When I was up at DCDungeon about a week and a half ago, I finally got to play on the Catherine wheel that’s there.  For those not familiar with DCDungeon, on the back wall of Studio C is a large wooden wheel that rotates.  It can be rotated by machine or manually.  It has handholds at the top, leather cuffs at the bottom, and can be used for inversion play, among other things.

This is what the wheel looks like:

Illustration of the Catherine wheel at DCDungeon

On this wheel, referring to it like a clock, the bottom’s head goes at approximately 12:00.  Then the two handholds are at approximately 10:00 and 2:00.  The cuffs to strap legs into are at 5:00 and 7:00.  Then at the center is a back pad, and straps to hold the bottom to the wheel.

And for those wondering, yes – I drew this illustration of the wheel myself.

Prior fo this particular night, I had gotten on the wheel more as a matter of curiosity than for actually playing on it.  I had strapped myself to the pad, gotten people to strap my ankles in, and held the handholds and turned a little, but not knowing what exactly to do on it, I didn’t spend much time on it.  Now, it was time to take the plunge.  I wanted to be fully tied to it and played with while on it in a matter similar to what happened a few months prior with someone else on the same wheel.

And that we did!  Hope was happy to help me explore that idea, and so she helped me get onto the wheel and strapped and tied in place.  After stripping down to my birthday suit, I stepped up onto the wheel.  Then I blindfolded myself, since I really don’t want to see it coming.  I want to be surprised by it when it touches my skin, whatever “it” may be.  Then we ran into a problem: I didn’t fit too well with the handholds.  I don’t know if I’m too tall or my arms are too long, but if I held onto the handholds where they were, it caused an uncomfortable feeling in my shoulders.  What we ended up doing was going alongside the handholds and tying my arms to the sides of the spoked with rope.  Thus my arms were extended out straight.  I could also hold the edge of the wheel if I wanted to, which was about the only control I had of anything while on the wheel.  To hold the edge of the wheel or not was the only thing I could do, and that was kind of inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

The only thing we didn’t do that I like to do was to gag me.  As per usual, I initially wanted to be ballgagged.  I love my ballgags, and I like wearing them when I am tied in such a way that I can’t remove them.  But Hope had a very good reason for why not to gag me: ballgags make me drool.  A lot.  While upside down, my nose would be beneath my mouth, and the saliva could drip into my nose and cause a problem.  And the last thing that anyone wants to do is to have to call my mother and tell her that her little boy was dead because he suffocated on his own spit while participating in a BDSM scene.  So the gag was out.  Would rather be safe than silent.

The scene itself was pretty amazing.  Hope and one other person turned me to various orientations on the wheel and stimulated/tortured/played with me using various instruments in the room.  I was enjoying myself quite thoroughly, as evidenced by the expression on my face.  I’m also pretty sure that I couldn’t make that expression again if I tried.  But it was great.  There’s something about having your parts played with while you’re strapped upside down to a giant wheel.  I was making all sorts of interesting sounds on the wheel, there was some heavy breathing, and my mouth was hanging open most of the time.  I called my safeword on a specific action with one if the various implements (I don’t remember what it was), but otherwise, I was having a blast.  I said, “Red on the last thing done to me,” which worked perfectly.  More specific than a general “yellow”, since everything else was great at the given intensity – just not that one thing.

I couldn’t tell you how long the scene went for.  I take my watch off during play (since rope goes where the watch normally is), and besides, being blindfolded doesn’t help with being able to tell time.  Definitely felt like a long time.  Eventually, my right arm kind of went numb, and we decided to end the scene and get me down.  I figured that due to my being tied up for a while, my arm had gone to sleep, as happened in Baltimore, and that the feeling would be back soon.

As it turned out, I wouldn’t get the feeling back in my right arm until two days later.  The top of my forearm was numb, my thumb had some numb areas, and I couldn’t hold things that well with that hand.  If I were holding an object and would reach out with my arm while holding it (like putting a plate in a microwave), my right arm would drop several inches uncommanded.  That wasn’t a fun feeling.  Turns out that the numbness wasn’t simply hands asleep, but some minor nerve damage, like a pinched nerve or something.

I believe that the culprit was the way my arms were tied to the wheel.  Because of how we had to tie me to avoid the handholds, it caused my arms to go over a corner of the spokes.  And when we turned the wheel, my body shifted a little.  Not a whole lot, but enough.  And that’s what caused the injury.  What happened is when the wheel turned, my arm would lean hard against that corner edge.  And that’s what did it.

The solution to fix this in the future, assuming we do this sort of scene again, is twofold.  First, I found out at the Rockville munch the following Wednesday that the handholds are removable via an allen wrench in the back (though I have not yet verified this in person).  And as long as I put it all back together at the end, that ought to be fine.  Then the second thing is tighter rope work to help control the shifting when the wheel turns.  Considering the nature of the scene, I don’t think the shifting can be eliminated entirely, but we should be able to control it a little more.  And with all the attach points on the wheel for rope, it’s totally doable.

I did make a complete recovery from the nerve damage, but it certainly took a lot longer than I would have preferred.  I appreciate the experience, since it was fun, and the lesson about what to do differently to enhance the safety factor for next time has been learned.