Have you ever experienced a sexual turning point in your life? A re-awakening? That’s what our In The Loop question asked, and here’s what you told us. While many of you included your names, they have been withheld to protect the reawakened.
My sex life before my accident was excellent. So being cut off cold turkey by T9 paraplegia was devastating to my ego and manhood. Could I have sex? What would I feel? Should my wife of 14 years have to suffer because of my accident?
While I was in rehabilitation, I asked my nurses what they knew about sex after an injury like mine. Some were obviously embarrassed. It was as if they thought I would have to do something unnatural and perverse.
I thank God daily that one of my nurses had researched the topic herself and was gracious enough to impart her wisdom. She convinced my wife and me that we had to be open to many possibilities, and told us about Enabling Romance, by Ken Kroll and Erica Levy Klein. Because of my religious convictions, I do not espouse all of the techniques described in the book. But a spinal injury does not give you the luxury to be prudish, and I was grateful for the advice. Our rediscovery of my sexuality was almost like our honeymoon, and we had a lot of fun letting nature take its course.
My former husband and I had a very stressful nine years due to my wheelchair. Sex was frustrating for both of us and, in the end, I felt asexual. I kept on reading about people in wheelchairs having fulfilling sex lives, but I decided to focus my time and energy on my daughter and friends.
My divorce was a few days away from being finalized when I met a man who was engaging and did not care that I used a wheelchair. He believed in me as a person and a lover, and the first time we made love, he made me feel alive again. To my delight, and for the first time in nine years, I was also able to achieve an orgasm.
This wonderful man gave me back my self-esteem. My friends and family members notice a change. I now feel confident that I am a complete woman with dignity intact.
Imagine . . .
What disturbed me enormously at the time of my accident was that I was still a virgin and would never experience “normal” sex. I used a condom catheter and felt ashamed, embarrassed and uncertain. For a few years, I thought of myself as sexually dead.
I was only in a sexual coma. My sexual awakening occurred when I was 21 with my first girlfriend. She took the initiative, we had oral sex, and she had the mother of all orgasms. Yet I still regretted the fact that I couldn’t have normal sex. She encouraged me to share my fantasies and to think about how I may want to compensate for whatever I lacked. The idea of another guy being aroused by her was the fantasy that turned me on the most, and it opened a Pandora’s box. I started to imagine other men with her. Perhaps all of those other men were just versions of my ideal self, ones that I wished really existed. Nevertheless, I found an enormous amount of sexual arousal and satisfaction in those fantasies.
I am married now. My wife and I both enjoy similar fantasies, and believe it is important not to feel guilty when engaged in this form of sexual play. This allows us to compensate for my inability to reach an orgasm and experience intercourse in a more natural and spontaneous fashion. I feel sexually content and complete, but it took a long time to reach that point.
During rehab, I asked my doctor the Forbidden Question: “Will I still be able to have sex?”
“Well,” he said, “you might get pregnant or have a bowel movement.” I sat there thinking, I don’t want either of those.
Less than a year later, I met Larry, a charming man five years my senior, and together we attended my senior prom. I wore the usual legbag and corset-with stays, no less-and a white gown with clogs. The prom sucked. Our table had been strategically placed next to the kitchen, and my clogs kept falling off on the dance floor. We departed early for the old Victorian house in which Larry lived alone.
He carried me up the stairs to his bedroom. As we kissed to T-Rex’s Get It On, he took off our clothes-and accidentally pulled out my catheter!
We needed to go to the hospital to replace the catheter, so he stuffed both of us back into our rumpled prom clothes. He whisked me downstairs and out the front door, then realized he had left his car keys upstairs. He dropped me on the front lawn, ran back up the stairs, re-emerged and jumped into his car and took off-leaving me lying in the grass looking up at the night sky.
By the time he realized he had forgotten me and backed up the car, I started laughing and couldn’t stop. The emergency room nurses replaced the catheter, but refused to believe we were not just married, considering what we were wearing. We were still laughing when we finally returned to
his house, took our clothes back off, and made love to the romantic strains of T-Rex and Get It On. Mission completed.
Virtual Becomes Real
I was 22 and just discovering my sexuality at the time I was hurt. I had found that I was more interested in women than men, and became very involved in a first gay relationship.
After my accident, I was devastated. I knew I had to walk away from anything that would keep me from moving on with my life, including that relationship. For the past eight years, I have hidden my sexuality. I couldn’t image anyone wanting a woman in a wheelchair nor could I imagine myself in bed with anyone.
Last year, I met a woman on the Internet. We became very close online, and then took the relationship into real life. It is incredible-the first real love of my life-and she has no problem whatsoever with the fact that I am in a wheelchair and need help with certain things. Sex is better now than when I was not paralyzed.
We are devoted solely to each other, and I know this plays a big part in the tender moments we share. This re-awakening was worth the little nap I took after my accident.
The Touch and the Word
Like Lazarus, I was called back to the world of the living and active when I realized that the most powerful sexual organ rests on my shoulders and not between my legs. You want to know something? It’s more fun than before. It adds the sensual passive-active sense of expectations and accomplishment. If failure meets me at the end, who cares? Perhaps next time will be more fun. But the real pleasure is always there, in the before-during-after of the touch, the word, the imagination.
Sees the Light
I was 19 when I was injured. Now, at 37, I remember sex and how it felt, but it was all just memory until a few months ago. I met a girl who has really awakened something in me. She had me leave
the lights on, something I had never tried before because of my self-consciousness about my skinny legs. I have learned to be more at ease with my/our enjoyment and to show it.
I had never done the oral sex thing. I do now and find myself getting as excited now as I remember getting excited before my injury. My injury hasn’t changed, just my way of thinking-not being too shy to try new things. It took me years to figure this out. But now I know and plan on enjoying it for the rest of my life.
This In The Loop question was inspired by a recent qualitative study at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, on sexual response in women with spinal cord injury by Mitch Tepper, Eleanor Richards, Barry Komisaruk and Beverly Whipple.