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Whenever my boyfriend and I wanted to have sex during my cancer treatment, I'd ask my mom to tape down the plastic tubing that snaked from above my right breast and in through a vein leading to my heart.
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Radiation treatments left me with an extremely rare and permanent condition called transverse radiation myelitis, a type of spinal inflammation that affects my lower body.
Because of the myelitis, an electric current makes my legs randomly spasm.
From the waist down, my body burns like I'm sitting in a boiling hot tub.
I walk with a cane, my right leg dragging behind me.
Worse, my bladder, bowels, and the surrounding pelvic muscles are paralyzed, so technically, I'm incontinent.
I use self-catheters to pee, and administer nightly enemas and suppositories to drop a deuce.I spend so much time focusing on gurgles, cramps, pills, pressures, and my bladder and bowel schedule that by the time my boyfriend gets home from work, I'm as exhausted as he is and in no mood for sex.A less obvious reason for my ongoing disconnection from my sex life is that I still don't quite trust my own body.Before I got diagnosed, I rock climbed in Thailand and jumped out of an airplane at 15,000 feet in New Zealand; I taught high school English in Brooklyn and managed a restaurant in Australia. Although I did occasionally abuse my liver in college, in general, I thought I'd taken good care of my health.So I struggled to understand why my body would allow the truant cells to settle into my lymph nodes and proliferate in cancerous tumors.While I've come to tenuous truce with my body, I still haven't been able to masturbate since I was first diagnosed.