Lisa is only a few years older than myself and is a Thalidomide victim. She has no limbs, but she has deformed hands at the end of each shoulder, and a pair of feet that turn completely inward. She is completely wheelchair reliant when out and about.
Lisa is also happily married and a mother to several children. When at home she happily waddles around doing everything that she physically can in the way of parenting and housekeeping. She always has a smile on her face and takes everything that life can throw at her.
Then there’s my old school friend, Danny. Starved of oxygen at birth he has severe cerebral palsy. He cannot control his muscles, cannot speak and communicates using a blissboard. He also has one of the finest minds that this country will ever see, and the most beautiful smile in the world.
When Danny was awarded compensation from the NHS he went into business with his younger brother and made a few investments here and there. Last time I spoke to him Cheltenham’s most loveable multi-millionaire was living in a beautiful country mansion with his wife and three dogs.
I used to care for a delightful young man who was completely reliant on hoists and personal care. He was completely paralysed, aside from his left index finger, and he couldn’t sit up, but this did nothing to hide his wicked grin and his wonderful, flirtatious nature. When he died of natural causes in hospital his long-term girlfriend was with him.
All three of these people have beautiful souls and were lucky enough to find partners who could see past the wheelchairs and the communication devices – who could see the person inside the body.
Being disabled does not prevent a person from being sexual, or sexy. Take my son for instance; he’s handsome and personable, is mindful of his appearance and keeps himself fit. He is also a low-functioning autist who is unable to say more than a few words.
Unfortunately his unpredictable meltdowns and violent outbursts mean that any woman would be frightened away regardless of how much she might love him. He will never be a husband and I will never be a grandmother.
However, he is still a sexual being with the same primal needs as every other human on this planet. There is a routine in place for him that allows him to have “man time” twice a day because he still has the same needs as a man without disability.
As an autistic (albeit high functioning) individual with epilepsy I am fortunate to have found somebody who can see beyond my physical and neurological issues. D has had to rescusitate me on numerous occasions, often has to help me bathe, has changed wet bedsheets after a grand mal without complaint (after making sure I’m okay) and has even had to assist me to the toilet.
I scream, throw things and go on the offensive for no reason at all; I’ll wake up with my bottom lip chewed to ribbons, covered in my own urine and I have clumsy down to a fine art. I have spent the best part of a year on epilepsy medications that made me so fat that I broke the sofa and there are many tasks that D has to do for me because I will only hurt myself.
Even at my lowest point though, I still had a libido and my husband still found me desirable. He could see past the meltdowns, the anxiety attacks, the occasional wet bed, the extra weight and the personal care and still find me to be the attractive, sexual woman that he fell for in the first place.
Disability does not negate desirability, sexuality or the ability to have enjoyable sex and produce children. We are not freaks of nature, or unfanciable.
Physical deformities, wheelchairs, walking aids, whatever… we are still like everybody else in that we have the same basic primeval physical desires and needs.
And we are more than capable of reciprocating emotional and physical love and desire.