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Coping with hyper-sexuality and sexual disinhibition after a SAH - by Andy H


After Heathers SAH I noticed a significant change in her behaviour. This started way back in the Intensive Care Unit so I will start there. When she was first admitted there was no movement, none, nothing, completely still. This went on for days. Eventually movement began to come back and one of the first thing she did was- wait for it- masturbate!! Well I was a little shocked by this and didnt know what to do other than move her hand away constantly.

It got to the point where I had to tell the nurse. The nurse was good and told me that this was normal. NORMAL? I thought to myself, NORMAL? this is anything but normal. I was told that it happens a lot after brain injury and left it at that. So on we move to the ward. During Heathers time on the ward she would often masturbate and ask me for sex. We would go to the toilets and have brief and incredibly intense sex. I thought it was me she wanted and was very flattered. I didnt see what was going on and I put this down to the whole SAH experience. Whilst on the ward Heather would often get lost but, the nurse told me, she could always be found on the mens ward!! I thought nothing of this and put it down to disorientation.

Heather was eventually allowed home during the day between appointments and the high sex drive continued. We would get home from the hospital, which was 5 mins from our house, and go straight to bed. I have to say that at this point I began to wonder about what was happening but I put it down to Heather enjoying a new lease of life and to her just having had a near death experience. I was very flattered and very happy at this new development as any husband would be!! A few of my friends that had been round to see me said things like ‘You want to watch her Andy, she is going to get herself in trouble’ but I didnt really here them, I was too busy being happy at having a wife that was alive, recovering and at home. It was during this time that the first incident occured.

I will keep it brief and to the point. I saw Heather leave for the shop and watched her walk off. A builder over the road saw her and whistled/ shouted at her and Heather went over. I saw her talking to him and went back about my business. I happened to glance out again and I saw her go into the house. I saw her, through frosted glass, kissing with this guy and couldnt quite believe what I was seeing. I remember standing there at the bedroom window thinking ‘Am I really seeing this?’ I couldnt get my head round it, it was like looking at an M.C Escher optical illusion!! My brain finally kicked in and I ran over to the house. I found this guy with his hands up Heathers top and she was kissing him on the mouth. I wasnt best pleased and didn’t deal with the situation as I should have. Heather couldn’t explain what had happened and I realised that we had a problem.

I spoke to our counsellor from the hospital with Heather about this incident and I linked it to her high sex drive. I was told nothing about what the condition was and was advised to get Heather to carry condoms. In fact the counsellor (specialist in brain injury) told me that she had not actually come across anyone that had a higher sex drive after a brain injury before!

She put Heathers actions down to being unhappy and disinhibited. I left there feeling slightly deflated to say the very least. On we went. Incident followed incident. My friends told me of text messages and conversations that Heather had had with them. She had invited men from the street to the house. Heather even propositioned my Dad, unfortunatly he encouraged her behaviour and this led to a split in my family. Not all friends told me about what was going on and the odd ‘friend’ took advantage of the situation.

I was becoming increasingly frustrated I asked for support from a variety of agencies including social services and was told that there wasn’t really anything to offer. My family did all they could but they lived a fair distance away and all of them worked full time. I still didn’t realise the full extent of how extreme Heathers condition was. I was back at work full time, I was looking after our son, I was looking after Heather, finances, housework, everything was down to me and I didn’t always see what was going on.

Eventually Heather wanted to go back to work so we spoke to the OT’s. I told them of Heathers problems but, as they weren’t medically diagnosed, I don’t think they were taken seriously. I arranged a meeting with Heathers employers and Heather was to attend work 3 mornings a week on a voluntary basis. We were both very happy about this. I told the OT’s who were going to be co-ordinating the work experience that they have to explain Heathers problems and that she is to be supervised and monitored closely.

Alas there was a communication breakdown and no-one was told of Heathers sexual issues and she ended up sleeping with a male colleague. I was devasted. My partner of 15 years had broken her vows to me and I was devasted. I couldn’t understand it. What was going on? It was nearly the end of our marriage.

I had been spending a lot of time researching what was happening. I had access to the internet and spent my time searching for information. I read books, I found people that had experienced similar things and it was this knowledge and these people that saved my marriage. On the one hand I had to deal with the devasted husband side of it and on the other I realised fully that this was another sympton of her brain injury just like her memory, just like her eyesight.

This wasn’t the last time that Heather had an incident and it wasn’t the last time that our marriage nearly failed. Heather attended a group for people with brain injuries. People who were used to dealing with this kind of thing. It was there at Osmondthorpe Rehabilitation Centre that things started moving for us. After a number of incidents there they called a meeting and asked me to attend. They told me that Heather was too high maintanence and they were unable to cope with her behaviour towards male clients. Heather was told she would no longer be able to attend. They then sat and spoke with me at length. They explained what was happening and they arranged for a specialist social worker to meet us.

I met the social worker. She was fantastic! She arranged for Heather to be fully asessed firstly by herself then by a psychiatrist and then by anyone else that may be able to help!! She gave me lots more info on dealing with any sexual behaviours and how best to challenge it. I then attended a training event run by Headway. The event was about coping as a carer and was run by a guy called Steven Shears. Steven Shears is a trained psychosexual therapist and couple counsellor he also specialises in sex and sexuality after brain injury. I managed to grab him after the session and we arranged to meet in Nottingham with Heather, Steven and myself.

Finally we had someone who fully understood. Steven is also, as far as we are aware, THE ONLY SPECIALIST IN SEX AND SEXUALITY AFTER BRAIN INJURY IN BRITAIN!!! There is only one! Surely there are others like us I asked him and he said yes there are. In fact there are too many. Too many for the limited resources, too many left unhelped and undiagnosed. Steven tapes our sessions and uses them to help train others. Heather and I are happy about this as it is an issue that needs dealing with. We are still learning to deal with this aspect of brain injury.

Heather takes medication and we see a Sexual Psychiatrist. We still see Steven and we still have incidents. Most of all we are still together. My little family is still here, together.


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Having only just found this story I hope things have moved on for this subject for you and Heather.

 

Sexual dis-inhabitation is a common side affect of our type of injury, it is far more common than is normally talked about, you are correct in as much as there is no real support in this field, but I had the same issues and was helped with this by a marital sex councillor, I have made many references to find out all I can about this subject, I can tell you this it is very hard to get help and with the help of my daughter Charlie we asked our Psychologist for a referral they couldn't help.

 

So off we went to seek advice from many forums and eventually found one that was of great help. Suffice to say 4 years on my episodes have almost ceased, I can look back now and see how disturbing this may have seemed to a lay person, but talking gently and with a partners/carers/professional help it can be gotten under control.

 

I now have a good portfolio of sexual behaviour leaflet/factsheets following a stroke/injury and am often asked to share my findings with others,

 

Headway was a great help in this for me too, they have a vast knowledge base of "issues" that may concern us and those that care for us too, Wishing you and Heather all the best.

 

As you may not have noticed this is a very taboo subject and rarely discussed thank you for being brave to post this well done to you.

 

Mike

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