I'll never forget the first time my husband and I made love during one of my MS relapses (the first really significant one that involved a sensation of numbness from my neck down). Although he was gentle and sensitive to the fact that I wasn't feeling entirely well, it was a frightening and upsetting experience.
It was very scary because I couldn't feel what I normally feel during a sexual encounter. It was kind of like making love wearing a knit body suit. Every sensation seemed muffled and indistinct and it took much longer than usual for me to achieve orgasm.
When you have relapsing/remitting MS, you need to have faith that your body will recover eventually. But one never knows if the body will recover fully or incompletely.
I've been lucky so far. My body has now almost recovered fully from three separate relapses. I do have some residual symptoms, but they are very mild and serve to remind me that I do have a chronic disease lurking in the background.
But there will always be a voice in my head, when a relapse is at its severest, that says, what if I don't recover? What if my MS has now changed to Secondary Progressive and I will either stay like this or keep getting worse? You have to tell that voice to shut up. But let me tell you, when a relapse affects sexual performance, it is hard not to be a little bit scared.
This may explain why I have consciously and boldly embraced my sexuality, without fear, ever since that first big relapse of five years ago. I received the gift of a fully functioning body back from the brink, and dammit I will not apologize for celebrating what makes me excited, turned on, and able to achieve physical pleasure.
Last November, for research purposes, I attended a fisting seminar as part of the Mister Leather Ottawa event. I initially did not realize it would involve an actual demonstration of said activity, which I had seen in videos many times. Because I knew the presenter personally, and he knew that I was there to find out all I could about it, I soon found myself challenged to participate in a "hands on/in" way. To my own surprise I took up this challenge and had one of the most interesting and informative experiences of my life. (A more detailed description can be found at my Author Blog - it remains one of my most popular posts)
Knowing as I did that three months, or three years, or even three weeks down the road, my hands could become completely numb and non-functioning again, I had to take advantage of this opportunity. I wanted to do it, I had the capacity to do it, and it was a safe environment for doing it. I would not let societal prejudices or judgements stop me from participating in something that I may never get the opportunity to experience in such a way again.
Yesterday, I took advantage of a friend's offered free pass to attend the Ottawa Sexapalooza show on Uplands Drive, which is in my neighborhood. My husband and I have attended twice together and find it overpriced and tame for a venue that boasts to be a scintillating journey into the world of sexuality. Unfortunately, it is very much hetero-centred, and geared toward a subset of women who are just branching out of their narrow view of monogamous vanilla sexuality.
But, the kids had been stressing me out and Greg kindly offered to look after them while I went to the show on my own for an hour. Since I had just recently begun to feel better after my latest relapse, it was an opportunity to see a few friends and just get out of the house.
Since my husband and I already have a plethora of toys and accoutrements we hardly ever have time to use, I didn't purchase any. I did buy a fun bag and a couple of necklace pendants. My friends Isaac and Keven were manning the MLO booth so I was able to chat with them for a bit. Eventually I sat down and had a drink and watched the people moving about in the darkness.
I don't think I will go next time, even if I'm offered free admission. It's much more exciting to attend an event like MLO or a Pup Night at CPs, where at least I get to see things further from the mainstream.
It is a great thing to be able to follow one's own desires and take advantage of one's full sexuality, no matter how "out of the norm" it may be as long as it is consensual, people are treated with respect and one engages in risk-aware behaviour. You never know when the ability to do so might be taken away from you.