Melanie, 43. from Perth, WA shares her story with, Natasha Todd, from Take 5.
I winced in pain as my support worker, Tracy*, lowered me into the bath.
"Is your neck still hurting?" she asked.
"Annoyingly so," I replied.
It was 2022 and I'd just had COVID.
At night, to help me breathe, I had to sleep upright, causing my neck to strain.
But that had been the least of my problems.
Due to my condition, I'd been sure I was about to die
At age two, I'd been diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis – a disorder caused by inflammation of the spinal cord, due to an infection.
Until then, I'd been walking and talking like any other toddler.
Then one day, I woke up and started stumbling like I was drunk.
My parents rushed me to hospital, but my legs became paralysed and the movement in my arms was limited.
Some people fully recover from Transverse Myelitis but I didn't.
I got my first wheelchair at three and had been in one ever since.
I also suffered occasional pain and often had issues with my breathing.
It meant I relied on support workers, like Tracy to help me with every day tasks.
Now, as I relaxed into the warm water, Tracy washed me down.
"Shall I give you a massage to help ease the pain?" she suggested.
"If you don't mind," I replied.
She began to caress my neck and back and I loved the feel of her soft hands on my skin. "That's amazing," I told her, dizzy with pleasure.
Although it was just a massage, it was the first time I'd been touched so intimately by anyone.
Later, Tracy helped me into bed.
"Have you ever thought about hiring a disability sex worker?" she asked me. "They're out there."
I raised my eyebrows.
"How do you know?" I asked.
"I used to be one," she said.
Her confession stunned me.
"It's something to consider," she said.
Next day, I was working from home and it was all I could think about.
At 43, I'd never had a sexual experience.
Growing up, the only time sex had been mentioned was when my parents warned my three brothers not to get a girl pregnant before marriage.
It wasn't like I could sneak out, so they weren't worried about me.
I'd liked a guy in uni, but after he was teased about having feelings for me, he kept his distance.
After that, I assumed my dream of having a partner someday wouldn't happen, so I busied myself with work and other commitments.
But experiencing COVID made me realise life was too short.
Tracy had lit a fire in me, and it was still burning.
Feeling a thrill, I searched for sex workers online and found an independent escort website.
I was disappointed most of the men didn't show their faces.
If I was paying good money – around $400 an hour, depending on the experience – I wanted to know what I'd be getting.
Suddenly, I landed on a picture of a guy called, Chayse.
Unlike the others, his face was on display - and he was gorgeous!
His toothy white smile sent shock waves through my body.
And he'd had experience with disabled clients, which was a plus.
I wanted my first experience to go as smoothly as possible.
I sent Chayse a message expressing interest and ten minutes later, my phone rang.
My body tensed.
What have I gotten myself into? I thought.
Taking a deep breath, I picked up.
"Melanie, it's Chayse," the voice said.
He sounded so upbeat and friendly, I instantly felt at ease.
We chatted for a while, getting to know each other.
"Why don't we start off with a two-hour erotic massage?" Chayse suggested. "We can build up from there."
"Sounds good," I said excitedly.
I booked an appointment at his house for a months' time, but days later, I moved it forward, too eager to wait.
When I told Tracy, she was overjoyed.
"Will you take me?" I asked. "Since you got me into this?"
"Of course," she said.
On the day, I was full of beans.
Tracy helped me into some sexy underwear I'd bought online, before driving me over.
When Chayse opened the door, my heart did a backflip.
He was just as handsome in real life.
"Come on in," he beamed.
Tracy helped me onto the massage table then left us to it.
The two hours flew by and when I left, I was tingling.
Two weeks later, we met again at my house, as it was better equipped for my needs.
We were together for three exhilarating hours and the next morning my whole body was aching.
Chayse had bent me into so many different positions, but they'd all felt so good at the time.
Now, I'm seeing Chayse on a regular basis.
He's opened me up to a world I'd been missing for so long, and I'm loving every minute.
I want him to teach me everything, so I know what I do and don't like.
My long-term goal is to find a partner. Before now, I hadn't had the confidence to put myself out there.
I know some people will judge me, but that's easy if you don't have a disability.
You don't know what it's like.
People who matter to me are supportive and this is the happiest I've ever been.
My only regret is not doing it sooner.
I'm speaking out now, so people with disabilities know there are options for intimacy.
There are charities, like Touching Base, to help you.
We deserve to feel loved and desired, like anyone else.
*Tracy's name has been changed