PERSONAL ESSAYS




getting around



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I probably would've slept around a lot more in high school if I could've taken my pants off without help. But sex was the last thing on my mind after I broke my neck at the age of fourteen.
   On a late August afternoon, one week before starting my freshman year of high school, I wanted to show off to the neighborhood boys. We all grew up on the lake. It had been our summertime hangout since we were kids. They were diving off the top of a schoolyard slide that had been put out in the water. I thought if they could do it, I could too. Being a classically trained dancer, I did a Swan Dive, hitting my head on the bottom. My fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae were crushed, and in what's called the "kill shot," pieces of the bone shifted into my spinal cord, causing permanent paralysis.
   

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I woke up with an EMT asking if I could feel something. He had been pricking my legs with a needle. I said no. The ambulance brought me to a big hospital in St. Paul, where I would live for three months.
   As a low-level quadriplegic, C5-6 to be exact, I only have use of my biceps and wrists; no triceps function. My arms limit me from being able to get in and out of my chair independently or to undress from the waist down. If my injury had been one bone higher, I wouldn't even be able to move my arms. One bone lower, I would be completely independent, since I'd have my triceps and the full ability to lift my ass wherever I wanted.
   The three years that followed the accident were hell. I was abandoned by my friends, and, worst of all, ignored by boys. Before my injury, I wasn't considered hot, but I had kissed a couple of guys. After, I felt like a circus freak rolling down the halls. I'd see guys avert their eyes when I came by. Each time, I sank further into depression. I tried to focus on my physical therapy, but I was plagued by the prospect of no man ever wanting me because I was a cripple. What point was there to becoming stronger if I'd be alone the rest of my life?
   I had no experience in receiving pleasure from my vagina before my injury, so I was clueless about how to sate my craving for sexual satisfaction. As

Spinal-cord-injured women can orgasm but need a lot of mental stimulation.

a teenager stuck in the suburbs, I had no vibrator, and I couldn't use my fingers to get myself off. I tried often, but my right index finger (the only one functional enough for masturbation) wasn't enough. After doing some research online, I learned that spinal-cord-injured women can orgasm but need a lot of mental stimulation, plus a penis or dildo to reach the g-spot. It was clear I needed a partner.
   When I was seventeen, my mom forced me to go to a summer camp for the disabled: seven days in northern Minnesota full of accessible activities, like seated water-skiing and pontoon boats with ramps so we could go fishing. There, I was a star. Every cute disabled boy stared at me with shining eyes. I even dated one of them: Mark, a bad-boy on wheels from three hours north. He had tattoos, a dirty mouth and such a muscular upper body that even the female camp counselors did double takes. He was born with legs similar to polio victims. We didn't have much in common except hormones.
   Mark was my first kiss after getting hurt. He would lie in bed with me, fully dressed, and tell me I had the most beautiful eyes. We kissed so much my lips were raw. I think he put a finger in my panties while we were in my bed one night, but he denied it, and my lack of sensation made a light touch impossible to feel. After three months, he stopped answering my calls.
   The next year, I went back to the camp and once again left with a disabled boyfriend. This one was totally in love with me, but we couldn't have sex because neither of us could move our hip muscles. We tried it once. He struggled to get on top of me, but couldn't move his lower body enough to get his cock inside of me. Talk about torture. I was too eager to experience "real" sex to stay with him. After about four months of fooling around, I broke it off.

           

  

Commentarium (21 Comments)

May 08 06 - 10:47am
cc

Very courageous. The most truly honest piece I have read on this site.

May 08 06 - 1:32pm

Tiffiny, that is an incredible story. I appreciate you telling it because it is really helping me to understand someone that I know who is in a similar situation. REALY helping.

dirtwood

May 08 06 - 2:58pm
AI

Superb writing and astounding honesty. Very refreshing. Nice change from the self-concious anguish that occasionally surfaces in this feature.

May 08 06 - 3:01pm
KG

I loved this essay! Also, VERY eye-opening and educational for the ignorant who think, consciously or subconsciouly, that people who use wheelchairs for mobility can't or don't have sex and/or aren't sexy. I'm a chair user, so I fully "get" this essay, but most people would be completely educated by it. I enjoyed the author's "matter of factness" too.

May 08 06 - 3:06pm
JLA

GREAT story. This is what Nerve does best- acting as a forum for completely new, intelligent perspectives.

May 08 06 - 4:06pm
gma

Tiffany, you rock. You've got a great, honest voice, and you seem to be pursuing a fiery life; a neccessity for great, honest writing. Mad props for putting out better info on disaled sex.

May 08 06 - 5:02pm
DAD

Wow, what a breath of fresh air. Thanks for a great article and a great attitude to boot. Congratulations, Tiffany, for openly owning your sexuality in a way most women in their 20s can't muster, able-bodied or no. And as part of a dual-disabled couple (I have severe RA, my partner is a T-12 spinal cord injury), it's really refreshing to see someone out there proclaiming that gimp sex is hot sex too (something I've wanted to put on a T-shirt for ages, modelled on the old 'Safe sex is hot sex" T-shirts... :) I love your site, and thanks for your wonderful essay. Warm regards,

May 08 06 - 5:55pm
LLF

Ovbiously you have a fascinating story and a lot to write about. However, I had hoped that the personal essay would have some purely aesthetic literary merit in the way of writing, of words, of execution of the story-telling process. I found that lacking here in what resembled a journal entry more than a crafted piece of writing.

May 08 06 - 6:16pm
P.B.

Great article1!!! Your really Hot !!!

May 12 06 - 12:27am
SBj

You two are so sneaky...using him as your 'PCA' on the plane. *tsk tsk* :P

May 12 06 - 12:20pm
ef

Great article and great name for a rescue kitty!

Jan 12 07 - 6:59pm
cw

Man, this is one tough woman. To not give up and go for what she wanted, no matter what--balls. Great piece.

Jul 27 10 - 4:24am
Name

What do you think?

Oct 01 10 - 9:53pm
keymaker

Your writing is simple great, Especially for beginners!

Feb 18 11 - 11:03am
adison

We've all been there: you can find yourself driving by means of a certain a part of town let you ...

Feb 18 11 - 3:14pm
desiree

Bless them. And bless you, for initiation the thread.

Sep 27 11 - 12:18am
Mona

Wow

Sep 27 11 - 10:31am
Laura

Fantastic article! First one I've read about sex and disability, but it probably won't be the last! Truly inspiring; I'm still discovering myself and my sexuality (my 'slut-phases' were never good because I wasn't demanding enough and gave up too soon with enjoying the sex), and lately it's like I've been at an impasse with myself (and my current partner). This is really helpful, in many different ways. Thank you.

Sep 27 11 - 12:59pm
Anonymous

Fantastic piece!! We shouldn't let our boundaries, physical or otherwise, keep us from getting the pleasure we as humans crave. Reading this, I don't know if you're into girls, but I am a girl and I'd totally jump you in a second ;)

Oct 06 11 - 1:57pm
Jay

I really appreciate the fact that you've made your own blog and have in fact gived to the world your thoughts. I love your work and feel I can refer to what you've done. A lot of people can't even imagine having such talent. I hope that you know how lucky you are. :) Good luck to you in ALL your endeavors. :)

Oct 13 11 - 4:34pm
Buffie

Whoa, thgins just got a whole lot easier.