There have been several articles published as a series in the magazine. To make it easier to find all the articles in a series, we are introducing Diving Deep
Over the years Rolling Inspiration published many articles on topics noteworthy to persons with mobility impairment. Often, when a topic is too broad or diverse to cover in a single article, aspects of the topic were published in a series of articles. Spinal cord injury (SCI) and sexuality is an example. Therefore, in order to get a comprehensive understanding of the topic, back copies of Rolling Inspiration need to be researched.
Diving Deep will do this for you. The authors of topics such as employment, travel, amputations, sexuality and parenting will be requested to do compilations of previous Rolling Inspiration articles. These compilations will be published in editions of Rolling Inspiration in a manner that will allow you to download it in PDF format for your records.
The first compilation, published in this edition of Rolling Inspiration, is from a series of articles published in Ida’s Corner a few years ago under the heading, “The hidden demons of spinal cord injuries”. These articles cover the impact of a damaged autonomic nervous system (ANS) on persons that sustained SCIs.
It summarises the function and anatomy of the ANS and explores the various and diverse impacts of a damaged ANS on the bladder and bowel as well as on body temperature regulation.
The impact of Autonomic Dysreflexia on persons with high level SCI is covered and the compilation concludes with a brief review of the impact of a damaged ANS on sexual function. All the articles follow on with ways and means to manage these difficulties in a manner that allows you to take control of your life again.
The snag with a damaged ANS is that its effects are experienced, but not visible. If a person is a paraplegic in a manual chair or a quadriplegic in a power chair, it is visible to others. I have a mobility impairment.
But my bladder and bowel continence issues, the fact that I am always out of sync with the ambient temperature around me (either too hot or too cold), that incidences of discomfort can trigger pounding headaches and massive fluctuations in my blood pressure, and that my sexual functionality is down the drain; all these scourges are invisible and mine alone to deal with.
And to add insult to injury, the rub is that the ANS is also a major trigger of anxiety, fear and panic attacks. This tends to draw us into ourselves and into our “safe spaces”. We fear going to visit friends because their homes and toilets are not accessible.
We fear going on holiday because we struggle with accessibility; not just physical accessibility but also with safe spaces to deal with our bladder and bowel needs. The showers are promoted as “roll in”, but the grab rails are cock-eyed and the shower seat is built to accommodate a five-year old…
We steer clear of sexual relations because we believe we cannot perform…
All of this manifests in ANS-triggered anxiety, fear and stress, that cause us to become recluses, outsiders, loners.
That is unless we learn to manage the effects of our broken autonomic nervous systems; understand what is happening and why. We can learn how to anticipate, manage and overcome the bladder, bowel and Autonomic Dysreflexia challenges that face us.
We can prepare and dress in a way that help us manage our out-of-sync-ness with the ambient temperature around us. And if need be, see a doctor or psychologist to help us manage our anxiety and panic attacks.
Diving deep on the hidden demons of spinal cord injuries strives to help us understand why we are saddled with these horrible afflictions and how to manage them in order to take charge of our lives again and break out of our self-imposed cocoons. To become social beings again, as we were created to be.
An empty bladder gives us three hours of freedom. An empty bowel, a day or two. Dressing in layers and a mist spray helps with temperature regulation and responding to signs of impending autonomic dysreflexia can prevent its onset.
As for sex, the good news is that sexual expression and even orgasms are not merely physical; loving intimacy and the exploration of other non-genital triggers can result in very satisfying psychologically induced orgasms.
So, enjoy the first edition of “Diving Deep”, toss your disability out of the window and embrace “otherwise enabled”.