пятница, 12 февраля 2010 г.

Collarrrggghhbone microdermals four shiny dics under my collarbones

The first few weeks of having microdermals in my collarbones heightened my natural traits of being worried, obsessive and panicky! Perhaps I'm exaggerating slightly but I really have fretted over these small pieces of metal more than what a normal person would.

Surface piercings astound me, I love the look of beads being screwed directly into the skin, and they have the added bonus of generally being found below the neck, so are viable options for me due to my part-time job's slightly vague guidelines on piercings (one day I'll pluck up the courage to get a vertical labret!)

I didn't fret because I was a stranger to surface piercings. The sternum was the one I originally wanted, but this ended up being a surface bar corset in between my shoulder blades (which I still have) so I knew how they healed and the procedure.

My friends and I had booked tickets for an Alexisonfire gig in Manchester at the beginning of March this year (2007). We were going to stay with a friend in the city and I decided it would be a perfect time to finally indulge in the sternum bar. I was looking at some more images in the BME galleries when I stumbled across a pair of collarbone surface piercings that were beautifully placed and healed nicely. I debated with myself, my boyfriend and friends "Sternum or collarbones?". In my heart I knew I would go for the collarbones, but I emailed Holier Than Thou in Manchester (they did my corset) about both. Graham's response was that my sternum would probably be done with microdermals to minimise rejection in such a taut area. I had read a lot about microdermals and was interested in having some in the future.

We got to Manchester after a 3 hour train journey and went straight to Holier Than Thou, a 10 minute walk from the station. Marcus was at the desk and after asking about collarbones, he pinched the skin below them and told me that surface bars would be too risky given what my skin is like in that area. He told me I would need microdermals. We chatted about the procedure and removal and then came the question of price. Ј50 a piece with discs. I was surprised but not totally put off. My instinct (and sums in my head told me I could pay off Ј200 in just over two weeks wages) said yes. I booked them for midday the next day.

The day after, I had gotten good nights sleep after the gig, but I was nervous. I had been reassured that compared to my corset, the microdermals would be 'a walk in the park'

We returned to the studio, signed the consent forms and waiting for the room and jewellery to be prepared. I'd had a good breakfast and bought a fizzy drink on the advice of Graham, who would be putting the microdermals in. The room had been refurbished since I had my corset and I had a guided tour of the new facilities to alleviate my germ-phobia. My boyfriend was there for support, our other friends went off into town.

Graham washed his hands in the no-hand sink and put on gloves, a mask and an apron. He started marking me up, using my bra straps and sternum as markers. There was much pinching and pulling, and plenty of silly poses (kind of like how I dance!) for me to pull. These were important to ensure that the microdermals moved smoothly over my bones when, for example I lifted my arm up. They were placed two on each side of my body, directly parallel underneath my collarbones, giving the appearance of standard surface bars. When we were satisfied I sat on the bed and sipped my drink, preparing myself for something that with any luck would be less painful that my corset.

It wasn't. In fact, by the second one it was far far more painful. The one thing that could have eased the pain as the needles went in and the microdermal 'toe' and 'heel' were put in was to keep breathing in the slow, calm way that Graham told me to. Unfortunately my breathing went all over the place and I gripped my sides to displace the pain. I don't think this helped Graham much as moving my arms caused my skin around the area to move. We had a break after we did the left side and I lay still on the bed, shaking and groaning. I didn't want to carry on, but I had got halfway so it would have been silly to back out. I asked Graham for some more tissues for the area of the bed where my jeans had been to protect my corset from any bacteria or germs that were on my jeans. It was remarkably lucid moment for me at a time where I thought I was going to pass out. I necked my drink and breathed deeply before preparing myself for the last two.

The fourth was bittersweet because although it was the last one and it would all be over, it was as painful as the others and I burst into tears. I apologised to Graham for crying because I felt as if me crying reflected badly on him, even though it is an auto-response to pain!

I stayed laid on the bed whilst Graham began to clean up my blood with gauze and tidy up the room. My first reaction to the bloody, markered and shiny collarbones was relief, but also an urge to rearrange my eyeliner!

I put on a clean t-shirt we had in our bag and I stumbled out into the front of the shop. There were some people waiting and I bet they thought I was a wimp! I had some sweets and waited so they could make sure I was alright.

On the train home my body was stiff and I drank more sugary drinks, Jelly Belly beans, a banana, chocolate and 2 bags of crisps! I got home and my parents hugged me (not too tight) and asked me how I was before shoving a massive plate of veggie Bolognese in front of me. We had been told to take the dressings off that evening and clean with plain boiled water, as salt can crust under the discs. Graham had also told us that one girl accidentally pulled out one of her microdermals in the shower, so we should be careful in the early days.

Guess what happened. My boyfriend accidentally pulled one out! It fell onto my bed and I burst into tears, which he yelled "OH MY GOD!" but quickly and painlessly put it back in. I started making plans for if another one fell out somewhere inconvenient like work, college or on the bus and my Mum told me not to be so hysterical, that they were fine and one of her patients at work has an eye that fall outs so I should calm down!

Unfortunately, I started work at 8am the next day. Mum removed the overnight dressings and applied Melonin pads with surgical tape (we had run out of the self-adhesive dressings) The tape pinched my skin but covered up the dull ache that had enveloped my chest. Stacking shelves was not a fun way to spend 10 hours.

I emailed Graham the next day after another shift at work to tell him about the one falling out, but that I had got through work okay.

Over the next few days, I developed some cracking bruises to add to the dried blood. About 5cm around each microdermal went bright purple initially, which then became a large smudge of purple and yellow! We were cleaning them everyday and I was wearing dressings day and night to prevent me panicking in case one fell out. I took off all my necklaces and wore my hair up in bed and in the shower and put the plug in, just in case. Cleaning was boiled water applied to the skin gently by laying a soaked flannel across them, then very gently removing dry debris with cotton buds. I also used Provon which I bought at HTT for use in the shower. I would constantly check they were there by feeling through my shirt and dressings for the four little pieces of metal. I would panic at twinges and sounds of metal on the ground (it always turned out to be stones)

I've had them almost two months now and cleaning is now about 4 times weekly now they are dry and healing well. My mother says it is silly to disturb a dry healing wound with water if possible. I still use Provon in the shower. Occasionally matter gets stuck in them, which has to be gently removed. I still wear my hair up and no jewellery in bed, yet on more than one occasion my hair has managed to twist around them, which always shocks me! They have settled mostly flat, if not at a slight angle. There is space for things to get caught, but as they have healed, they have come closer to my skin.

Overall, I am very very happy with them, despite them being sometimes difficult. Even though I imagine they were much more painful to get and more expensive than surface bars, I think it has been worth it to avoid the problems surface bars in taut areas can have. My collarbones look wonderful and I hope to have them for a long time to come.

Hey I have balls In my neck

In early 2006 I got a job at a popular retail chain, who has a strict tattoo and piercing policy. Essentially, it's NO. However, I only had three in each ear, all lower ear. Simple wal-mart brand home gun process on three, sewing needle, regular earrings, and lots of rubbing alcohol on the other three. Yes, I know that these were all bad ideas, but fortunately I've never had a problem with any of them. Luck is on my side.

I've wandered a bit, my apologies. I was not happy with the idea of stopping at my ears, so I discussed it with my store manager, and his answer boiled down, was if he can't see them, he has no reason to know they exist. I immediately came zooming home and onto BME to look for a non-visible piercing. I looked around for several days, toying with many lovely ideas, running them all by my then-fiancй, now husband. He generally was disturbed by the whole idea of getting something other than the standard tongue, nose, belly-button lineup that nearly everyone else had. I obviously couldn't do either a nose or tongue and keep my job, so the only option of those three was my belly button. Well, as it so happens, I am 30 pounds overweight, probably more, and I don't show people my belly button, so that was out. I didn't want something I wouldn't be able to enjoy. At long last I settled on a nape piercing, but far enough down that I could wear a collared shirt and still not break dress code. I ran it by a few people, and got a general "ick, ew, you're weird." That pretty much made up my mind I had to have it. Now I had to settle it with my piercer, as I would not let anyone else touch my body, especially as it would be my first professional piercing, as well as my first major one.

My relationship with my piercer deserves its own paragraph by itself. You may be wondering how I can call him "my" piercer, while I'm telling you this is my only one. I have known Tim my entire life, he's known my mother for nearly 20 years. I have never lived with my mother, so it didn't become a close relationship until after she left the state two years ago. I have not seen her since, but am in occasional contact with her. Tim has done my mother's numerous tattoos and piercing. She has her ears, seven in each, her nose, her tongue, her bellybutton, and her nipples (really didn't want to know that, but things happen). As far as her tattoos, I believe she has a shooting star over her left breast, a unicorn on her left leg, and a rose and vine anklet on her right leg. I think her rose one was to cover up one she had problems with. She drew and designed all her work herself, sadly her artistic talent did not pass to me. Neither of my grandparents, who I've lived with my whole life, have any mods. My grandmother even allowed her ear piercings to grow shut twenty years ago. My Aunt, who is also my Godmother, has two tattoos, one of a tiger on her upper arm, and the other of a cross with her three children's initials on it on her forearm. She also has her ears twice, and her tongue pierced. Tim has done all of these, and has always done an excellent job, Needless to say, he comes very highly recommended. He even has pictures of me playing games with his son when I am only around two years old. In the last year or so, I began taking my friends to his shop to get various things done. Mitchell has one other shop, and it isn't a reputable place whatsoever, dirty and drug ridden and so forth. However, they have a great location, and therefore more clients. There has always been a longstanding rift between the clientele of both shops.

I talked over the nape idea with Tim, and he said although he had not done one before, we would study it and do it anyway. Lots of research later, we decided on a date, January third, which I awaited with much anticipation. I bragged a lot about it for two reasons, one, I knew it would get around to the downtown shop and they'd know we were one step ahead of them, and two, I figured the more people who knew about it, the more mental pressure I'd have upon myself not to back out of something I knew I really wanted.

Finally the date arrived, and I worked my scheduled 10am-7pm shift, counting down the hours until my 9:15pm appointment. After work, I went home, took a quick shower and got dressed in my best corset, seeing as how I'd need all my neck space unclothed. I also had my hair cut rather short recently, so I wouldn't need to worry about keeping it up out of the way (yes I sacrificed my super slow growing hair for this). My awesomely cool friend Kali arrived at around 8:15, and we went and ate Chinese, since I knew better than to try and get pierced on an empty stomach. From there we stopped back at my apartment to get a good luck kiss from my husband (well, I did anyway) and my camera, and off we went. My husband elected not to go with us, as one, he had work the next morning at six, and two, he's a little weirded out by the whole idea. The most he's ever done is ear, and ear cartilage, both gunned at Wal-Mart. He's also let both grow shut by now.

And now onto the good part!

We arrived at Tim's, and went straight to the studio. His studio is in his house, but it's clean, and he doesn't allow smoking or anything to compromise that. I sat down in The Chair, and he started cleaning and marking and discussing and all that. It seemed to last forever, while I really wanted to get on with it. At last he was done, and he clamped it and told me to start deep breaths. I grabbed Kali's hand and let my other rest palm upward, a little like meditation. Tim let me know he was going to go ahead and do it, and I felt kind of a sharp sting and sort of blanked for a second. When I focused again, I told him okay, that was fine, but I bet the jewelry hurts like flaming hell. He asked if I was good to go, and I said absolutely. He put the jewelry in, and I actually didn't notice until he was done. One point Tim, Zero Points Jocinda. I got up, no dizziness or anything, and grabbed the mirror. I checked it out a bit and pronounced it a sweet neck. I asked Kali if her hand hurt, and she said I hadn't even squeezed it, more just casually held it the whole time. Tim, Kali and I could not stop grinning this entire time. Myself, because I had the piercing I wanted so bad, Tim, because we had succeeded, and Kali, because her friend is crazy mad out of her mind and she got to witness the whole thing. We talked aftercare, took a ton of pictures, and discussed me coming in often so he could document the healing process, it being his first nape piercing.

As far as now, 2 and a half hours post piercing, my neck feels normal. I can move it all sorts of ways, turn my head like normal, and touch it. I'm trying to touch it as little as possible, and always wash my hands first, but after all, it fascinates me too much. I can feel the bar in the center, and it makes me so proud I went through with it. Never once through the whole procedure did I even think about turning back. I can also move the bar back and forth a bit with only a minor twinge, but I've only done this a few times, as I don't want to irritate it. I'm using regular antibacterial soap twice a day, long rinses, and bactracin for the first four days. Then I'm using Expression spray three times a day in addition to the rest. I'll be stopping at Tim's twice a week the first month, and then once a week for awhile longer, so that he can monitor it. It's basically going to be a beautiful learning experience for all involved. Tomorrow night I'm going into the shop downtown and asking how much they would charge for the same thing, just out of curiosity. Tim did mine for free, but I'm taking him lots of cookies and probably some homemade chocolate covered cherries and angel food cake. Kali will also be getting some for accompanying me, even though she said I was extremely blasй about the whole thing, wicked casual and the like.

As a side note, my cat hates it. He jumped up on my chair when I sat down, and hissed at it. I have no idea whatsoever why.

Thanks for reading my story, and I'll post updates as time goes on.

My 1st Surface Piercing Nape

My decision to have my nape pierced was relatively sudden compared to many on BME. I honestly can't remember how I found the BME site, but it has helped me so much in making an informed decision. Initially I was looking for an ear piercing that was a little out of the ordinary. After hours and hours of browsing I narrowed my decision down to either an Industrial or Vertical Tragus. Sure, it's *only* an ear piercing, but anything to do with cartilage scares the shit out of me!

To be 100% honest, anything in the ear apart from a normal lobe piercing scares me, especially after developing Bell's Palsy 3-4 weeks after a piercing in my lobe, just below where it starts to get hard with cartilage.

Although I can't be absolutely certain, I'm convinced that this piercing (done with a gun) was the cause. I suffered minor jaw pain, bilateral facial drooping, slight paralysis and my eye failed to close completely. This was extremely worrying from both a medical and aesthetic standpoint and some people never fully recover. Luckily in my case after a couple of weeks and a short dose of Corticosteroid (Prednisolone), I came good. For more information Bell's Palsy is in the BME encyclopaedia., but back to the story at hand. After much deliberation I decided that although cartilage piercing is awesome, it was too risky for me. Long story short- I saw Surface Piercing and really liked the look of the nape piercing. A lot of piercings are as common as a hat full, so I was drawn to its uniqueness.

Once I found the nape I read up on everything I could find about it. I looked at pictures (fresh and healed), piercing methods, aftercare, correct jewellery and a stack of personal stories from members who have had it done. The majority of experiences I read were performed in Australian piercing studios, as they were more relevant to me. I also made sure I didn't limit myself to reading only positive and wonderful nape piercings- I also read about the sad and angry ones full of gooey infection and rejection. That was the only way I could know in my own mind and conscience that I had researched it properly. Even though I was already sold on the idea, I also talked to a friend of mine who had one and she gave me the name of her piercer who she raved about (Tom @ Hairhouse Warehouse, Modbury, Adelaide). At first I was a bit weary of getting pierced in a hairdresser, but her I completely trusted her judgement and recommendation.

The following morning I called HHWH and found out that he no longer worked there (DOH!), but their piercer was "really great". It might just be me, but I'm extremely anal with even changing hairdressers, so I wasn't going to get pierced by some unknown. Next step was calling HHWH @ Marion Westfield as I've read good stories about their piercer Tim on BME. I talked to his piercing partner (Abe I think) and asked him a few questions IE: What kind of jewellery do you use? How many of these have you done? Do you have a portfolio?. He was incredibly helpful and explained that they use Titanium Surface Bars. I asked if they use straight bars (to try and catch him out) and he laughed and told me there's no way they'd use them for a surface piercing. After telling him how far away I lived from the store he told me that Tim was in the Rundle Mall store that day and to pop in if I wanted. So that's what I did!

I got to the store and advised one of the staff of what I wanted and she called out to Tim AKA Dreamy Hot As Hell Piercer Guy. As if my legs weren't already feeling like jelly! By the way, he had countless piercings. I had a quick chat with him (cost, his experience etc) and told him that I hadn't eaten yet so I'd be back in a bit after having some lunch. I returned and that was when the "party" started. I entered the small room, which was very clean, and he asked me to fill in "the form". I filled it out with a shaky hand and after reading a question in regards to poor healing, I explained my past issues with cartilage piercings. He put it down to having my cartilage piercing with a gun (Der, I was so stupid all those years ago! I got it done when I was 16 and I'm 23 now). He assured me that nape piercing is the best surface piercing to get and you don't encounter nerves, like you do in the ear. I watched as he set up and I was very impressed with the sterile technique, choice of sterile jewellery and that he wore gloves after cleansing his hands with Aquium Alcohol Wash.

Firstly he got me to stand up and look straight ahead as he felt around my neck searching for the best place. He marked the two dots and went out to get another mirror to show me. I asked if it could be a bit higher and he said that was cool, changing his gloves again after handling the mirror (yes, these things impress me. Especially as I work in a field obsessed with infection control!). He felt around again, remarked the spots, I agreed and lay down on my stomach with my face on my hands. He said it would hurt and that I'd feel a bit of pressure. I don't think he used a clamp and I guess if I'm not sure about it, he didn't. From what I've heard, clamps hurt like a mother. Anyhow, whoa it hurt. I won't lie. I always thought I had a high pain threshold too. Then for some stupid reason I forgot that it would hurt more when the jewellery went in, and it did a bit. "All done!" Said Tim and I got up and had a look. He asked what I thought about it and I said something like "Cool". He said I didn't sound too enthused, but I explained that I was just in shock. haha. He then ran me through all aftercare advice, gave me a handout with all information, asked if I had any questions and told me to come back in if I had any problems. He also said to return within a few weeks for a general check up.

· Don't touch it, whatever you do.

· Wash hands in shower with Palmolive Antibacterial Softwash and gently clean piercing under warm running water. Move the bar a bit.

· Dry area with a hairdryer, clean tissue or cotton bud.

· Protat spray 2-3 times a day (I've been allergic to that in the past so I declined) I'm using a sea salt wash instead. ј teaspoon mixed with 200ml of warm water.

We finished up and I paid my $60 (fair price in my opinion. You get what you pay for) and I headed off with a big 'thanks!'. He was really great and only now do I understand the bond and loyalty one has with their piercer! It was a little bit achy later on that night and I had a couple of stinging sensations, but generally it doesn't hurt. In addition I'm also taking 2 vitamin supplements to assist healing. A Once Daily Women's Vitamin supplement, for Vitamins B and C in particular. Secondly Zinc twice a day to aid healthy skin and would healing. I guess you can never know for sure if they work, but it's worth a shot right? (especially with piercings notorious for rejecting/fucking up).

I can't stop looking at it! At this stage I'd recommend anyone thinking about getting a nape piercing to just go ahead and do it (after research of course). If worse comes to worse you can take it out. I'm looking forward to the weird stares from the uptight bitches around my area. But mostly I look forward to seeing it every day and keeping it for a decent amount of time. Cross your fingers for me!

Any questions, feel free to contact me through here.

The Sensations of a Thumb Web Piercing.

The decision to pierce my thumb web was a simple one. I had not been pierced since my suicide suspension two years earlier and I wanted a piercing that would affect my day to day experiences with the world. The hand or rather thumb web, was the perfect spot to place such a potential hindrance.

My piercer of choice was Tom Brazda. He had previously pierced my christina and also advised me on the healing process of other piercings. I knew that he was a fine practitioner, in fact the best in the city, so the decision was quite easy.

After work one summer afternoon, my friend Piotr and I walked to Tom's warehouse where I was to have the procedure done. Upon arrival I was greeted by Badur, who lived in the warehouse, and Tom soon appeared while we were let in. Tom let me know immediately that he had made a custom piece of jewelry for my thumb that afternoon. He also started his usual speech about the risks of having a piercing and the extensive aftercare that would be involved in healing it. He cautioned me that since hands are the parts of our bodies that are used most, it was best to pierce my non-dominant hand, which for me was my left. I was fully aware of all the potential obstacles I would face in having such a piercing, but I knew that I wanted it done and I recognized that I would have to be more conscious of my surroundings because of it.

The procedure was to be done in the backroom, which doubled as a piercing room and recreational area. Tom told me to sit down on the piercing bed and told me to hold out my left hand. First he held the web between his fingers to see where the tendon of my thumb was located. He then tried to locate a spot in the web which was away from the tendon and that would experience the least amount of movement when the thumb was moved back and forth. I was surprised at his decision of placement because it was close to my thumb rather than my forefinger. I became comfortable with the idea of it there when he explained that the folds in my web determined where the least amount of movement would occur and that the jewelry had to sit evenly on both sides of the web.

After the location was determined, he was ready to pierce. At that moment however, I started to ask a lot of questions. The nervousness was starting to kick in. I asked if it was a common piercing – he said no. I asked if he enjoyed piercing that part of the body – he said no, but that we would do it for me because he knew my experiences with piercings. I finally asked if I would have to sit upright during the procedure and he said yes, to ensure the circulation in my hand would not get cut off. He also let me know that he would be piercing me freehandedly because putting a clamp on would potentially cause harm to my thumb if I were to yank my hand away in the middle of the procedure.

Due to the nature of the piercing, I had to hold my thumb and forefinger apart from each other as much as I could and I remembered to breath in order to allow my body to relax. He told me that I could tell him when I was ready, as he held onto my hand, and I looked in the opposite direction. When I said go, he pushed the needle in, but because the skin layers in the hand are tough, it took slightly more time then usual to get the needle through. I knew the piercing process had been complete when I felt a *pop* upon the entrance of the needle to the other side, during which time I had laughed hysterically because of the slow inducing pain that was going through my hand. I had really enjoyed the sensation and upon completion I was able to look at the piercing. Tom put the 14-ga-titanium barbell into the hole, screwed the ball on with a bit of difficulty, and cleaned my hand. Badur then took some close-up photos and I was done.

It was not until I was ready to leave that I experienced something unusual from my other piercing experiences. As I stood up off the piercing bench, I felt an immediate spell of nausea come over me and I thought I was going to pass out. Tom told me to sit back down and gave me some water to drink. He insisted that it was a common thing that occurred from a sudden adrenaline rush as a result of the piercing. After a few minutes I felt a lot better, and I was able to leave.

The aftercare for the thumb web piercing was pretty standard: sea salt soak everyday, use non-scented soap for hand washing, do not touch anything dirty and just try not to use the hand unless you really had to. The pain factor for my hand was also pretty standard. First the pierced area hurt extremely, but within a few days of healing, the general area pain had gone away, except for when someone squeezed my hand, or I banged it against a wall accidentally. I rather liked having the piercing there and enjoyed the little adjustments I had to make to my daily routine in order to accommodate its healing.

As per usual for most of my piercings, this piercing began to have its own set of complications. It all started when I decided that swimming was a necessity of my summer, and it all went downhill from there. The chlorine from the pool started to dry out the skin around my piercing, and the layers started to flake away. I tried swimming with a latex glove, and although it was a temporary solution to reducing the drag on the jewelry when I paddled, the piercing still continued to deteriorate.

A month before I decided to take it out, and three months after I had had the procedure done, I got Tom to look at it to see if it was ready to be removed. He said that it looked fine and that all I could do was continue with the aftercare procedures. I followed his advice but as I began to lose more skin around the piercing, the jewelry got more exposed and was prone to getting caught on things. I started to worry that the next time it got caught on something, it would result in it being ripped out. I also had to make a decision about the fate of my piercing before I left for a three week to Japan.

Three days before my trip, I decided that it had to come out before I ended up with a split thumb web. The process to take it out was not an easy one. I had my boyfriend try, but that did not work and because I did not have enough time to visit Tom, I had it taken out at New Tribe. It hurt to have it taken out especially because there was crust stuck to the jewelry as it exited the hole but the piercer made sure to squeeze out any excess fluid and cleaned it appropriately afterwards.

The pierced hole healed rather quickly soon after the jewelry removal. The web of my hand however, has been permanently affected in such a way that it feels tighter to stretch my fingers apart. I tried massaging it and pulling the two fingers apart, but inevitably that area will stay that way which I am more fascinated with then concerned. Today, many months later, I am left with a tiny hole-like scar on the palm side of my hand. That little scar will always remind me of a piercing that had a chance everyday, to interact with the world physically, and that would always be a piercing I wish I could keep permanently.

Dropping Anchors in San Diego.

What's the longest period of time you've had between piercings? For me it was roughly 5 years.

For years, I worked as a body piercer in Massachusetts. I worked in a small shop and often, I was the only piercer there at any given time. I had little to no contact with other piercers in the industry, and frequently viewed other piercers as, at best, and at worst, the enemy; a mentality fostered in the environment I was working in. The final 2 piercings I received, I performed on myself: an 8g PA and a 6g Dermal Punched conch.

I left my job as a piercer to move cross country to Southern California. At the time I believed that the departure from piercing was a permanent one; I don't want to say that this belief had a direct effect on my choice to get pierced, but during this time, I did not receive any new piercings and I wasn't all that motivated to seek them out. The move had presented me with a whole new host of obstacles, opportunities and adventures, all of which became predominate in my field of vision.

Years later, I had formed wonderful friendships and had settled in quite nicely to SoCal. I had even joined up with a suspension team. It was about this time that my mind started to drift back to piercing. One fine evening, I was introduced to Didier Suarez of Enigma body piercing in San Diego. We enjoyed some conversation, unrelated to body modification and had a few laughs, and then the topic inevitably swung back towards mods. Didier had begun implanting Industrial Strength titanium microdermals on friends a short time previous to our introduction. He was quite willing to share information with me regarding the ones he had placed in himself and others.

We talked about the logistics of the procedure and the healing time as well as possibilities for removal. For the first time in years, I was blown away. I remember reading of (and experiencing) genital beading when I was younger, suspension, transdermal implants. All of these had seemed so radical when I first read of them, but in my day to day life and interaction with them, they had become quite common place. That night, I felt the rush of excitement talking about the Dermal Anchors with D, one I had not felt in some time.

In the future, I was able to watch Didier perform an anchor procedure. The experience was invigorating to say the least. The procedure was incredibly fast and there was minimal discomfort, something that took me by surprise. I had it in my head that I wanted some. This would be the first time I had been pierced in at least 5 years and pierced by another for probably 6 years.

A few days after Eric received his Anchors, I sent Didier an IM. I explained that, I understood that we had just met, but I was very excited about what I had seen and I was interested in having him put some anchors in my head if he was willing. He responded enthusiastically in the positive, and we began to make plans for me to have 2 anchors placed in my head and possibly one in my girlfriend Heather, in a location at the time undetermined.

We set a date to head to San Diego. Heather baked a big batch of muffins for Didier as a thank you, as we were short on funds and felt bad that we would be able to leave him a monetary tip for his services. We made the 2+ hour drive to SD, a city I had never been to before, enjoying the scenery along the way.

When we arrived at Enigma, I was struck by the appearance. I don't know what I had expected, but the exterior of the shop gave the appearance of a beach bungalow. The wood, the roof, everything about it was very warm and inviting, like the perfect summer home you would want right by the ocean. The interior did not disappoint either; a welcoming, calming environment the waiting and sales area was and I took my time looking at all the wonderful organic jewelry on display.

A short time later, Didier emerged from the piercing room. I had though that there might be a period of awkwardness, having only known each other a short time and not seen each other in a short while. This was in no way the case as we were greeted warmly and as old friends, as if it had been years and not weeks that we had been acquainted.

After chewing the fat, the occasional break to help additional clients and the presentation of baked goods, we made our way back to the piercing room. We discussed placement of the anchors briefly as well as throwing quotes back and fourth from random 80's films and Simpsons episodes. I wear hats quite regularly and had originally wanted to have them placed up in the corners of my hairline, but I was afraid there would be interference, or at least, complications with healing due to close proximity to sweat and bacteria. D determined this would not be the case and encouraged me to go with my gut on placement. I decided on 5mm flat discs for the ends.

Minutes later, after some cleaning, my head was adorned with gentian violet in geometric grid patterns. On the first try, the dots were placed in the correct place, and after parading between D and the mirror for a few more minutes, we both gave them thumbs up.

Now, at this point, I was beginning to get a little nervous. Again, this was the first time someone else was coming at me with a needle in quite some time. I was older and had experienced more in my life since my last experience, and I didn't know if that would make what I was about to undergo better, or worse. Additionally, this procedure, while similar to a normal piercing, was fundamentally something different, and that was slightly unnerving. All my fear was alleviated when I took the chair. D's bedside manner is some of the best I have ever had the pleasure of receiving. We began with deep breathing, which I continued with as he guided me through the procedure with his calming words.

I remember feeling D's hands holding the tissue firm, which might have been the most uncomfortable part of the whole thing. I felt the needle bite deep into my tissue, but then it was quickly withdrawn, as was the pain. I felt the insertion of the jewelry and to myself I though how much my skin felt like a rubber band as the skin stretched and snapped back into place around the implanted portion. The second was as easy as the first, with minimal pain experienced.

Heather sat for her anchor; she chose to have a single anchor placed on the top of her wrist. She sat quite well for the procedure and even commented on how easy it was to sit through. She, like me, had expected something quite more intense.

In the hour following the procedure, it felt as though I had a focused headache in 2 specific points in the front of my head, more of a thinking too much headache rather than a hangover headache. We discussed aftercare and what I could expect as far as healing is concerned, but before I realized, it was getting around to supper time, when Heather and I had determined we would have to start driving back up North. We regrettably said our thank-yous and Goodbyes and headed for the car to get back on the road.

Realizing that it was supper time and we were going to be on the road for a few hours, we decided to stop into In N Out Burger for a quick bite before heading North. For the 25 minutes we sat in the burger joint, people could not stop staring at my head. By the time we finished eating, the pain in my head had subsided and was replaced with an odd tightness. I drove the 2 hours home listening to the Red Sox stage an amazing comeback against Baltimore on XM Radio and quickly forgot about my implants.

In the coming days, the jewelry settled in wonderfully. No swelling, no itching, no pain, no discharge, no blood. I managed to catch the disc on my shirt while pulling it over my head, but only once, and the effects were negligible.

It's been 6+ months since I had my original 2 anchors dropped into my head. I frequently wear different ends and sometimes, no ends at all very comfortably. In the time since I've had them, I've learned a great deal more about them concerning removal and, though I don't foresee any reason to remove them, I'm confidant in their ability to be removed easily should the need arise.

The best thing I ve ever done with my body Cleavage Bar.

About five or six months ago, I started looking through some pictures on BME, looking for a piercing that would work for me. I needed something somewhat discrete so that it could be hidden for work, but I could still show it off when I wasn't at work. I was also a bit worried about what my parents would say, but I figured if they didn't agree with it, I'd just keep it covered so they wouldn't have to look at it.

In all my searching, I came across the cleavage bar. I saw it and I knew that it was the piercing I wanted. At first I was somewhat skeptical because I wasn't sure if there was any place around here that did surface piercings. I was also a little fearful of the pain. I have absolutely no pain tolerance, so I wanted to make sure that I knew what I was getting into.

Over the next couple of months, I did as much research on surface piercings and cleavage bars as I could. I read the stories on here and looked through the BME encyclopedia and other random sites to find out everything I could. I didn't want to go into it blindly and have it end up failing.

When I was finally sure about getting it, I confronted my mom about the subject.

"Hey mom. I have a question for you."


"How do you feel about piercings you can't see?"

"...What do you mean?"

"No nipples or...anything like that. This is a bit different."

"Okay, well what is it?"

"A cleavage bar."

"What's that."

I pointed to my cleavage and explained to her what a cleavage bar was, then showed her some pictures of it on here.

"I dunno. But, it's your body and you're almost twenty years old. Just make sure you know what you're doing."

"I know."

The conversation was left at that for a while, probably about a month. But, I kept oogling all the cleavage bars, wanting one myself. So, finally, on January 2nd (Today is January 6th) I called the only place I knew of that did piercings; Ink Addiction, and asked them if they did surface piercings. They said they did, said it would be $65 and that included the bar. I asked them what kind of bar they used and the guy told me they used PTFE, which is a flexible type plastic.

I wanted to go that night to get it done, but I wanted my boyfriend there and he didn't get off work until they were already closed.

The next day, a Thursday, we went up to Ink Addiction before he had to go to work. We walked in, told the guy what we wanted and I signed the proper papers, showed the woman at the counter my ID, etc. etc. The normal ritual for piercings. She told us it would be a short weight because the piercer, Trevor was with someone else doing a piercing and then a small tattoo. So, we had to play the waiting game.

We sat there for about an hour, talking to the woman and the other guy that was there about piercings, tattoos, the normal things to talk about in a tattoo parlor.

We finally saw the guy come out of the room and my heart instantly started skipping beats. I had been calm up until then, but I knew that my time was finally coming up. Butterflies aren't even enough to describe what was floating around in my stomach.

Now, I have had piercings before; I got my lip pierced a while back, but I ended up taking it out. My parents always gave me dirty looks about it and I was sick of hearing them complain about it.

But this piercing was definitely different. I knew that no matter what anyone said, no matter what looks I got for it...nothing would make me get rid of it.

We went into the room and we stood there for a minute while Trevor got set up. He finally had me show him where I wanted the bottom ball to be at and I decided on right at the top of my cleavage. Well, right at the top of my breasts, so that the ball wouldn't really get squished by them and it wouldn't be too high up. While he was marking me, I was asking him some questions about the PTFE and he told me that every cleavage bar he's done, they've never rejected and as far as he knows, everyone has been happy with them. And he's been doing this for over 15 years. That eased some of my fears.

He marked me and I laid on the doctors-office looking bed and he got the needle and jewelry ready. My boyfriend was standing right at my head, watching. He was also on the phone with his mom at the time.

Trevor told me to take three deep breaths and halfway through the second one, he stuck the needle through. Now, from all the reading I'd done, I thought this would be a piece of cake. 95% of the stories I'd read, people said that it didn't hurt that badly. It was mostly just 'pressure' on their chests. Maybe I'm just a wuss, but I think it hurt like Hell. Not enough to bring me to tears, but I ended up gripping the paper on the bed and ripping it and I was breathing as if I were going into labor. Throughout the entire process though, I kept thinking, "It's worth it, it's worth it, it's worth it."

There was pressure, but I felt the pain more so than I did the pressure. And the two didn't seem to happen at the same time. Sometimes there was pain, sometimes pressure.

When he finally finished, I laid on the bed for a second, trying to relax myself. I couldn't watch throughout the process because I think I would've been sick. I'm not a big fan of needles. Trevor joked with me about taking the skin from the needle home as a souvenir. No thanks!

I finally stood up and looked in the mirror. The memories of the pain instantly faded away. The best way I could describe it is the way I explained it to a friend of mine. It's like when a woman has a baby and she's feeling all of this pain until she finally sees her baby. She's so overwhelmed with her new baby that she forgets about the pain. That's how I felt.

He explained to me about aftercare and told me to use Bactine on it or the Xpressions spray stuff that they sold there. So, we said our goodbyes and left. I later went to the drugstore and bought the Bactine. I didn't want to use the Xpressions spray because I think it is more of an irritant for me. I didn't really like it when I used it on my lip.

So, it's now the 6th and I am still very happy with my piercing. I was going to hide it from my dad, but I ended up showing him and he thought it was kind of cool. He's very old-school and old fashioned, so my mom and I assumed he'd be mad at me for getting it. Surprisingly, he was cool about it.

I clean it twice a day with the Bactine and I took a shower last night for the first time since getting it. I'd also read in some of the stories that being braless isn't that comfortable. They were right! I'm not that big chested, but I'm over average, a little I guess. When I took of my bra, I felt like someone had tied a small weight to my chest and it was just hanging there. For most of the time in the shower, I ended up having to... hold myself up, so to speak. The shower did feel good though.

I haven't had any troubles with it...(Gotta go find some wood to knock on now), but knowing that Trevor hasn't had one reject yet makes me feel better. It looks really good. I think my body handled it pretty well too. There was no swelling, hardly any redness, except right after getting it done and I didn't bleed a whole lot. My parents even said that it looks like I've had it forever. People who've asked me about it even comment that it looks really good for just having it done. I got my first dirty look in Wal-Mart the other night too, which made me laugh a little.

I recommend this piercing (and Ink Addiction) to anyone. It hurt, it was kind of expensive, but it was definitely worth every cent and every second of pain. I think if it did reject, I'd wait a while and try again. I plan on getting more piercings in the future at Ink Addiction when I can find something that sparks my interest.

Micro Dermal Anchor

My name is Deb, and I have been a long standing member of the body modification community for almost seven years now.

From age 11, my peaked interest in piercings has been ongoing, and it seemed that you couldn't keep me from learning what was available to me at the time about piercings.

Obviously, as time went on, and piercings became less taboo, I myself experimented more. By age 14 I had 30 piercings, mainly consisting of work done above the neck (I had my nipples and belly button done as well, but as an aspiring piercer, I did these myself, also for the fact that age 18 is the legal age to get genital or surface modification).

I would like to say that at the age of 18, when I got my nape done by Burni on my birthday, I knew fairly everything I was getting myself into. After numerous videos on piercings and being a member of BME for many years, I knew how procedures went, how things were supposed to feel, and how to choose your artist correctly.

Everything went smoothly with my nape. It had been something I wanted done for many, many years, and on my 18th birthday, Burni delivered it. I walked into the shop, received my piercing, and left satisfied, giving Burni a 20 dollar tip. I had intended on future work, and knowing the quality of Club Tattoo, and the care Burni took with me, I kept the two in mind for my next piercing: My micro dermal anchor.

I had been reading about it for almost a year now, but only saw a few pictures displaying the brave people who took the chance on the still very experimental piercing.

Being one of the first 100 people to have my monroe showcased on BME, you could say I liked knowing that ontop of my love for modifications, I was among the brave to sign myself up for a piercing that wasn't well known.

I decided that if I were to get my micro dermal anchor done, it would only be by Club Tattoo, and so I searched out to Burni once more. I called the studio weeks ahead of time, and asked if micro dermals were a procedure that was offered at the Club. 'What's a micro dermal?' the girl on the other end asked me. I should have thanked her for her time, and hung up. However, I continued to explain to her what they were. 'Oh, yeah, Burni does those' she told me. Great! This was the time - I was going to have a gorgeous piercing, and everything was aligned just right in order for me to get it done.

I walked into the Club, only to see the chick at the front desk with a micro dermal as an anti-eyebrow. (Go figure!) I signed the papers, handed over my I.D, and waited for Burni to get to me.

Once it was my turn, I was escorted into his room where I was prepped and cleaned, dot on my chest, and then took my place on the bed when he asked me to. He re-explained to me what it was supposed to feel like, what to expect, and just talked with me in a calm manner through-out the piercing.

I felt a sharp pinch in my chest, and with some deep breathing, the pain was almost un-noticable. Once it was done, and I was cleaned, I asked about the jewelry and how long he thought it was going to take before it started healing (Although I had read online different times on different people, I wanted to get it straight from my piercer). He then informed me that he/Arizona didn't have the PROPER micro dermal anchors, and instead used a NOSTRIL SCREW in place of the jewelry.

I was in shock. I wanted to run out, grab my paperwork, shred it in half, and pretend like I had never shown up.

After a couple minutes of being in a delicate-crazed state, I took a look at what I was presented with.

I had a wound in my skin with a nostril screw in it, and I wasn't about to rip this thing out of my chest and complicate things or jeopardize my health.

Burni instructed me on how to care for the piercing, and I left with an 80 dollar piercing (After tip) and bought myself some H2Ocean, since I knew I was definitely going to need it with this piercing.

Two days later, after following complete instructions and using my already stacked knowledge of piercings, my piercing started to invert. My chest did not know how to heal around a twisted, pointing curved nose screw, and started to suck it in. I didn't know what to do. I gently put it back in its place, and used the H2Ocean to minimize the swelling and infection.

Two days after that, I awoke to the piercing being completely inside my chest, and two and a half inches of swelling covering the entirety of the nostril screw. There was basically only one thing to do. Since my body wasn't going to accept this piercing, I needed to remove it immediately. After an hour and a half of sheer pain and my tear ducts drying up from all the pain and anger I had to go through, the nostril screw was finally removed from my chest. A closer look also revealed that the piercing was about 30 degrees off placement, and ended up laying crooked in my skin. (Probably from the angle he was at during the procedure?)

Doing my daily information and image sap from BME, I noticed a BEAUTIFUL project on a womans back done in dermal anchors of butterfly wings on the front page. Clicking it only saddened me. Another piercer from Club Tattoo, as well as Burni, had done the project. There it was, flaunted in my face - the real dermal anchors I was supposed to get. I took a further look on ClubTattoo.com, and clicked on my former piercers profile. Sure enough, proudly showcased in his portfolio were properly done dermal anchors.

I write this story, because I have hope that the person reading it is much of a body modification lover as I am. I hope they understand my dreams and my desires, and I hope they understand that everything I just told them about my experience is WRONG. I did not go into Club Tattoo asking for 'A nose screw in my chest'. I asked for a 'DERMAL ANCHOR', and I should have been turned away. I should have been told that I wasn't going to have the proper jewelry, and I shouldn't have found out that a nose screw was in my chest AFTER the fact. I need people to know that the glory that Burni is basking in is shadowed with bad experience and unfair treatment. That day, I was just another customer and a quick way to get 80 dollars. However, today, I am no longer a customer of Club Tattoo, and a scarred (Physically and damn well angry) modification lover.

I show my scars from previous modifications proudly, but this was in no way deserved, and it saddens me to find out that my fellow Arizona modification lovers, only six months later, got the treatment I think I should have gotten, or, at least payed for.

EVERY single piercing, along with its piercer, is different and unique. However, I always have stressed this, and always WILL stress this - LEAVE NO ROCK UNTURNED. Ask every single question you can think of before modifying your body. Do not be too scared to ask your piercer a thousand questions - That's what they're there for! This may be their job, but it's YOUR body.

How I ended up in an emergency room

I exaggerated a little about the "emergency room," but I was in a hospital nonetheless. We just didn't want to deal with paying for a big expensive ambulance or anything.

Basically here is what happened. This was my first ever piercing on anywhere on my body other than my ears. I'm still only sixteen, and in Illinois I need parent's permission to get anything done. So, being a stupid impatient kid, I decided to go get pierced by a friend of a friend. This "piercer" basically ran a sort of business out back in his and his mother's hair salon, and from what I heard, he frequently pierced minors whenever he could for the money. I needed something discreet, but I didn't want an oral or navel piercing at the time. So I decided to get my hand web pierced--I wear long sleeved shirts and hooded sweatshirts, so I figured it would be easy to hide. Which it was, anyway.

First off, I want to discourage anyone as dumb as I was who might be reading, to get a piercing based on something like that. If you get a piercing, you should put thought into it and read about it or at least ask around to know what you'd be dealing with. It should be something you really want, not something you get just because it's easier to hide. Also, a piercing should be done by someone that knows what (s)he is doing.

The guy that did my hand web piercing was someone that started piercing to make some extra bucks here and there. Yes, he had a license, but I don't know how he could have had one, seeing as how he gave me some of the worst advice ever.

But getting back to the piercing itself. He sat me down in a chair in the cramped room that he called his piercing studio. He had something like a shelf on wheels next to the chair, with drawers full of open, obviously unsterilized jewelry and tools. I don't recall him sterilizing my hand at all, and the placement was awful. I'm pretty desensitized to pain in general, but he did something strange and it was pretty painful. When he stuck the needle in, he basically stabbed my hand in a swift motion, but it was only halfway through and he put it in crooked. So he tilted it and poked it through the other side. Just the process of getting the needle through seemed to take more than fifteen minutes, and even he seemed a bit flustered and confused. But getting on with it...

He took a captive bead ring from his big drawer full of them, and dropped it into a cup of hydrogen peroxide (is this even the correct chemical to use for sterilizing jewelry??). He immediately pulled it back out and opened the ring using just his gloved hands, and the bead fell onto the ground. Without bothering to sterilize the ball, he pushed the needle out using the ring. This was the most painful part of the entire session. The needle was a standard straight hollow needle, and he pierced my hand while it was (as he instructed) completely flexed, stretching the skin tight. Pushing the ring through felt like he was forcing a ball through a square hole.

I'm not sure if maybe this is the standard way of doing this piercing, but it was horrid. What's worse is that without sterilizing the ball, he just put it onto the ring. And he didn't even do that right! Repeatedly, while trying to fasten the ball onto the ring, he dropped it again and again. He seemed to be struggling with his "ring-closing pliers" which were just a pair of regular needle nose pliers, with no fitted grooves for easy clamping. After he was finally done, he told me, no lies, to clean my piercing regularly with hydrogen peroxide. To this day I wonder if he was joking or not, but the people I knew that got pierced by him actually did this! At the moment I didn't know better, but I do now, thank goodness.

During the healing period for this awful, ugly piercing, I stopped using hydrogen peroxide because it was irritating my skin (I'm still reeling from my own naivety!). I started washing with soap, though not antibacterial...and fiddled with it a bunch, because the placement itself just bothered me. The ring basically hung from my hand by what looked like just a millimeter of skin. It didn't reject, but basically I woke up one day and it had swollen up and reddened, a visible bump under my skin as big as a grape or a cranberry. So, being inexperienced and foolish, I removed the ring thinking that it would help drain the pus. There had also been a yellowish...well, as unappetizing as it may be, booger-like goo oozing from the holes for a couple days. I was terribly wrong, and when I removed the ring my hand just swelled up like a balloon!

I showed my mother, who hadn't even seen it until then (imagine her surprise and disgust!) and we took a rushed trip to the 24-hour free clinic. At the clinic, after waiting in a queue with pus and yellowy mucus dripping from my swollen hand, I saw a doctor. She was even more inexperienced as I was when it came to piercings, so she downright couldn't believe it when I told her that it was an infected hand piercing (she didn't even know hand piercings existed, like most people). She examined it for a while, then decided that she had to drain the abscess.

So it went like this. She first stabbed a big ol' hypodermic needle into the original piercing hole, and shot my hand full of a local anesthetic. That was incredibly painful, and I actually screamed a little. My hand was basically on fire at this point, until the anesthetic got to working. She then took a scalpel and cut an inch-long cut into my hand web, and after what looked like half a pint of blood and pus poured out into the medical basin, she took a "culture sample" by poking and prodding around inside my hand with a Q-tip. A nurse bagged this as she kept the wound open to drain all the fluids.

Unfortunately, the anesthesia was beginning to wear off, and I could now feel all of this going on. I thought I would puke from disgust and pain. Eventually, after most of the fluid drained, she packed the incision full of bandages to keep the fluids from forming another abscess. I went home, and that night when I washed my hands like she told me to, the packing bandages fell out of me and I gagged in disgust...it was so repulsive. For the next week I was completely bombed out on Vicodin, because believe it or not, it hurts a hell of a lot more for an inch-long incision in your hand to heal than a regular old piercing. It's healed since then, but I still have this sad little hole in the tough skin, and I shudder whenever I see it.

Don't do what I did! Make sure you seek out a good piercer with a trustworthy portfolio, and do your research when it comes to taking care of your piercings!

Vertical Bridge Piercing Becoming the Unicorn.

For the longest time I had contemplated a vertical bridge piercing. At one point, I had looked into simple bridge piercings, but found that they were becoming more common among "scene kids" and decided not to go that route.

Before getting my Vertical bridge done, I did LOTS of research. Which type of materials were best/ worst. What to expect with a surface piercing. Needless to say, it looked like alot of work, but I STILL was determined to get my unicorn piercing!

After calling around locally, I decided that my regular piercer, Alysha Franco of graphic flesh. She had done a few piercings for me before, and I love her attitude and her shop! I called and made an appointment for the first tuesday in February.

When I went in, Alysha tried to convince me that this piercing can cause alot of issues. not only because it is a surface piercing, but because of the placement. She said since I was so adamant about it, she would have a look at my face, and see if there was even enough skin to work with.

While she prepared the table, and supplies my boyfriend gave me the "are you sure you want to do this?" look. I was excited at this point! 2 years of waiting and FINALLY, I would have it!

Once everything was prepared Alysha called me back to have a look. And to my delight, she admitted there was enough skin to safely pierce my vertical bridge. she told me that she would not be using clamps today, and instead was going to message the area first, and guide the needle through herself. This made me very excited! I truly despise clamps!

We then discussed materials, and decided on tygon. I had never before heard of tygon. She described to to me as a "catheter" that is used for IV's in hospitals. I trusted her judgement, and decided I would use the tygon for the healing process.

After throughly explaining her plans to me, she then began marking the area. We spent nearly 25 minutes finding the exact placement, and trying to find the best spot where there would be the least amount of disruption to the piercing.

Finally, it was marked, and Alysha once again asked if I was truly ready to have this done. I thought for a second. It would mean lots of babying my new piercing, and if it decided to stay, hopefully years of taking keen good care of it. I replied "yes" and she asked me to lie down and relax.

She started with the messaging of the tissue, mentioned above. it was very soothing, and I quickly became very relaxed. Once she had gotten the skin supple enough to her liking, she asked me to start taking a few deep breaths while she guided the needle through.

I was expecting quite a bit of pain! but to my surprise, it was the most painless experience! once Alysha had the needle in, she guided it through the second mark perfectly! once the needle was through, she grabbed a cork and stuck it to the sharp end of the needle, changed her gloves and began to insert the tygon.

The insertion of the tygon was probably the most wicked piercing experience EVER. I had no idea it was so wiggly, While my piercer gently pulled the piece through, it felt like a worm was slithering through my newly made holes. I laughed for the entire process! I just couldn't help myself! Plus, after having the piercing done, I felt a strange euphoric sensation, unlike any other. Not even like the "adrenaline rush" after other piercings.

Once my tygon was in, Alysha trimmed it to size, leaving just a couple Millimeters for swelling. She then changed her gloves again, and put on the 3 millimeter internally threaded balls on the tygon. She then grabbed a piece of cotton and dabbed away some of the lubricant used for inserting the tygon, and a speck of blood that had appeared. I was very pleased, as I had a very minimal speck of blood. hardly any!

After cleaning the area, she asked me to sit up and examine my new Vertical bridge. I was very happy! the placement was perfect! Alysha seemed pleased with it as well, and grabbed the studio camera to get a photo for her portfolio.

All said an done, she spoke again of aftercare options. She told me to use sea salt soaks and to use Q tips once the lymph began to appear. I thanked her, tipped her and left, pleased as could be!

The first night was very odd, I tried very had to keep my face as still as possible. I was still pain free! and feeling very strange about it, I had expected it to flare up and act badly.

The first week, was perfect new piercing bliss! I continued on the cleaning regime my piercer had asked me to. Still no pain. tender to the touch. No redness!

The second week, as the same as the first. lymph began to secrete, first lots. it was downright embarrassing at times. I went out with a group of friends and had to excuse myself and retrieve my q-tips for a quick clean up.

By week three, the lyphing had tapered down, and I only found that I had crusties after I was working out, or after a nights sleep. The bottom ball started getting "angry" with me. As I wear glasses and occasionally would bump the ball with the frames. I decided to put my contacts in and leave it be. The bottom hole developed a very small "bump" that I'm finding very common. I started Chamomile soaks the middle of the third week.

Week four, Its doing wonderfully. the lymph is very infrequent now. I only find crusties after a vigorous workout now. I suspect some of it is sweat. I have continued chamomile soaks for my "bump" which has shrunken away greatly. and is nearly gone. I ordered some satin antimicrobial soap for it, as it was getting dry. within 2 washes, my vertical bridge felt wonderful! I will continue sea salt soaks in the morning, a satin wash after workouts, and chamomile at night.

I am expected back to the parlor in a few days to have the tygon changed, and to put on some very wonderful gemmed balls I found on a UK website. The entire experience was wonderful, and so far it has been the best behaved piercing yet.

I do not recommend tygon for everybody. as the material is very malleable and I dont think everybody reacts the same way. I suppose its by luck that my body truly appreciates the material.

All in all, I have so far enjoyed my Vertical bridge. however the upkeep of it is surprising. I do believe it will always need a bit of extra care, as it is a surface piercing, and in a relatively vulnerable place. If you a considering this piercing please research it throughly, and have it done by a professional!

I hope to maintain my Vertical Bridge for years to come!

I chose the piercing before the dress

Ever since grade nine, I dreamt about graduating from my 'hell-hole of a school'. Currently (well, until the 29th of this month aka June), I attend a boarding school in British Columbia, Canada. It is a fairly well-known school, strict, conservative (especially against body modification, I need to hide all of my piercings at school or else they'll tell me to take them out), but still a very good school (classes wise). Well, this year is my final, grade 12 year, I'm finally leaving. On May 19th was my Graduation Dinner and Dance (Prom or whatever other people call it), I'm not officially out yet, but it's a ceremony to state that you will be out soon. In grade nine I decided that for my grad I was going to have my sternum pierced. It would be my jewelry, no fancy dangly earrings, no obnoxious bangles and necklaces, no obnoxious make-up; my sternum would be my 'bling'.

Now came the time to find me a dress to go along with my sternum, to show it off. I walked into some store in Mexico when I was down there during Christmas time, saw this gorgeous fire-truck red (as I call it) dress with a deep plunging neckline, perfect. I tried it on, got a smaller size, and bought it. That was easy.

Flash forward to a few weeks before my grad, I'm standing in my usual piercing shop (Tranceformations in Nanaimo, BC) with my mom, talking to the owner and head piercer, Darren. I'm talking to him about getting my sternum pierced for grad, and only grad. I said, at the time, that the day after grad was over; I would come back in to get the surface bar removed from my chest. He raised his eyebrow, questioning why I'd only want a piercing for two days. The reason: my sports commitments at school are pretty heavy-duty, and I don't want to make my sternum migrate faster than it should because of it getting hit, jostled, and god knows what during sports. My mom thought I was crazy, Darren probably thought I was crazy, but that was my belief at the time. So Darren agrees to let me get it pierced, and I pick out the beads that will go on top of it; very nice white opal dome beads, I also bought a gorgeous 4g opalite plug for my helix, as my hair was going to be partially pulled back to show my ears. We set up an appointment to pierce me the day before my grad at about 3 pm, because I had a hair appointment before then.

May 18th, 2:57 pm, my heart was racing; I had never gotten a surface piercing before. Roland, my usual piercer was going to be doing my sternum that day, and Bronwen, the apprentice would be watching, I was perfectly fine with that. I even brought my dress along and wore it to make sure the placement was perfect. We got out the beads, stuck them in the autoclave and waited for them to be done. The time had come. I walked into the piercing room, full formal gown attire, and Roland told me to stand perfectly still. He prepped my skin, marked me, which took a bit as I kept falling over almost due to my terrible balance, and then showed the marks to me, asking me if it was where I wanted it. It was. I went over to the bench and climbed on top, lying down. I breathed a few times to prepare myself as he took out all the prepackaged sterilized jewelry (14g 9/16ths" long surface bar, I forget the rises size), needle (or what I thought was the needle) and whatever else, as I wasn't exactly looking. I was staring at my boyfriend with a dumb face on. Roland changed his gloves a few times, and then asked me if I were ready, I nodded. Then my heart skipped a beat, in his hand was a dermal punch. I wasn't expecting that, I was just expecting to get pierced via the needle, not punch and taper style. I've had a dermal punch attack my before, my 4g helix was done that way. I freaked out, telling him I wasn't sure if I wanted it done that way, as in my mind it was only for two days and not for more permanent wear. He calmed me down and explained that for him at least punch and tapering it made them sit far better and last a lot longer, and that since I was getting it done at 14g, it would leave about the same scarring as a needle. I decided to believe him and get it done the way he wanted.

Now came the fun part. As I lied on that table, my heart was still racing as he lined up the punch to my skin. My boyfriend watched, mostly in horror as he's apparently really squeamish with this stuff. Roland told me to breathe, and as I did, he started to punch the hole. My god. That was the most uncomfortable thing ever, not nearly as bad as my helix punch, but it felt so gross. My face went from calm to a sort of "OMGWTFBBQ" face. He took the chunk of skin, I presume, out of the hole and set up for the next hole (I can't remember if he used a new punch, but I believe he did). The same thing happened, but the feeling was way worse. I let out a gasp of pain when he was done, as I was apparently holding my breath the entire time and forgot to breathe. He deposited the punch in the sharps container (both of the punches, if he used two, I really can't remember), and changed his gloves, getting the taper ready. The taper just felt gross, sliding under my skin, it reminded me of sliding my finger through the aorta of that pig heart I dissected in Biology class. The taper went through, and the jewelry followed it like a lap dog. He screwed on the bead, as the other one was already attached to the end, and cleaned me up.

I lied on the bench for a while, as I tend to get light headed after piercings, once this was passed, I stood up and looked in the mirror. It looked amazing, perfectly centered, perfectly straight, and the beads flowed with my dress amazingly. Roland was quite proud of his work and asked me if I would let him take a picture for his portfolio, which I agreed to and had a little mini sternum photo shoot right after. Next I got them to put in the opalite plug, I got changed back into my old clothes, phoned my mom, and my boyfriend and I left (We paid when we first came into the shop for everything).

The redness from the piercing left soon after it was done, and has never returned since then, and it's been almost a month since then. Yeah, I decided to keep it, I loved it to much to loose it so soon. My sternum hardly lymphs, it only got swollen once so far, and that was the day I had to return to sports, so I made up some excuse that I hurt my ankle so I wouldn't have to run. I have larger breasts, so the bouncing hurt like mad with my sternum. I'm super glad I got it done, I got SO many compliments on it at my grad, even by teachers and they never said anything to take it out (or my septum, or my visible larger gauge ear piercings) like they normally would.

Hopefully this little guy will stick around for a while longer, as I'd miss him to pieces if he ever left me. There are more pictures on my IAM page, my main picture is from grad night.

Cheers, Carson

Piercings should be done for the right reasons and not just done on a whim

Ever since I was a little kid, I always knew that I wanted to get piercings and tattoos. I always wanted them not because is was the cool thing to do or anything like that. I personally believe that if anybody gets body piercings or tattoos because that's the cool thing to do now a days is really dumb. I always knew that I was going to get them because I've always loved them. I loved everything about tattoos and body piercings. I'll never forget the first time I ever saw someone that had a piercing. I was ten years old and my brothers friend came over and she had a tongue ring. Ok, now I get the fact that everyone now a days has a tongue ring. But this was twelve years back and it was the craziest thing I had ever seen and I instantly knew that I wanted piercings of my own one day.

Skipping to when I turned nineteen (August of 2005), I felt like it was finally time to get a piercing of my own. I didn't exactly know what I wanted to get but I knew that I wanted something that not many people had ever really seen before. I definitely knew that I didn't want a common piercing, such as a tongue ring or a labret (something you see everywhere now a days). I'm not trying to offend anyone when I say that but I just knew that common piercings were not for me. So I started to go to all the tattoo and piercing shops in my area and get a feel for the shops and talk to the piercers. I didn't want to just go to the first tattoo shop I found and go in and get pierced. As weird as it may sound, I wanted everything to be just right. I wanted to be in a shop that I felt like I could go back to again and again for whatever I wanted done. When it came to the piercer, I wanted it to be someone I actually liked and could relate to a little bit.

After checking about two dozen different shops I finally found one that I really liked. The shop was called Sacred Arts Studio and the piercers name was Charlie. Now like I said, I didn't know exactly what I wanted. So Charlie and I sat down and started coming up with ideas. After a little while, we came up with one that I really liked. I was going to get a total of five piercings all at once. There was going to be two over each eyebrow to create a curvature and one between my eyes. So when you looked at it, the piercings basically outline my eyebrows. Charlie began to gather everything he needed and the first thing he did was grab a marker and put dots above my eyebrows to mark where the piercings were going to be. Once he finished marking them all, he told me to go and look at them in the mirror to see what I thought. Once I started to look at them, I felt that a couple were off and I wanted them to be perfect. So he wiped off the dots and tried again, this went on for
about an hour. Finally I looked at the placing of the dots and was happy with them. So I laid down on the table and Charlie grabbed his needle. Now at this time I'm absolutely freaking out on the inside but on the outside I looked as calm as could be. I mean come on, I'm six foot five and three hundred pounds. I wasn't about to show how nervous is was on the inside.

Charlie was the kind of guy that liked to do everything free hand style, he never really used clamps (except for one simple piercings). So he grabbed his piercing needle with one hand and proceeded to stretch the skin on my forehead with his other hand. Now unfortunately, surface piercings are not the easiest thing to pierce and you generally can't just pierce it real quick and be done with it. Like you can with a nipple piercing or something along that nature. Once he pierced into my skin he stopped to see where the needle was at and then pushed it in a little more and then stopped again. He did this until he hit the marker that he placed on my forehead to show where the piercing was suppose to be. Just like me, he wanted everything to be perfect as well. Now to me, this showed just how much he loved what he does and how much pride he takes in his work. I will never forget the feeling after he finish that first piercing. My skin was on fire and my blood was pumping so fast,
it was incredible. Now of coarse, yes it hurt but you need to look past the pain and feel the purity of what your doing. There is no other feeling like it in the world. After the first piercing, the other four seemed to happen really fast. They were done exactly the same as the first one but my mind made it seem like everything happened really quickly.

A couple weeks later, I was looking into the mirror and felt like I was missing something. After looking into the mirror for a while I realized what was missing. I wanted to complete the line. When I say the line I mean the one that starts at the top of your forehead and runs between your eyes, goes past your nose and lips and finishes at your chin. I already have a piercing between my eyes that runs along this line and now I decided that I wanted to complete the line by getting my chin pierced. When I say my chin, that's exactly what I mean. A lot of people get confused and think I'm talking about a labret. Believe me, I'm not and those are two very different piercings. So the next day, I went into the shop and started to talk to Charlie about it. Everyone in the shop that I was crazy for wanting to get my chin pierced. Except for Charlie, he got really excited about it. It was something he had never done before and was looking forward to doing it. He told me that he want
ed me to give him a couple of days though. Because he wanted to do a little research and talk to some doctors just to find out if it was even safe to pierce something like your chin. Charlie didn't want to take the risk of potentially hitting a nerve or something. But once he talked to everyone he could, he got the green light from the doctors and gave me a call.

The next day, I went into the shop and Charlie and I went straight into his room and he started to gather everything he needed. Once again, starting off he marked the placement of the piercing by marking dots on my chin. Once everything was good, I gave him the go. He grabbed his needle and started to pierce me. Now this time around, he was piercing through about an inch of flesh. So yeah, it hurt a little bit more then the ones above my eyebrows and it took a little bit longer then them as well. When he finished , once again my skin was on fire and my blood was pumping really fast. Just like my very first piercing, I felt that same feeling but this time it was just a little bit different. I can't even begin to attempt to explain it. Once he said he was done and it was ok to get up. I got off the table and went straight to the mirror and took a look. It was absolutely perfect, all six of my piercings were everything that I had always wanted. Once again, this may sound a litt
le bit strange but once I had my piercings I truly felt complete.

They are truly something that I love having and I love all the different comments and reactions that I get on a daily basis about them. I get everything from complete disgust and hearing "how could you do that to your self ?" All the way to complete excitement and hearing "that is the coolest thing I have ever seen!" and everything in-between. I love everyday that I have them and have never regretted a single minute of it.

my first microdermal experience

So, a preface to the microdermals. I had gotten my sternum pierced with a surface staple previously by Jamie at Saint Sabrina's. Try as I might, this surface bar began to migrate and was always just a little bit red and pissed off. Near the end of its existence, it started bleeding again. This was the point that I decided that as much as I loved it, it had to go. Now the sad thing about this sort of experience is that I wasn't ready to retire my piercing. It was part of my self image and I was very upset to see it go.

About a month later, I saw the article about microdermals on BME. I was amazed at their versatility and the extremely low risk of rejection and migration. So I thought about it for a while. Eventually (about two months after that) I wrote Saint Sabrina's and asked if they were doing them as of yet. I was told on a case by case basis only. It turned out that I didn't have to worry. After a brief conversation with my piercer, he agreed to set up an appointment and do it the next week!

Now to the actual experience.

I drove in to Minneapolis—I had been living back home for winter break in Eau Claire at the time—with my boyfriend. We left way early so that we could get some food and fill out paperwork. We showed up and found that Jamie hadn't had a chance to even eat dinner yet as it had been too busy; Jamie was booked through the rest of the evening. We told him it was fine if we pushed it back a bit so he could catch a bite to eat While he went on his break for food, I looked at my choices for jewelry and colors. I also had to decide if I wanted three or two microdermals (he said he was willing to do either). I decided on three and picked out an onyx, a hematite, and an opal. He came back from his break and off we went.

He sized me up and drew lines on my chest to pick out the best placement for them. He then had me look in the mirror and let him know if I wanted any changes. I ended up asking him if he could lower it a bit and he said sure, it wouldn't be a problem as long as I didn't wear bras that would get in the way of it.

Then he had me lay back on the table and he grabbed the dermal punch.

Now, I've been told before this that microdermals hurts about the same amount as a normal surface bar and that its not hard at all to do. I would like to make an amendment to this. Microdermals hurt about as much as a surface bar and aren't hard to do as long as they are not being inserted around scar tissue. The first one would not settle in. He did the dermal punch and inserted the toe like usual and all was fine, but the layers of tissue wouldn't separate easily at all like they were supposed to. There was a ton of blood and the heel would not pop in for the life of us. Ten minutes later it did, but wasn't even so he left it alone for a while.

I took a small break so I could settle my breathing back down and collect myself again. He grabbed me a bottle of water and I talked with my boyfriend while I drank almost the whole thing. Then we moved on. Second one did the same as the first one. More scar tissue lead to more problems, lots more blood, and more pain. I ended up grabbing onto my boyfriend's hand for dear life and tears formed in my eyes. Finally, he told me he was going to work on the heel with a needle to make more room for it so it would settle down. This seemed to work quite well and the heel went in after that. This microdermal was a little tilted in on the top but we couldn't tell if it was from the swelling from being pinched or not so he said to keep an eye on it.

By this point I was shaking and on the verge of tears because of the amount of pain brought on by two dermal punches and needles and ten minutes work on each one. He told me that I could stop here and he would fix the bottom one—which he decided he was going to take a needle to as well so it would lay flat—and that we could do the third another day if I wasn't up to it. I took some time to walk around and center myself again and drank some more water. While I wasn't sure how composed I would be, I told him to go ahead.

When we started the third one, my pain tolerance was almost gone. I hadn't counted on that. However, this one was well away from the scar tissue that was left behind from my surface piercing and thus went in quite quickly and settled down nicely. I cried a lot through it, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the other ones.

After that he gave me another break and told me we had to do something about the bottom one. It wasn't lying correctly and thus either we had to take it out and try again now or a different day. I told him to do it today. So I lay back down and he started working on it again, this time with the needle method he used on the second one. It worked much better and after only a few minutes, he managed to get the heel to settle in and the head to lay flat. I give him major credit for this because by this time my breathing was nowhere near regular anymore and my chest wasn't staying flat because I was sobbing. At the very end, I grabbed for the last of my strength and regulated myself more, making it easier for the end to go in. And it did.

Afterwards, I was completely drained. I sat up and leaned against my boyfriend while I drank another bottle of water. The hour long procedure had left me without any pain tolerance left and no energy whatsoever. But it looked amazing and I was very happy I had made it through all three of them.

They told me to spray it with a saline solution called Wound Wash for a while and cover it with a bandage for a few days, as it would probably bleed. I walked out of the room and immediately had eyes in my direction. Everyone was excited to see the microdermals. I went home, got the supplies I needed, cleaned up, and covered them for the night.

It is now two days later. The first day the swelling went down and the middle one settled flat as it should. It also didn't hurt except when I moved my arms too broadly, therefore stretching the area. I've been spraying it and keeping it covered and while there has been a minimal amount of blood, overall it looks great and doesn't hurt at all without bumping or movement.

I'm very happy with the placement and the look of the jewelry. I think Jamie did an amazing job and I'd do it again. However, I would think twice about how much pain I can handle when it comes to scar tissue. I definitely recommend microdermals, though, despite the issues I had with mine. I think I'll look to them instead of surface bars for any future work.

My hip piercings surface bars

I'm a 17 year old girl from West Yorkshire. I had my ear lobes pierced when I was 14, 2 cartilage piercings and a belly button piercing when I was 15 then my septum when I was 16 (I'll post that as another story). I think I must have got the piercing bug because I loved them! I kept wanting more and more but seeing as my parents aren't into piercings at all, I have to get less obvious ones to hide them. So far my Mum has seen all of them except my hips and my Dad has seen my ears and belly button, but not my septum and hips and they weren't happy about me getting any of them.

I hadn't really considered surface piercings before because I didn't know much about them except that they weren't permenant. But I was browsing piercing pictures, trying to decide what to have next and I found a picture of someone with their nape pierced. It looked gorgeous but since I have long hair that I nearly always wear down people wouldn't see it much. Then I came across the idea of hip piercings. I've only ever seen one person with them before but there were tons of pictures online to look at. I saw them on males and females and I thought they looked so pretty on both.

So I started to get obsessed with the idea of having my hips pierced. It would look so good, it wasn't that common, I'd never had a surface piercing before and it would be easy to hide and easy to show off when I wanted to. My friend wanted her belly button pierced so we decided to go together during 6th form while we had a 3 hour gap of no lessons. Originally we planned to go to Pro Body Piercing in Huddersfield but we didn't have time that day and I was all fired up to get pierced so we headed to Dewsbury instead, with another friend coming along too.

I had planned to go to Tattoo House, only to discover they don't do body piercings. We were both really disappointed so we wandered around and we were pretty ecstatic when we spotted another body piercing tattoo studio. So we headed inside and I went up to the desk and asked if they did surface piercings. The piercer said yes, they did so I told him I wanted to have my hips pierced. He nodded and said that he had to explain first that they will eventually reject, and might not last long. I was already aware of that and I said it was fine. He told me it was Ј30 for a surface piercing but he could do both for Ј40, which I was very pleased about!

The place looked clean and I was happy with it so we sat down while we filled in forms before the piercing. Me and my friend were a bit nervous so we went outside for a cigarette before the piercing. When we went back inside I decided to go first. So the piercer took me through to the back room and started to mark where the piercings would go. We moved the ink dots around until we were both happy. Then I lay down on the bed type thing and pulled my top up while he got everything together and cleaned the area he was going to pierce.

I had some newish scars on my stomach from cutting and I'd been really nervous that he might say something about them which would really embarass me. But thankfully he was very professional. He asked what the marks were and I said 'Oh, nothing, they'll fade.' He just nodded and said it was still okay for me to have the piercings.

I closed my eyes (I always do this when I have piercings, it helps me relax!) as he did the first one. I won't lie, it did hurt a little because it was a slower piercing than I was used to. Then he put the bar in, which wasn't painful. Then my ears started ringing and I suddenly felt really dizzy and faint. I told him that I was too warm and felt a little faint so he switched the heater off and got me some water. This has never happened to me before when having a piercing but he explained that because I hadn't eaten, my blood sugar levels had dropped when he pierced me and that was why I felt dizzy.

When I was feeling okay I lay back down and he did the left one. This hurt less than the first and was over quickly. He gave me an aftercare sheet, my friend had her piercing and we left. I was so happy I'd got it done! I couldn't stop looking at it all the way back to 6th form! However, it was uncomfortable to bend down or lean forward, which made afternoon lessons a problem. Everyone wanted to look at my piercings. Most people thought it was weird and kept asking 'Why would you do that?'. But I didn't care, I liked them. They were a bit red and slightly swollen but not badly.

The next day when the redness had gone, I realised the skin over the bar was still raised and I could literally see the bar under my skin. I thought it had looked like that yesterday because the piercings were brand new. Then I realised I had straight bars, not proper surface bars. At first I didn't think it mattered that much, I'd wanted the piercings badly and I'd got them. But I knew it wasn't quite right when it looked the same a week later.

So I went back to the shop to tell them they'd used the wrong bars, and I wasn't happy with how they looked. The piercers were very unhelpful and told me they were standard bars, and they'd done it properly. Clearly I was getting nowhere, so I left. After about 2 and a half weeks I went to Pro Body Piercing (where I originally wanted to get pierced) to ask for some advice.

The girl who worked there was so lovely (I think her name was Sam but I'm not sure). She told me they weren't the right kind of bars and it wasn't done properly. She advised me to get some curved PTFE bars to take the strain off the piercing so hopefully it wouldn't reject too quickly. I bought some from the shop and she put them in for me, for free while giving me some advice about cleaning them. After having the new bars I was so much more comfortable, I could move more easily and I could actually bend down without being in pain!

I shouldn't have gone to a piercing studio just because I was in a hurry, I should have waited and gone somewhere more reputable. And I should have checked what jewellery was being used, but I've learnt from that mistake and I hope anyone who reads this won't make the same mistake as me!

My piercings look lovely now, especially with my belly button piercing and I'm so happy I have them. I plan on getting my sternum done next. I'll be going to Pro Body Piercing this time, and I've done my research properly!

Prayer Piercings

I've always had an attraction to more unusual piercings, and ever since I got hit with the piercing bug 6 years ago I've been always on the lookout for something new, the next foolish, impulse decision...

Prayer piercings were something I decided on very suddenly one day while shopping. I was reminiscing with a friend about my old hand web piercing, which had lasted around 2 months and had been loved dearly, but was lost in a terrible accident involving an art folder (RIP Web). I joke, but it was actually pretty horrific, the piercing took a heavy smack to the bar and the result was a big bloody nasty mess, it looked like flesh was pouring out of my thumb, and I had no choice but to take it out, clean it meticulously and hope for the best. Anyway, on this day I was discussing how I'd like to try again with the web but didn't want to upset the scar tissue in the area, and didn't want to opt for my right hand because I do a lot of writing in my course at uni. Then I started thinking about alternative hand piercings, ones I had seen on BMEzine while browsing galleries for no reason besides my own fascination. The thought of finger piercings crossed my mind, but I knew I'd be too clumsy with them and they'd rip within days. Prayer piercings occurred to me, I'd always thought they were beautiful, but never imagined I'd ever have them myself.

So off I trot, no further thought required, straight to Holier Than Thou to ask Lu what she could do for me. Ever the angel she is, I had my forms signed in no time, and she was asking me to put my hands together and drawing lines all over them to make sure they were perfectly aligned. Being a "larger lady" (ahem) I do have quite a substantial amount of flesh on the outsides of my hands, but Lu explained that this isn't always an advantage in surface piercings, and that I couldn't get the piercings very far down my hands (towards the wrists) because the area was too flat for the curved barbells to be properly anchored, so we agreed on a point about 2cm down from the knuckles of my little fingers. After being cleaned up and marked, she asked me if I wanted to sit in a particular position to be pierced, as I'm sure she could tell how nervous I was. Surface piercings on the outside of my hands are going to be agonising - the thought was going over and over, and getting two piercings at once was always terrifying. I decide to place my hands flat on the bed with the edges slightly off so they could be clamped, and Lu crouched down to perform the piercings in the way I wanted them done. It was lovely of her to be so accommodating about this, most piercers have a particular way they like to work, but she was more concerned with me feeling comfortable than having to adjust to the strange position.

Clamp, deep breath in... and ARGHHHH it was horrible! Not a pleasant experience whatsoever. The awkward angle made getting the jewellery in more difficult than it otherwise might have been, but once the initial sharpness was gone I sat trembling and cursing, trying to collect myself in preparation for the second one. Lu asked me if I'd like a few minutes in between to calm down, but by that point the adrenaline had just kicked in and I said no, do the next one quickly before I chicken out. Bless her for putting up with my melodrama. She pierced the second one, slightly less painful but I'm sure that was more to do with the rush I was on from the first than the procedure itself, and when all the jewellery was on tight she let me stay where I was silently until I'd stopped shaking (it really was very, very painful). There was quite a bit of blood from these, I remember it dripping onto the floor and Lu super swiftly getting the steriliser out and cleaning it up the second it hit the ground. My hands started swelling almost immediately, and by the time Lu had bandaged me up with gauze and micropore to pad them against knocks, I could barely move my hands.

Luckily I had the foresight to bring a friend, who helped me take the money from my purse and filled my bag with spare dressings, tape and rubber gloves to wear at night to prevent the piercings getting caught in bedding and whatnot - which Lu threw in free, much to my appreciation.

Aftercare was quite tricky for these darlings, as trying to put dressings on my right hand using only my left (which is honestly useless, I can barely even hold a fork in my left hand) was a slow and laborious process. But I was so instantly in love with the way my prayers looked that I went through the torturous process day after day with no real complaints.

Prayer piercings should never be thought of as permanent, since the hands are always moving and they can never fully heal. This meant that the dull aching pain you feel hours after the piercing was performed never really went away, but I learned to live with it, because they were gorgeous and I loved them. The bigger problem, however, was how unbelievably inconvenient they were. Half the time I forgot they were there, and the thoughtless actions of putting your hands in your pockets became unimaginably painful. The piercings would catch on the bottom of coat sleeves when I walked, on the strap to my handbag, I had to give up loose bracelets and even necklaces because they would catch on anything and everything. So, with much pain along the way, it was fully expected that there was going to be an infection. My left prayer became infected after around 5 weeks. The whole area swelled and became very sore, I got some anti-biotics from my GP hoping that the lump would settle, but though it did go down, the burning sensation in my hand didn't go away, so I decided it was time to say goodbye. I thoroughly cleaned the wound left by the piercing as often as I could and kept it in clean dressings until it went away. Bizarrely, my right prayer was also to be lost only days later, when one of the balls got caught on the handle of a mug, and the resulting rip was too agonising to bear.

All in all, an incredibly painful experience that lasted around 6 weeks in total, with constant discomfort and some very unusual scars left behind. Despite this, I don't regret them at all, I thought they were absolutely beautiful piercings and they certainly got noticed. I won't be trying again with my prayers, one attempt is enough for me, and I certainly don't recommend them for anyone but the die-hard attention seekers such as myself :P