Over the past 8 weeks I have had a sinus virus, very similar to the one I has last year that lasted 4 months. A foggy head like a head cold that makes thinking almost impossible, coughing and sneezing so violent that it makes you pee a little, breathless at the slightest thing and a general feeling of being exhausted, bleh and 'over it'.
During this time I have had time off for sick leave but also 2 weeks annual leave and tonight am heading away for a weekend near the beach with my partner, a time to rest, refresh and reconnect. A break from a busy life to have some quality couple time, lazy days and sex....lots of it....well that is what we would both like but the reality may be very different.
But the way I have been feeling, sex has been the last thing on my mind. What I have been thinking about is intimacy, all the things that show me how much I am loved and cared for, the Languages of Love like, physical touch: cuddles, not so much kisses as I didn't want to pass along what I have and massages, acts of service: doing the little things like making a hot cuppa, getting medications ready, running a hot bath, and making dinner, gift giving: bringing home treats to make me feel better, words of affirmation: these can be hard when you look and feel like hell, but little things like asking how you are feeling and being proud of you that you actually got out of your PJs or out of bed today and finally quality time: which can incorporate the others, spending time focused on each other with no distractions.
For me I will get better over the next few weeks and back to my usual self but it got me thinking about people who have chronic illness, disability or some of the impacts of ageing and how hard it must be to maintain a sexual and sensual connection with yourself and your partner in the long term. If you experience pain, feelings of unwellness (if that is a word), or that your body has let you down (insert menopause here for me as well as illness), it can be difficult to even think about being sexual let alone do anything.
This is where the languages of love can come into play to feel connected, loved and intimate with each other and a bit of imagination can help in working out ways to still be sexual. Things may need to be done differently, sexual activity may change and be less strenuous, it may be gentler, it may be more oral or manual stimulation rather than penetration, and there may be sex aids and toys that can help.
So my partner and I will make the most of our weekend getaway, we will catch up with mates, spend quality time together to reconnect in whatever way we can, allowing for illness, and our sensual life will get back to what we both enjoy soon enough.
My wish for everyone else this long weekend is that you also take time to reconnect with yourself and those you love, and if you also have illness, pain or disability that impacts on your sensuality, that you find ways to maintain that connection with your sensual, sexual self and those that you share this with.
Richelle has had a passion for sexuality and sexual health since 2001. She has worked in the field since 2006, providing sexuality education in schools, and adult education in the topics of diverse sexualities and gender identities, LGBT health issues, sexual health and LGBT relationships.
This is a space for me to share with you my journey as a Sexologist, the things I learn and the people I meet and what I think and feel along the way.