My mother enjoyed kinky sex. To be specific, in her late 50s, after two decades of singlehood and celibacy, she discovered that she enjoyed sexually dominating willingly submissive men. I’m so glad she did! Not only was I excited that she’d found a way to enjoy intimacy and erotic pleasure after a long period of being alone, but also it turned out that her sexuality provided an unexpected tool kit she used to face kidney cancer and dialysis.

Of course, we didn’t know that at first. Shortly after she discovered her newfound sexuality, a doctor discovered she had kidney cancer, and we both wondered if her adventures were about to come to an abrupt end.

“I don’t think I can live on dialysis,” she told me before the surgery, which would remove her cancerous kidney and hopefully render her cancer-free. I looked her in the eyes and told her that I didn’t think it would come to that, but that if it did, she could choose to live out her life—shorter though it might be—on her own terms. She wouldn’t have to accept dialysis if she didn’t want to.

The surgery was successful. The cancerous kidney was removed. There was no sign that the cancer had spread. We were relieved. But over the course of the next few months, something else went wrong and her remaining kidney failed. She was suddenly facing exactly the situation that, just months earlier, she told me she couldn’t live with. But somehow, she did, and during the three years that followed—years that involved daily dialysis treatments—she had some of the best times of her life. I believe that kinky sex was the reason. Here’s why:

 

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BDSM as a Tonic for Serious Illness by Elizabeth Anne Wood

June 20, 2019