Life as a sensual strokie

Having and surviving a stroke changes your life in a million different ways. Not only will your physical abilities have changed radically, but the brain damage means your mental outlook will have changed in a similarly dramatic fashion.

In my case, the stroke I suffered in 2013 left me prone to rage attacks over my situation, panic attacks and massive stress fatigue at times. But it also changed me sexually.

Prior to my stroke, my wife and I had enjoyed an active, healthy, if slightly vanilla sex life. For nearly 12 months afterwards, our sexual togetherness stopped completely, largely because my body was physically unable to move into positions which had previously been our staple. My legs were locked straight, my arms quickly grew tired - and yes, I struggled to maintain a serviceable erection, probably because I was under physical and mental stress.

It's at this point that a lot of strokies find their relationships falling apart - partners still crave sexual affection 'and if you can't offer it, I'll find someone who can.' I was fortunate in that my wife showed patience and as my body unlocked itself from the bonds of stroke, things began to happen again. But they did so in a different way - I was no longer satisfied with 'vanilla'.

I've seen this in other survivors. In some, their sex-drive collapses. In others, it sky-rockets. I often quote someone I know who developed an interest in fetish clubs. Many survivors who find themselves unable to do what they used to do for physical or mental reasons, or as a result of their medication, are much more open to finding alternatives. 'I want a sex life and if I can't have one like I did before (through penetrative sex, for instance), I'm going to look for alternatives,' they say.

Unsurprisingly, this outlook is more common among 'younger' strokies, but even the more mature (I'm 53, am I mature?) find themselves looking for other ways to enjoy sex. Some share porn with their partners, others develop an interest in sex toys. Quite often, this is all born out of a feeling that 'I'm lucky to be alive, so I'm going to make sure I experience life now.'

That was certainly my experience. I began looking around the internet for sexual advice for stroke-survivors. There's lots out there, but every site I've come across is heavily Americanized. The stroke charities in the UK do produce sexual-advice leaflets, but they treat the subject in a very matter-of-fact way. Erotic, they are not.

So, having been a writer and journalist for nearly 30 years before my stroke, I've decided to produce my own blog offering sex-help for strokies. I'm not a counsellor, just a survivor with a healthy interest in sex and a willingness to experiment - and a partner who is willing to experiment with me.

I'll share ideas, talk about experiences, look round for things which I think would help others in a similar position. If you're interested in getting involved, please email me at

I look forward to the ride - and yes, I am aware of the sexual meaning of that phrase!


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