Healing Update

December 28, 2008

One week later . . .

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The chest anchor (aka microdermal, cleavage single point piercing) is being very calm.  I hardly know it’s there. It’s crusting some, but not too bad–yet.   It’s kind of an odd place for a piece of jewelry, and I’m kind of getting used to it.  I’m still not sure whether I need to hide it for work, or just ignore it or pretend it’s a stick on gem or something.

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The nipple piercing, on the other hand–

BAR TOO SHORT!

I’ll have to return to ABQ to see Noah as soon as possible to get it changed out.  The balls are sinking in to the nipple, which is not good.  (In Noah’s words, “bummer.”) I was keeping an eye on it, because I thought it might just be swelling, but–it’s definitely too short.

Sometimes there’s a bit of trial and error involved in getting the right fit for jewelry, and you never know how your body will react, either.  So I’m concentrating on keeping it clean and happy until I can get it changed out.


Anti-Experience: Pt 2

December 23, 2008

Part one can be found here.

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Marking

I can’t begin to tell you how important it is to take your time about the marking.  This is the time to communicate lifestyle considerations such as plans for further piercing near to the new one, purpose of the piercing, or what style of jewelry you would like to ultimately wear.

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Communication is key! If you have doubts, always ask the piercer.  Often they have benefit of experience and will tell you why they want to place it a certain way.  Proper placement can mean a more stable and aesthetically pleasing piercing.

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Take the time with the marking and prep work until you are comfortable.  It can be hard to assess by yourself, so having a friend give a second opinion is valuable.

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Noah is doing cleaning and prep work on me, and we discuss placement.  I also asked for an unusually large starting gauge for my nipple, 8 gauge, and he had to carefully assess whether my anatomy was suited.  After looking at my other, long-healed 8 gauge nip, he agreed to do it.

Wonderful shop that had all the jewelry I needed! ‘tho the 8 g needle and jewelry had to be statim’d.

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The Piercings

BD#1 went first with her Monroe.  It was very quick.  She let out a subdued moan, but was very brave.

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Here’s BD#1 caught in that, “oh shit” moment, right before the piercing.  Noah is well into his aftercare speech, which he wants you to focus on instead of dwelling on the pain.

Right.

Noah asked me which piercing I wanted first.  I opted for the chest piercing–ouch with the needle + a hard painful push on my chest to get the anchor inserted. Then the nipple piercing.  That was pretty painful–it seemed to take forever, but he had to push that 8 gauge needle pretty hard to get it through.  It really only took a few seconds.

In my mind, piercing is a significant event, and should be treated as such.  Pain has been a part of human transformative rites forever. You walk out of a piercing experience a different person, transformed through ritual.

So, yeah, it hurts a bit, but it’s worth it.

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The Jewelry

Dazed and Confused. Again.  Immediately after piercing, you’re so high on endorphins and jazzed and relieved it’s hard to pin down the little details.  Like jewelry and aftercare.

Make sure you know what jewelry you just bought! This can become important if you need to replace part of it, plan to stretch, or just want to buy new jewelry.  Or maybe that piercing you just got is having problems and you suspect the jewelry.   Is it stainless steel? Titanium? Who is the manufacturer?

They gave me a receipt with all the jewelry spelled out, if in abbreviations.  So, uh . . . what are all these abbreviations again? “am-at-18”? “is-tbop4”? omgwtf?

The following pics are an experiment to document my jewelry purchases.

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the surface anchor

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the barbell

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BD#1’s labret jewelry

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Bye Bye, Evolution! We’re pierced, poorer, and pumped up! Why doesn’t my town have cool places like this? We’re so podunk! Next time I’d like to have a little more time to hang out in Albuquerque.

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About two hours down the road.  Badge of courage.

A great experience altogether, but I have to say that two intense piercings, plus an 8 hour drive makes for one tired Cloud and BD#1.  Now, I can concentrate on . . . the aftercare!

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See ya!

Thank you, of course, to Noah Babcock at Evolution Body Piercing who very graciously let me take the photos during the whole thing.

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The Anti-Experience: Pt. 1

December 22, 2008

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The Anti-Experience, by Cloud.

Featuring Beautiful Daughter No. 1 and a road trip to Albuquerque to visit Evolution Body Piercing and get a Monroe, nipple, and chest anchor piercings.

Tired of the same old “experience”?

I went to the shop . . . met the piercer . . . he was cool . . . got pierced . . . it hurt like a sonuvabitch! . . . ([or] it didn’t hurt at all!) . . . got new shinies . . . blah blah blah . . . am proud.

Me, too! so — here’s my “anti-experience.”  I like to use mind-maps sometimes–they’re great for note taking, learning, or articulating a concept. (Some delicious tags for mindmaps here.) Note: This is without a doubt the single dorkiest thing I have ever done.

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Road Trip with my Bodymod buddy!

Beautiful Daughter No. 1 is my bodymod buddy. [ETA: I know it’s not “boddy” mod buddy.  No, I can’t change it now–live with it!] She’s provided moral support countless times, designed 2 of my tattoos, and even inked a few lines in another of my tattoos. . It’s so nice to have someone to hold your hand and give you a second opinion; not to mention company for the road.  I’ve driven that trip to Albuquerque and Santa Fe many times, but there’s a whole lot of Nothing out here! 4 hours up; get pierced (or tattooed); 4 hours down.

Woo.

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The Studio:

We went to see Noah Babcock at Evolution in Albuquerque. Beautiful place! I love going to piercing only shops.  Noah gave good directions and it was easy to find!

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Here’s Angela at the counter who patiently explained the information about my jewelry three times.

anti-b-100_0785Here’s the beautiful lobby.  Water, plants, fish.  Jewelry! Noah gave me a tour.  He showed me the piercing rooms, sterilization equipment, the decontamination room door–all the stuff.

No, I didn’t ask to see the spore tests. Maybe next time I’ll ask and get a pic.

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Here’s Jamie, another piercer, doing packaging. Work, work, work!

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The Piercer: Noah

Noah came highly recommended and is an APP Piercer who is actively involved in developing and refining piercing techniques and jewelry, and is an industry advocate.  It’s so nice to know that the person about to stick a needle in you is very experienced and skilled. Noah has a terrific client manner, is calm, reassuring and funny.  He made BD#1 and feel I very welcome, before he shoved sharp things in us!

Tune in for Part 2–there’s still the marking, piercing, jewelry, and aftercare to go!


Pigskins in Podunk

December 4, 2008

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Yeah, I live in a podunk town.  It’s not really all that small, but it’s poor.  There are a lot of uneducated people around.  I suppose that’s true everywhere, and there are certainly a lot of people which are uneducated about body piercing!  Even if you travel to find a great piercer, sometimes you do need to find someone local that’s compatible; that can help you out in an emergency, and perform routine tasks like changing jewelry and stretching if you are uncomfortable doing those yourself.

How do you find a piercer?  You call, you visit, you ask questions.  Last weekend, I talked to Angel at Renegade Tattoos. Renegade  is a well-established local body art studio, with a good reputation in town.  Here’s a run down of our conversation.

Experience: Angel has only been piercing for two years, and said that he basically learned because he was an EMT (or received EMT training at least), and was comfortable with needles.  It didn’t appear to me that he served an apprenticeship.  He showed me his bloodborne pathogen certificate, but didn’t show me his spore tests (although I asked twice).   He also showed me his portfolio, which had pictures of piercings he’d done, but no healed piercings.  When asked, he said he normally did not have people come back unless they had unusual piercings, like anchors.

Aftercare: We also discussed his recommended aftercare at some length.  He basically recommended cleaning with Dial soap and that’s all.  I asked him why he didn’t recommend Satin or Provon (specialty antimicrobial soaps) or sea salt soaks.  His response was that the soaps were difficult to get (but why couldn’t the shop sell them?) and that salt dries the piercings.  Furthermore, he said he no longer provided written aftercare sheets because people had just been throwing them away outside the studio.

Now this makes me a little crazy.  First, sea salt soaks are supposed to dry out the wound–the whole purpose of the salt is to draw out the lymph and other material from inside in order to promote healing.  Second, a piercee has the right to have a written aftercare sheet, because who can remember all that in the excitement of getting a piercing?  (See A Piercee’s Bill of Rights) Written aftercare also serves to protect the studio and the piercer in case something goes wrong.  Lastly, the Dial soap thing–well, it’s readily available, and that’s about the best thing I can say about it.

Best Practices: When I pressed him a little about the aftercare, he talked about how he had to adjust his recommendations “for the culture.”  Meaning the unsophisticated town we live in.  This isn’t Seattle, where you get all sorts of people really into extreme body modifications.  True dat, but I wonder about the wisdom of catering to the lowest common denominator.  Just as it’s a responsible piercee’s job to protect his or her own health, it’s a responsible piercer’s job to educate his clients about best practices, not just minimal ones.

I understand, okay?  I really do.  It’s one of the reasons the APP has propounded a standardized aftercare regime.  By proposing a minimum standard, it unifies the industry as a whole, presenting a common face to legislators, health care workers, and the public, and benefits piercees.  But best practices will never be implemented, and piercees will never be educated, if we don’t pay attention to this.

I do sympathize with piercers who have to deal with piercees who just don’t care.  Even the most professional piercer, who does everything right, and goes over aftercare carefully, gets blindsided by the dumb things people do to their piercings.

Angel told me a story about a 25-year old woman on whom he performed cheek piercings.  I could tell he was proud of the beautiful job he did on them.  He had carefully explained the aftercare, and warned the young woman to eat sparingly of easy-to-eat foods.  The next day, she came in with her mother to complain, wanting a refund.  She was in pain!  That’s what happens when you eat chicharrones and red chili with fresh oral piercings!  Ouch!

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Angel is a good sport who took the time to sit down with this crazy old lady and b.s. about piercings, which I appreciated very much.  I was impressed with his sincerity, openness, and bedside manner.  He really t0ok pride in his studio and his work, and talked about the educational and promotional opportunities his studio took part in.  I would wish for a little more awareness and education, however.  For instance, he waved off going to the APP convention and taking part in the educational opportunities there as unimportant, seemed surprised by my niobium CBRs with nitrile beads, and had never heard of his namesake, Elayne Angel, one of the most prominent piercers in the world.  Nevertheless, for my town, this is probably as good as it gets.  I think he would be a good choice for some people, and a good choice for me for routine piercing tasks.  Hope he’s still a good sport when he sees this!

Yeah, I’m a piercing snob, I admit it.  You should be too!

Renegade Tattoo’s MySpace

If you don’t know what chicharrones are–take a look.

Thanks to Body Art Forms.

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