After The Refractory Period

Have you had enough time to recover from the last sex-themed post? Do you want some more? OK…. A couple of weeks ago, apoplectic.me contributed to the tsunami of sexual content on the internet, in a fairly G-rated (or U-rated, depending on your location) post. Well, maybe not a tsunami. It’s not like sexual content has suddenly burst onto the interwebz like a firehose, spraying effluvia all over your laptop. No, it’s more like the Great Pacific garbage patch — an endless build-up of material that’s probably in excess of 5,800,000 sq mi.

I’ve got to plough through this metaphor again?!

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In a good week for comments all round, Mrs Stroke Bloke waded in below the line to bang the drum for the importance of good sex ed. This foreshadowed an article I read this week which noted that…

…at the moment, the only place young people can easily learn about sex is on the internet, and internet pornography does skirt around certain sexual essentials.

The relationship between the web and sex is tricky. For every Savage Lovecast, there’s a CENSORED. And for every fantastic masturbation guide knocked up by home-schooling parents who have scoured 50 informational websites to cover body acceptance, gender-inclusiveness and all sorts of other brilliant stuff, there’s a whole bunch of CENSORED.

I said, CENSORED!!!

That article is subject to a kind of rebuttal here, but even that only further supports my contention that — as I responded in those comments — this stuff has to be more in the open. I think too many people grow up with a stunted relationship with s-e-x. And that ends up being really bad for society as a whole. So…

Again?!!! Can a brother get a refractory period ’round here?

All this stuff applies double when we’re talking about two things people don’t like talking about. This week, Nerve published some highlights from Redditors’ discussion of What It’s Like For Disabled People To Have Sex. It’s a brilliant read, from the fella who’s a T6 paraplegic and writes, “I have to admit I am not usually this open about these subjects,” to the girl who talks about the guy who’s an above-the-knee amputee and says “I couldn’t really care less as long as the sex is good, and in fact I’d say he’s one of the best I’ve had in bed.”

Now, I wear my “Attitudes Are The Real Disability” badge in solidarity with my disabled brothers and sisters. I know I’ve got it better that a lot of people, but at the end of the day, I’m a wee bit brain-damaged and my left side’s still a bit effed. So, here goes….

A student collecting for The Red Cross picked a fight with me about the sentiment of this badge this week!

As I approached the end of my stay in hospital, doctors began to come by to discuss what I could and couldn’t do upon release. No booze. Well, maybe a glass of wine with Thanksgiving Dinner. No stairs. No rugs. (Really!) And, just as they had to tackle the tricky topic of alcohol with a confirmed Scotsman, the subject of s-e-x had to be delicately broached with a stroke bloke who had experienced his haemorrhage during vigorous night-time activity.

Happily, I was given the all-clear on this. I think because it can be even more futile to ask a loving couple to abstain from love-making than to ask a Scotsman to abstain from booze.

Ah’m nae drinking it!
Ah’m makin’ love tae it!

But that doesn’t mean that getting back in the saddle wasn’t nerve-wracking. Carefully arranging a still-somewhat-paralyzed body to avoid entanglement in sheets. Accounting for an inability to support one’s weight. Performance anxiety over performance anxiety. What about the fact my left testicle felt different to the right? And Mrs Stroke Bloke not only had to worry about all that, but also the fact that my doctors had declared a second stroke would be my last. In extremis, there remains the temptation — the need — to ask…

“No stroke this time?”

But here we are, seventeen months down the line, and it feels like we’re back to good old, life-threatening sex. And the point of this post isn’t to gloat. No, it’s more important that stroke and other survivors know that there’s a way back. And that their loved ones know that with love and mindfulness, they can help their partner back to joining them in a satisfying sex life. And even if it’s not all the way back, over the length of any relationship, our sex lives evolve and post-stroke sex may be better, in some ways, than pre-stroke sex. Maybe through a deeper emotional connection. Maybe through a new mindfulness. Maybe because of a willingness to be open and vulnerable, or to try new new things in the face of changed bodies.

1. Grab insect like a ninja. 2. Hit 3-pointer. 3. Lead free world. 4. Get down with Michelle.

So, don’t worry too much when you’re getting back to the tantric olympics if you’re a survivor or a loved one. Get back to it, and have fun. It can be a great part of recovery and a satisfying journey to share. And healthy couples, don’t forget — the prior paragraph applies to you, too.

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4 thoughts on “After The Refractory Period

  1. Sex with a disabled person is terrifying. And, a bit complicated. But I’ve often found that the best sex is a bit complicated anyway.

    1. Now I just need to create the app that senses when I enter a room, so that it can play that as my theme tune. Though I’ve definitely never done strokey dancin’ to that at a wedding. Oh no.

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