Tuesday, June 17

Paraplegia, questions and sex: A tale of squirrels.

Since becoming paraplegic I’ve become very used to being asked questions about my health; friends asking how I’m getting on and if I’m in pain, strangers gently prying and trying to find out what’s wrong and how it happened. Nosey but innocuous questions that I generally don’t mind answering, providing that it’s not done insultingly and they understand I won’t answer if a line is crossed. I’ve been quite endeared over the years by the sensitivity that people have approached the subject with.

Well, most of the time.

There is one subject where it appears that all boundaries and sensitivity go out of the window in a heartbeat. Be it friend or stranger, it’s a subject which arouses such curiosity that no answer is simply not good enough, and there really is no way to tread carefully. Sex.

Can I still have sex? How does it work? Can I still have orgasms? Can I feel it? Can I enjoy it? Is it different to before? From people I have known for years to people I have known for 5 minutes in the pub, as soon as the word ‘paraplegia’ comes up you can almost see the cogs turning as they desperately try not to ask but simply can’t help themselves.

One day last year I’d had quite enough of people expecting to know about my sex life and why I didn’t want to answer. I decided I’d finally explain the difficulties that come with arousal and let alone sex.

It is impossible for me to have sex.

You see, with paraplegia comes a secondary issue surrounding arousal itself. It’s problematic, to say the least, and proves a challenging barrier in sexual relationships which I have yet to find a way around. My poor husband and I have yet to even consummate our marriage as a result of this horrendous symptom of spinal cord damage. I can’t even tell you whether I can feel it, enjoy it, or climax, because there is a vicious and furry problem… Squirrels. That’s right, squirrels.

As soon as the vaginal juices start to flow angry squirrels start flying out of my vagina. Normally grey squirrels, but at certain times of the months, well.. I’m sure you can figure that out.

They don’t just calmly crawl their way out, oh no, they fling themselves. Ricocheting off my thighs and attacking the nearest thing they see. Scratching and biting, looking for the nearest place to nest or some nuts to nibble on. We’ve tried setting a side a plate of food for the, hoping they’d be distracted, but they wouldn’t exactly be the first set of nuts their beady little eyes would see were we to take a leap into the relatively unknown.

Would you really want to go prodding at an infinite nest of angry squirrels with your most precious of appendages? Nope, didn’t think so.

There you have it, one of life’s questions answered for you. Next time you consider prying into the sex life of a disabled person, please remember that no matter how deep your curiosity, no matter how desperate you are to know how another person’s body works, they could well have a devastating affliction involving wildlife. To constantly be reminded of this is deeply upsetting. Please, remember the squirrels.

Alternatively don’t be a massive asshat and go around asking people, unprompted, about their sex life.

Saturday, March 15

Almond milk and egg white pancakes

Topped with yoghurt, dried apricots, and walnuts
500ml almond milk
250g plain, self-raising, or wholemeal flour
3 egg whites
1-2 tsp vanilla essence
Butter or vegetable oil for frying

Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl, mix the almond milk, egg whites and vanilla essence together and mix into the flour. (A tip for easily separating egg whites: Crack the egg onto a plate or into a bowl, use a plastic pop bottle, squeeze a bit of air out of it, and suck up the yolk. It will be sucked into the bottle without breaking it, or taking any or much egg white with it). Or just shove it all in a mixer or food processor if you have one, that's what I do and it's way easier. 
Fry it in the oil or butter like it's a pancake because that's exactly what it is.

I only made this recipe yesterday, and in fact only tried almond milk yesterday. I've been having them with walnuts, dried apricots and natural yoghurt. I don't know how well it would work with savoury toppings given the sweetness of the almond milk and vanilla but if anyone tries it, let me know how that goes!

Friday, March 7

Cass, Tasty Soup, and Chai

My bunnies, Lord Chancellor Casserole (tan lop, male, 1 year old) and First Sea Lord Tasty Soup (spotted mix, female, 6 months)

His Grace the Duke of Ankh, Commander Sir Samuel Vimes (male, hooded rat, <4 years old)

And of course, how can I forget my beautiful companion Chai? (Female rottweiler, ~4 years old)

Picture of my two rabbits, lined up along with my rottweiler Chai
Click to see a whole gallery of Chai and the buns!
Upon saying 'dindins'

Thursday, March 6

Sweet apple and chamomile tea

This is one of my recent favourites, initially just thrown together with what I had to hand when I felt like having a sweet drink which wasn't just ribena or apple juice. It's made up in a large batch and kept in the fridge, though it can be made in smaller amounts or had hot.

4 litres water
8 chamomile teabags
3 Schwartz mulled wine spice bags (though any type of mulling spices works)
200ml Ribena or other blackcurrant cordial
1 litre of apple juice
1 dessert spoon of honey
1 dessert spoon of vanilla extract.

Chuck it all in a big pot and bring it up to near the boil. Turn the heat down and leave it to simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. It can be brewed for longer for a stronger taste of chamomile or spices but that about works for me.

Leave it to cool, bottle it up, and stick it in the fridge.

Saturday, March 1

Dancing in the Graveyard of Galaxies, 2011

“What a fantastic absurdity. 
Such folly, such nuance with every beat, breath, blink and step, 
As I exist am science, I am mathematics and philosophy, rhythm and sound, music and dance. 
I am made of millennia, light, electricity, beings past.
In each moment I love and mourn without conscious notice. Emotions pour from enormous joyous heights to such depths of sorrow.
In every movement of the eye, every muscular twitch, the worlds surrounding me grow and I am gone. Dust of things so far past and yet so much more to come. 
I am so insignificant and yet my very existence is a thing of such enormity to be beyond comprehension. 
I am so old and so young, each fragment of my being full of energy, carving a map of existence in such vastness and perfect symmetry. 
What a fantastic absurdity; dancing to the music of my own existence, in a fraction of minuscule incandescence in a graveyard of galaxies and all within.”