Q&A: Quadriplegic from a Diving Accident

Hi ladies,

I don’t want to sound critical but I really think you are narrow-minded. Just like every other love site, you only talk about people who have what some of us do not: good looks, legs to walk on, triceps to lift themselves, ten fingers to type with. I am a quadriplegic from a diving accident, and I don’t see how I could possibly use any of your information. I don’t have a sex partner and will never get one. I can’t even satisfy myself sexually. Yes, I am envious and angry and grumpy, and I feel I have a right to be. I will never get what you guys have. Your problems seem remarkably insignificant to me. Breakups. Ha ha. I wish I had someone who could break up with me. At least I would have experienced love then. Narcissism. Very funny again. I would happily go out with all the world’s narcissists if only they wanted me. I wish more of you relationship counselors would address real relationship problems rather than these pseudo problems.


Dear Anonymous,

We believe that many of the issues we talk about here are just as relevant to disabled people as to anyone else. We understand that you may have problems that others don’t. But we are surprised that you believe that you will never get a sex partner. It sounds like you have given up in advance. You don’t say whether you are a man or a woman. In the end it doesn’t matter. We do, however, want to call attention to someone who refused to give up in advance, who is also a quadriplegic and who is both attractive and sexually active. Her name is Tiffiny Carlson. She is the person in the picture above. We hope her story can serve as inspiration for you in the future.

Love and Magic,

Dr. Brit and Catherine

Tiffiny Carlson’s Story

Tiffiny (Tiff) is a C5-6 quadriplegic from a diving accident. When she was 14 the neighborhood boys were diving off the top of a schoolyard slide that had been put out in a lake. Being a trained dancer Tiff did a swan dive, hitting her head on the bottom. “I wanted to show off to the neighborhood boys,” Tiff says. Her injury left her paralyzed in her legs, hands, and triceps. She only has use of her biceps, wrists and right index finger. Because of her disability she cannot get out of her chair independently or dress herself waist down. She initially had a catheter in her urethra and a drainage bag to keep her bladder empty. Later she learned how to drain her bladder herself via a tiny hole in her bellybutton.

At first Tiff did not cope well with her condition. “The three years that followed the accident were hell. I was abandoned by my friends, and, worst of all, ignored by boys”, says Tiff. She sank into deep depression. She was sexually frustrated too. “As a teenager stuck in the suburbs, I had no vibrator, and I couldn’t use my fingers to get myself off. I tried often, but my right index finger (the only one functional enough for masturbation) wasn’t enough,” Tiff recalls. When she was 17 her mom sent her to a summer camp for disabled teens. There she was very popular and dated around. The second year she tried to have sex with her boyfriend but they were unsuccessful, as neither of them could move their hips.

After camp that year she returned to high school more confident than ever, and she started to dress in fashionable clothes. The boys at her school started to notice her, but she had no real success in the world of dating until she discovered regular dating sites. She does not go near dating sites for disabled people. “Simply put, with my level of injury, it’s impossible to get physically close with another wheelchair user. At least one of us would need hip-flexor muscles. End of story. I love vaginal intercourse too much to give it up,” says Tiff.

Tiff tells a moving story of how she lost her virginity to a guy who turned out to be one of those “fetishists who get off on wheelchair users, particularly those with atrophied legs and spastic muscles”. But he confessed that though her disability was what initially attracted him to her, he had later fallen in love with her.

Tiff started writing professionally in 1998 when she was in college. She was approached by the website HalfThePlanet.com, which later went down, and stated writing articles on her disability for them.  Tiff now writes for Playgirl magazine, Nerve.com, ThisAbled.com, Chloe Magazine, Kids on Wheels magazine, and United Spinal’s Action magazine. She is the administrator of the highly esteemed blog BeautyAbility. Tiff gives advice to other people in wheel chairs about, among other things, how to cope with a disability, fashion, beauty and sex.

Reference: Getting around: How I discovered my wheelchair wasn’t a chastity belt

If you had one chance to ask Dr. Brit or Catherine any question about love or relationships, what would your single most important question be? You can submit your question here.

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