Ways to Contribute to Wildfire Relief

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With hurricanes and earthquakes hitting parts of our world, many aren’t aware of the dangerous wildfires in the US. Currently, fires are ravaging Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, and Colorado. You can get daily updates here.

I grew up in Oregon and have family all along the west coast and northwest. It’s scary to see what these fires are doing, especially with the lack of rain. Thankfully, it’s rained a bit over the last week or so. The fires rage on, though.

If you can help, please check out the following organizations and crowdfunding projects:

There are additionally fires in Canada that affected First Nations tribes like Ashcroft earlier this year.

911! Fight Against the Cassidy-Graham Plan

white background with red vertical lines on either side; black text "911!" and red text "Fight Against the Cassidy-Graham Plan" and black text "#savetheACA #ACAsavedmylife Not Standing Still's Disease"

I posted this earlier in the week on my other site, Not Standing Still’s Diseasebut wanted to repost here.

Not only do we have to fight to protect the ADA, we still have to fight for healthcare.

I’m starting to worry that this is going to be every fucking quarter, but I digress.

You can read the 141-paged plan (referred to as Cassidy-Graham, Graham-Cassidy, Graham-Cassidy-Heller, and Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson) but here’s the scoop on what this bill would do:

  • Eliminates subsidies for private insurance
  • Ends Medicaid expansion
  • Caps Medicaid money, leaving millions of people uninsured
  • Allows waivers to charge sick/ill/disabled patients more (fucking high-risk pools)
  • Stops requirements on ACA-required benefits
  • Repeals tax credits for middle class
  • Puts up barriers to health insurance for low-income people (and removes subsidies)

Cassidy and others have said this block grant program would simply give money to the states for them to decide. It’s essentially shifting ACA-type stuff to states rights type stuff, acting as though states could then keep ACA programs in place. Without the support at the federal level – and with a large number of anti-ACA governors – this won’t be the case.

One scary thing to note is that the Congressional Budget Office won’t have enough time to evaluate the bill before September 30th. This is the last day this bill could be passed with 50 votes (or 51 with VPence). Otherwise, filibuster could prevent the bill from being passed.

Graham-Cassidy-Heller (ACA Repeal) Simple Summary - Repeal and Replace is back. Take it seriously. Here's what it does: *Estimated 32 million will lose coverage within 10 years (not yet scored) *Ends Medicaid expansion. Health care for 11 million low-income adults. *Ends all subsidies for the exchange, replaced by a smaller and declining "block grant" *Block grant doesn't have to be spent on same population *Cuts coverage for low income seniors, children and people w disabilities by 7% by 2026 with a "per capita cap" (Yes, that's right -- a block grant AND a Lee capita cap) *Ends Federal protections on pre-existing conditions, life time caps and essential benefits. 50% of states expected to do so. *Ends all cost sharing payments to low income Americans *Ends all funding for coverage by 2026; 100% afterwards *Averages would be dramatically different: 20 states estimated to lose 35-60% of funding to move money to rural, red states *CBO has not estimated impact on premiums, but likely 20% spike next year *Would likely be presented to the House as "take it or leave it" if passes Senate *Provide no funding for recessions, natural disasters, public health emergencies, or price spikes *Targets women's health/family planning *Uses the same "50 votes" only partisan technique to pass; upends all bipartisan progress of the last two weeks - Source: Centers for Budget and Policy, prior estimates
Source: Andy Slavitt’s Twitter; see alt-text for description

This is a more radical version of repeal-and-replace efforts so far.

I’m tired of fighting, so I’m sure you are, too. If we don’t fight this one, though, we lose any progress we’ve made up to now.

What to do now:

  • Contact your Senators (especially if you live in South Carolina, Louisiana, Nevada, or Wisconsin)
  • Protest and picket (if able)
  • Get loud on social media
  • Send letters to the editors or reach out to your local news to explain your concerns

Some organizations opposed to this bill:

  • AARP
  • ALS Association
  • America’s Essential Hospitals
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Cancer Society Action Network
  • American College of Physicians
  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
  • American Diabetes Association
  • American Heart Association
  • American Lung Association
  • American Osteopathic Association
  • American Psychiatric Association
  • Arthritis Foundation
  • Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
  • Family Voices
  • JDRF
  • Los Angeles LGBT Center
  • Lutheran Services America
  • March of Dimes
  • National Health Council
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society
  • National Organization for Rare Diseases
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Volunteers of America
  • WomenHeart

Further reading:

Ways to Help with Earthquake Relief

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I know that so many of us have been focused on recovery post-hurricanes. Right now, though, Mexico also needs our help.

On September 7th, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake ripped through Chiapas and Oaxaca. On the 19th, a 7.1 magnitude quake shook areas near Mexico City – and affected areas already hit on the 7th.

Brigada de Rescate Topos (website currently down) goes into fallen buildings to help get people – dead or alive – out. You can send them money via PayPal using the email donativos@brigada-rescate-topos.org.

You can buy goods from Amazon for the Mexican Red Cross’ wishlist.

Project Paz, a non-profit with roots in NYC and El Paso, TX, is collecting donations to help with recovery efforts.

Direct Relief is working in the area.

Salma Hayek is raising money for UNICEF’s relief efforts.

You can donate through GoFundMe campaigns or YouCaring, too. Some notable campaigns:

I realize the featured photo looks so happy. I got to visit Mexico earlier this year and took this beautiful photo right before leaving. My family has always had strong ties to Mexico, and these earthquakes break my heart.

Updated September 22

Flogging Ended My Year-Long Fibro Flare #KinkySexTips

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I’ve always been intrigued by BDSM and kink. I recently wrote a post about how the scene can bring useful things to anyone, especially in illness spaces. Naturally, when I attended the University of Guelph Sexuality Conference back in June, I hung out in their BDSM exploratorium.

The exploratorium was a very safe and respectful space, open to newbies and advanced kinksters to learn more about various kinds of play. It was great to be able to test out things, figure out what I was interested in, and talk with others about how my chronic pain might change things up.

I tried low-temp wax play and decided it wasn’t for me. Next, I had the same reaction with electrical play/e-stim, though I think that’s because of how much I utilize my TENS unit. I watched some rope play and hands-only impact play (punching, spanking, etc). Both were interesting to observe and I definitely want to do more with rope play in the future.

One station was set up for sensation play. It was so interesting. Scratchy, soft, leather, rough, hard, hands – we played with a wide variety of sensations on my forearms. Aside from being pleasurable, it was cool to be so present in my body for a positive reason.

The station I enjoyed the most was set up for impact play using instruments like floggers and paddles. My first go in the room, I spent time watching and observing. The second time, though, I offered to be a tester.

I got hit with a paddle, whip, flogger, and canes. During the negotiation process, I agreed to be hit just about anywhere, but the focus was on my back, butt, hips, and thighs. I had a few good bruises that lasted for a few weeks.

At one point, the person flogging me heard me go “Oooh!” My favorite thing is that they checked in, as did others watching, to make sure that was a good reaction – and it was.

After the event was over, I noticed that my pain was gone. I figured it would come back later in the day… but it didn’t. Now, I live with chronic pain, so it’s not that I was completely pain-free. However, the pain in my shoulders and neck was gone. It stayed that way for about a week despite a 15-hour drive back home.

Even after, though, my fibromyalgia pain was gone. I had been dealing with a fibro flare up for around a year – probably more – and it was finally gone. My rheumatologist and I had tried a bunch of stuff to get it to leave, but everything was basically a temporary solution.

Kirsten (short dark hair and black top) looks at a poster in a doctor office of the human anatomy/muscular system

Hell, even acupuncture – which worked at first – had lost efficacy.

It’s been just over two months since then. Despite the fact that I’m struggling to get adequate pain control and medical care for other things, my fibro is still cleared up. I have moments where it acts up more, but without a full flare – and mostly without the allodynia that was taking over my life.

I mentioned it to my rheumatologist at our latest appointment and she was ecstatic. When I told her how, she was really intrigued. We believe that, somehow, the BDSM play helped to rejigger the pain messages my body was sending. Researchers believe that mixed up pain signals are what fibro essentially is, after all.

In fact, ORCHIDS is going to do some research on BDSM and chronic pain to see what we can find! Stay tuned!

I can’t say that this will work for other people. What I can say is that I wish I had tried it a lot sooner instead of dealing with untreated pain.

If you’re interested in exploring BDSM tools more, I highly suggest checking out the collection Peepshow Toys has. SheVibe has some great stuff, too. In addition to being affiliates of ours, their shops are also just amazing.

This post is a part of the Kinky Sex Tips Blogfest ’17 run by Mona Darling. Mona is a former dominatrix who does sexual coaching for women. Make sure you check out her site because she’s running an amazing giveaway associated with these posts right now that includes coaching and great gifts!

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Vibrant Anniversary Sale

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Can you believe our pals at Vibrant are officially a year old now? I can’t!

Save 25% on everything from right now until 11:59 pm Mountain Time on Sunday night if you use the code SURPRISE1. Click here to browse.

You can save 45% off the Ola Vibrator using VIP45.

As always, you can save 10% with the code CHRONICSEX. This is not applicable for use with other coupon codes, though.