First a warning. When I found out that branding was possible, I knew that it was right for me. It may not be right for you. If you decide to pursure branding or other modifications, do so fully informed. Once the procedure is done you can't go back -- the results are permanent.
Earlier this summer I got this really weird idea. "Get branded," I told myself. God only knows where the idea came from, but likely it was by accident while not really paying attention during a session on the insidious internet. I don't know a soul who's had it done and nobody I know has ever heard of a person fool enough to voluntarily lay down while someone applies hot metal to the skin.
Shortly after the decision was made I was sitting at my sister's house digesting a family dinner. Somebody brought up the subject of getting tatooed. I piped up and said that rather than getting tatooed like every other Tom, Dick and Harry, that I was going to get branded. My mother casually looked at me a said, "You have to make sure that the brand is good and hot. My father always said that if that calf felt pain, it meant that the brand wasn't hot enough." I guess nobody really beleived that I'd do it since nobody remembers that portion of the conversation.
After a little research, I found a person by the name of Bear Walsh in Vancouver who does this sort of thing when he's not piercing people. I had to make a trip into the city with my design to ensure that it was do-able and so that he could make sure that I was fully aware of what I was getting myself into. It turned out that the design was possible and it was emphasized that this procedure would be painful. I was told that since no anesthetics could be used that my endorphins would be my best friend. We set an appointment for two weeks later.
The branding had to be done at 7 p.m., after he had closed shop for the day. It seems that the smell of burned flesh is not conducive to good business so this sort of thing is only done after normal business hours.
I arrived on time and sat and BS'd for awhile with Bear and his assistant, Colin. Soon enough, Bear asked if I was ready and we went into the next room. Colin had prepared the brand, which consisted of five pieces of tin. Bear had transferred my design to a piece of tracing paper with a felt pen and applied this to my chest so that he'd know were the strikes were to be placed. Colin was the torch man while Bear actually performed the branding.
I layed on the same sort of table as you'd see in your doctor's office. Bear took the first piece of tin in a pair of pliers and positioned himself beside me. He then held the tin above me while Colin held the torch to it. I was instructed to take three deep breaths.
Then his arms came down.
I can't describe the feeling. It hurt, but it wasn't a bad hurt. I could hear my skin sizzle. I'd expected that the smell of burning flesh would be quite strong, but it wasn't. I think that he held the tin in place for about two seconds and then he removed it. The first strike was finished with seven more to go. I don't know exactly how long the entire procedure took, but it seemed to go incredibly fast.
Once done, Bear asked me how I was feeling. "Fine," I said. He asked about my feet and my hands. There was nothing special about my feet, but my hands were tingling. Then he asked about my head. I hadn't noticed prior to his asking, but I then realized that I had a buzz on! I'd gotten high on my own endorphins. The human body is truly a wondrous thing.
The same night that I was branded I was talking to my mother on the phone and she asked what I'd been up to that day. Naturally, I told her that I'd been branded. Silence.
"You mean you got a tattoo?" "No, I got branded." "You're kidding." "No, I'm not. Don't you remember when I told you that I was going to do it? You told me what your father had said about the brand needing to be good and hot." "You didn't tell me. It must have been one of your uncles."
And then she said the most wonderful thing: "I'm so proud of you. I always knew you were a leader; not one to follow the crowd."
I don't know about being a leader; this may be a mother's bias. However, I will admit to doing things my way, a bit askew of society's norms. While possibly biased, my mother is observant.
Other reactions have ranged from equally impressive to absolute indifference. One of my cousins just stared and asked, "Was it friendly?" Of course there's been lots of "you're nuts," and "you paid someone to do that?" And this from another person who I told beforehand and who casually passed it off: "I guess we'll have to pay attention to whatever he sais he's going to do because there might just be a grain of truth to it." Damned right!
photos are missing
This picture was taken about two hours after the procedure. The pain had fully subsided within an hour. Short of taking my shirt off and looking at it, I was fully unaware of the brand until the eighth day.
At this point the brand looks almost exactly as I designed it.
Taken one week later. The scabs are developing well.
Approximately two-and-a-half weeks after the branding. Scabs are fully formed. It was around this time that the brand bothered me the most; primarily at night. It wasn't so much that it was painful, but the darned thing was crusty and was sensitive to movement in my left arm.
This picture is at four weeks. Most of the scabs have fallen away.
You can see that the side closest to my arm is considerably thicker than that towards the center of my chest. Supposedly is this is due to the fact that I have more fat out there. Will have to wait awhile to see if the redness declines. I am told that I can reduce the scar by applying vitamin E.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 01 Jan. 1997