From Stairs To Ramps: Facing Misconceptions About Disability And Intimacy

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Before I embarked on writing this series about my journey from the time I had the accident that left me paralysed, I was first introduced to some writers who were writing stories that were similar to what I wanted to write. The story that stood out the most to me was one about a disabled man and his struggle to find love. It was well written and felt very honest, I gravitated to it, his fears were my fears, his reservations were mine too. Stories like these, are unfortunately synonymous to people with disability. Most of us rarely get to a point in our lives where we feel accepted and wanted. You can find the story here Getting A Date While Having A Disability Has Not Been Easy: I Hope One Day I Will Find True Love

In the story, the writer recounted the events that led to him being rejected by a woman he had met online. Though rejection is a common thing that all people should learn to expect and accept, it is still a bitter pill to swallow. “Can you still have sex?”, the lady had bluntly asked the gentleman just moments after they’d exchanged pleasantries at their first and last date.

Because sex is such an interesting topic, let’s talk about it and how it affects people with disability. Specifically, those with spinal cord injury.

 

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The need for physical connection is a primal instinct for most people. Sex and intimacy are all integral parts of human existence. A spine injury can limit the ability of one to fully engage in sex since sensory neurons and muscle control are all affected. Depending on the severity of the injury, sexual functions might differ from one person to the other. Men with lower injuries can sometimes achieve erections and ejaculation while women still experience vaginal lubrication.  The ones with relatively higher injuries hardly even view their private parts as sexual organs.

A spine injury is a huge blow to a person’s sexuality. Speaking from a young man’s perspective, you not only lose your ability to achieve an erection, but you also lose something even more important; self-worth. The psychological trauma suffered by individuals with these kinds of conditions especially in the early stages can be quite challenging.

I got the accident as I was approaching my prime as a young male. Losing my identity as a functional sexual being was detrimental to my self-image. Knowing that that part of me had been taken away forever, affected the way I related to the opposite sex. I became anti-social and withdrawn, I was so wounded that I could hardly recognise myself. I would stay up at night self-inflicting pain and stress because it felt better than confronting the truth that was facing me right in the eye. I genuinely could not fathom how anyone could find me even the least bit attractive.

Over time I grew to understand my new self and appreciate the more important things. I had to tap out of the sex game and learn about intimacy. The good news is, people with spinal related complications can still have a healthy relationship, complete with that physical connection we crave for.

Communication with your partner is very important before getting down to business. I try to be as candid as I can about my condition, sexuality and my insecurities. I talk about what works for me and what doesn’t. This creates a safe space for my partner to ask any question or raise any concern that she might have. This in itself sharpens the bond between us and we feel closer to one another as each gets vulnerable. Real intimacy is driven by my raw emotion. Therefore, working towards connecting on a deeper level is key before anything else. Here are some Misconceptions About Sex And Relationships With A Disability

Here is the next part of my story – From Stairs To Ramps: Backhanded Compliments And Being A Cautionary Tale For The Village Kids. For those of you who may not have followed my story, you might not know that I have a girlfriend. Check out our story here – Finding Love And Men Who Tell My Girlfriend She Should Get A Real Man

 

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