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Can you… you know…have sex? (written by Drew Clark)

By Disability, Lifestyle, The Love Lounge No Comments

Can you have Sex? Enhance the UKThis question. This is the question I get asked most in public by friends, friends of friends and even complete strangers. I hear this almost as much as I hear variations of the question “What happened to you?”. This is not an uncommon experience for those who are living with some form of visible physical disability. I cannot claim to speak for the experience of all people with a physical disability when it comes to issues of sex and sexuality. I am a 26-year-old straight male who just so happens to have been born with Spina Bifida which affects the sensation and some function from the waist down. It is this sometimes beastly yet beautiful reality of disability which shapes life in general but especially that in relation to who I am as a perfectly normal sexual human being.

So, in short the answer is yes, I can have sex. As many people will say, people with disabilities have the same wants, needs and desires as anyone else in the world. spina Bifida in itself as a condition makes intimate relationships and sex an interesting endeavor because (at least for me) interest in sexual knowledge started quite early. Not because of some weird unconventional way I was raised or that my family was particularly open about sexuality but because of my brain. Sometimes children with spina bifida do go start to go through puberty a little earlier than their able-bodied peers. Personally, I can remember being about 9 years old when I started to notice certain body changes. When I got to around the age of 10 my mother started to give me a little more freedom in my independence and allowed me to start going farther in my neighborhood that just right around my street in the afternoons after school. We had a public library really close to were we lived at the time and I remember going there for two reasons 1) My mother liked to encourage reading before bed at night, so I would go look for books to bring home; though I rarely found much of anything that I liked. 2) I used to try to be “sneaky” and when no one was looking and find old copies of books like the “joy of Sex” just to read any information I could. I wanted to know everything, still do and besides..I was 10 and on the threshold of adolescence. I am not nor was I foolin’ anyone if they saw the cover of that kind of book at a public library in the hands of a kid my age at the time. I was lookin’ to see if I could find naked pictures along with all this information. I found them, only, they were illustrated pictures in this particular copy of the Joy of Sex. “Why do these people look so hairy?” I thought.

In all my searching through this library and others like it until the age of about 14 I did not find anything which documented the real experiences of someone with who had spina bifida beyond what mentioned there may be decreased function of the genitals in males with my type of the condition (myelomeningocele) and that the chances of being able to have a child naturally are slim to nil. More on the subject of having children in a later post, I promise. These medical facts I found, while were appreciated and very important, they did not answer a few questions I had at such a young age. If I can’t really “feel” anything how will I ever be able to enjoy sex? If I have problems in sexual function then how will I ever make someone else happy when it comes to having sex? Am I somehow less of a person if I am unable to have sex and unable to define it as everyone else seems to?.

Masturbation- It’s a touchy subject, but it is key when discussing sexual pleasure in relation to sensation or lack there of. Many think that masturbation just involves diddling with the nether regions until climax is reached and that’s it. It may be more involved than that for someone like myself and it may not involve any stimulation of the genitals at all. The human body is a funny thing, it seems to me that in terms of sensation, whenever the “mood” strikes the areas in which can be felt become much more sensitive or even heightened. I enjoyed this fact when I realized it because it then allowed me to figure out what I liked. It made me feel a lot more confident within myself and the fact that sexual experiences could be enjoyed and that I could later discuss those things with any future partners I may have. Naturally trying to figure out if I could function sexually as a man was important also. I found that when an erection could be achieved that it either may not have lasted long without constant stimulation and that also once it was to the point where it was as erect that it was going to go that pressure around it became pleasurable even though there is no actual sensation in that around. Weird, right? Beautiful nonetheless, more of a confidence booster. Other times, it just may not work at all, but I think most men at some point can relate to experiences of not rising to the occasion. Unless you pop one of those genius little blue pills but at $13 (CDN) per pill, just to have a wank, well I’d rather just have a pint or two. The bottom line is, having your own alone time as you grow to get to know your body is essential to both you and your future partners. It can build confidence and communication.

Defining ourselves as sexual human beings for anyone of any age or any ability and what that looks like and feels like to ourselves and to others is sometimes one of the most daunting of tasks. Though, that is just it. We define it and we experience it for ourselves. For me, I am a straight 26-year-old male whom took it upon himself to learn what worked for him and I am still learning. I won’t stop learning. I have been fortunate enough to have a few intimate relationships in my young age which has been wrought with other challenges that I have face or will likely have to face as a person with waist down paralysis, spina bifida. More on that later. Until next time, Just keep rollin’ on.

Brighton Marathon Complete!

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So 4 days later and I still have a huge grin on my face. I completed the 26.2 miles in a time of 4 hours and 49 minutes. I just wanted to do under 5 hours so as the bloke said as I ran through the finish line. “Smashed it”!

Brighton Marathon Complete

It is by far my biggest achievement to date and I am very proud. Well I say proud but when you see a 70 year old woman running past you the other way about 3 miles ahead it does take the shine off it!

The race started at Preston Park to the sound of Fat Boy Slim ‘Right here right now’ and 400 meters in who passes me on the road? England legend Matt Prior. I think he started the race, but cricket is my favourite sport and if I hadn’t of started about 4 minutes before I would have stopped for a photo.

The first half of the race was good, I kept a good pace, stopped for a wee break twice (pissed in a bush) ((one woman did a Paula Radcliffe)) and reached the half way point in 2 hours 15 minutes where my family were waiting. A hug and a kiss later the realisation of ‘I’m only half way’ hit me. As promised from marathon veterans I had the dreaded wall to look forward to and sure enough 0n 17 miles BANG!

At that point it’s a case of grit your teeth and keep thinking every step forward is a step closer to finishing. There was also the added pressure of the 23c sun which decided to come out on 17 miles, this meant every man and his dog was on the side of the road cheering but I didn’t have any sun cream. To be honest that was the least of my worries.

The next goal was to reach 20 miles. I did have my name on my tshirt and it was awesome to hear everyone shouting ‘Come on Jonno’, but out of courtesy I put my thumb up to them to say thanks. This system was fine after 10 miles but after 19 miles raising the arm was using precious energy so I reverted to a head nod.

The final 6 miles were a bit of a blur, my top half was fit but the legs were getting stiff and we had to run out passed Shoreham power station. On the way they have small speed bumps because it’s an industrial area, whilst these were merely 20cm high I though Mount Everist had been plonked on the course.

4 miles to go and you can smell victory, just keep running and think about the cold cider at the end. I actually got my rhythm back a bit and I remember 2 miles going quite quickly. Then it was a matter of the home stretch where everyone is cheering and willing you on. I remember looking the other way and a man with a donkey on his back was just passing, what an achievement!

I passed the Hilton where Juice 107.2 cheered me on, I passed the Pavillion hotel where Juice cheered me again and then I heard “Jonathan Cox” screaming in my ear, I turned round and I’d passed my sister and cousins, so made a dash to go and give them all a hug. This was with half a mile to go, then shouted at me to keep running, I could see the finish, the clock was ticking at 4:58:02 and I sprinted like an over weight Usain Bolt crossed the magic line and felt the best I have ever felt.

I then realised that because I didn’t start the race til 9.10am I had to take 10minutes of the clock time. I held it together (just about) and heard “JONNO, WELL DONE MATE” and my Mum, Dad, Jen and Neil were standing there looking very proud behind the fence which was a moment I will stay with me for life.

My thoughts are with Sam Harper Brighouse and his family who tragically had a heart attack at mile 16. He was only 23 years old. He died living the dream.

Thank you so much to everyone who has donated, the total stands at £1,360 plus gift aid which will take us to about £1,600. You can still donate at

Marahton run


I have just signed up for 2014 as well where we will do it all again. It’s actually like a payment protection plan, but with regards to weight (I won’t go into anymore detail).

6 days to go till Brighton Marathon Day!

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So to say I’m not nervous would be a lie. I had a 12k run last Monday, just to loosen the limbs a little and felt my calf twang. Worried that I would have to run in a lot more pain than expected, I have rested for a week and fingers crossed it seems to have healed. My t-shirt has gone in for printing today.Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 14.40.26


I have an Enhance the UK logo on the front and back. I’m also contemplating running with a bucket to get some donations from the crowd, but that weigh me down considerably (Unless they throw in notes) ((Maybe I should write that on the bucket))

Anyway if you are feeling generous like the wonderful 28 other people have been then please dig deep and donate at

It’s also on channel 4 this year, so if you see a guy on all 4’s crawling to the finish, that’ll be me….

Zoe talks beating the cuts

By Disability, Lifestyle One Comment

So the ‘cuts’ seem to be having a particularly negative impact on the lives of disabled people. I was faced with the magnitude of this potential impact about 18 months ago when my live-in care was nearly taken away from me within the space of one swift phone call.

I was told that the manager, after reading my review that the social worker had written up, had said ‘well lots of people in the community have arthritis that don’t have live-in care so why is this girl getting it?’. I obviously retorted that they aren’t as bad as me; wheelchair bound and virtually every joint in my body working to about 20% of its capacity. I tried to explain over the phone my limitations and how far I could reach etc…to which the response was ‘but you said you play Table Tennis, so if your arms are so bad how come you can still do this?’  I was horrified by the ignorance shown and welcomed them to come and watch me play and see that I won’t suddenly be stretching right over the table and running rings around it! In the year of the greatest Paralympics being held in our home town, to then have the fact that I try to still play sport be used against me, was astonishing!

Wondering how on earth I was going to cope without live-in care, I was told I could have daily care where I would have a ‘breakfast call’ to get me up in the morning, probably a ‘lunch-time’ call, and then a ‘tea time’ call to give me dinner and put me to bed. Now I know what this means.. a call no later than 8 or say good bye to any social life..and I currently lead a very active one, meeting friends most evenings and going to bed fairly late. Another alternative gently suggested to me would be to live in a ‘care home’……. My freedom, choice and independence was seemingly teetering on the edge of a cliff.

Then the biggest bomb-shell of all.. ‘How will I toilet through the day if my carer only comes at set times?’ I said.  ‘Have you ever considered using nappies?’  Er, NO!!!!!!! because I am fully continent and 32 years old so, no, the thought of gratuitously wetting myself hadn’t really occurred to me funnily enough.. By this time in the phone call, liquid WAS gratuitously being released from my body, but from my tear ducts.  I was distraught – could my ‘relatively normal’ life just be taken away from me like this? I felt so vulnerable and powerless I cannot tell you. Also very frightened.

Being disabled, we don’t have the freedom of choices that our able-bodied friends do..such as which houses we can rent/buy, where we can go on holiday, access to buildings, hotels, transport, pathways, toilets etc.  Every day we have to plan and be aware where we can go – its hard to be spontaneous .. Fortunately, we live in a country that does (usually) support us, alleviating some of the major stress of living with a disability by having people to help and care for us. With the threat of this being taken away, I now felt like a ‘Nobody’ and utterly helpless with my life being in the hands of some grey-suit that would never actually meet ME and respect the life I have carved out for myself which has taken a lot of adjusting to, mentally and physically.

There has been so much progress with disability awareness and giving disabled people their independence back, with suitable housing, access to work and schemes such as Motability to enable us to drive again that it seems so backwards taking this all away from us and potentially institutionalising us in care homes (such an archaic attitude of ‘keep them away from society’!!) or leave us house bound in our own homes. I cannot get in my car on my own, I cannot wheel myself long distances to get further than my own driveway, I cannot reach into cupboards to make a snack or a meal and cannot pick up things I have dropped. So with their plan of action I would have to have been housebound, waiting for the thrice daily visit from a RUSHED carer, just staring at a tv, unable to plan meeting my friends or going to my hobbies in the evenings… oh and just sitting there wetting my pants.  Sounds ideal doesnt it?

Fortunately, as I have a brain and the support of friends and family, I was able to write a 4000 word document explaining exactly why I need 24 hour care. My social worker, once properly recognising my situation, was very supportive in presenting my case to the Appeals Panel where they also agreed I should keep my care.  I feel for the people that would just accept what had been given to them and not have the wherewithal to defend themselves. Where would they be now?

Zoe Lloyd

Half Marathon done!

By Disability, Lifestyle No Comments

So just 4 weeks to go till D day and I did 15 miles today. The full distance is just over 26 miles, so I’m over half way. But I’m a bit anxious my legs told me to stop at 15 miles and I’m not sure where I’ll find another 10 miles from!

Fingers crossed the crowd will get me through 5 miles and 3 more weeks of training will see me right.

If you would like to donate and get in ahead of the rush, please click here

I would appreciate it more than you know.

Until next time..!


Half Marathon Done!

January Marathon Training report

By Disability, Lifestyle No Comments

Just wanted to let you know the training is now well on the way for the Brighton Marathon on April 14th.

Actually getting a bit excited about my marathon t-shirt with all the Enhance shabizzle my nizzle logo on the side!

I ran 15k or 9.3 miles at the gym today. Need to get outside again but it’s run in the cold or watch Bargin Hunt at the gym. (No brainer really). Time 1 hour 24 minutes and my left nipple was actually bleeding by the end, chafing! No Pain no gain hey…! But 42k or 26.2 miles seems a long long way off!

Oh and my just giving page is here if you would like to donate: I’m aiming for £2000.00!

It’s the Final Countdown…

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T-Minus 5 days until i run my first ever half-marathon!!!!!

I think im ready, and am looking forward to running the furthest i have ever run in my entire life. (Reading that back to myself is a tad scary)

I am currently in the pre-race carbo loading stages, which i have to say is pretty fun, my new best friends, pasta and potatoes, are very kindly keeping me company this week, and I am also trying to keep myself hydrated as much as i can.

I got all my race running kit in the post this week which was very exciting!

I decided to try and encorporate a run on the way home from work today and decided to run the 3 and half miles i normally cycle from Hemel Station to my house. Not only was it up hill, but i also had my back pack with me, which at the time felt like i was carrying rocks. I now ache all over this evening, which means i will NOT be doing that again.

Would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has continued to support me, it does really help and pushes me to achieve this goal. I am almost at my target amount on my Just Giving page and would love to smash that target by Sunday, so please vist my page at: and give as much as you can.

I would also like to ask everyone who is friends with me on facebook to ‘like’ my Nike running status when i am running in the race on Sunday. I get a little cheer through my headphones when you do, and it really lifts me and puts a massive smile on my face.

The race is in Oxford and starts at 9.30am, i anticipate i will be running for a little over two hours, so everyone can have a little lie-in before they give me a little cheer 😀

Thanks again everyone and wish me luck – i’ll let you know how i get on!
Cat x

Run Forrest Run!!!!

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Wow, where have i been!!!! Sorry guys, heres a long overdue update as to how ive been getting on.

Todays title comes from the various messages i have got from people and how much today reminded me of the film. It was basically me, minus the beard and possy of people in the background – dirty and wet!!

So started off training at the beginning of August and now have just a few weeks until race day! I have slowly clocked up the miles each week and did my longest ever run today – 12.1 miles (unless your a runner you wont understand how much that .1 of a mile is important).

I feel that i have got into my stride now and am enjoying running, and reaching the targets i set always makes me feel great.
As you all know, unless you didnt open your curtains today, is was pouring with ran. which was a new experience to say the least. Even though i invested in wearing a waterproof jacket, i got completely soaked all the way through – and it stopped raining within the last half a mile…..WTF!!

Some might think im mental for running in the pouring rain, but whats if its like that on race day? i hope its not lol as i would not like to repeat today, but at least i know its possible now. I also know that a least three drivers find it hil-arious to purposes drench runners while they drive past you through a massive puddle.

A lot of people have been supporting me, spesh mama and papa Newton 🙂 – and lots of others, including the nice ice-cream van driver who says he always sees me and the dog running together. Thank you to everyone who have taken an invested interest in what im doing and to everyone who has showed support.

I feel about 75%-80% ready for the race, so i stil got a bit of work to do – so please keep supporting me and visit my just giving page:

P.S – if you like my nike running status’ on facebook while im running i get a little chear through my headphones 😀

Run-ing; the act of a person, animal, or thing that runs

By Disability, Lifestyle One Comment

Just to be clear on the above Post Title….I am the….PERSON ha!
So the end of last week i went up to 5 and a half miles on Sunday, which didnt feel too bad, but again it was very hot. Which i shouldn’t really complain about considering our typical English climate. The rest of last week also went well and my lovely new trainners worked a treat!!!
I had been told to get new trainners and im glad i took the advice, because no more blisters yay! I went to ‘Runners Need’ during the week and told them i needed new trainners as i was taking part in a half marathon. Just to set the scene, it was during the day and I dashed out of work, so was wearing black jeans and a tightish top. When i got in the shop, the woman said she would help and put some shoes on me, then she got me on the treadmill…which was in the middle of the shop, FUN! She set the pace quite high, buuuttt the benifit was, i got really good running shoes, even if i did arrive back at the office with a slightly sweaty forehead.

Im finding it hard to fit in running sessions this week, but i shall persist and am doing a 5K park run in St. Albans on Saturday, which should be good as i dont really train with other people. Dont want to freak out on race day! Also the picture is our lovely border collie, who runs with me and is a great running partner 🙂 A few more people have donated this week…..THANKS FOR THE SUPPORT!!
If you havent please visit my page..

Olympic Celebrations!

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To round off what had been an immense two weeks of sport and celebration, I went to Hyde Park on Sunday for the BT London Live concert with Blur headlining.

Supporting them were Bombay Bicycle Club, New Order, and The Specials… The Specials were fab, and with the sun shining brightly over London, they got the party atmosphere well and truly warmed up! I just found that everyone in the park was buzzing and up for a fantastic time – I’ve been to other outside concerts, and of course every one is excited but Sunday had a different feel to it.  I really think this was the culmination of Olympic fever that had seeped its way into all of us (even the negative moaners who couldn’t wait for the Olympics to fail..!) ;  finally we had enjoyed two weeks of positivity , happiness, and best of all – remembering why Britain is so great! We were all proud to be British again and had taken ownership of the Union Jack in the way that other nations are keen to show off their flag.

Anyway, back to the concert…. the huge screen on stage was showing some of the last events of the Olympics – and we all got to cheer as we won another Gold in the Boxing.  Again, fab to feel that energy and so different to me screaming at people to win on the TV in my own living room! Also, 80k people singing the National Anthem was pretty special.

Being a wheelchair user, I always have to sit on the disabled platform which sometimes annoys me as I can’t go with a group of friends to a concert and often feel a bit conspicuous as its a colder atmosphere and if you want to dance, you feel a bit of a prat! However, at this concert, we sat next to two guys from London who I immediately clicked with – they truly made the day more memorable as we had such a laugh! (and them getting me drunk helped 😉  ). They knew some others up on the platform, so for the first time it felt like I was part of a group up there.  When Blur rocked Hyde Park with Parklife (couldn’t have been more apt eh?!), we all danced round together and I couldnt have cared less about anyone watching.

I will stay in touch with those guys and look forward to more nights out with them…. am also on the promise of them getting me tickets to the Emirates stadium… Apparently I will have to change my allegiance from Chelsea to Arsenal though….. we will see, but sure i can pretend for a day!!