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….
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!
The 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!).
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!