When Angela Car was growing up, she preferred spending time with adults rather than other kids. She was born with spina bifida, a birth defect where the spine and spinal cord don't form properly, and didn't have as many chances to play as the other children did.

In her 30s, Car developed an alter ego called "ela," pronounced "Ella," who was free-spirited, flirty and fun. Today, ela is Car's scene name in her local kink community, and she uses the lowercase "e" to indicate that she is submissive.

Car is now in a monogamous relationship with her Sir, a term used by a submissive within a BDSM scene or relationship to reference their dominant, and BDSM has helped her deal with her chronic pain. It also makes her feel strong and proud of what her body can handle.

"Adults with spina bifida, like myself, have increased issues with pain, bladder and bowel dysfunction, and loss of mobility as we age," she said. "The days when I am totally pain-free are few and far between…Surrendering to (my Sir) gave me the freedom to let go, relax, be myself and have fun for the first time in my life."

However, the pain she experiences with