Disability in Relationships

Discussion in 'Family, Friends and Relationships' started by Twocky61, Sep 12, 2014.

  1. Twocky61

    Twocky61 Banned Member

    In the 80's when I was serving a Borstal (Young Offenders) sentence I achieved enhanced inmate status which allows extra privileges. One of these privileges is having the option to be released on temporary license (ROTL) each day to work outside in the community thus aiding your rehabilitation back into the community.Whilst working at a local residential home one of my charges I helped was quadriplegic (paralysed from the neck down). We got on quite well & when it came to two days before my release we parted & promised to keep in touch. The next day was discharge routine signing release papers & seeing the doc to make sure I was medically fit to be released (even if I was not I am definately not letting that stop me lol). Then the day after I was out of the gate.

    A week later I recieved a letter from Christine (she uses a typewriter tapping the keys with a pencil in her mouth like a demented wodpecker lol) I promptly replied. We wrote to each other week by week until I decided I would turn up & suprise her, We hugged hello and we sat talking over coffee and she invited me for lunch. Her personal carer left me to feed Christine. At the end of the day we parted with my promise I would come & see her every week, which I did.

    Eventually I asked staff if I could take her out for the day. They were dubious but allowed me to, but with a nurse chaperoning us as an observor to see if I could cope with Christine's needs,

    We went round a safari park as where else can you take a paralysed person in a wheelchair? Little did I know the possibilities are endless which I will come to later.

    During the day came the awkward situation: "I need to go to the toilet". I looked at the nurse. "You're on your own there Nick, I am just an observor". So I took Christine to the toilet trying not to look but Christine, obviously sensing my embarrassment made joke of the situation. Knickers back on we carried on with our day out.

    Back at the residential home I put Christine to bed whilst staff discussed whether I could cope with Christine's need alone. They called me into the office and approved further days out. So from then on Christine & I had weekly days out without a chaperone

    Each week I decided I needed to broaden Christine's horizons & become more adventurous within the scope of what she is able to do. So we went to restaurants, theatre, cinema & I even invited her back home to meet my parents brother & sister. Mum pulled me aside & asked me if I knew what I was taking on. I said yes I was.
    At restaurants it was often the "Does she take sugar?" scenario or "What would the lady like to order?" all addressed to me to which I would reply: "How do I ******* know, ask her!"

    We had a relationship together, as much as you can in our situation. Sex never came into it, though I suspect Christine craved it; but that for me was a strict no-no as it would be rape on my part however consenting she is to sex. We hugged cuddled kissed as Claire & I indulge in all the time now. But Christine did not push it obviously realising how uncomfortable I was with the issue

    Anyway, the point of this thread is how would you cope as an able bodied person in a relationship with someone totally paralysed and totally reliant on you for their daily needs; for their life? Not doing something could result in their death. Christine was kept alive by a car battery under her wheelchair which powered her respirator.
  2. WildCherry

    WildCherry Staff Member ADMIN

    Being someone with a disability, this is a subject that interests me. I'm blind, and I've been told, after being in a relationship with a sighted person for several months, that in order for the relationship to continue, he needed me to be able to see. He told me flat out that I needed to find an operation to restore my sight, not for myself, but because he was uncomfortable with my blindness. My disability was no secret to him; I was up front the first time we talked about the fact I can't see. So your question is one that has often gone through my head. Granted, my disability isn't the same as Christine's, but it's still an interesting question.

    For me personally, if I'm attracted to someone to the point of wanting to be in a relationship, his disability wouldn't matter. It's not the disability that makes the person. Sure, it's part of that person's life and needs to be approached. But it doesn't define who someone is.
  3. Twocky61

    Twocky61 Banned Member

    Exactly Alison. The trouble with society's perception of disability is just that; disability. We should be concentrating on the ability of a person; what they CAN do, not what they can't do.

    I hope you dumped this guy Alison because if he is unable to accept you for the person you are, then a relationship wih him will fail at the first hurdle, which it obviously has. You told him from the outset you were blind so why did he carry on with the relationship if he was that uncomfortable with your condition? (I use the word 'condition' as 'disability', just like the word 'invalid' is not appropriate). As for 'invalid' that word drives from 'in valid' (of no validity or not valid = Invalid.) This was from the days a person who is not physically able was deemed a second class citizen.

    In Christine's case she would play to the stereotype. Some people would think "She is in a wheelchair so must be mentally deficient too" even though she is just physically unable, so Christine would play the part, her head lolling to one side and making mumbling noises which she found amusing. But when I saw how she was treated, like I mentioned in restaurants, the waiter asking me what the lady would like my stock reply was "How do I know +++++++ ask her"
  4. MoAnamCara

    MoAnamCara SF Artist

    Firstly wildcherry I hope you did goodbye to him, and not in a pleasant way.

    Interesting topic. My other half was able bodied but because of their disease lost the ability to walk, feed and so on overnight. As hard as it was for me to deal with, it was harder for them. And very frustrating. Over time they regained much of those abilities but then lost the ability to talk and had seizures. Again, very difficult for the person going through that.

    It was asked how you would cope. My answer is that you do. You just do. That person is the same person. I have heard of others walking out on their other halves when something like that happened. I've also heard people state that they would have to seriously think about going into a relationship if the other person had an illness or lacked certain abilities. While I can understand their reluctance, my opinion is that it would be their loss.

    My situation was different as I didn't enter the relationship knowing what the future would bring. Even if I had known I would do every horrible and happy second of it all over again, any day.

    And to add... We were treated differently because they were in a wheelchair. Even having no hair they were treated differently. People just don't think.
  5. WildCherry

    WildCherry Staff Member ADMIN

    Just to add... I did bid him farewell, and not in a friendly way!! :p
  6. Twocky61

    Twocky61 Banned Member

    Way to go Alison :irishdoll:

    And in your case MoAnamCara your not knowing the future when marrying your partner & my case my knowing from the outset & Alison's where her partner also knew from the outset..... I believe if you love someone the situation is irrelevant as love is unconditional; just as a parents love is that for their children.

    One last related point: Which would you consider more difficult: A partner who is dependent on you for all their PHYSICAL needs or a partner dependent on you for all their EMOTIONAL needs?

    Christine was obviously the former & my current partner Claire is the latter. I would say Claire is the more difficult hence my self harming. With Christine all I had to do was make her life easier, feeding & toileting her etc just as a full time carer would do for their client; the difference in my case being I loved Christine.

    I think I have already hinted elsewhere on SF what happened to Christine so I wont mention here lest this post is not approved (Alison knows what I am referring to)
  7. Hazard

    Hazard New Member

    I am a carer for my mum who, from what you've said, is in a similar situation to what Christine was - she is in a wheelchair and also is on oxygen all of the time.
    Therefore I think I would also be able to handle being in a romantic relationship like that. In my current relationship, my SO struggles with pretty severe Crohn's Disease as well as ADHD. A very different scenario to my mum, but I think my past of being a carer since I was very young helps me to keep the relationship going strong.
  8. Twocky61

    Twocky61 Banned Member

    :thankyou: for your reply Hazard.

    Perhaps like you, with you caring for your Mum & your experience in caring for her, thus giving you your insight & strength for you to be there for your SO, as you are for your Mum, is similar to my experience caring for Christine & now Claire. You & I are in quite similar situations (the physical then the emotional carer) :hug2: