Illustration by Mark Weber

Imagine keeping a medical secret from every person you’ve been with and loved — an elaborate lie that kept you from being fully vulnerable and intimate with someone. That was my reality for more than half my life. Until last summer, when at 33, I finally let my guard down and told a significant other about my colostomy for the first time.

Since I was paralyzed in a car accident at the age of 5, I’ve lived a normal life. I went to college, traveled the country, and have built amazing friendships. Like any disability, mine has provided challenges at every step (even as I write this, I’m about to head into a doctor appointment).

For all the frustrations my wheelchair causes, it has never been difficult to explain my relationship to it when dealing with boyfriends and potential lovers. In fact, it’s