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Sensuality and disability

March 10th, 2007 · 11 Comments

I expect lots of comments here though it’s a complex subject for many people.
This post was suggested by Cari and I think it’s something that needs to be talked about. Well, here I go…
My aunt went along with me for my first review in Ghana in late 1997. When the doctor finished his tests, she blurted out, “what about her sexuality?” I was pretty mortified and thought that was something I could have asked myself, if I’d wanted to.
The doctor, of the old school, dismissed her question, saying “we can worry about that later”.
With hindsight, it was a relevant question, though I say again, I should have asked it myself. How does your partner cope after seeing you go through spasms, loss of bladder and colon control, pain, weakness… all the symptoms of long term illness?
Not very well obviously. Your partner either develops an imaginary bubble around him/herself to cut off the anxiety, like mine has done, or there is a complete break down in the relationship.
I guess what I’m saying is that there is a real need for counselling in relationships that have gone through such traumas. Where such services are lacking, like in this part of the world (someone correct me if I”m wrong), we kind of muddle through, doing the best we can, not really tackling the issue, and I guess praying that it’ll be all right in the long run.
Hope I’ve made sense. Like I said it’s a difficult topic. Thanks Cari.

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11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 steviel // Mar 10, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    Think that its brilliant that your taking up the topic as sensuality and disability are 2 of the greatest combined taboo’s.

    when i had my first sympts back in ’95 one of the first things to fall apart was my relationship with P as she perceived me as this macho athletic type
    [which was pretty one dimensional of her] and just could nt cope with the wreck i d become.

    i ve had other disasterous reklationships with ‘new age’ types who saw me as, well, i m not sure what but it involved them in the healer role and when it proved impossible for me to be ‘healed’ i got accused of [i swear] ‘clinging to my illness’ and told that i was ‘projecting my own negative energy’ and that ‘disability was a state of mind’
    [yeah right]

    that was just pure grim as she was an attractive woman but she d say stuff like if you cared about me you d get out ve bed or that i was ’emotionally manipulating her by being disabled’ which was in retrospect complete and utter choss but at the time i actually fell for whatever she said.

    My next disaster was an online relationship with a woman i d met in jj’s where it seemed like all we realy had in common was ms where she literally saw me as an emotional support centre or an endless reservoir of tlc.
    the problem was that it was a one way flow as i was nt ‘allowed down days as i was her rock’ which over time became a more and more difficult role to atempt to fullfill though i realy did try but if you tell someone that ‘yr there for them’ and they still want re-assurance the situation is basivcally doomed.

    in terms of sensuality currently there are positions that i basically can t do [such as missionary] and even more grimmly sometimes just zero erectile ability at all – which used to be completely devastating but now i ve got more into massaging and being massaged and giving my partner as many kisses or licks as she wants where she wants or snuggling/hugging and caressing
    getting pleasure from giving her pleasure basically also because we live in diff cities [diff bloody countries] we spend a lot of time on phone
    weird how in the 21st century techno [ologgy] become part of sexuality as shes got 2 mobile [cellular] which she can set to vibrate so she phones me and sweetly asks ‘could you give me a warm call’ at a certain time.

    i ve got her permission/encouragement to write about this obviously-

    theres also a sexuality section at the ‘disability now’ site and also a site called ‘outsiders’ run by dr tuppy owens which might be of interest to people in the uk specifically or maybe people generally.
    theres also a north east uk writer called al davidson whose written a brilliant graphic novel called ‘the spiral cage’ which deals frankly with sexualiity and disability as he was born with spina bifida where he talks about the only possible good thing about being disab is that when you do finally find a sensual/passionate partner then they tend to be extremely passionate/sensual and adventurous.

    I think [in my case at least] its made me alter my perception of sex as more than just ‘giving her one’ [to use the yorkshire phrase].

    Its strange though how i d talk to other disab people about the psysical and psychological complexities of sexual/sensual identity and its physical expression in mutal pleasuring whilst there d be no bloody way at all i d talk to a ‘health professional’ well i might do actually but no social worker/care manager has even broached the subject with me.

    i ll be back with some links……..

  • 2 cari // Mar 11, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    Disability and sensuality involves exploring beyond the standard miss position.
    Having a partner for sensual exploration does do wonders for my self-image as i was celibate by choice for nearly 2 years before meeting him, I really think that we re as souls so much closer to each other than a lot of standard couples.
    D you you know the phrase skin hunger? well its like that, only its more hug hunger as first night we shared a bed i clung to him and then took his hand in mine and rubbed it on my yoni, so even though there’s no way that i look beautiful really he makes me feel beautiful which is better.
    Anyway i m going to work on my tang soo do so i ll have some new moves to show him.

  • 3 steviel // Mar 12, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    links- [this ones to a uk based disability magazine where theres personal adds and good journalism] [this is a link from dis-now which leads to a page of articles about sexuality and disabilities [this is a link to a site created by ms’er jooly howell which shows portraits of her and 3 other women with ms and the pics themselves are beautiful]

  • 4 steviel // Mar 21, 2007 at 7:09 am

    heres another thought about disability and sensuality just how much disability altered my sense of self image.

    theres a vicious spiral here where because of mobility probs washing/dressing can be bloody difficult as i ve just noticed that i ve been wearing/sleeping in the sme clothes for about 3 days.

    that unfortunatly is a consequence of lumbar pain/muscle cramps as changing my green chino’s into a pair of fresh cords was physically impossible untill now.

    but in terms of self image its hard to feel ok about yourself if you keep dropping/spilling coffee on your t-shirt or jeans.

    just n terms of clothing i ve had to abandon wearing white stuff as within an hour both my grey sweatshirt and white linen combats where so coffee stained they looked like weird camo.

    ithink in european culture at least we ve become a very visually orientated lot and people with visible disabilities are perceived [or maybe self perceived] as outside the realm of the ‘attractive been looking at some clips of tang soo do which looks [to me] like karate-do gone turbo and is thus awesome.

    oh back to theme of thread and i’m just curious if men are effected in a different way than women psychologically by disablement as we re meant to have this image of ‘strength’ andwe do tend to see ourselfs in terms of our physical capabilities or be perceived by others in terms of our physical capabilities
    eg as male developmental carer i was always assigned to the largest physically male clients
    had a weird conversation with this lad in a cyber cafe yesterday where i d gone to get some nepalese food and i d just gone to the toilet and with ms bladder ittook eons to pee and when i got out ve toilet this lad who i d been chatting asked me dead conversational
    ‘we re you having a w**k in there’.

    but it is strange how since i m both disable and my beuer lives in diff city that kind heart male mates when seeing i min no physical shape to go out offer to bring me round some pornographic dvds.

    think there maybe another generational divide here as people my age [39] expect disabled people to have sensual urges whilst from reading about the sexual experiances or lack of for the generation now in their 50’s i think theres still areas of taboo but weirdly more to do with ‘institutional enviroments’ than in ordinary society as i ve been told by other disabled people about how when they went to ‘day centres’ then relationships where totally discouraged.

  • 5 Nana Yaa // Mar 21, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Self-image is affected no matter the sex. I have problems with being nude now even in front of my husband. Those parts may have sagged anyway at my age [46], but somehow I think it’s ten years of untoned muscles that have caused it. The light exercises I’m able to do now are of no help in that direction. I guess what’s gone is gone.

  • 6 stevem // Mar 21, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    Or maybe whats there has changed and can change again over time……just wondering what kind of excercises that your able to do and dsoes it change daily?.
    ok as a bloke i m not best person speak about womens bodies but i think that women are more critical of their own bodies than men could ever be especially in a media climate obsessed with youth.All i can realy saw is don t give up hope just yet because at least yr still concerned with what you look like rather than just giving up an spreading out like jello like some women of yr age or younger in york do-i think from looking at yr pics you look dead good.

    in terms of evoking body horror in others well having a medotronic pump implant can do that as a few years back i was snogging with this lass and she kinda ran her hand over my t-shirt felt the outline of pump and WOA did she freeak out
    literally shrieked at me
    ‘what are yu are you a human’
    this was at a party so people came from all directions and she collapsed in drunken tears whilst i had to explain and explain to people exactly what did nt happen.

    confidence blow-yeah it was like looking in mirror and it exploding in my face as its the kind of traumatic memory that still leaves scar tissue- but now things have changed.

  • 7 Nana Yaa // Mar 22, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    That was soooo funny! I can imagine the scene and can’t help laughing.
    I do leg ups, sit ups, exercises for my hips, feet, toes, arms, fingers and neck… The same thing every day and then walk in my compound, by which time an hour has gone by and I need to rest.
    But thanks for the pic compliment. We have a local saying, literally translated as ‘the cloth covers everything’…

  • 8 stevem // Mar 24, 2007 at 11:54 am

    it was nt a compliment guv its just fact-
    yu look realy good for 40somthin’-should i send you pics of york lassess looking like hippo’s made out ve lard for comparison?

    imagine a pile of lard
    then the lard assumes hippo shape
    then put a too short skirt on hippo
    then imagine fake orange tan
    add curly blond wig
    and piggy snout

    woa flashback to lass who was tryna chat me up last night-but the fact is you do excercise and you look good…
    i just go out on the front of the block i live in and try to walk for 20-mins or so

    do you have a walkman/mp3 player on when you walk?

    oh yeah when you do your excercises haveyu considered using light wrist weights?

    wow wish i v could manage an hours walking each day

  • 9 Nana Yaa // Mar 24, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Not that good… the exercises and the walk take an hour. I’ll try out the wrist weights.

  • 10 stevem // Mar 25, 2007 at 12:07 am

    oh another disable/sensu story-

    well i had this decent dude called Ashli staying with me and he worked for a security firm that guarded lapdancing club’s-

    so what did Ashli do?
    [bless im]
    decided that he d send round a lap-dancer to give me a massage

  • 11 stevem // Mar 25, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    Don t get me wrong Ashli’s a decent bloke and the lass that came round ‘UMA” [pseudonym of course] was decent lass supportng her kidz.
    But she is a lapdancer which involves striping down to her thong and ‘shaking my bits for idiots’
    [her quote]

    But heres where it gets dafter as ashli [bless im] did nt tell me that he d had this planned for me and did nt tell uma either that she d be meeting a dude who although friendly would have no idea what was meant to be going on.

    oh yeah i just phoned emma and i ve her permission to share this story and she also says-
    ‘Go for it sharecare’
    which is nice of her.

    weird as it just shows that sensuality can t be arranged by others,no matter how well intentioned as i ended up giving her an ankle massage and reading her tarot

    ash li’s face when he walked in carrying a bottle of champagne and some herb as he was clearly expecting to have a mano-2-mano macho coversation with me and finding emma still there chilling out by the fire leafing thru some of my comics was a delight to behold.

    tried to chase him up for a quote but closest we ll get is-
    ‘she was jus settin der readin,i set he up with de finest dat d melt a mans soul and what he do,he hands her a readin’ book’

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