Sunday, February 26, 2017

If Lyrics About Women Were About Men

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Monday, December 5, 2016

SuperStay 24 Hour Lipcolor

Maybelline started my love of long-wearing lip color (and spoiled me). I have even purchased old deprecated colors because I loved them so much and refuse to live without them. Imagine my pleasure at having to try out and review a new product by a favored company. Now, there's no doubt that this product stays in place once you have applied it. And I cannot emphasize enough the importance of making sure the lip color sets for a FULL TWO MINUTES before you do anything else. If you follow that simple rule, you will have success with the product. This is, quite simply, a lip stain that is designed to sit on your lips, make them look awesome, and stay in place no matter what. In that respect, Revlon always delivers. But that permanence comes with a price. That price is your lips will feel like there's a layer of something on them. All. Day. Long. The balm will help make this a lot less uncomfortable. It is not going to make the feeling go away, but you won't necessarily feel like clawing the color off your lips. Don't forget the point here: your lips will look fantastic. The color, once applied, looks fantastic and stays put. The only (and I do mean the only) thing that will disrupt your color is oil, be it coconut oil removing your lip stain, greasy pizza, or hot wings (or bacon). Oil is the bane of this kind of lip color/stain. Everything will slide right off when exposed to oil. This is good because no one really wants to wake up with last night's lip color, unless it was a really awesome night. But only when you intend to let it slide off.

Please be aware, I tested the Maybelline SuperStay 24 Longwear Lip color for free as part of an #Influenster campaign, but all opinions are my own. Seriously, my own.

Monday, May 19, 2014

How my life changed, part II

Yesterday I wrote about how my life changed after having bariatric surgery. It's absolutely true that my life is very different now than it used to be. But you might get the idea that only bad things happened to me and that isn't true. A lot of really cool things happened as a result of choosing to have bariatric surgery.

One thing was that in losing my job, I found a new and really really cool new job. I got paid to be a really smart person for the State. I read medical records as well as activities of daily living in order to determine if someone met the eligibility requirements to receive disability benefits. It was an amazing job and I loved it.

I learned to love exercise. My idea of fun is weight lifting while music is blasting in my ears. I jealously guard my time to go to yoga class with an instructor I love and think completely rocks yoga in a way no one else does.

I learned to be alone and love it. I think that coming home to my own space and hanging out with my cats and books and Netflix is fantastic as well as sacrosanct. I get annoyed and curmudgeonly when I feel I'm low on quality time with myself, my thoughts and feelings.

Another thing is that I got to wear bras with under wires, sexy or cute underpants with funny sayings or designs, high heels, and buy clothes off the rack without having to always try them on. I could shop at thrift store and always find something that fit and flattered me.

I became someone sexy and desirable. Yes, oh yes that confused me but it also empowered me. Having people cross the room to talk to me is surprising and flattering and something I do not take for granted. I suck at flirting but I just call it a part of my charm.

I got a libido. Yeah, along with turning 40, I found a sex drive. AND I also discovered men aren't gross and are often fun to play with and sleep with and love. And I love women. Now I love men. I love the differences between men and women and value each person for who they are, not what they do. I don't limit myself to a gender. For that matter, I love my trans partners as well.

I've fallen in love. With multiple people. Simultaneously. In being loved simply for being me, I've found the value of myself and what I bring to a relationship that supercedes any need to be someone's one and only.

I have been loved and treasured. Hell, I am still loved and treasured. Sometimes I have no idea how or why this has happened, but I've also learned not to question but just revel in the joy of it. During the darkest of times, they have been the one light still shining and guiding me. They have caught me when I was cast out, rescued me, healed me, been patient with me, and continue to love me. Just thinking about them now makes me cry tears of sheer joy.

I have children in my life. I never had enough faith in myself to take the leap of faith to have a child of my own, yet there are children in my life and they are a singular joy to me. Sure, my relationship with their parents has morphed and evolved and sex is scheduled around things like nap time or which parent has the child, but I think having kids around has been an enriching experience and one I am damn lucky to be a part of.

I unloaded a crap load of stuff from my life. I've pared my possessions down to the essentials and love the freedom from useless crap it brings me. Now, that being said, I still have way more kitchen stuff than truly necessary but everyone has to have one area in which they go overboard. Well, that and books. There are some books and authors I just cannot part with, but that's okay.

I have saggy skin and boobs that sink to my waist and most days I just don't care. I wear clothes that I like and have a style that is my own. I stopped coloring my hair red and switched to blue. I cut my hair short and love that nature provides my own highlights. I like wearing dresses, tights, and mary janes. I love presenting a semi-conservative image while being kinky as fuck. I think corsets are sexy.

In short, the challenges of the last 8 years have taught me what is valuable and what just doesn't matter. Yes, my life is very very different. I cannot say that it is better or worse. It is just different. When you make a life-changing decision, you cannot argue when life changes drastically. Remember, you ASKED for this. In asking for change, don't be surprised when you get exactly that. The only option you get is whether to take the change gracefully or be a total dick. Don't be a dick.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Thinking about why I chose bariatric surgery - and more

My metamour has a friend considering bariatric surgery. Now, I love Eris with all my heart and think she's pretty amazing, but she looks at this from the outside and I'm on the inside and flip side. So while I respect her opinions (and trust me, she has them and oh so vocally), I have a different perspective from which to write. However, this has reminded me to consider why I chose, now 8 years later, to have bariatric surgery and what happened after making that choice.

One of the questions I get asked by people considering weight loss surgery is, “If you had it to do over, would you do it again?” My answer is qualified and requires a lot of discussion and ends with, “Well, maybe. Maybe not. It depends on how I feel at the moment because the life I live now bears precious little resemblance to the life I use to live and that is because I chose to have bariatric surgery.” So, event though you think you're making an informed choice, I am here to tell you that what you think you know isn't what you know. You cannot plan for all of the possible outcomes and, trust me, there will be plenty of unexpected things in this journey. And they all stem from choosing to have bariatric surgery.

People ask if weight loss surgery fixes all of your problems. The answer is, yes it will. You will have a new relationship with food, your body, and life as a whole.

But life is quirky and capricious. Please remember the law in physics: natures abhors a vacuum. Truly it does. So although you will cure a bunch of problems, new and unexpected ones will crop up. And there is no way to anticipate them all and many will take you by surprise. They'll shake you up, burn you down, and you will emerge a completely different person.

When I had my surgery, I was miserable. I couldn't walk. I couldn't breathe. I felt that food controlled my life. I was terrified that I would die and I felt that there was almost nothing short of extreme that I could do to change the course of my life. So I chose to have surgical intervention.

I chose gastric bypass over the lap band because I would be required to make significant and immediate changes in my life and my relationship with food. And that was absolutely true. I did have an immediate as well as a long term change in my relationship with food, water, and nutrition in general. I also had a bunch of unexpected issues almost immediately.

You go out and get informed on bariatric surgery. You learn a lot. You learn to read food labels. You learn to make good food choices. You learn to plan your cheats and accept that they will happen, even to someone who has had surgery to alter her digestion. You get an idea of how your life will change after surgery and you stock your pantry appropriately.

You do a lot of things on your own. Sure, you have the discussion with your partner and let he or she know of your plans. And, like a good partner, they support you. But can they really plan for the moment the nurse comes out of the surgical bay and tells you that the surgeon is too busy trying to save your loved one's life to come out and tell you things have gone bad? That happened to me and my partner. No, there was no medical misconduct. Something weird and completely unexpected happened. And, there wasn't going to be a way to find out if I'd wake up with an intact brain for at least 12 and more like 24 hours.

YOU might have planned for this possibility, but did your partner plan for this? Did they really? No one wants to think that something horrible could happen. And really, what do you know? You're unconscious and hooked up to a ventilator. If a fly landed on your nose and was tickling you, maybe you could think about swatting it in a week, or 8+ hours when the drugs wear off. You're dead to the world. No, really. There's no bright light and no close encounter with g-d. Just unconsciousness.

Just so you know – TV dramas lie. When you're intubated and on a ventilator, you get your hands tied down. Why? Because if you regain consciousness, the first instinct is to pull the endotracheal tube out. That's bad if you are unable to breathe on your own. So your hands get tied down. Gods help you if you're blind and left your glasses with your partner because there's just no way to know that the call button is sitting on your thigh. You barely know you're awake, much less have the sensation to feel a pressure on your thigh. Just so you know – if you bite down on that endotracheal tube, bite down and hold it down, alarms will go off and eventually, someone will come investigate. In the meantime you've managed to throw up a god-awful amount of blood and clots around that tube and now it's getting cold and slimy...

In the meantime, your partner's in the ICU waiting room trying to get some sleep on a loveseat. She's 5'11” and trying to sleep on a loveseat. She's sweated through her clothes and hasn't eaten in hours. She's called the few friends who know what's going on and is trying to hang on to her sanity by her fingernails. See, she's been told that there's no way to know if the oxygen deprivation has left the woman she loves with a mind, much less the ability to care for herself. Imagine her relief to find out you're awake and pissed off that there's a tube inside and it ain't gonna come out until someone from respiratory can come check you out. That'll be in about 5 hours. Meanwhile you're trying to communicate via sign language since the hands are still tied down.

That's just the beginning. Now your partner is stuck with trying to arrange oxygen at home because you're not going to be released unless there's full time oxygen in the house. Denver's just had a 3rd blizzard (you were unconscious through blizzard #2 and blizzard #1 was just before you had this surgery). And the hospital cafeteria has stopped charging her for food because, “honey, you've just been here too long.”

But this drama ends. You go home and start the healing process. Some people get to a week out from surgery and are full of energy and ready to go back to work. Not me. I wanted a nap. Maybe a nap after that. When I was released to go back to work, they fired me for being out too long. Now I have to search for a job while also trying to recover from major surgery and a major complication. I have to have health insurance so we bite the bullet and get COBRA. The payments are higher than your rent because you're paying the entire deductible instead of just the portion that the company didn't pay. And, guess what? You've got another complication: a stricture at the anastamosis. Another, albeit minor, procedure to dilate the anastamosis so liquid can pass through. Yeah. You're on a liquid diet for three weeks and then three weeks of a soft food diet. If you never see another bottle of Isopure or drink another sweet protein shake, it'll be too soon. You dream of a roast pork flavored protein shake and start to hate yogurt and refried beans and cottage cheese.

Then the day comes and you can eat real solid food again. So you start to reintroduce foods to your body. No, you're NEVER hungry, which is a problem because not being hungry also means you really don't have an appetite (here's a hint – I still don't have much of an appetite and finding food I actually want to eat remains a challenge). And I booted into every trash can in the house because something would unexpectedly disagree with my new tummy pouch. And, people get really weird when you go out to eat and end up eating ½ a meatball. They think you hate their cooking and take it personally even though you tell them it's truly not them but you. You loved that one ounce of meat and thought it was the best thing you've ever eaten (until you throw it up at home) and want to come back. Yet they look at you suspiciously and suspect you're just being nice and actually hate their cooking. Honest – it's a true story.

Which brings me to gastric dumping. That is a singular hell in and of itself. You have no idea what will bring it on. There are some things that are almost guaranteed to cause you to dump. A cookie will cause you to dump. So will fatty foods. Alcohol too, at least initiallly. I learned that the hard way. I asked for liquid Zoloft in the hospital. BAAAAAAAD idea. It was suspended in a 40% alcohol solution. Yep. I just had a shot of 80 proof alcohol on a brand new anastamosis. It's a special kind of hell. But I digress.

I ate a cookie. Just one cookie. Never caused me problems before. Now I want to die. No, seriously – I was praying to die. See, by the time the cookie has hit your duodenum, it's too late. You hope and pray that you can throw up this horrible thing. But it's passed into the intestine and there are no muscles to reverse the flow and back it up into the tummy and back out the mouth. You are now stuck with nausea, fever, and gross sweats for the next two hours, at least. You learn your lesson and vow to NEVER EVER EVER do that again. But you will. You won't necessarily mean to, but you will and it'll happen all over again.

You keep learning. You make mistakes but you start to get the idea of how this new way of eating works. You love how the weight seems to fall off. Until your boobs fall out of your bra. I was lucky. Very lucky. I had friends who kept absolutely every article of clothing and had closets full of clothes sized 12 to 30. I visited their closet monthly for a year to keep clothes that fit me. They weren't necessarily my style, but you can't be choosey when you're unemployed and working temp jobs just to keep a roof over your head while you're interviewing and hoping to find just the right job.

You revel in your new body and what it can do. Sure, you hate the saggy skin that's developing on your upper arms, but hey you can walk from the carport to the townhouse carrying your bags plus the groceries without any help. You miss that your partner is feeling unwanted and unneeded since she did all of these things in the past because you were too short of breath to do it on your own. And you miss that your partner is feeling more and more irrelevant to you.

You discover alcohol. Wow. What a rush!!! It turns out that processing alcohol is a two-part thing and you miss (bypass) part two of the process. You can get drunk faster than anyone and oh boy does it feel good! And you also can get sober faster than anyone when you stop drinking.

But hey, your surgeon is concerned because it's been more than six months (yeah, just six months) since your surgery and your liver enzymes are still elevated. He sends you off to a hepatologist (liver specialist). He runs a blood test that is presumptive for a genetic disorder called Primary Biliary Cirrhosis. He schedules for a punch biopsy (oh yay! More amazing drugs!) and it comes back positive. And stage 3 of 4. Yep, you just got a CORRECT diagnosis because you had bariatric surgery and your surgeon is a cautious SOB. Congratulations. No more alcohol.

Wait – no more alcohol? But I LIKE how I feel when I drink? And it makes the pain less. Yep, I said pain. Because having people really and truly SEE you as a sexy woman (not the fat girl) is scary. The cute IT girl at work and the trucker in the adjacent lane are flirting with you. No one told me that would happen. It's scary and I don't want it to happen, but it just does, no matter what I do. You go dancing and revel that you can dance the two step when you never could before. And some cute girl wants to dance with you. She's flirting and you're responding because you have never ever learned how to say “thank you but I have a lover.” You hurt your partner and embarrass your friends.

And there's someone in the wings waiting for your partner to see that she's wants her. Not you. Her.

You are too caught up in the body changes and the emotional discomfort to see that she's pulling away. You are too busy trying to get a job and get situated in the new job environment to understand her pain. You used to need her. Now you don't. Someone else needs her, though. And she's making her move.

That day comes. Yeah, THAT day. She's done with you and your selfishness and self absorption. There's someone else who needs her. Wants her. Values her. And she's gone. Gone to the woman who looks just like you used to look. Yep. You've been traded in. For a model who looks like you used to look.

Why? Why did you do all of this? Why did you almost die to get healthier and feel better and be sexier than you've ever felt before? It's all over. Thirteen years gone down the drain.

And you're not doing so well either. Somehow you've managed to herniate a disk. And badly, at that. But your job is reading medical records and you know that fusions and laminectomies go bad. But you can barely care for yourself, much less walk, or pack boxes of your stuff to move to a smaller apartment with fewer stairs so you don't fall of your ass daily and develop amazingly scary bruises. Just before she left, you had an MRI showing severe spinal compression. You have incontinence, for fuck's sake. Yet she's left you. And with a mis-sent text – She has to have spinal surgery. Do I still leave her? Cold fucking comfort after the fact.

You meet people. People who, for some unknown reason, seem to care for you. Love you even. You screen your lovers carefully to make sure no one can truly fall in love with you. You try to be a good poly girl and make sure that you aren't the dirty little secret. You end relationships because their primary relationships aren't stable and watching another relationship fail is simply too much to bear. You take that leap of faith and have the damn surgery. You wake up normally this time. No drama. No intubation. No ICU. You even have a sense of balance again. You still walk funny, but it's getting better.

Slowly. Oh so slowly. You;ve meet a new man. Really you met him before surgery but he's been there for you. He even brought you a soda while you were still in the hospital. He's pretty damn cool. You're scared to death because you love him and are in love him. What the hell? You're the one who wasn't worth loving. But he loves you and you don't know what to do. You don't know how to find your own value and still let him be who he is and what he is – married to a wonderful woman and still in love with you. You try to drive him away and break his heart. But being away from him hurts worse than being with him. You ask for him to take you back. Wonder of wonders, he does.

You develop this insane need to have your own primary relationship. You find someone you think might be THE ONE. You fall in love with him. He's what you want – kinky, loving, and poly. He says he's poly. You tell him about your other relationships and you want to honor them. He says he understands.

You move in. And make a date for later in the week. He comes unglued – apparently he expected a period of monogamy. Funny, he failed to share that little tidbit.

All you wanted to do was preserve a bit of your routine. Everything had been thrown into upheaval when you moved in because when you needed to have that spinal surgery, there was a one-month period in which you received NO pay (yeah that's zero dollars in income for an entire month) before your short-term benefits kicked it. You got behind on your rent. Eventually your landlord evicted you.

Sure, you left before being kicked out, but you burned your bridges. You're committed to him now and he's pissed and hurt that he's not number one for you. And that liver disease? It turns out that serious intractable fatigue is an effect. To make matters worse, it seems your brain is melting. You can't handle the stress, you can't handle your work and caseload. You're missing work and you can't keep up with your case load. You can't do your job. You've got hepatic encephalopathy – your' brain is turning to mush because of your liver disease.

The day comes and now you're fired from the job you swore was your dream job. And you're so tired you just don't care. You go to bed and stay there for three months. No joke. You sleep 18 or more hours a day. You can barely function to care for yourself. You barely are able to hold it together to get unemployment. And your boyfriend is just getting more and more angry.

Fast forward 18 months. That's it, you're each done with the other. You move in with your lovers who have managed to still love you during an enforced hiatus and are happy to help you get out. You have no money and no job. You reach out and – wonder of wonders – you get the gold star from a benevolent goddess in the form of being able to rekindle your relationships. Things are improving.

You get Medicaid. You try working. It doesn't work out but you know what didn't work. You work hard and try and try and try and finally get a new job. This one seems good. You're not sure because while the new meds help the hepatic encephalopathy, the fatigue is still something that needs careful managing. You learn to listen to your body – something that's never happened. You learn to stock convenient foods for the days that you're too pooped to cook. You learn that you're going to have to plan for days you can't get out of bed. And yet you're happier now than you've felt before. The weight that the enforced idleness caused you to gain starts to come off again. You topped out at losing 190 pounds but then regained 50. You start to lose again but knowing that the secret is eating enough. Not just drinking enough protein, but truly eating enough calories to sustain your body through work and yoga and date nights. And you feel good.





But would I do it all over again? Well, that depends. A good friend once shared a message from the goddess to me. She told me I'd walk through fire and feel my skin burned off and reduced to the essential me. That's absolutely true. I think I'm better for the experience but there is absolutely no way I could ever have imagined how my life would have worked out eight years ago. So for those who are embarking on a life-changing event, I salute you. And I'll be there to hold your hand when the unexpected happens. I won't promise you'll feel better soon. I will promise it won't hurt forever and things will get better. They'll be different though. Different in ways you can never imagine because you simply lack the imagination to see what could happen.

But your life will change.

What you make of it is simply up to you.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Hunger and Appetite

I had weight loss surgery seven years ago. Some parts of my life have gotten easier, other parts more complicated. My relationship with hunger and appetite has changed and these changes seem permanent.

I love and loathe food. I like the sensation of eating, of teasing out the specifics of texture and flavor, finding new spices and new ways to prepare food. I am the foodie who can't eat much.

I had my surgery to break my addiction to eating and over eating. I still fall into the assumption that eating less is better. And since my surgery appears to have permanently altered my sensations of hunger and appetite, it's hard to remember to eat much less eat enough. And, as is expected, when you aren't eating enough calories, you really do gain weight.

Most bodies won't allow you to thrive on less than 1,000 calories per day. For some, you can eat that amount and maintain. Most people seem to do better on 1,200 or more calories per day. Last year I tried tracking my calories and discovered I was lucky to eat 700 calories on any given day. Why did that happen? How did that happen?

I am not hungry nor do I have much of an appetite for specific foods. To a certain extent I got my wish in that I have a kind of separation between loving food and loving to eat. But there's a burden I hadn't expected in needing to keep track of when I eat, what I eat, and how much I eat. I certainly still love my food but I do not love to eat. I do not consider myself to have a positive relationship with food at all.

So how do I (or anyone else) manage to eat in a way that is health and whole/unscrewed with? Prepare in advance. When you're over tired and under caloried, preparing food is quite possibly the absolute last thing you want to do. The answer is not to power through the tired to eat heathily. No, the answer is to be smarter about what food choices will be available when you are over tired and under caloried. So make some healthy food when you do have time and energy and put it away for when you'll need it. Freeze it if you have to. Otherwise keep prepared food available in the fridge or cupboard so that you can just open it up and eat.

What does this look like? Make some one-dish meals that you can freeze. Make some salads that you can keep handy. Salads like tuna, ham, shrimp, lobster, salmon, chicken, beef. Whatever floats your boat. You can mix with mayonnaise or an oil/vinegar base. And guess what? Condiments are not evil. Just use them in a reasonable manner. If you need to tempt yourself to eat, mix in some more if that is going to help make sure you actually eat instead of just look at it.

Make egg-heavy breakfast burritos. You can purchase parboiled or frozen hashbrowns, salsa, chile, tortillas, and whatever meat you like. Make an assembly line with kids or friends or partners. Honestly, do what you have to in order to ensure food gets prepared. Have a party. Invite friends to help out and share in the cost and come away with something to show. Play with the idea. Who knows what ideas you might have?

What shouldn't you do?

Do not try to replace healthy food with convenient food. It may be possible but there's going to be a trade off. One trade off is nutritional value. Convenience foods are undeniably tasty, especially when flavored by fatigue, memory, or appetite. But think about it. Take some time to really taste convenience foods. Do they really taste good? If I take the time and really turn on my taste buds, I find that everything is too much of something: too salty, too sweet, maybe an underlying bitter taste. But when you're bolting food because your body is undernourished, things taste pretty good.

A second trade off is how long this convenience food keeps you satiated and feeling full. Most of the time I find that I'm wandering into the kitchen with an "urge" for something that I just can't quite identify within an hour or so. For me, a problem with processed food is that it isn't very dense and just doesn't stay with me as long as whole food does.

Finally there's the issue of economic cost. Healthy yet convenient food is expensive. And in a time of rising food costs, paying the premium price is simply impossible. And you know something? Even if this food is closer to being whole in spite of its convenience, it still isn't either whole or nutritious. There are simply a great deal of chemicals that must be added to food (for shelf stability and hygiene) that deplete it. Modern manufacturing methods strip foods of their nutrients in order to remain convenient.

So, do I do any of this? Sometimes. Sometimes I buy Hot Pockets and live to regret my decisions. Sometimes I live on stuff like greek yogurt, coffee with protein powder, and carrots with peanut butter. And when I feel bad, I have to remember the only person I have to blame for this is myself. Then I haul my butt into the kitchen and start all over again trying to be a little more healthy than I was.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pegging, part I

This post started out one thing and morphed into another so I've broken this up into two sections: one about the mechanics of pegging and the other about my observations about the psychology and acculturalization of sex. So, onto Part I.

Pegging. A fascinating practice I hadn't paid a lot of attention to in the past.

Yeah, the past. I might need to give some backstory here.

When I was a monogamous lesbian. 

Life is weird in that things you thought might never happen, do happen. Like becoming a non-monogamous bisexual with a libido, an imagination, and a limited life span. Oh, and that getting a second chance at life.

I like girls. I have for as long as I can remember. I like boys too. Just in a way that is different than liking girls. Coming to terms with being bi has been quite a journey. Add being a poly woman to the mix and now I'm really really, no REALLY, confused.

It's almost five years later and I'm still confused. What is my purpose? Why am I here? What am I going to be when I grow up. Okay, maybe my confusion is less about a purpose and more about wondering what “box” I fit into. But that's another blog post.

It seems as if there are no quick and easy answers to these questions. So let's move on to stuff I CAN discuss and feel like I have some kind of idea of what I'm doing.

Yeah, right. Pegging. Right?

I hope I'm gender fluid in the expression of my love. And if needs be I think I can wrap my mind around fucking my boyfriend with a strap on dildo. OK, it wasn't really that much of a stretch. Heck, it's a shorter list of what kink I DON'T embrace than what I do.

Closely tied in is being a service sub. Giving pleasure is pretty much hardwired into me. I can and have service topped and being the active partner instead of the receptive is a fun change of pace.

I am really suggestible and I possess an active imagination. The idea of being the one fucking is a turn on. I'll orgasm from seeing someone I love orgasm. Having them orgasm from something I actively did? Well now, pretty much everything is icing on a yummy cake for me.

Some people are straight in every aspect of their lives. They are also firmly entrenched in their concepts of gender and its expression. OK and no problem. I thank you for being as honest as possible and I'll keep that in mind in our future encounters. Is this a problem for me? No, it's not but again, that's a post for another time.

So anyway, after a major dust up in my life I got an amazing chance to restart prior loving relationships. For anyone who has never had this chance, if you ever get it, jump and do not waste the opportunity. Love is a gift not to be wasted. If someone loves you and you love them back, go for it.

One boyfriend asked me if I'd be interested in screwing him with a dildo, with or without a strap-on. We have an odd mix of mundane vanilla sex relationship with a fair amount of kinky fun thrown in when we each have the time and energy. He has a kid, I am rebuilding my life and learning to live with a chronic fatigue and pain syndrome as well as the odd case of end-stage liver disease with hepatic encephalopathy. Each eats into what free time we have. Sometimes I'd rather have a night in with a family than all the kinky sex in the world. Not because one is better than the other, but simply because one condition I can generally meet and the other takes some stamina, which is something I don't always have.

Did I mention there's a lot of stuff I need and want to write about? Yeah, that's on my to-do list. Stay tuned for more stuff as it bubbles up out of me.

And back to pegging my boyfriend. I suppose that there's something socially transgressive about a woman fucking a guy in the ass with a fake penis. My take is that if this is something that sounds like fun, why not try it? Give it a good try. You retain the option to say that this may not be for you.

Like a lot of new sensations, it takes time and patience to learn what does and doesn't feel good. One small suggestion is that even if something doesn't feel good, wait a bit. Things change. And so it's true for ass play. Stop what you're doing and just wait. Breathe. Explore the sensation. Think about what you're doing. Get the mind involved along with the body. If necessary, back off (slowly!) and go on to other fun things. You can always come back and start again later. We certainly did not go from zero to sixty without taking some breaks and figuring out what helped, what hindered, and what else might work.

Sphincters needs some help opening up. Everyone knows the pain associated with being constipated or needing to pass an exceptionally large poop. There's pain associated with opening up. There's also a pretty amazing sense of well-being that comes after the pain. This process isn't much different, except that it's happening because you want it to and it might end up feeling pretty darn good.

So, what worked?

The mind set. Getting the mind involved is probably the biggest element to turning sensation into fun. Read about it. Think about how it might feel even before you try it. Ask others about their experiences. Stay open minded when it seems that pain stops your play. The thing about stretching is that each experience builds on the last. Yes, it might have hurt tonight. That's not true for tomorrow or the next time you try.

Erotic play. Yeah, do what works. Mix the pleasurable with the less-so. If sucking on a nipple helps, then add it in! There's no one true way to do anything so forget your preconceived notions of how things are “supposed” to work and focus on what does work.

Be patient and persistent. You didn't learn to walk overnight, you didn't learn your alphabet immediately, and you won't learn this the first time out of the gate. If you do, count yourself as lucky but remember to be patient and slow with others.

Vibrators. This works surprisingly well. Having a vibrating toy that is safe for anal play is important. If it also variable in the speed and intensity of vibrations, so much the better. The vibration of toy can reduce pain-induced muscle (and sphincter) tightening. It can also redirect your mind away from discomfort and help focus on stuff that feels good. And vibration helps relax muscles.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

I've wanted to write about this for a while but, in all honestly, writing may be something I do well but it isn't always an enjoyable experience. At the same time, I haven't wanted to write this because reading what I write just makes me cry and despair that this nightmare will never end. And that is what it seems like: a bad dream and I can't wake up. Except this really is my life and I never thought this is how life would turn out.

Some people know exactly how life with a chronic condition works. Others have no idea and no frame of reference to understand. That's true for just about all of human life. I am writing this to try to give a description of how my life works now to those that love me.

First, what are my conditions? There are a few. I have a disease called Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC). It, in turn, spawned hepatic encephalopathy. I have residual neuropathy from a severely herniated disc in my cervical spine as well as older nerve damage from herniations in my lumbar spine. So what does that all mean? I have a failing liver, a fuzzy brain, chronic fatigue, and chronic pain/hyperattenuation of nerve impulses (when it's not severely reduced sensation).

So what is this thing called PBC? It isn't necessarily an autoimmune disorder (it doesn't fit all of the established criteria for an autoimmune disorder in that this doesn't affect kids, is not only nonresponsive to steroid bursts, it is strongly contraindicated). This disease is a genetic disorder with an environmental trigger. There is a statistically significant correlation between this disease and Type I (often called juvenile onset) diabetes. Both of my sisters have Type I diabetes and I have PBC. No, no irony here.

Whatever, this disease caused the bile ducts in my liver to slowly harden which reduced how effectively the liver delivers bile to the digestive tract. And, go figure, liver bile is actually toxic to the liver. The disease causes severe and often intractable fatigue. It also causes severe itching throughout the body but, given the nerve damage I have, this isn't as big an issue for me as it might be for others. And another joy of the disease is that I have hepatic encephalopathy, which is brain dysfunction especially in the areas of memory, executive function, and decision making. As if liver disease wasn't bad enough, I get to have a melting brain as well.

I don't have much of a short-term memory. If I don't write something down, I probably won't remember. That's a problem if I agree to an appointment or to do something and didn't write it down, because I usually forget and then am quite embarrassed and often ashamed of my forgetfulness. I always had problems remembering names of people I've met. Now I forget the names of my lovers and friends. I cannot go to the store without a shopping list. I usually have to make lists of household chores I need to do because I forget what I'm doing.

Oh joy. Oh rapture. Oh bliss.

What does the nerve damage mean? By and large I have reduced sensation throughout most of my body. In most cases I retain protective sensation but I usually can't feel my feet, sometimes can't feel my fingers. As a result I have a hard time staying warm or cool and find the experience of warming up or cooling down to be uncomfortable to downright painful.

My legs have had the most damage and the most reduction in sensation. By and large they are numbish to numb and I sometimes have problems with walking and falling because I can't always lift my left foot up enough for a normal gait and sometimes I trip over the smallest bump. I find it's bad enough when little kids fall, it's downright freaky when adults fall and falling is something I worry about and hate when it happens. I've also discovered my legs and lower buttocks can easily be overstimulated and go from dull sensation to hideous reverberating pain with one smack. Stubbed toes and banging my shins on anything are hell in my world. The pain becomes bright, fiery, and seems to get stuck in a feedback loop. It takes me several minutes to recover from simple bumps. And impact play in areas other than my back and upper buttocks just cannot happen. The pain is simply too overwhelming to process during play. It stopped being play and has become something to try to live through. Much to my despair.

My balance and strength has suffered too. I don't always have effective proprioception (knowledge of where my body is in relation to up, down, left, right. Some days I can maintain my balance when I close my eyes. Other days I fall over. I am grateful that I don't always need a cane to help me keep balance or remind me which way is up or down. And I no longer fall every day (which was the case before surgery). I still have problems if I stand up too fast upon getting out of bed (yep, get up and then fall right over). Going on a walk is not very fun for me because I spend a lot of time trying to make sure I walk in a straight line and not trip over anything that might be on the ground/floor

Then there's the fatigue. It is pernicious and invasive. I used to have some days where I felt very good. Normal. Effective. Capable of doing what needed to be done. Those days are over.

I am always tired. Even when I get up, I still feel tired. The days where I feel near normal happen very rarely now. I have ridiculously reduced stamina. Seemingly easy things, like taking a shower can either invigorate me or send me to bed out of sheer exhaustion. I find I don't like large supermarkets because they are just too big, too much to process, and too exhausting to walk through.

I can work, but there isn't much more that I can do than work, if I'm trying to work a 40-hour work week. I can get up, get dressed, and go out the door to work, but what I can't do is maintain basic cleaning, cooking, or any social activities. I work and I sleep. That's about it. Color my hair? Unless I can summon the energy to do it the night before going back to work, it's not going to happen that week because I simply do not have the stamina to stand in front of the mirror making sure the color distribution is even.

I work less than 40 hours a week so that there's a fighting chance I'll be able to clean the kitty boxes, sweep and mop the floors, cook for for me as well as the kitties, and do laundry (which includes folding and/or hanging up clothes, not just washing and drying them), cook, and clean dishes. It's much harder than you'd think to find a part time job. Many jobs require a lot of standing, which isn't something I can do well. Or there's a lot of lifting, which is also another thing I cannot do well. Lifting kitty litter just once is hard enough and wipes me out; lifting isn't something I can do on any kind of sustained basis.

What do I do to make sure I function? I take my painkillers as religiously as possible. I may not actively feel pain, but my body knows something's wrong and controlling pain, even pain I don't feel, gives me more energy. Yep, I take painkillers and get a kind of energy boost from it. I also use stimulants to keep me going. That's a very tricky balance to try to maintain. Too much stimulant and I forget to take painkillers or eat, both of which will cause a flare that puts me in bed for days trying to recover. If anything, the stimulants cause a slight increase in my forgetfulness so I have to make lists for the days I use something more than coffee or soda to boost me.

I hoard my energy. I keep waiting for days when I feel “good” to do stuff. Sometimes I choose poorly and do too much in one day or sometimes I miss out on stuff because I just can't quite get everything in gear in time to go out. I cancel stuff at the last minute.

I cry. A lot. I wish things were different and they're not. I want things to get better and they don't. Medication is both a blessing and curse. It can fix some things but damage others. And sometimes all my meds can do is keep things from getting worse.

It's a lonely and often scary experience and I don't wish this on anyone else.