This week’s post gets a wee bit personal and spicy, but for a good cause. When writing characters who’ll have sex in your story, don’t automatically exclude a partner with a disability. Spoiler: most of us like sex, doods.
A shout-out to Jen Desmarais. Thank you so much for including me in the discussion. It’s really important for able-bodied folks to remember that people with disabilities can and want to get it on, too. (Cue the slow jam of choice.)
I have a disability that causes widespread nerve pain, chronic fatigue, and mobility impairment. My turn-ons include fresh sheets, kisses during walks in the sunset, and cupcakes. Like a shocking amount of people I enjoy having sex, and I don’t mind saying so. Does that make you feel uncomfortable? Well, according to an article I read on the Disabled World website: “Sex and disability tends to be a taboo area for many abled bodied persons and is rarely discussed in the same sentence. As a result more than 50% of disabled people do not have any form of a regular sex life.” (Disability Sexuality: Information on Sex & Disabled Sexual Issues, Disabled Word)
I reckon that just because half of people with disabilities aren’t having sex, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s their preferred choice. They are mostly-likely the victims of incorrect assumptions and ignorance.
At Can*Con 2016, I attended a candid panel about sex led by Canadian author Angela S. Stone. In my opinion the panellists created a safe space for us not only to talk about how we can write about sex as authors, but also to discuss how we have sex in real life. When Angela spoke about there being ways other than the missionary position, I agreed wholeheartedly. My hand shot up and I said, “I have a disability. That’s why my husband and I created the Gordon Sutra.” I meant no disrespect to the actual Kama Sutra, but it was my way of describing how as a married couple, we figured out there was more than one way to do the magical it. I also added, addressing the other authors, “Please make sure to write about disabled people having sex, because we have sex, too!” We really do, you know.
Several years ago a young person in my life, who understood how acute my chronic pain was, asked me, “So, sex. Do you still have it?” I replied, “Yup, it’s my anti-inflammatory medicine!” For me—and I am talking about my personal experience only—having sex increased my circulation and loosened my overly-stiff connective tissues. The endorphins reduced my awareness of pain, and the orgasm relaxed me all over. This special connection with my spouse did many things I cannot even explain scientifically. It was a natural therapy while remaining a delicious way of expressing love with my partner.
Things went merrily along with my sex life until I developed chronic severe nerve pain in my pelvis. It lasted four years and was so acute, it even hurt to sit down on a firm chair. Intercourse was mind-numbingly painful. Eventually, everything came to a full-stop in the bedroom. Gone were the lovely anti-inflammatory benefits, replaced with the fear of having sex. I sought medical help for years, without finding a solution. In fact, my pain became much worse and debilitating. Even though my spouse remained remarkably understanding and extremely affectionate, I missed being with him in that way.
Finally, a gynecologist who I’ll name Doctor Awesomesauce explained that my nerve pain was preventing her from examining me. She said it was the equivalent to being poked in the eye. Yowch! Doctor Awesomesauce diagnosed me with pelvic myalgia, which had been triggered by extremely weakened pelvic floor muscles. The prognosis showed I had a good chance that pelvic-floor physiotherapy would work for me. I tried it. Even after the first two weeks, I noticed some pain reduction. I couldn’t wait to have sex again!
It was still difficult to do right away, though. Then it hit me—the heck with intercourse for now. Let’s try outercourse!
Why do we underplay sexual touching? Or am I the only one who thinks we do? I nickname it, “Going to the Petting Zoo.” It’s so sexy all by itself and I wish I had thought of it earlier. Happy sighs were emitted and regular love-making was back in our lives again. After several more sessions the pelvic-floor physiotherapy was successful and now I have a whole arsenal of options to choose from whenever we bring sexy back in our homestead.
You see, lovely non-disabled peeps, I never once thought for even a fleeting moment to accept my disability as a reason for not having sex. As with everything in my life, I just try to find a workaround that makes sense for my body. My libido is quite healthy, so I have the desire to nurture it like anyone else does, and often. Woof!
To readers with disabilities, I salute you, and hope you find the best solution that works for you, medical help with listening ears, and a partner who is enthusiastic to help you in your quest. I even wish you a method that does the job you when you’re all by yourself! It can sometimes be a bit of a maze to discover the how-to’s, but it’s well worth the journey.
May your sexy days be too numerous to count!