Doin’ the Do!

I believe I promised you all that I would tell you a bit more about a private side of our life.  I’m not sure if I can make a blog post about sex funny and interesting whilst retaining an air of dignity, but I’ll gave it a go!

Back in the days when we had live in care here, being alone and finding private time wasn’t always straightforward.  I’ll never forget the first time we had a weekend away, just the two of us.  I felt like I’d won the lottery having this gorgeous man all to myself for 2 nights without having to think about someone else in the house or if/when I might have to hide my recently discarded bra under a cushion or a passing cat.

But we found our path and made time on our own, even just watching a movie without someone tiptoeing around upstairs became a blissful treat.  I was falling very deeply in love, and enjoying intimacy with him was really the icing on the cake!  Friends noticed my sparkle was back; everyone was excited about this new man that had clearly brought out the very best in me.  And all my friends, every single damned one of them (you know who you are!) wanted to know the same thing….

What about things in the bedroom department?  Can you have sex? sex-1485587-1278x872

I’d never really been asked such a question about my love life before!  I felt rather like a nervous 16 year old, blushing and giggling.  Seemingly when you start dating a disabled man, it’s perfectly fine to ask outright if he and I are able to “do the thing”.  I often think complete strangers are dying to ask, but conversations like that are not often forthcoming amongst the spelt bread and avocados in Waitrose.  Not in my local branch anyway!

But guess what?  We do ‘do the thing’.

Just the same as anyone else does; it all, for the most part, works quite normally.  His brain and all of his male sex-crazed hormones work in exactly the same way, thank you very much.  But the actual physical act; well that needs a little bit of assistance from a wonderful creation called medication.  And whilst it might not be quite as spontaneous as we may always like, it is no different from the rest of you finding time away from the kids, or finishing painting the shed before you get round to that.

Ok, the biggest difference is that he doesn’t do a whole lot of moving.  Or any at all really.  And he has no sensation in most of his body, so the small areas that he can feel, are more sensitive to him.  And there is no, oh how do I put this delicately….’finale’ for him, because those bits of his nerve pathway are utterly up-buggered.  Early days, and he told me that ‘visual’ was good:  cue a mad dash to the haberdashery department of John Lewis to investigate tassels and Velcro.  £62 later and a difficult conversation with a bra fitter, I realised I may have misconstrued this comment.  Visual doesn’t necessarily mean gyrating around in sequin-y knickers, tassels and stilettos. Or dangling from a chandelier purring and pouting: yes, I’m pretty sure there are plenty of folk enjoying that kind of ‘visual’ input, but I’m not built for dangling and I can’t walk, let alone gyrate, in stilettos.  Thank goodness I got that bit wrong!

behind-bedroom-doors-ii-1566484-1600x1200The physical act of love-making is just that; a physical act.  There is much more that two connected, loving, caring people can enjoy.  The most tender and beautiful moments we share are often fully clothed and unexpected.  I’m not suggesting that the teacakes in Starbucks reduce me to a                   Meg Ryan-esque state of abandon, but a look shared with him can still make me feel all giddy and girly.  Snuggling up on the sofa with a glass of merlot and his arm around me, I feel like the most beautiful, desirable, perfect woman in the world.  I know what makes him tick; and for the record, it has NOTHING to do with sequin-y knickers or tassels.  I hope.

Joking aside, when we first started dating, I did wonder exactly what would be possible.  It’s a very difficult conversation to have with someone you are beginning a relationship with!  I felt it would be rude to ask if I should limber up my thighs for an assault on chapter 19 of the Karma Sutra (we hadn’t even ordered our starters by this point).  I had NO idea that modern advances in medicine were quite so exciting – although I wish the tablets came with some sort of ‘off’ switch or a fast acting antidote.  If you boys ever find yourself in the situation that blood flow is concentrated on a certain part of your anatomy, whilst confined to a wheelchair, I can recommend NOT attempting to cross cobblestones.  Or do anything at all in fact.  Just stay sat nicely at a table, you’ll be fine there.  You should be good to move in about 48 hours or so.

There was a lot of wine-fuelled Googling on this subject; I didn’t find much in the way of information because the words “disabled” and “sex” are rarely found in the same sentence.  Sad, but true.  So just like any other couple falling in love, we found what worked for us.  Thankfully the sequin-y knickers can remain locked away, the act of whisking up a decent Yorkshire pudding batter apparently has the same effect (with the right lighting!). image-e1325020299942-1900x700_c

This was a hard piece to write.  Finding a balance between information and waaaay too much information wasn’t easy.  It’s a difficult subject to talk about, because IT ISN’T talked about; and it should be.  Disabled people are no different; they just face challenges in aspects of their everyday life that most of us take for granted.  And for those rabid friends of mine that do need waaaay TMI; you know the drill….supply the wine!

Now that I’ve got that bit out of the way, I can go back to telling you about the highs and lows of falling in love and living with a grumpy tetraplegic.  Thankfully the days of acting like naughty children with another person in the house are long gone; but I really must get round to finding an appropriate use for those tassels!


  1. As the daughter of a (now sadly deceased) C5/6 incomplete tetraplegic I have spent the last couple of hours reading your blog. I have smiled and cried. And cringed (no one wants to think about their parents having sex, although things seem to have changed, thankfully, as the drugs were certainly not around for my parents!)

    You both write so well. Thank you!

    Everything you have both written strikes a chord with me (apart from the sex bit!)

    My wonderful dad dived into a swimming pool in June 1968, showing off to my mum, who was 6 months pregnant with my younger sister. I was 18 months old.

    Some things never change, it seems. Stoke Mandeville, wheelchairs, hoists, adapted cars, wheel-in shower, ‘accessible’ hotel rooms, raised toilet seat, catheters, picking up from the pavement, poor man-handling into aircraft seats, ‘does he take sugar?’ – all this happened throughout my childhood and adult life, right up to when dad died, age almost 64, in 2007.

    Even the quiet voice strikes a chord (excuse the pun). My dad grew up in a very large, noisy family and was certainly not quiet before his accident. But I didn’t realise until I read your blog that his quiet voice was probably a direct result of reduced lung capacity. Certainly, his calm manner was due to his physical disabilities. It’s very difficult, I imagine, to rant and rave, whilst sitting immobile apart from a much reduced arm movement.

    Grumpiness I can attest to. He had his moments, but then again, so does my fully-able husband.

    I had a wonderful childhood. My parents were always there for us when we came home from school. My mum didn’t go out to work, as there were no carers around to look after dad during the day and my dad didn’t work because, in the seventies, there was no equality in the workplace. There was nowhere he could work!

    We ate together every day, albeit my dad had his off his lap because his chair wouldn’t fit under the table.

    We coped. We adapted. And it was all my sister and I knew.

    Later, after we both left home, my dad actually started work. And then the Independent Living Fund came along and my mum got some respite because they could afford for carers to come in and get dad up in the morning and put him to bed at night. And we started all going away on holiday together, so we could all help out. Oh, the fun and laughter we all had. How can it be so much funnier to pick your father up off a Spanish or American pavement than a British one? It just is, isn’t it?

    Oh, and my dad struggled with his adapted car as well, knocking down the odd wall here and there when the brakes (or his arms) wouldn’t work properly.

    Thankfully, my dad was around to meet all of his 6 grandchildren and they all have good, happy memories of him. It was all they knew of Papa. Life was normal, and usual, why wouldn’t it be? As a ‘disabled family’ we definitely viewed things differently to non-disabled folk. It’s ingrained to check out the slope of an entrance, or the height of a table and don’t get me started on disabled or accessible toilets! I still do it now and my dad has been gone almost 9 years. We all still do it and we probably always will.

    My mum is now 70 and enjoying her retirement, although I think she has some guilt about the easy life she now has, compared to when she was younger. Her tennis elbow has disappeared now she no longer has heavy lifting to do and she stays up very late now, just because she can! And I’m sure that my speed-building wheelchair skills are a bit rusty, but I’m OK with that…

    In the hospital, just before our dad died (of cancer), my sister and her husband sat with me and mine. My brother-in-law said a very simple thing… ‘we are no longer (going to be) a disabled family.’ The reality of that statement has still not sunk in…

    Thank you for your blog. I look forward to reading more about your lives. Good luck with your wedding day and your future marriage.

  2. Wow. Thank you for sharing your story, you had me in tears. It sounds like your dad and I have had very similar experiences. Really glad you are enjoying our blog. Thank you for your wishes. David

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