Dating a paralyzed woman

Why should she have to date a disabled guy in a wheelchair?

" The good news is that we can overcome these types of implicit or not so implicit biases by standing up to the stigmas we are surrounded by.

I realized it made me happy and I would have to chase after it. They were so supportive — they supported me financially, by literally helping me move and coming to visit (my mom would come visit for a month straight) and helping me accomplish practical things like driving me places and helping me get in the car. I pee out of my belly button through a catheter now.

I’ve found someone who loves and understands me so much. When we were first dating, I loved that he waited until I was ready to tell him things.

I hit my head on the wall and the impact snapped my neck, which is just insane. The first two years were physically and psychologically brutal. On top of that pain, I had physical pain you can’t describe with words in the dictionary. When I was in the hospital, waking up every morning was like a nightmare. That’s the lens I used to experience the world, and then it shattered. Some prefer person-first language — “person with a disability” rather than “disabled person.” Then there are those who find it condescending when others assume they’re not proud of their disability and wouldn’t like being called a “disabled person.” You don’t have to tiptoe around the word “disabled” with me. I think people fear being disabled, whether because of old age or through injury or getting sick. It’s the people with disabilities I’ve met these past nine years who have empowered me and helped me get to this place.

It felt like purgatory: I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t want to live, either. I know it’s cliche to say that, but they really did. Now that I’m with him, everything has fallen into place.

I couldn’t use the bathroom without needing assistance. Through research I found an exercise program in California. (Sex was the first thing people would ask me about: “Can you still have sex? They do not sew your vagina together when you have a spinal cord injury.” The second question is: “Can you feel? A lot of people who are paralyzed can feel to varying degrees. I can feel all the way down to my toes, but I can’t feel the difference between hot and cold.)There was a lot of rejection, a lot of stigmatization. Right away, I’d realize, “You don’t really understand me.

When I went through paralysis, I was stripped of control over myself. After lying down, it took two hours for my body to adjust to the upright position in my wheelchair. I started online dating and putting myself out there, which was really interesting. I look back on that time now and think about how guys would ask me weird shit.

I had to fundraise for myself because the cost of this is insane.

I have a friend whose friends take turns carrying her on trails.

It’s about being creative and doing things a different way.

And the Zumba: I would love to just show up, say hi, and see what they’d do with me. I have done dance and yoga and I’ve gone skiing (which I didn’t love because I hate being cold). I want to be known as the person who wears her disability well.

I went on a surf trip to Costa Rica, which was amazing. I want to use it to educate people, to make them comfortable about things they’re uncomfortable about, to get people to break free of the preconceptions they have about disabilities and to experience the kind of freedom where you just don’t give a fuck.

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