Thursday, April 14, 2011

Evolve Serenade

Cross-posted on the Eden Fantasys website.

I bought this on a whim. It was payday, I had some available cash and there was a sale. How could I go wrong? Turns out I didn't go wrong at all.

I love playing with vibrators when alone. Sharing them with partners is even better. But finding toys that have enough vibration for me but aren't too intense for some my partners AND do not cost a bomb is amazing.

I'm going to jump the gun and talk right away about what I think is the best feature of the Serenade. The vibrations. Wow. I admit that I like and require fairly strong vibrations for my own use. This delivers for me and the three speeds allow me to tone down the intensity if I'm playing with someone else. This is a simply designed vibrator. Essentially there a bullet located at the end of the vibrator and it's surrounded by the graduated and ribbed TPR body. Having the control button on the end of the cap is both a blessing and a curse, depending on how you hold it because you could inadvertently change speeds. I've found that changing the speed in the middle of play (unintentionally) can be a problem. But considering the value of this toy, I think this is a very small issue.

This vibrator is made of body-friendly TPR which feels great because it's flexible but is more porous than other materials so you need to make sure you use a condom if you share this with someone else. I also find that when I clean this, I need to use a lint-free cloth to dry it otherwise I find a lot of little fuzzies on the vibrator. On the plus side, since this vibrator isn't made of silicone, you can use either water or silicone based lubes with it.

The Serenade uses 2 AA batteries and they slide into the compartment with very little catch. The end cap connection has a substantial O ring so this toy really is waterproof. The sizing is substantial but not uncomfortable. This toy is not specifically designed, recommended, or considered safe for anal insertion. However, I found that maintaining a tight grip and not inserting more than 2.5 to 3" of the 6" insertable length could work because there is a flare at each width graduation. You should make sure that the hand holding it isn't covered in lube so you don't lose your grip. And, again remember this is made of porous TPR so it can't be sterilized. Please use a condom if using this anally or with multiple people.

And the icing on the cake for me is the box it came in. No, not a run-of-the-mill plastic box but a great metal box with hinged closures painted a lovely cheerful scarlet with a cut out window to showcase the vibrator. Inside the box is a foam insert cut to the shape which holds it in place. There's room enough for the battery compartment inside the box which is helpful for me since I make it a practice to keep the batteries outside of the toy whenever possible. From the side the box doesn't scream SEX TOY so I really don't have a problem storing it on the bottom shelf of one of my nightstands since there are other things that sit on top of the box. If you need to economize your space I suggest taking it out of the box and storing it in a lint-free pouch.
A final consideration for this toy is that while it has amazing intensity, there is noticeable noise when it is outside the body. Very little discernible noise when inside the body but considerable outside. Again, this is a reasonable side effect of having great and intense vibration, but it's not going to be stealthy; when weighing the cost and features of this toy against these issues, I can't say that it's an unacceptable trade off.

This 3-speed vibrator is priced as average but offers a lot more features than average: texture, graduated sizing, is waterproof, and has a great name to boot! Made of body-friendly TPR, this vibrator is a great value and worth considering.

Pros: 3 speeds, strong vibration, body friendly, value priced
Cons:Noisy outside of the body, doesn't smell good initially

Heavy Metal Fun! So much more than a tweezer clamp.

Spartacus Adjustable clamp – nipple clamps
These are a worthwhile investment given the overall material quality and flexibility. I love these more than any other type of clamp I've used. Although user friendly, these bar clamps take some time and practice. Kinkily attractive. Adjustable tension makes it accessible to many users.

I've tried the tweezer-like nipple clamps in the past and didn't like them. Yes, they had adjustable tension but they just didn't seem to stay on. And, being the pain bunny that I am, they just didn't bring me enough sensation to make using them worthwhile.

And then we found these. I say we because my boyfriend is the one who bought them for me and who uses them the most on me. And, oh what I happy woman I am.

These are substantial clamps. They are fully adjustable and should accommodate any nipple size since they adjust from fully shut to 0.75" using a screw and flat bar. In theory they should be able to clamp onto any size nipple, provided they are at least somewhat erect and you pull them out somewhat to ensure you have a goodly bit of nipple/aureola available to clamp. Furthermore the chain is quite heavy. Good for sensation, not so good if you are one of those who can't take a lot of pressure and therefore cannot get a good clamp.

The material is solid. The finish is smooth. I've had these for a about a year, with fairly consistent use, and there is no change in the finish. The chain is attached with a solid ring to a very solid and weighty chain. On the plus side, I think that once these are on, they stay on well, the downside is that there is no way to incorporate a quick release. Screw the bar down to attach, screw the bar up to detach. If the screws catch at all, a little bit of silicone lube actually works quite well to loosen things up. 

Finally there's one last observation about these clamps. They're really not just for nipples. They can clamp onto other body parts and perhaps with somewhat greater success, provided what you're trying to clamp isn't larger than about 0.5" or so. So these will work well for labia clamping as well as other areas (use your imagination).

I am impressed with the construction and quality of these clamps as well as the price. I think that these are some of the best clamps on the market. Please keep in mind I say this because I/we've never really encountered a problem with putting them on, getting them to stay on, or taking them off AND because I have at least average to slightly larger than average nipples.

There are two tricky things to consider: it takes some time to get these screwed down to clamp on. You are probably going to need some patience to get them on and see if they'll stay on. The second tricky aspect is the weight of the clamps the chain itself. These are not lightweight by any means. In order to get them to stay on, they need to be well tightened and that may mean close to fully shut if you have small nipples because the weight of the chain can pull the clamps off. If you have smaller nipples you might find the pressure necessary to keep them on too much.

We have used these clamps with the clamps parallel to the floor and also perpendicular. The clamps tend to be a bit more stable and likely to remain in place if you clamp perpendicular to the floor with the chain's loop at the top. However, clamping a bit tighter for a parallel position also holds them well.

I find the chain to be just slightly too short. I'm clamped and there's a bit of give in the chain, but I think it could be just a bit longer. The trade off is that the chain's gauge may need to be a bit lighter given its weight. Pluses and minuses for every change.

Because we like pain play, I can tell you that with sufficient force, these clamps can be3 pulled off. Yes there is going to be the exquisite spike of pain but I have yet to have any lasting marks or damage to my nipples. I think that the smoothness of the metal is a key component in that.

Pros: Adjustable, weighty, can be good for novices and hard core alike, good for more than clamping nipples
Cons: Need some patience to put them on, chain could be longer, may slip off small nipples

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

living life as opposed to waiting for a life to live

I'm not sure I've talked about this in a semi-public forum so here goes.

Life is for living. There's no tech rehearsal before a final performance and there's no draft before receiving an "A" on your paper.

Rewind to the day after Christmas 2006.

I had what I hoped was life-changing surgery. I had a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. Why did I do this? I did it for a number of reasons: to be able to breathe again, to be able to walk without losing my breath, to see my friend's little girl grow up and know that I'd be able to perform CPR if necessary because I'd have the lung capacity and the physical strength. And I wanted to live my life, not just kind of exist.

I was not a healthy woman. No, I hadn't developed the co-morbidities that may obese people develop. That was sheer luck combined with a significant financial investment on my part to stave off the inevitable.

I found an amazing surgeon. No, not just good but freaking amazing. And his office and surgical staff were equally amazing. I did all of the pre-op stuff: I had my echocardiogram (I had an enlarged heart and pulmonary hypertension), I did my pulmonary evaluation (I was put on oxygen for any exertion and a CPAP set for 27 in/h20 at night), and my digestive evaluation (yes, put on a proton-pump inhibitor for my GERD). In short, I was a train wreck. Honestly, no matter what my psych evaluation revealed, I was going to be medically necessary patient. Turns out I was a "fair" risk for surgery which was, in all honesty, good enough for Mike to proceed and schedule surgery. I chose to have surgery and fully expected things would be, well, average.

Mike takes the week off before Christmas and heads to Mexico. If you remember, there was a HUGE snowstorm that closed DIA. Oh, yeah, I was SO on the phone with staff asking if Mike had made it back and was going to be able to do surgeries.

I did my pre-op nutrition classes. I did my antibacterial washes. I drank my protein drinks prior to surgery. My extended family called me on Christmas Day to ask if they'd interrupted my holiday feast (lots and lots of LOL). I reported to Rose Medical Center at the god-awful hour of 5:30am for my admission. I manage to drop 11 pounds from my pre-op examination. I put on my gown and stored my personal effects in the plastic bag they provided. Pam kissed me goodbye and sent me off to surgery. They wheeled me into the operating room (cheezits that room is COLD) and gave me my anesthesia and proceeded with the bypass surgery.

I woke up in the recovery room. And I started throwing up almost immediately. Not from anesthesia. Just clotted blood. Please note that most surgery involves giving you paralytics which don't wear off quickly. That means that what usually takes just a single heave (as in to throw up) meant 3-4 semi-coordinated heaves to pull a clot up and out the mouth. While heaving I sounded like a tuberculosis patient on their death bed - lots of heaving, labored breathing, and wheezing. Evidently I hit some sort of magic number of attempts to heave blot clots because the staff decided I may have an abdominal bleed and sent me back to operating room for a endoscopy (scope) to see if I had something that was still bleeding. Someone (a really bright person, to be sure and no this is NOT a snarky statement) had the idea that if there WAS a bleed I'd need to be re-intubated so why not do it prior to the scope? On paper this makes perfect sense. In reality I heaved another massive clot just as they were trying to intubate me. Imagine a giant blood clot blocking not just the trachea (the tube that carries air to the lungs) and the esophagus (the tube to your stomach) at the same time.

You know those magic five minutes? Those minutes to get full air exchange started and know that you've staved off brain damage? I had a fully blocked airway. Nothing in, nothing out. That's what doctors call a full cor. I managed to get BOTH surgical teams into the operating room with each anesthesiologist wondering what was the best for me. Do they stop and try to suction the clot out, or what? Finally Dr. Lee decided to just push the endotrachial tube down into the lung. Yes, this would drop the clot into a lung and no, that lung would not work, but the OTHER one would work and, well, half a set of lungs is better than NO set of lungs and buys time to the go suction the clot out. Great choice on his part. That's indeed what happened. However, those magic five minutes? It took four and a half minutes plus a fair amount of chest compressions to get me stable. Kim, both my friend and director of the bariatric surgery program, got the unenviable task of telling Pam that there was no guarantee that her partner would wake up with the same mental capacities that she left with. You know that scene on TV where the doctor comes out to say everything went fine? Not what happened to Pam. In an effort to give me every opportunity to heal, they drugged me to the gills on Fentanyl. If I WANTED to swat a fly on my nose, there was no way I'd have the ability to do so. It's a short-term equivalent of a medically-induced coma.

I woke up sometime around 3am. Intubated. No one tells you that when you're intubated, they tie your hands down so you can't pull the ET tube out. No problem except for one thing. I was a blind woman and I left my glasses with Pam. I can't see shit. And I'm throwing up again. Around the ET tube. No way to ask for help. Turns out though, if you bite down on your ET tube and cut off the air flow, an alarm goes off. It will get someone's attention albeit slowly. Hey, it's the intensive care ward - everyone's drugged to gills and the telemetry says my heart's still beating.

No surprise to anyone who knows me, I recovered all of my mental faculties. Once Pam gave me back my glasses, I was able to communicate via her PDA. Yes, I can swear quite eloquently via text. Confused the shit out of the intensive care staff when Pam would mention that "Teresa said" this or that. When she showed them what I'd typed on the PDA no one was really worried about permanent brain damage. Yes, I said damn and a bunch of other obscenities about respiratory consults and the definition of "soon" to a great many people while never speaking a word aloud...

So when you wonder why I tax my body, that's the reason. I got a second chance. To quote my anesthesiologist, I'm not wasting this chance. Yes, occasionally my body fights my social schedule. I try to accommodate my body but also be cognizant of the gift I've been given. I have a chance to really live life. And I'll be damned before I abandon or spit in the eye of the chance I've been given.

Hopefully this has given you some insight into why I do what I do and that sometimes I am required (OK, forced) to take mandatory down time to recover. It's me living my life. Living my life with a body that isn't perfect and has limitations. Thanks for listening to me...