The Magic of Salt

November 7, 2009
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Crystallized Salt Under Microscope

Is salt our new magic potion?

If you’re the Winchester brothers, you protect all the windows and doors from demons and witches with lines of salt.  If you are superstitious, you throw a pinch of salt over your left shoulder to ward off evil spirits  after spilling the precious substance.  If you’re an Internet junkie, you may have received an email purporting to be tips on preventing the swine flu from a doctor in India, which among other things, recommends that one swab the mucous linings of the nose with salt water, and gargle with warm salt water:

3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don’t trust salt). H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don’t underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.

4. Similar to 3 above,
clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. Not everybody may be good at Jala Neti or Sutra Neti (very good Yoga asanas to clean nasal cavities), but blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.

And if you’re a piercee, a nice warm sea salt soak can do wonders for your piercings. Sea Salt Soaks (sometimes abbreviated by piercees as SSS) are part of the standard aftercare recommendations for most piercings.  I’ve written about salt in various places in this blog, most notably in the aftercare posts, like Chicken Soup for Your Piercings and Aftercare in Detail:The Salt of Life. But is salt really a cure-all, or is it just another superstition?

salt 41MM087P13L._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-big,TopRight,35,-73_OU01_SS75_According to Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky (quoting Jungian pycschologist Ernest Jones):

“In all ages salt has been invested with a significance far exceeding that inherent in its natural properties, interesting and important as these are.  Homer calls it a devine substance, Plato describes it as especially dear to the Gods, and we . . . note the importance attached to it in religious ceremonies, covenants, and magical charms.”

Salt is an essential nutrient for human bodies; therefore we attach great importance to it.  It’s associated with loyalty and friendship, truth and wisdom.  It may have been a key factor in domesticating animals like cattle, it was one of the first international trade commodities, and the entire world used it for preserving food before refrigeration.

Salt does have mild antiseptic properties, but what it really does for wound care, like piercings, is dessicate the wound; i.e., dries it out. In fact, a “super-solution” is sometimes prescribed for troubleshooting pesky hypergranulated piercings, as John Lopez recommended to a piercee with a problem growth near her triangle piercing:

Sounds like a classic hyper-granulation to me. Thats and explosion of capillary rich connective tissue. I’d suggest you dry that puppy out…hard. Not the surrounding tissue, just the growth. Because the piercing is genital it’s hard to do, but you’ll need to do something, right? Here’s what I’d suggest: Mix a strong salt water solution, 2 teaspoons into a cup of water. That’s EIGHT (8) times stronger than normal. Apply this directly to the growth NOTthe general area. You can use a cotton tipped applicator for this. Do it several times per day for a few minutes at a time.

Piercees take great stock in using sea salt (not iodized salt, and preferably pure salt with no additives) on our piercings.  But our medical doctors are skeptical. The email quoted above turned out not to be from the purported author (always check for that kind of stuff, preferably before passing it on!), and the reaction to the suggestions from the medical establishment was dismissive.  “I don’t know of any evidence basis for gargling preventing influenza,” Randy Taplitz, clinical director of infectious diseases at USCD Medical Center (from the Snopes page).  I also read where the gargling thing is a holdover from the 1918 flu outbreak, which I find interesting, because my mother always made me gargle with salt water when sick.  However,   The Mayo Clinic says that salt water gargles can temporarily relieve sore throat discomfort, and that saline sprays are beneficial for colds.  You can check out the real H1N1 tips page from the Center for Disease Control here.

Even though the email was fake and the doctors are skeptical, I don’t think it would hurt to follow them.  Based on my experience, salt water solution can be beneficial in healing.  I can tell you when I had a nasty green spot on a healing surgical incision, the only thing that made it go away, was a sea salt soak.  Cleared it right up, but my doctor was like, WTF?  I’m not a doctor, or a chemical researcher, so I can’t provide a definitive answer, but I woke up with a sore throat this morning, so if you’ll excuse me, I’m just gonna go gargle . . .

Top pic is from Williamgja’s Photostream on Flickr.  Salt book pic is from Amazon. com.


Do’s & Tattoos

November 3, 2009

dos photo


This is a pic of one of my local studios.  I dropped in on a whim on a Saturday afternoon, because I was curious.  Is having a hair salon together with tattoos and piercings a good idea?  Tattooers and piercers have been lumped together for a while, pretty much by default, but hair?  It makes sense, in a way, but it’s pretty much frowned on in the industry, both for hygienic reasons, and because most often hair salons offer only gunned piercings, which are crap.

The most positive part of the visit was the very nice owner of the studio, who graciously showed me around, but I have to say I was disappointed.  Or maybe puzzled.  Although the sign on the front indicated that the shop opens at 10 am on Saturdays, at just after noon, there were no piercers or hairstylists present, and the receptionist wandered in while I was there.

Where’s the door? I was given a tour, but with no mention of anti-contamination procedures, no “this is where our autoclave is” or anything.  I was shown the “piercing room” which had no door, and opened into a tattooing area.  There was a curtain rod . . . but no curtain in evidence.  This burns me–what kind of piercer makes no provision for privacy for the clients?  I was told that the shop had two piercers, and if one had been there, I would have inquired about their procedures in more detail.  But there was no jewelry on display at all just a lot of old skateboarding magazines.  No tattooer or piercer portfolios in the reception area, either.

So, how would a potential piercee be able to evaluate the services, cleanliness, or jewelry?   You’ll notice that there’s a beautifully done sign in the front, and there was obviously a lot of care given to the look  of the shop, but it’s all style no substance. At least there was no loud rock music and groups of people hanging around smoking in front, but the whole thing is so unprofessional.  Where are the employees?  Where is the jewelry?  Where’s the damn door to the piercing room? The only people who were there were two guys, presumably tattooers, who were working on drawings.  This is further indication that piercing is treated as a poor stepchild in the body art industry.

I’ve often said that I live in a podunk town, and there are no good piercers, and unfortunately I find no evidence at Do’s and Tattoos to contradict this.  Honestly, it was Halloween afternoon, so maybe people were off doing other things that day.  Maybe it’s the economy, and maybe it’s just poor business practices.  But what if I had wanted a piercing?  Or a haircut?  I need more than a nice reception.   And the apostrophe bugs me.

Should I tell my husband or surprise him?

October 28, 2009


Piercings, Partners, and Problems.

What happens when your partner disapproves of your lifestyle choices?  An interest in  piercings can seem incomprehensible to others.  Parents, friends, spouses who don’t “get it” can be a big problem for the piercee.   What if you are thinking about getting a piercing, say, a genital piercing, but are unsure about what your partner would think?  Should you, as one lady asked, spring it as a surprise or talk it over beforehand?

It’s a complex problem and unfortunately there is no single answer.  Similar to the plight of teenagers who want to modify their bodies, there’s the issue of whose body is it, really? Are you free to do anything you want to your body if you are in a relationship?  Does your spouse have any rights in that regard?

Here are my thoughts:

–If you are a single adult, your body absolutely is your own to play with and modify as you see fit.  There are other considerations, of course, such as employment, aesthetics, and health.  Further, there’s always a risk that your close compatriots will object anyway.

–If you are married, or in a committed relationship, your body is still your own.  That is, I still think you have the right to make decisions about your own body; BUT–I think you should take your significant other’s reactions and wishes into consideration. It’s like any other issue in a relationship and communication is important.  So is sex; and if you are planning to pierce nipples or genitals, you absolutely need to consider your partner’s feelings.

–Sometimes the piercing debate can be a symptom of other problems in a relationship.  A common scenario is a middle-aged couple who are growing apart after years of marriage.  One spouse feels restless, wants to spice up their sex life, and suddenly becomes interested in body art.  The other spouse is pretty horrified (“it’s deviant! you’re a pervert!), and a big fight ensues over the piercings, even though the real problem is more complex.  Marriages have broken up over less.

–It’s also worth mentioning you should never get a piercing just because your partner wants you to. No one should pressure you to alter your body; unfortunately it does happen.  It’s your body, and if you don’t want those holes in there for yourself, don’t do it!

I can’t give relationship advice, other than to be patient and considerate, and to communicate.  If you want a piercing but suspect your partner may not approve, bring up the subject.  And bring it up again, because it may take some time for your partner to get used to the idea.  Here’s the progression:

  • –Piercings?  That’s weird and perverted!
  • –Piercings?  Well, they’re kind of interesting–on other people.  Hmm, maybe they can spice up our sex life?
  • –Piercings?  MUST HAVE NOW!

And no, I don’t recommend surprising your husband with a shiny new VCH out of the blue.  Bring it up casually first, and if he recoils, you know you have some buttering up to do!

Disclaimer:  I’m single, so I don’t have to worry about this myself!

PA Panel

October 18, 2009

pa 1 128813299_24c6957fb8_m

This is a continuation of the PA Project Part 1.  Sorry it’s taken me so long to get this up, but I want to thank my friends, Bash, Jacobite, and DC, who have shared their wisdom and experiences with this piercing with us all. I asked them to discuss choice of jewelry, stretching and gauges,  condom use, sex with a PA, how they solved the “pee problem,” whether the PA is a “gateway piercing,” and other tips on living with a Prince Albert piercing.  Without further ado, let’s hear what these gentlemen have to say.


I think that the wisest thing that should be done and probably seldom is, would be to determine the gauge of the jewelry that the piercee wants to end with. Then the piercee can discuss placement of the piercing with his pierer to make sure that there is enough flesh to accomodate the jewelry without fear of it ripping out.

There are many  suggestions as to how to handle the peeing problem.  If you look at the floor in public restrooms there must be a lot of men who cannot aim without having the P.A. problem.  My best advice is to just sit down and be done with it.

For the PDB crowed it seems that most started with a princie, myself included.  After that it often gets addictive.  If you get a Prince Albert, you have half an Apadravya.

Prince Albert Piercing

Prince Albert Piercing


It wasn’t so many years ago I sneaked in the door[of  the Tribalectic forum] without any piercings, feeling I didn’t have much to add.  Yet look around now and see how many guys like me are getting a PA as their first piercing in their mid 30s. Having been informed by a colleague who already had a PA that there were benefits for both my partner and me in getting a PA, I did a little research finally getting my PA on my 14th wedding anniversary.  The hardest part was actually making the decision to get my closest & best friend of 38 years poked with a needle–my first piercing now 6 years later I have 9 piercings and 6 tattoos.

Just a quick pinch and the needle was through; a 3 or 4/10 on a pain scale (I’ve endured much more pain on a visit to the dentist).  The most uncomfortable part was the receiving tube and fitting the jewelry.   For preference, get pierced at 10 or 8 gauge and immediately stretch to 8 or 6 gauge to minimize bleeding using a CBR.  Try to gauge the diameter of the ring you require before you go visit your piercer, measuring while erect the difference between the frenum at the bottom to the urethra opening up at the to (some guys are growers some are showers when they gain an erection).

Being a keen cyclist, when I initially had my PA pierced, the vibration as I cycled along the cobbled (granite sets) streets of my home city[Jacobite lives in Edinburgh] proved uncomfortable enough that I avoided these streets or had to stand out of the saddle while healing for the first 10 days or so.  Once healed I knew where theses streets were for another reason–the sensations  were not all together unpleasurable; even stimulating perhaps.

For the most part I tend to go commando, only wearing underwear when the situation dictates a little support or restraint, and then I choose boxer briefs.  The only problems I’ve had going commando were the one time with a Tribal Dream Ring fitted and attending a Highland Celidh wearing a Kilt and dancing the evening away.  Got home to find the jewelry had worked loose, as it’s just held together by a wee bolt/screw.  Alas, condoms I can’t help you with.  I had the snip before my PA and only wore them for a month or so during healing, although I do remember being disconcerted to see a little blood in the condom, due to me being too impatient to wait for healing to try out my new toy after 6 or 7 days.  This continued on occasions until I stretched to 3.2mm (8 g) or 4 mm (6 g) when the cheese cutter effect stopped.

Sex, whether solo or sex with a partner– certainly it takes two of you to find out what works best for each of you.  This may involve compromises.  I’ve found that thinner gauges pinched her more. This lessened as I increased the gauge of the ring.  As you stretch you may be able to reduce the diameter of the ring overall.  Many guys I know have done this, and it makes it easier to insert as the jewelry hugs the glans more closely, as well as being more comfortable for oral with less risk to teeth.  Larger gauges do seem to be better received–upto a point of about 00 gauge, which proved less comfortable than 0 gauge.

It cannot be stressed enough that this is a piercing for both you and your partner and you both need input into making it work for you. That might mean that you have to take it out for some positions.  I do have to take mine out but I never forget to put it back in, even for solo sex there is just something missing if I don’t have my PA in.

Would I do it again?  Hell  yea although I’d do it 20 years earlier!

Titanium Segment Rings

Titanium Segment Rings


I wouldn’t conmsider a PA a “starter piercing” for one reason: Piercing genitals is a real gut check for most people.  Nearly pain free and a yawner to heal it may be, but there is a psychological chasm between an earlobe and a penis that all of the assurances in the world will not close. Gateway? Perhaps.  It was for me, but for many it will be all they need/want.

There is no “best jewelry.”  I’ve tried just about everything, and they all have their pluses and minuses.  My favorite would have to be segment rings in titanium, because partners are more likely to find them comfortable/tolerable, urination is generally more easily managed; also the Ti is lightweight, and less prone to stretching the piercing.  On the subject of weight, the feel of that new weight swinging around “down there” is, at first, novel and pleasurable.  The body, however, adjusts quickly, and in just a couple of days it can no longer be felt.  Also, for me at least, there is such a thing as too much weight.  This is undoubtedly tmi, but when I was waring a 9 g stainless ring, it caused my penis, when flacid, to assume a long, thin profile.  I didn’t like the look at all.

Urination is a problem, but it is  manageable.  It varies from day to day with the jewelry worn, gauge of the piercing, how much oversize the piercing is relative to the jewelry, and whether the peen is pointing due north.  Feng shui is important! 😉  There are a number of strategies for dealing with this.  The most effective is to simply sit.  Next best is the twist and pee method; sounds awful, but it’t not, at all.  In all cases, a guy needs to pay attention. Wool gathering leads to accidents!

I don’t get many questions–most, I guess, deal with urination.  That, and some guys are really bugged when a bead disappears into their urethras. It should be a non-issue, but so far I’ve not had much luck convincing them of that.

I’m a patient guy, and go months/years between stretches, so they’ve been pretty non-eventful.  I actually don’t like this characeristic of PAs; they stretch on their own, and then don’t want to close up at least all the way.  This means you are stuck with whatever decision you may have made, good or bad.

Men are stupid; we’re obsessed with our dicks, and we do extreme things to them. I’m talking about stretching, here.  There is a point where jewelry begins to obstruct the urethra.  This has two effects, one demonstrable, the other theoretical.  The obstruction creates back pressure, which leads to “bypassin” during urination, complicating an already challenging situation.  Also, I believe that this obsruction inhibits the normal flushing of of the urethra by the urine stream, and sets up a sitution where bacteria can find a happy home.  This is, as I said, theoretical, and I have no idea what the critical jewelry size is, if in fact it’s a factor at all.  In my case, I stretched to 0g, decided to downsize, and the fistula retreated to about 4.

#1 Tip:  Patience, Grasshopper, Patience.

Again, thanks to my friends for sharing their thoughts on this very popular piercing.  I hope you can use some of these tips to make your own piercing a happy experience.

Pic of segment rings from Steel Navel.


The PA Project Pt. 1

September 13, 2009

pa 2 3335961648_60189d9325_mPrince Albert  Piercing

The Prince Albert piercing is one of the most popular  genital piercings for men.  It’s decorative, it’s functional, and it really doesn’t go through all that much skin, so it’s a much less scary piercing than it might appear.

The eponymous prince was the husband of Britain’s Queen Victoria.  ( Wikipedia entry on Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg.) The story goes that men of those days used such a ring through the end of the their penis to tie it away in order to wear the close fitting breeches of their day.

This is a myth! Although there may be some tiny kernel of truth, more likely it was made up by Doug Malloy, an influential early piercing enthusiast.  I’m not a clothing historian, but it would be interesting to do some scholarly research on this and on the claim that some Victorian ladies pierced their nipples.  But I’m getting sidetracked . . . Regardless of satrorial utility,  it’s a very fun piercing and easy to get.  Maybe too easy–is the PA a “gateway piercing?” Maybe–piercings are habit forming!

PA Piercing

PA Piercing

A PA, or Prince Albert piercing is made on the underside of the penis at the juncture of the head and shaft, the jewelry rests within the urethra and is worn out the tip of the  . . . urethral opening,” according to The Piercing Bible (p. 156).   For further surfing, here is the link to the BME Encyclopedia entry:  PA. And here is the actual Wikipedia entry:  Prince Albert Piercing.

If you are considering this piercing, here are a few points to think about:

–This piercing stretches easily, and is likely to be permanent, so consider placement and stretching options carefully. Before the poke, discuss with your piercer how big you are likely to go.  There are also options for expansion or addition to this piercing, such as a Reverse PA or an apadravya.  A project with multiple piercings should be planned in advance with your piercer.

–A typical starting gauge would be 10 or 12, and healing is relatively fast–one or two months for the majority of healing to take place.  It’s a bleeder, so don’t be surprised if you need to keep things wrapped up for a few days.

–Urination may be permanently affected.  Just so you know . . .

Don’t overuse your new toy! Give it a rest and let it heal.

–After the initial healing period, a certain amount of trial and error may be needed to determine the best jewelry for you.  Circular barbells, captive bead rings (CBRs), segment rings, and curved barbells are all possible choices.Here’s a pic of a Tribal Dream ring from Wildcat, which PA newbies can aspire to.  And a link to more info at Steel Navel.

Tribal Dream Ring

Tribal Dream Ring

Unfortunately, not having the equipment, I’m not an expert in male genital piercings, so I’ve asked some friends of mine to share their experience and advice with this piercing.   In Part 2 of the PA Project, they’ll share some drabbles of wisdom:  pearls, drops, or just shaken off.

I’ll be back for Pt. 2!

Statue pic from mira66’s photostream at Flickr.  Drawing by cloudlb, after the much nice drawings by Jennifer Klepacki in The Piercing Bible.  Jewelry pic from Steel Navel, with permission.

Let’s Talk About Nipples!

September 5, 2009


Nipple Piercings, that is.

I have been noticing sooo many questions about nipple piercings.  They’re great piercings, but fussy healers.  Here are some pointers for the curious or sore:

Nipple piercings are great all-around piercings.

Almost anyone can get their nipples pierced, whether you are a man or a woman; whether you have tiny man nipples, large breasts with heavy nipples, or small breasts; even inverted nipples can usually be pierced.  Nipple piercings look great and FEEL great! Many piercees report increased sensitivity and pleasure with their pierced nipples.  I certainly enjoy mine!

You must,  of course, be 18 years old (in the US) to get a nipple piercing, and visit a professional piercer.

A Word about Pain

Are you concerned about the pain of piercings? Nipple piercings are widely reported to be one of the most painful piercings around; and it’s true, they can be quite painful.  But keep in mind 1) that perception of pain differs from person to person,  so that one person may report such-and-such a piercing as the most painful eva! and the next person could say, meh–pain? what pain?; 2) The actual push of the needle only lasts a few seconds, and is completely bearable.

A good piercer who is experienced and deft makes all the difference, too, so spend some time searching for and vetting your piercer for a less painful experience. The second nipple piercing is likely to hurt more if you are getting both done at the same time, so some piercing studios offer simultaneous nipple piercings with two piercers.  The idea here is to get through all the pain at once, so if you are very concerned about the pain, this might be an option for you.

If you’re still concerned about the pain–maybe piercing isn’t for you.  Pain is part of the point!

One or two? Up, down, or all around?

People question whether they should get nipples pierced one at a time, or both at the same time.  Or even if they should get both done at all.   This is really a matter of personal preference; some people like to be symmetrical and feel they would be “lopsided” with only one; others like the quirkiness of just one.

The other big consideration is that freshly pierced nipples shouldn’t be played with, or contaminated with mouth or hand contact during the initial healing period.   This  means leaving them alone for at least a few months, and limited play for many more months.  Some people are really “boob” people and therefore want to get one at a time; one to heal; and one for play.  Or, you can get them both done at one time and get it over with.  The choice is yours.

A piercee also faces another choice:  vertical, horizontal, or somewhere in between.  If you want to wear ring style jewelry, go with the traditional horizontal placement.  However, vertical or diagonal piercings are also perfectly fine.  I myself have one vertical and one horizontal nipple piercing, which worked for the size and shape of my breasts.  Discuss your options with your piercer.

Choice of jewelry

Rings: CBRs, or ring-style jewelry, used to be the jewelry of choice for nipples.  There are two problems with rings, however, which should be taken into consideration and discussed with your piercer when deciding on jewelry.

First, the diameter of the ring must be big enough so that the part that goes through the flesh is fairly straight.  This makes for a diameter much larger than you might expect, especially for large nipples, and unfortunately, many people have been pierced with rings that are too small, causing them to “salute” and not heal well.

The second problem with rings as initial jewelry is that they are big, and they move.  In other words, they get twisted around, flip up and down, get bumped by things–all to the detriment of the healing flesh tunnel inside.  Most piercees have found through experience that during healing, the less the jewelry moves, the better.

This is not to say that you can’t heal nipple piercings with rings; many people have, but personally, I would go with . . .

Barbells: A well-fitting barbell is a great choice for initial jewelry.  They are low-profile and don’t move around much.  Properly sized, they allow for a little space at either end to allow oxygen to get to the wound.  You don’t want the balls smashed up against the nipples and they must be big enough so they are not sucked into the flesh tunnel.  Good measurements, and sometimes further adjustments are necessary. (Avoid piercers who use a “one size fits all” approach.)  Some piercers like to use curved barbells, which they feel conform to the shape of the breast well (especially larger female breasts).

Material: As always, quality jewelry is a must!  Look for good quality, internally threaded highly polished steel or titanium. (ETA:  Bioplast is also an option for new piercings.  See comment below.)

A straight titanium barbell is a fine choice for initial piercing, and for long-term wear.  Highly recommended!

What gauge to get?

A “standard” nipple piercing is usually 14 gauge.  You can get a bigger initial gauge if you have large nipples, and your piercer agrees.   Male nipples are usually pretty small and therefore pierced a bit through the areola, and so could support slightly larger, perhaps a 12 gauge.

Both my nipples were pierced at 8 gauge, which is unusually big.  But I like large gauges and sturdy piercings.

But wait! There’s more!

In my next post, I’ll discuss healing,  long-term wear, and I’ll give you my top tip for successful nipple piercings!

nipple 3386865450_6dcdaa0186_m

This fine pic is from Bobster855’s photostream at Flickr. He says they both rejected on him, “I guess you need to leave them alone in order for them to heal properly.”  Yup.


3 Lifehacks for piercees

August 23, 2009


Here are 3 things I’ve learned which have come in handy as a piercee, and in life:

Pat, don’t rub

I swear I learned this one as a young girl from Patty Duke, but I can’t find a clip of her washing her face to corroborate:  When washing and drying the face, pat–don’t rub!    Skin is an amazing organ, but it should be treated delicately.  Skin, and piercings, should also be kept dry.  Piercings are often placed in folds of skin–in ears, in genitals, in navels, and bacteria just love warm, damp environments. Humid climates can also contribute to the problem, and you don’t want to have to bring out the tea tree oil to combat fungal infections.

Therefore, healing piercings should be washed gently with mild soap, or special antimicrobial wound care soap like Satin or Provon.  No need to scrub vigorously, force the jewelry to move, rotate it, or anything like that.  You are growing new skin cells in there, and too much or rough movement can damage them.  After washing, carefully dry around your piercings with a clean paper towel — by patting.

So, wash behind your ears, but dry there, too!  Wash your face delicately, and don’t scrub.  In terms of wound care (like piercings) clean and dry is also the way to go.  The second-to-last thing my surgeon said to me after my operation was to dry my incision carefully, and “Pat, don’t rub!” Keep your piercing dry, and treat your skin gently.


Breathe Deep

Knowing how to do deep breathing is a skill I initially learned in school–first as a relaxation exercise, and then for voice lessons.  I’m not a yogi, to regale you with how the conscious control of the breath is a link to inner enlightenment, but I will tell you this:  Learn how to breathe deeply, through the diaphragm, and you can use this skill to alleviate stress and deal with pain. (Sorry, no nifty hand-drawn graphic for this one, because I can’t draw worth a darn.)

Like  the pain of childbirth.  Or, like the pain of piercing.  You know, when your piercing tells you to “take a deep breath, now let it out . . . ”  That’s mostly a distraction technique, but if you have these mad deep-breathing skills,  you should have been using them already, during the prep time.  Anticipation is the hardest!  Here’s how I do my relaxation breathing:

  1. Lie down on your back in a comfortable position.  Let your body feel relaxed, and start to take deep breaths.
  2. Proper deep breathing expands your diaphragm, which is below your chest.  Your tummy and back should both expand outward.  If your chest is rising up and down–you’re doing it wrong.  Take a deep breath in with your nose, pause a moment, and slowly exhale with your mouth.  After you think you have exhaled everything, pause again–there is more air being expelled than you think.
  3. Now, starting at the feet, with each exhale, think of sending the exhalation and your breath into your body.  Feel your feet getting heavy, warm, and relaxed.  Imagine the blood flowing, the  capillaries expanding with the energy of your breath.  Now, move on up the body–the calves, the thighs, the buttocks.  Some parts of the body are more stubborn than others, and may need several breaths to relax, or “cover” the entire area.  Move up the back part of your body, with your back and neck (big trouble spots!) then do the shoulders, arms, and the front of the torso.  Lastly, relax your head (you can get the neck here, too); and — very important!  — the face, especially the cheeks and jaw, which hold lots of tension (I learned that in EST!).
  4. You are now pretty relaxed, and breathing very deeply.  Stay that way for a while, enjoying the sensation, then–get up!

There are other methods, many of them, for using breath to relax, in the dentist’s chair, the doctor’s office, after receiving bad news, for singing (okay, I don’t do that anymore).  Dr. Andrew Weil talks about breath a lot, and you can find more info on that here:  Three Breathing Exercises.


When in Doubt, Salt it!

So, we all know that sea salt soaks have become standard aftercare for piercings.  Salt is an essential compound for human life and has many useful properties (good to know if you ever need to cure fish or protect yourself from evil witches).  It also has medicinal and antiseptic properties.  As a kid, my mother would make me gargle with salt water to sooth a sore throat, and I still do that.  As a piercee, I learned to do sea salt soaks, to bring oxygen and healing to the wound, to remove, by osmosis, foreign matter, lymph, and dead skin from the piercing site.  The proper proportions, as illustrated above, are of course, important, and a good salt without dirt, or extraneous anti-caking agents, is also recommended.  But the basic premise remains, and you can use it for other wounds.

After my abdominal surgery, my 5-inch incision was tricky to heal.  It had a bad spot–a green and smelly inch which did not heal as fast as the rest.  My doc didn’t seem too concerned, but in these days of runaway evil bacteria, I was pretty freaked.  It was ugly.  It hurt.  And just keeping it clean and dry (patting, not rubbing!) didn’t seem to be improving things.  So — out came the salt.  I started doing regular sea salt soaks on the bad spot, just as if it were a piercing, and — voila!  No more bad spot.

I told this to my doc, and he just looked at me like I was crazy.  “Salt?  Why?”  Because it works!  (Don’t take this as medical advice–I’m not a doctor, okay?  Use common sense.)

We are all the sum of our experiences.  I like how my life experience has prepared me to deal with my body piercings, and how piercings have taught me lessons I can use in the rest of my life. Who knew?

(If you need more info on how to do sea salt soaks for your piercings, look here and here. )