“Work hard and play harder” was my general life motto before my injury in 2010 leaving me a C6 quadriplegic.
I have always been full of life, managed to laugh uncontrollably even while stuck in the ICU, and, with, respect to sex I have always been extremely free. I’m not quite sure what I can attribute this to, but, I not only enjoyed sex, I really believed men were like fine wines … I needed to taste test each one before settling on a favorite.
Up until I took that pesky little dive that day I was very tall, worked out four hours a day, was entirely comprised of muscle, and worked really hard professionally. Most importantly, I always looked for opportunities to have an adventure that would get me into some kind of trouble because I had a gut feeling that one day I would want to have these stories in my repertoire! Honestly, this is how I lived day in and day out.
After recovering from the shock of the initial accident, I found myself six months post injury having gained 40 pounds as well as having the usual medical challenges to deal with day in and day out on top of some extras just to add a little insult to injury. Sex and my sexuality were literally the last things on my mind. I felt disgusting … I was overweight; someone had to help me go to the bathroom, I had a catheter in my urethra, I had to wear disposable underwear for the foreseeable future, etc.
I could barely look in the mirror for several years let alone think about having a man in my life. I know, for many, it can be the loneliest time in your life. In my particular case, it was a little bit different. I had so many life or death episodes over the next five years and had wonderful friends & family that I thought to myself:
“Well, Ali, you’ve certainly slept with more people than you should have in a lifetime. So, you’re going to become “A SEXUAL,” focus on making a living, and enjoy other aspects of life.”
Sure I got lonely sometimes, but not lonely for a man, but rather lonely for my old spontaneous and adventurous life. I kept myself so incredibly busy that the years flew by, and I remember thinking that I was going to be alone for the rest of my life. This was absolutely okay with me and like so many throughout history I would have to find other avenues of life to enrich my senses. This concept of happiness with a loving partner is a very new idea in modern history. Think back to arranged marriages.
About four years into my accident I started naturally losing weight, I’m really not quite sure why, and started to return back to my pre-accident weight. I should preface the above statement by explaining that when you break your neck, you burn approximately 50 to 60% fewer calories than you did before your accident. Why? Well, most of your muscles are paralyzed, so you don’t need the extra calories to survive. So, I do eat like a bird now, but very healthy. I eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and some dried fruit for sweets. I stay away from artificial sugars, starchy carbohydrates, etc. I used to get hungry, but your body eventually adapts. I’m not a nun though… I do go out and drink on the weekends and if I am to have something to eat that is not very healthy I just have a bite of it. I try and stick with vodka, club soda, and lime!
After having lost the weight, I started to regain a little bit more confidence, but also started getting the hang of being a quadriplegic. Some people get the hang of it after a year or two, but it took me considerably longer due to all of the unforeseen medical complications I had and the fact that I had to move to China for several years. I moved back from China in 2015 to Raleigh, North Carolina to live near my sister.About two months after moving to Raleigh I woke up one morning, rather impulsively, and said: “what the hell do I have to lose?” I joined OkCupid online dating app that day. I only chose OkCupid by chance and I didn’t have more than one simply because with paralyzed fingers it can be a little bit exhausting typing on the phone all day.
About two months after moving to Raleigh I woke up one morning, rather impulsively, and said: “what the hell do I have to lose?” I joined OkCupid online dating app that day. I only chose OkCupid by chance and I didn’t have more than one simply because with paralyzed fingers it can be a little bit exhausting typing on the phone all day.
Many of you have read my dating profile from my first column, and to my pleasant surprise, I received quite a lot of responses. I then started panicking because I realized I would actually have to meet these guys and probably get naked with them eventually.
This leads me to how I gained my sexuality back … The Answer?
Experimentation and step-by-step. This may sound embarrassing to most, but since I can’t get dressed on my own I needed help to feel sexy again. I went out to Victoria Secret and purchased so many different types of underwear, lingerie, etc. Every few days I would then get in bed with my caregiver and the help of my mom, and I would put on the underwear with different little sexy outfits so that I could take pictures. I literally had a team of people taking photos from the left, from the right, from the top… They crossed my legs, they put me on my belly, they put me on my side, etc. No joke… It was hilarious.
I would download the photos on computer and carefully study the angles which the photos were taken from … The reason I did this was that when I did get naked with a guy I figured I would have someone put me an initial position in bed, and I would just be waiting for these gentlemen callers in my négligée to ensure the sexiest position.
As for my catheter … I would disconnect the little bag that is usually attached to my leg and then tape the little tube to my belly under the underwear. If I was to have someone new in my bed it was probably best not to have a loose hanging bag they could potentially rip out of me or completely freak them out. I figured eventually, of course, a guy wouldn’t care about the stuff, but breaking your neck aside, I have always tried to look my sexiest in the beginning.
I must have practiced this for weeks on end. I would then take guys out on dates and if by the third or fourth date I deemed them worthy… I would then invite them up for an “Underwear Date.” I will write another column about the details of my underwear dates, but the basic gist was that I would dress up in lingerie and carefully be placed on the bed in a saucy position. I would then have the guy’s just walk in my apartment and right into my bedroom. I figured this eliminated the initial awkwardness of trying to transfer me out of my chair, take my pants off, not rip my catheter out, etc. Trust me, I realize how unbelievably unconventional this approach was!
I later found out from many of the guys that they thought it was just the most interesting, weird and funny thing that ever heard of. They had never been invited up for underwear date before, let alone an underwear date with a woman who was mostly paralyzed. They barely had to do any work except to figure out the mechanics of my body 🙂
Some of these experiments were epic fails and truly embarrassing, again I will write another column for some of these tales, but in my mind, if it didn’t work out I would never have to see them again.
What was the worst-case scenario…?
Okay, you guys are all probably thinking that, but I will come out and say it… Do you poop on a guy you just became intimate with? So, even if you did this, you hedge your bets and get back on the horse. Thankfully, this never happened me, but only because of careful preparation that morning, not drinking a lot of water, and for me at that time, not eating anything 4 to 5 hours before getting rowdy. (Note: This is different for every person and some have no issues with eating or drinking beforehand.)
Over time I regained my sexuality, but not without some embarrassing experiences to start. I was basically a new person and I had to rediscover how my body worked. You cannot experiment and have 100% success every time. I suppose the defining difference is your attitude you take towards those mortifying experiences.
In my life, I am ever the “Scientist” who constantly experiments on myself medically, nutritionally, sexually, professionally, etc.
Just based on probability alone something will work out eventually if you keep trying new things!
- My First Solo Trip with my Boyfriend as a Quadriplegic – The Art of Compromise - January 6, 2018
- CAREGIVING for Quadriplegic – Living in Fear or Trust? - December 10, 2017
- Danger: How Negativity About Disability Can Create Chronic Inflammation - November 18, 2017
- Spinal Cord Injury Sexuality: How I (Unexpectedly) Fell in Love - November 9, 2017
- How I Vacation as a C6 Quadriplegic - October 28, 2017
- My Lifelong Science Experiment - September 24, 2017
- The Game of Survival: Managing Fear and Health as a Quadriplegic - August 13, 2017
- Splashing Back into the Water: How I was going to swim again as a C6 quadriplegic - July 31, 2017
- My Year in Bed: Sanity Saving Antidotes + How My Life Changed for the Better - July 6, 2017
- Spinal Surgery in China – “To Die or Not to Die?” - June 22, 2017