Cruise Ship Adventures & Wheelchairs – Lessons Learned

Several months ago my boyfriend and I were set to celebrate our two-year anniversary of being together. We wanted to take our first solo vacation somewhere tropical and most importantly we wanted to do it alone. Needless-to-say I was quite nervous at the prospect of having my partner take care of me with respect to all aspects of caregiving, and travel. He is such a phenomenal individual in that he has always been interested in making sure that he could take care of me by helping me dressed, showering me, taking care of my bathroom needs, and, most importantly, ferociously loving me! It took us quite a while to get to the point where I was comfortable showing a man those intimate details of my care, and all of the “not so sexy stuff” that comes along with dating a woman in a wheelchair.  The point is we finally got there over the last several years, so I thought it only natural to take the next step to see if we could really take our relationship to the next level, and travel alone together.

After countless hours of exploring our options, I decided that a cruise was probably our best bet. It was cost-efficient, I could take as many bags as I needed on the ship, and I could easily take both my wheelchairs. I live in Raleigh, North Carolina, so I knew I could drive 9 to 12 hours down to Florida in my van with all of my gear. One thing the two of us love to do is swim together, sit by the ocean, and go on adventures. I thought starting out with a seven day vacation down to the Western Caribbean would give us enough time to enjoy ourselves, but not too long in case things went sideways.

I posted a detailed account of our journey day by day on my personal blog if you are interested in every step of our journey. For the purposes of this article, I want to summarize some of the pros and cons of cruising as a handicap passenger.

Read the rest on Push Living Magazine: https://pushliving.com/cruise-ship-adventures-wheelchairs/

 

 

Long-Term Relationship Physical & Emotional Intimacy with Spinal Cord Injury

Who knew that my first serious long-term adult relationship would be after my spinal cord injury? I certainly did not! I was always the type of girl to have 1 foot in a relationship and 1 foot out in my 20’s. When I would break up with the guy I would usually move cities or countries. Truth be told after my accident I figured I had my shot at relationships and I would likely be single the rest of my life, which I was surprisingly okay with for many years. When I first started dating in a wheelchair I had an array of gentleman callers in order to explore my sexuality years after my accident. I’ve written about my dating adventures in multiple blogs, but I’ve never really touched on the subject of how my current boyfriend and I have grown to fall deeply, and madly in love.

It was not until this past year that I really started to understand what emotional intimacy meant and how one really has to work at it keep a relationship alive. In my opinion, emotional intimacy is the glue which holds a long-term relationship together. Even if you have a super strong connection initially, the more time you spend with someone and the better you get to know them, the deeper your connection can become — and emotional intimacy in a long-term relationship is so much different than emotional intimacy in a brand-new relationship.

In new relationships we can reflectively listen, spend quality time with our partner without distraction, and make thoughtful gestures to build closeness.

At the time I didn’t realize what this meant, but approaching relationships from a slightly different angle with spinal cord injury has made me appreciate what this means. When I first started dating my boyfriend I spent the first year actively keeping him out of every aspect of my spinal cord injured life with respect to caregiving. I wanted to take the time to get to know him as a person, and, more importantly, I truly believed that keeping the “paralyzed” part of our relationship was the best way for us to grow. Looking back, I am happy with the results, but I probably could’ve shared all of me sooner as opposed to just part of me.

You see when we first started dating I wanted to make sure that he didn’t feel overwhelmed by my spinal cord injury and everything that came with it. Honestly, when I think of spinal cord injury I get overwhelmed and I am the one who is injured! There are so many things to look out for on a daily basis with respect to bowel issues, bladder care, dressing, pressure sores, infections, etc. The list is endless and when I started becoming truly intimate with another person I wanted them to really get to know me as a person, and not just the injury. This is pretty silly because a big part of me is my injury, and while it is not my personality, dealing with it ins and outs of daily life with respect to my care cannot be ignored.

Regardless, I chose to keep half of me locked away for the better part of the year in order to let our sexual relationship flourish in addition to just having fun. I spent so many years in misery with a myriad of medical nightmares that I just wanted to leave that part of me locked away for a time.  My boyfriend was beyond understanding and while I think he wanted to get to know all of me more quickly I was quite reserved with respect to my care. Ultimately, I think I made the right choice, but I was convinced that I would be able to spend the rest of my life with a man, and not have him involved with my care. I was so wrong on so many levels.

The longer two people spend together, the longer they have to explore each other’s inner worlds. With time we can become highly attuned with one another be able to understand our partner’s motivations instead of misinterpreting their actions. Communication can become clear and hopefully with time we feel safer to share vulnerable parts of ourselves.

About a year into our relationship my boyfriend gently communicated to me that he needed more. He wanted to know all of me and I realized that the time had come to share what I consider the most terrifying part of a relationship – combining intimacy and care giving.

It took many months, but I slowly taught him how I got dressed, how I showered, how I washed my hair, how I went to the bathroom, how I changed my catheter, etc. I truly believed that that showing another man these aspects of my life would diminish our sexual relationship on many levels. Again, I was wrong in magnanimous ways. Not only did he handle all aspects of my spinal cord injury care with such tenderness, but we actually grew closer together. I’m not quite sure how this happened, but perhaps it is because I decided to let another person truly into my life other than my family.

While we learned to better communicate with one another we still have moments when we want to kill each other. However, it is in those moments if you still feel that you want to spend your life with someone even when they drive you bananas you have truly found something special!

Not only did we build a stronger relationship based on trust, communication, and compromise, but we are now able to finally take trips on our own without the help of family or caregivers. This propelled our relationship to new heights, and, for the first time in my life, this helped me understand what emotional intimacy really meant. Sexual intimacy has always been very easy for me as I never really placed much weight on sex itself. Sex has always been just an act for me, but emotional commitment seemed incredibly daunting throughout my life. I didn’t realize until recently that I had never really trusted another man before my current boyfriend.  When you learn to trust someone you start to see love through a different prism. With respect to spinal cord injury, he has been the only other person in my life, other than my immediate family, who I trust 100% with making sure that I do not get injured and I am cared for. It’s hard to say, but I would probably trade walking again in my life in order to have what I have now.

“Adventures in Mexico together!”

OUR RELATIONSHIP TECHNIQUES

  1. Physical Intimacy

In my humble opinion I think the defining line between friendship and a relationship is physical intimacy. Whether you define physical intimacy as sex, oral sex, snuggling, kissing, etc. is up to you, but there needs to be some sort of connection that you do not feel with other people. The physical connection in whatever form it takes causes the brain to release oxytocin to feel good, which through neurotransmitters impacts emotional responses and promotes relaxation, trust, and psychological stability. Emotional and physical intimacy may not be one and the same, but there’s a lot of overlap between the two – and couples with a strong sense of shared physical intimacy, in my opinion, are likely to also be attuned to each other emotionally.

How do we keep up our physical intimacy in order to promote our emotional intimacy?

My boyfriend and I share an extremely strong physical connection with one another. With that said, over time, and anyone who is or has been in a long-term relationship can tell you, the physical act of sex has a tendency of dwindling as the years roll on. I think this is perfectly natural, but in order not to lose the emotional intimacy you feel towards one another the physical intimacy needs to be tended to, just like a garden.

I love spontaneous unplanned sex just like the next person, and while we still make this happen on a semi-regular basis, but as you get older & life gets in the way this is not always particularly feasible. So, just as you have to make a plan every week to keep going to the gym to stay in shape – you also have to plan for sex.

PLANNED SEX NIGHTS

This may not seem very sexy and lacks complete spontaneity, but planning certain nights for sex, in my opinion, still can be very sexy & arousing. We plan to have sex at least 3 times a week at minimum, and more if we have time. We are both super busy as many of us are when we get older, but taking a few hours a week to really focus on one another is an absolute essential part of our relationship. Sex, for us, is not just about the physical act, but rather a time to giggle, laugh, act like children, roll around naked, and be extremely present with just the two of us.

With my spinal cord injury planned sex nights are not very challenging for me because I have to plan most of my day on a regular basis. With respect to sex itself I have to rely on my man to have the energy and strength to throw me around 😉 Once you get in the mood this never seems to be a problem – I think for anybody!

What about when two people are just exhausted on a regular basis?

Many of us come home from work, the gym, life, etc. and are just flat out exhausted. We just want to be left alone, watch a TV show, read, etc. or just zone out. While this may be a great coping strategy for yourself, I don’t think it is a great strategy for the long-term health of a relationship. I think you really need to make a plan for sex or intimate time together for the sake of your relationship.

Specifically with spinal cord injury, I am usually in bed pretty early during the week after a long workday, exercise program, and other things I have to tend to. Sometimes it makes things challenging because I want to be up in my chair when my baby comes home from work around 6:30 at night, but the nerve pain in my body is usually higher than I would like, so I have to make allowances. The biggest factor in my life is the ramping up nerve pain at the end of the day. This does not necessarily put me in the mood to have sex and conversely my love is also exhausted from his long days. So, as mechanical as this may sound I think two people have to sometimes “force” themselves to have that intimate time together. I cannot think of many people that would say once they are aroused they are too tired to keep going, but it is the act of putting each other in an aroused mood that can take much effort just as saying “No” to donuts when you are trying to watch your weight.

Some years ago, an Australian sex therapist and dating coach, Bettina Arndt, controversially wrote that women (I also think men) who felt low sexual desire in the relationships should “just do it.” What she meant was this – even if women (or men) felt low libido, having sex anyway might encourage feelings of desire and sexual responsiveness. Despite the controversy, her idea had finally been supported by a scientific study, which basically found the same thing to be true in 2015. The study was published in Social Psychology and Personality Science, and it showed that when the partner who feels low sexual desire indulges in their partner’s sexual needs regardless, they strengthen the relationship.

Sex doesn’t always have to be desired to have the desired effect of intimacy. I couldn’t agree more!

So, regardless of your circumstance – if you are having a dry spell in your sexual relationship … Take a page out of Nike’s playbook and “Just Do It!”

  1. Alone Time

In my particular situation it can be challenging to find alone time with my man being a C6 quadriplegic paralyzed from the chest down and always having caregivers, and my mom constantly around. So, we have to actively work at finding time to spend together. When he gets home from work at 6:30 PM or so every night we usually close the door and have “us” time until we go to bed a few hours later. This is a time where we can catch up on our day, read to each other, watch a show together, have sex, giggle together, etc.

Do not get me wrong – there are some nights when he comes home and we’re both just truly exhausted, and we just lie next to one another so we can “zone” out. While we may not be entirely present and speaking to each other we are still physically in the same room lying next to one other. When he comes home from work I’m always in bed during the week nights to relax from the pain I feel, so if he wants to hang out with me he has to come to bed! I realize that many couples can go to different rooms and do their own things, but in one regard spinal cord injury brings us closer on weeknights!

  1. Date Nights

I am sure if we had children this point would not be as applicable, but since we don’t, we make sure that every Saturday afternoon we go out to do something fun whether that is meeting up with friends or having a private date night together. I always make sure to look up random and spontaneous adventures within the city that will create fond memories, we can laugh about in months or years to come.

This may sound easy, but sometimes I really have to search for random events around the city. When I cannot find something we literally go to different parts of town to speak with random strangers. Since we both work so hard during the weekdays I like to make sure we get out on the weekends, and experience something weird and unusual. You never know who you are going to meet, what connections you’re going to make or what fun/trouble you might run into. Even if you have to plan spontaneity … I know an oxymoron … I find it a critical part of making sure we have random adventures to laugh about in the future together.

  1. A Final Few

There are so many things that we do to keep our relationship alive, but one that I absolutely love is when we are stressed out or having a really bad day we always call one another to say how much we appreciate the other in our life. When you get caught up in the stresses of life it can be easy to take out your frustrations on the people that love you most. I find it crucial to make sure to tell the people I love how appreciated they are on a weekly, and usually daily basis. I believe at the end of our lives we’re not going to look back on how hard we worked, but on the relationships we formed with other people. I want to remember how intensely I loved, not how many hours I put into a workday!

We also have an extremely funny habit of making very random animal noises to one another. Yes, I know it sounds childish, but it keeps the playfulness alive in our relationship! Sometimes I think we sound like a bunch of kitties “meowing” to each other. I’m sure my boyfriend will love that I just disclosed that 😉

CONCLUSION

While I’m a constant work in progress (as we all are) I am humbled to finally understand what emotional intimacy means and what it feels like. It is a rare gift to find another partner who you truly want to spend your life with, but it is not without work. Just because you find love doesn’t mean you’re going to keep it if you don’t put in the time and effort just as you do toward your career, exercise program, diet, etc.

Caregiver Neglect and Abuse – The Legal Side – My Recent Story

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Over the years I have spoken with dozens and dozens of fellow quadriplegics who seem to share in the story of having their caregivers leave without notice, emotionally abuse them, physically abuse them, and so many other horrifying tales. If you know me or have read some of my blog posts you will know that I, too, have had more than my fair share of horrifying incidents with caregivers. This blog is not to recount what has happened to me, but rather shed some light on interesting facts I have discovered over the last month due to a recent caregiver leaving me with no notice, no phone call, no text, etc. I have learned some useful tidbits of information and also picked up on some tips & tricks for the hiring of future caregivers, which I hope will help some.

Six weeks ago I was on the hunt for a new live-in caregiver several days a week and after interviewing several my entire household agreed they liked this one particular lady. I don’t use caregiving agencies because they are too expensive and cannot cover the hours I generally need, so I usually look to care.com and Craigslist as so many other quads in my situation do as well.

I think my caregiver radar is broken, so I like to have other people’s opinions to help me choose my caregivers these days. She did really well, was pleasant, a fast learner, and told me repeatedly how much she loved working with me. I was thrilled as I thought perhaps, this time, just maybe we would find one who would stick around for a while.

Anyway, things were going swimmingly, in my opinion, and two weeks ago after one month of employment she simply did not show up the night she was supposed to come into work. She left all of her belongings at my house and we were all completely dumbfounded. I called her multiple times, texted her, but to no avail. Naturally, my first thought was that she was in some sort of accident and was in the hospital. I was worried. Normally, when caregivers leave they take their stuff (secretly I might add) and just don’t come back. When this happens I usually just let it go because I am in such a rush to find someone new that I don’t have time or energy to follow up.

This time seemed different. Continue reading

ASSISTED SUICIDE

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First … A happy picture to make you smile before diving into the heavy stuff!


Assisted Suicide – No doubt a highly controversial topic in our society today, especially if one is religious! I am going to approach this topic from my personal perspective. I realize this blog may spark some intense feelings just like religion, sex or politics may, but I think it is a topic that needs to be addressed from an ethical, moral, personal, and societal standpoint. I am going to leave the religious argument out of this blog for the time being as I am not personally religious, but spiritual in some sort of sense.

I would be remiss not to start out by talking a little bit about my feelings regarding death as a whole. Before my accident I was terrified of death whether that be because I was in my young 20’s, was super healthy, did not live in pain, etc. The only certain thing in life is that we are all going to die, but in my younger years I just could not bring myself to think about it.

After my accident I was actually killed by several medical professionals and brought back to life as so many other spinal cord injury patients can relate to. Over the course of the last 8 years or so I have not only become comfortable with the idea of death, but actually find a strange comfort in it. This is not meant to sound like a doom and gloom statement, but it gives me peace. In my particular situation and the myriad of medical nightmares I have endured both physically and mentally over the years I have personally been in situations where I wanted to die. Continue reading

ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE ADVENTURE (Part 3)

Continuing on with our Royal Caribbean Cruise Adventures …

Day 5 – Belize Mayan Ruins

5 AM on Thursday … As the alarm clock started ringing Aaron and I groggily looked over on each other debating whether we should go explore some Mayan ruins in Belize or take the day to sleep. Cruises can be exhausting if you are always on the hop with different shore excursions. However, you must keep in mind that this was my first real vacation in 8 years without any of my family or caregivers. So, while we might’ve squeezed a few too many adventures into our 7 days, Aaron popped out of bed and made quick work of getting me ready to go explore thousands of years of history!

We arrived in Belize City early that morning, but were anchored offshore. We were anchored at what is called a tendered port. Essentially, you have to take small little dinghies seating anywhere between 50 to 80 people from the cruise ship over to the port of Belize. These little tendered ports are not for the faint of heart, especially in a wheelchair, because with the rocking ocean and trying to lift my manual chair onto this little boat presented its own unique set of challenges. Fortunately, the weather was quite calm so we were able to physically leave the ship, but there are days when they will not allow a wheelchair to maneuver onto the small vessels.

Ligia, our concierge attendant on Royal Caribbean, escorted us to the tendered boat as we skipped all the lines 🙂 I was decked out in sneakers, sports cloths, my manual chair, and ready to get bounced around! It took us about 30 minutes of rocking around on this boat, but we made it to the dock. I’d been to Belize nearly 10 years ago and from what I had recalled, which turned out to be exactly correct, Belize City is no joke from a dangerous perspective. It is not a city you want to go roaming around in alone as a tourist … and certainly not with an expensive wheelchair! It has a very high crime rate, poor infrastructure due to a hurricane hitting the city years prior, and not a very friendly crowd. When we arrived at the docks there was a small little area for tourists and tour guides to meet up with one another, make haste of getting into a van, and getting the heck out of the city!

Since I hired a private accessible tour company who partners with local tour companies who claim to be handicap accessible, and who would be able to show us the Belize Zoo in addition to some Mayan Ruins – I was pretty excited! We did have quite a bit of bother trying to find our tour guide due to many miscommunications, but we did eventually find him.  We were running behind schedule though. I wasn’t quite sure how far away our excursions were, but we literally had to be back to the boat in five hours.

Our tour guide, Ricky from Roam Belize Tour Company, greeted us with a smile and proceeded to show us the way to our “accessible” handicap van. Well, there was a van, and there was a ramp that you had to take out of the van to attach to the rear of the vehicle to push me up. I would say it was accessible, but not particularly accessible friendly if you know what I mean 🙂 Once I was loaded into the back of the van I was looking for straps to lock in my wheelchair. Ricky informed us that there were no straps as they were a tour company that was just getting up and running with providing accessible tours to folks in wheelchairs. The way the van seats were laid out, unless I was a paraplegic and could transfer my own, was not going to work to transfer me onto an actual van seat because Aaron could not lift me up with a height of the van.

I did call the company to confirm and I filled out many forms saying that I was paralyzed from the chest down, and that needed to stay in my wheelchair, but being a foreign country things get lost in translation sometimes. No big deal we thought!

Continue reading

ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE ADVENTURE (Part 2)

Continuing on with our Royal Caribbean Cruise Adventures …

We spent the first night, Sunday night, on the ship a little later than we planned dancing the night away. On Monday morning we docked in Key West, Florida for our first day’s adventure.

DAY 2 – Key West, Florida

We docked right in the center of the city of the island of Key West. For those of you not familiar with Key West, it is the coolest little funky island, and is the farthest South Island on the chain of the Florida Keys. It takes about 3 ½ hours to drive there on one road from Miami, Florida. It is filled with eclectic bars, unique restaurants with their own personalities, 1 million little shops with fabulous trinkets, and a group of folks who are so unbelievably laid-back. Most of the locals on Key West are the kind of people you just want to hang out with with the beer by the water, and hear their life adventures.

“The Port of Key West”

I’ve been to Key West many times before as I previously lived in Miami for about 10 years. On one of my adventures down to Key West with one of my great friends from college we ventured down to the island for something called Fantasy Fest. Fantasy Fest is kind of like a Mardi Gras down in the keys. Thousands of folks drive down, dress up in the most wonderfully outrageous costumes, walk the streets, and party the night away. When I was 21 we headed down to Key West, but we forgot to book a hotel. So, we took my sisters truck and decided we would find a parking lot, and sleep in the back cab.

I was unbelievably surprised at the copious amounts of folks strolling around in giant penis costumes, body paint, and a ridiculous amount of other fun filled costumes. Of course we got ourselves into all kinds of devious trouble, met cute boys, partied the night away, and by 3 AM in the morning we ventured back to a church parking lot where we paid $70 to park our car for the night. When we woke up in the morning we were sleeping in the back of the pickup truck with our little feet hanging out the back side. We woke up to some strange folks tickling our feet… I’m not kidding. It was disturbing and hilarious all at the same time.

Anyway, I had the opportunity to take my power chair off the ship as Key West is relatively accessible. There is this one fabulous restaurant I’d remembered from years prior called Blue Heaven that was wildly eclectic with the best pancakes I’ve ever eaten, and a laid-back atmosphere that made you want to just sit in a hammock with the Corona, and drink the day away. Unfortunately, we only had a few hours to dive into Key West, so I had to make a strict itinerary so we could see a few things before we headed back to the ship. We met one of Aaron’s long-term family friends who had retired in Key West for lunch at Blue Heaven. We laughed, drank, ate delicious food, and then strolled around the little eclectic streets of Key West for hours. Key West doesn’t have many hotels, but rather these old colonial Bed & Breakfasts, which are just precious historical gems I would recommend if you head down that way. Now, they are not particularly handicap accessible, but if you’ve a strong man who can carry you up the stairs … Go for it!

“This sign display had been up for the last 15 years… I had been dying to take a picture and pay someone to watch them shower for a while ;-)”

 

We ended the afternoon at a Tiki hut bar, my absolute favorite, right on the ocean with some reggae music watching the boats sail by, and enjoying the 80° weather while sipping on some lovely alcoholic beverages.

As the day ended we boarded our ship and we were met by our fabulous concierge, Ligia. Continue reading

ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE ADVENTURE (PART 1)

Sorry for the hiatus in my blog writing over the last several weeks, but, as many of you know, I was off on an international adventure with my boyfriend on a Royal Caribbean seven-day cruise to the Western Caribbean. My boyfriend and I have been together for about two years now and we wanted to do something exciting with just the two of us to see how we would be able to handle 10 days alone with no help.

I did a copious amount of research on accessible vacations and I decided on taking a cruise as I read so much about how cruise ships are accessible. We decided on a seven-day cruise leaving out of the Port of Tampa, Florida going to Key West, then to Cozumel, Mexico, then to Belize, and then to Costa Maya, Mexico. I have so many stories so I will split this adventure up into several blogs, so you don’t have to read a novel all at once!

Needless-to-say I was pretty nervous at the prospect of going alone with one person on a vacation who would be responsible for all of my care. I wanted to plan a trip where I could stay in one location and take mini adventures from day-to-day. I’m going to save my conclusions of my overall experience after I dive into all of the exciting, challenging, and fun excursions we embarked on for the last blog.

I prepared for this trip for weeks. I created a document with an extensive packing list for everything I might need in case I got stuck in a foreign country for whatever reason. Considering I’m mildly neurotic about making sure I don’t forget anything, I think I packed the kitchen sink, and then some. As the old saying goes “I rather have it and not need it, then need it and not have it!” Most of my suitcases were dedicated to medical supplies and just a few items to clothing. I also decided to bring a big egg crate because I have the most sensitive skin in the world, and I was unsure of the mattress surfaces on the ship beds.  I also brought along my manual chair for excursions in foreign countries as I was fairly confident a power wheelchair would not get me far in countries where ADA compliance is not quite as strict.

Our cruise was set to depart on Sunday, April 15 from Tampa, Florida. We decided to leave on that Friday and drive 9 ½ hours from Raleigh to Tampa in order to have a day exploring downtown Tampa, and meeting up with a longtime friend whom I had not seen in about four years. I’m sure I could’ve flown down to Tampa had it not been for not with the ridiculous amount of gear we were carrying with us. The drive went pretty smoothly and we checked into a hotel in downtown Tampa. Before meeting up with a friend for the afternoon to go play, drink, and frolic about we first needed to give me a shower, and wash my hair before heading onto the ship. This was quite an endeavor because at home I usually do a type of bed bath and then stick my head in the sink to wash my hair. This was clearly not an option, and while we did get a roll in shower I did not bring a shower chair with me because I just couldn’t fit anymore gear into the car.

In the typical roll-in showers in hotels they usually have a small pulldown shower seat, which is quite dangerous, but it is all we had to work with at the time. Aaron put many towels on the shower seat for padding, picked me up like a princess, and strategically sat me down on the shower bench while I held on for dear life. He got in the shower with me while I wrapped my arms around his body as he washed my hair and body. It was dangerously comical, but we made it work. I definitely don’t suggest this method unless you have a very strong man who can lift you up and make sure you don’t fall flat on the floor 🙂 We were testing out this shower method as the ship had a similar set up for a roll-in shower, and I needed to make sure we were capable of getting me semi-clean every few days on the ship.

When we headed to downtown Tampa to meet up with one of my great friends Jill. We absolutely fell in love with the town. We went to a famous area called Ybor city that has a Cuban influence where we watched cigars being rolled, smoked cigars, bounced around from one cool Cuban spot to another, and reminisced the night away with Jill. We decided that Tampa was worth a trip in and of itself one day as there are so many little gems the city has to offer in addition to the entire West Coast of Florida. I spent over 12 years in Miami, but somehow never managed to get out West.

On Sunday morning we packed up our gear at 5 AM in the morning in order to arrive down to the port of Tampa to board our Royal Caribbean ship, Rhapsody of Seas. Continue reading

Let’s Talk about Sex Baby

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I mean really, who doesn’t love sex? I suppose it is one of those taboo topics that you don’t talk about at the dinner table like politics or money, but it is such a natural act – I’m not quite sure why we are so weary to talk about the subject publicly.

Before my accident I thoroughly enjoyed sex, exploring my sexuality, and engaging in as much sex as I could 🙂 Admittedly, I probably had sex too young, but as the saying goes “curiosity killed the cat,” “curiosity killed my virginity.” I was a young teenager and I simply had to know what all the fuss was about. I even let a guy convince me that I could not go to high school a virgin because I would be the odd man out. How gullible we are as young teenagers!

For several years I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about as I don’t think I was doing it quite right … Not that many teenagers, in my opinion, know how to enjoy sex anyway. I finally met a guy when I was living in the Bahamas one summer who was several years older than I was and he really taught me about the enjoyment of sex. I mean we literally had sex classes on a daily basis with respect to experimenting with what felt good to me, what felt good to him, trying different positions, oral sex, etc. It was also new and exciting to me, and by the time our lessons had completed at the end of the summer I felt like I had earned a degree in sexual pleasure … Probably not something most parents want to learn about their children as teenagers 😉

“Partying in my young 20’s with my sister”

Over the next 10 years before my accident I had multiple partners and I was not ashamed of it either. Naturally, I think I was called several “not so nice names” by women around me, but I simply didn’t care. I was a completely free spirit and enjoyed sex just as much as I did hiking in the wilderness. I wanted to keep a diary for the future of all of my “Sexcapades” because in my mind I thought one day I would always write a book about sex. At that time Chelsea Lately was one of my role models and she had a brilliant book called “One Night Stands.” While I did have some more thoughtful and influential mentors, she was definitely my sex mentor. I decided to keep a little black book with all of the men I had slept with over the years. Honestly, sometimes I couldn’t remember their names, but I remembered where I met them, what they were wearing, what they looked like, what we did, etc. I will spare you the hot and juicy details, but after my accident I completely forgot about this book.

When I broke my neck the concept of sex completely flew out the window for me. I considered myself “A sexual” at that time and figured sex was behind me, which did not make me very sad because I certainly had my fair share of fun for 27 years before my accident in 2010. However, years later amongst all of my things I found multiple pieces of paper stapled together with all of my sexual exploits in a box. I must admit I was laughing my ass off because I had forgotten about many of these gentlemen. I decided to take the time and type several pages of stapled paper into a digital black book of sorts. I still have it to this day and I think that is what probably prompted me to finally start dating five years after my accident. A funny inspiration, but my personal story none-the-less.

Post-Accident Sex Continue reading

The Ancient Philosophers were on to Something – Overcoming Negative Emotions

There are periods in anyone’s life, but especially in a quadriplegics life, that can be filled with darkness, despair, and hopelessness. It is in these desperate times that one has to dig deep to find some sort of meaning or purpose to keep going. Throughout my spinal cord career over the last 7 ½ years I’ve gone through several periods where I just couldn’t find a reason to keep going.

I happen to be going through one of these periods right now and I thought it timely to talk about what I’m going through, how I am working towards finding direction again, and strategies I am employing in my personal life to find small joys in every day.

Read the rest on Push Living Magazine at:  https://pushliving.com/the-ancient-philosophers-were-on-to-something-overcoming-negative-emotions/

 

New Zealand Wilderness Survival Trip (Part 2)

The Viking Adventure

As I wrote about in my previous blog our instructors did not let us know what adventure we would be partaking in until several hours before we headed out on an adventure. One of our first endeavors was taking a several day trip in these large wooden old-fashioned sailboats called Cutters.

Think of those old primitive wooden boats with giant oars that the Vikings used to row with. Well, somehow Outward Bound had constructed some of these boats with a very primitive sail. We packed up a minimal amount of gear and food into some dry bags, and were told to swim with our gear fully loaded to get out to the boat. I didn’t think this was a particularly brilliant idea because we were going to be soaking wet and freezing to start our adventure. I suppose this not only tested our physical endurance, but mental as well. We hoisted our shivering bodies into this old boat and listened to our instructors as they taught us how to navigate the waters in front of us. Fortunately I knew how to sail, so I was eager help my teammates learn how to how to a sail, understand wind direction, and navigate the oceans.

What we did not count on was no wind at all. We were not moving anywhere – we were simply drifting out to sea.  Continue reading