Janna and David met when she started renting his downstairs apartment. "We started talking more and more, really getting to know each other. I've never felt so cared for." When asked about their physical relationship, David answered, "With SCI you don't have to worry about performance anxiety. It's actually pretty liberating in a lot of ways." Turning to Janna, he asked, "What do you think? "And again, honesty and communication take a lot of the angst out." Humor has also helped to overcome awkwardness, as it does in any relationship.
"We joked a lot and had a lot of sexual innuendo and energy before we even got to that point (of a physical relationship)." Tricia sustained a T4-5 injury in a car accident 13 years ago, at age 17.
She hadn't had "the talk" with him yet-the one about the more private details of her disability-because she didn't want to "scare him off. Fast-forward to the present: she and her partner are celebrating their six-year anniversary.
Brad's wife of seven years, Amy, had never met anybody in a wheelchair before him.
" But the fact that she drove 400 miles to Seattle from Idaho every weekend for 14 weeks while he was in rehab was powerful evidence of her devotion. "It helped me get through my rehab." Ted had been through two failed marriages and many relationships before meeting his fiancée and, echoing the words of the other panelists, has learned that good communication is vital to a healthy relationship. Tricia found that college-age men were more reluctant than older men to date someone who was "different" or perceived as having "problems," like SCI.
"Older men were more mature, more patient, past the partying stage.
"We talked about everything; there was no taboo," he said.
This helped them get through the early awkward times as well as later when they decided to have children (they now have twin babies, a boy and a girl, from in vitro fertilization ).