are drawn to them can't resist abusing them. Then there's all the black-market junk out there. I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that if you try this stuff a little, it will kill you. It won't. But you stay on it very long and you'll have problems."
"Your hair may start to fall out. Your testicles shrink. Of course, the testosterone can cause all that, too. But any steroid will accelerate it.
"Deca's not so harmful to your liver," he went on, "but most steroids can knock the hell out of it. You can get huge mood swings. Anger, irritability. Sex is a mess. There's a surge in libido, then it falls off a cliff and you don't even want to think about sex. Then, when you stop your dosage, you start to shrink. Depression can set in. Your body starts to slide back to what it was, and most people don't like that. People forget that it's the drugs and not them. It's like when you take Viagra and you think that's how you'll always perform. No, no, no."
All the same, I wanted to try it.
"If you want to try 200 milligrams of Deca for a limited time, coming back to my office every week, OK," said Dr. Jones. "It'll probably help your shoulder, if nothing else." My left shoulder had been hurting for a year since a bike accident. He explained that Deca helps the joints retain water, which eases pain.
Throughout this experiment, I'd been e-mailing people whom I'd encountered on various Web sites, like Extreme-Athlete.com, where steroid users get together and compare notes. That night I went to one of the bodybuilding sites I'd joined and listed what I was taking: the HGH, the testosterone, the EPO, and now the Deca. I thought I was really pushing the limits, but, tellingly, I was immediately mocked for my timidity and puny dosages.
"Dude, why not just take aspirin?" wrote a guy who called himself the Great One. "Try like 600 milligrams of test and 400 to 600 of Deca a week, girlie boy. And what's with this human growth stuff? My mom takes that. Why not Dianabol?" he wrote, referring to a particularly potent anabolic steroid. "You afraid of getting strong?"