By Nathalie Bonney @NATHALIEBONNEY
Scroll down for the full story
Videographer / director: Per Lind, Kevin and Kassandra Ortiz
Producer: Shannon Lane, Nathalie Bonney, Ruby Coote
Editor: Florence Kennard
Air force veteran Kevin is paralysed from the waist down, after trying to kill himself. He credits Kassandra with helping him turn his life around.
Together the couple started a YouTube channel to show their life together and to address the realities of being an inter-abled couple.
Now married, Kevin and Kassandra want to take the next step and start a family together but after Kevin’s accident, trying for a baby is proving difficult.
Couple Kevin and Kassandra are on a mission to demystify what it means to be in an inter-abled relationship.
From cooking at home to shopping for cars, their YouTube channel Kevin and Kassy, documents the couple’s daily life together, living in California, and shows the many ways it’s no different to any other relationship.
But after marrying last year, the couple decided they wanted to start a family together and have been hit by fertility complications stemming from Kevin’s injuries.
An air force veteran, Kevin shot himself in the chest in 2012 after years of struggling with his mental health in the aftermath of being in the military. Kevin survived his suicide attempt but woke up from his two-week coma to learn that he was paralysed from the waist down.
Kevin said: “Being a person with a spinal cord injury, it's a little bit difficult to conceive naturally.”
“I knew that it was going to be harder for us to have kids as I was in a wheelchair.”
Kassandra, who is Kevin’s full-time caregiver admits the uncertainty has been overwhelming at times.
She said: “There are some days where just the emotions kind of take over and I might cry and I might be mad and I might be frustrated.
“I feel like I have so much faith and belief that we will have a baby. It just might take a longer time than I think.”
Meeting with doctors for various tests, before the couple can embark on IVF treatment, they need to rule out any other options.
Kassandra said: “We were setting up appointments with the doctor and then they would be like okay, now you got to go see another doctor and I went to see another doctor and that doctor would be like, okay, now we got to set up an appointment with a different type of doctor that deals, you know, with different you know, fertility doctor, urologist or just a regular doctor.
“I started realizing that, okay, it's not just one person we got to go see.”
At the moment they are trialling more basic home methods to help aid ejaculation using a vibratory device called Ferticare.
Kevin said: “Feticare - the cost of that is around $1200 and there are different methods, but this is kind of one of the cheapest, and one of the ones that you could come to use at home. And if that doesn't work, then you have to kind of go a step and above and you would look into like IVF treatment and stuff like that.”
The strain of wanting to start a family but not automatically being able to, has hit both Kassandra and Kevin hard.
Kassandra said: “There has been days where it's hit me and I’ve cried, you know, just thinking about like, how long is this going to take.
Kevin added: “I know that she wants kids, I want kids, so to not be able to give her children you know, like the moment that she wants it, you know, it's hurtful.”
Kevin and Kassandra actually first dated in high school but broke up three years before Kevin would try to take his life. When Kassandra learnt what her former love was going through she reached out to him again, with the couple eventually getting back together.
After all they have faced, the husband and wife team are confident they will come through this next challenging period of their life, more united and stronger than ever.
Kevin said: “I felt like I couldn't get out of bed one time, and now, I'm driving a car. So, anything is possible. You just got to believe it.”