The neverending story of me (and my skin removal)
When Wayde announced that he and Emily were coming to Perth and wanted people to do work on, I thought I should take advantage of a visiting artist and get something done. Since Wayde has done some really cool skin removals, like James, Emili, and Toddy, I decided I should finally get one done too. I spent a while thinking about which body part would be best. I couldn't think of many places on my body that I didn't already have plans for, and that would be 'hide-able', as I still live with parents who would make a big deal if they saw any new mods. My legs seemed the only place I could think of, so I sent Wayde an IM about positioning.
Then it came to thinking of a design. At first I thought a BME logo, because there are a few I quite like, and hey iam access for life! Can't say no to that! But after a bit of IM discussion with Wayde I decided on a different design. I went with the Auryn, from the movies/book "The Neverending Story". I love the movies, I love the symbol, and I love snakes. This explains a little about it:
The Auryn is the Childlike Empress's golden amulet that Atreyu wore during his quest to save Fantasia. The Auryn protects and guides the bearer and shows to all that he is the Empress's representative. When Bastian was to rebuild Fantasia, the Childlike Empress left the Auryn with him. Bastian discovered an inscription on the reverse side:
Do What You Wish
"...The words gave him permission, ordered him in fact, to do whatever he pleased."
So with the design and positioning picked, and Wayde doing a few drawings and deciding whether or not to include scales, we were basically set. On Saturday morning we slept in a little, and woke up in a rush when we realised it. We chowed down on some toast and juice, and I stuffed my backpack with sherbet lemons and mars bars to eat during the procedure.
We caught the train into the city, and made the short walk to their hotel. Sent Emmo a msg and she came down to collect us from the lobby. Wayde had set up two tables in the front part of the room, with some cushions on them, and chairs around them for the others to sit on. He was just finishing tracing the design onto the transfer paper when we got there. We had a chat and then sat in the bedroom watching bad tv and looking at the 'river views' out the window. Couldn't see the river at all, just an alleyway and a really big brick wall.
Once Wayde had set up all the equipment he needed, he called us back into the front part of the room, the 'temporary studio' I guess you could call it. He asked me to roll up my jeans and then said, "when's the last time you shaved your legs?". I laughed and replied "eons ago... it's winter okay!!!". He laughed at me and said "it's okay... I came prepared!" and brought out a pack of disposable razors. So he shaved my leg and cleaned it etc, and then put the transfer on. I went and had a look in the mirror, and I was happy with the placement, so it was time to jump up on the table. gulp. I clambered on with my legs and hips on top of the cushions. Then Emmo gave me a pillow that I could rest my head and shoulders on, which made it a lot more comfortable. Wayde explained that first he'd cut the outline, not very deep, and so it wouldn't hurt much. This hurt less than a tattoo, but more than say slicing yourself with a razor. Wayde likes to work slowly, and I was fine with that, because he did an excellent job. But it meant I could feel the blade in between the layers of my skin, and that was a truly surreal feeling. Kind of gave me the shivers.
I made a few "ow" noises and faces, and James took some photos of these, very un-funny. But the pain was totally bearable. The next part would be the hard part. Wayde had told me in the IMs that we exchanged that he had Xylocaine he could use to numb the area, so I wouldn't feel the skin removals, as these would be pretty painful. When it came to start the removals, he told me "ok, I'm going to start the first section now. Let me know if it's too much, and we'll get you something for the pain". Knowing that I could wimp out at any second and opt for the painkiller gave me a little bit more strength. But, about 20 seconds in, I said "I think I'm going to pass out!". So Wayde took out some cream he had. He explained that this cream had given him much better results, and didn't make the skin swell up like Xylocaine did. However because this was a cream not an injection, it worked by going into the area through a cut. The outlines he'd done at first had closed up fairly quickly. So each time he went to remove a section of skin, he had to reopen the outline, then apply the cream, and wait a minute or two for it to work. Then he could remove the skin and I would happily not feel a thing.
In actual fact, I could still feel some things. It kind of felt like my skin was a big lump of jelly, and I could feel him cutting through it, but in a disconnected sort of way. I could feel the tension as he pulled up on the skin, and I could feel his fingers and hand brushing other parts of my leg, as he sawed back and forth with the blade to cut the skin away from my leg. I turned around at one point, as James took a photo of Wayde pulling up a piece of skin, and it was so strange to see it but not feel it. It was almost like it was someone else's leg.
The procedure continued in this pattern: recut the outline, apply cream, wait a minute or so, remove the skin. There were a few times when the cream didn't seem to work, so I'd just bite down on the pillow, and squeeze James' hand or arm til I heard the bones crunch. We had the radio playing in the background, and were usually chatting about things like friends, cities, mods, and what we'd do if the cleaning lady at the hotel knocked on the door. The tables were set up in a position so that even if the lady tried to open the door, which had a chain on it, she'd see what we were doing. Every now and then Emmo would peek out the door and see if she was coming. We had a few ideas, such as James answering the door butt naked, or Wayde answering it with a bloody scalpel in one hand, mask on, and snapping the rubber glove on his other hand. Luckily, the cleaning lady avoided us and our schemes.
When the removals were done, Wayde went around the lines and made them deeper and wider. When I looked at it when he was finished, it seemed as if he'd also removed the outlines, but he hadn't, he'd just done an awesome job of widening them. Wayde cleaned away the blood, although there actually was fairly little, due to the cream he said. Everyone took photos, while I ate more of my sugary foods and tried to relax my body, which had been pretty tensed up for the last two and a half hours. Wayde put some paper towel over the area, and then taped it up, and explained all I needed to know about aftercare. I put my shoes back on and rolled down my jeans, and sat on the edge of the table until I felt ok to walk. I was a little light headed, but once I got moving and out into the fresh air I was fine. I didn't even have a limp! I paid Wayde and we said goodbye, planning to meet up with them later for a BBQ at friends' house and then go to see the Horrorpops play in town.
I didn't end up getting home until around 1.15am after the concert. I was so exhausted I just wanted to collapse in bed, but I knew I couldn't let my leg dry out, because then it would scab and not scar cleanly all the way across the design. I didn't want to mess up the great job that Wayde had done, so I made myself have a shower. This turned out to be a really difficult task. The paper towels had dried blood on them, and had stuck to the wound pretty well. I recommend to other people getting a skin removal that they don't wait 11 hours to change the dressing, like I did! I had to put my leg in the shower to wet the paper, which really hurt. I tried to flick the water onto the wound rather than putting it directly under the spray. I ended up putting the back of my thigh under the spray, and letting the water run down over it, and that didn't hurt too bad. Once most of the blood and paper had washed away, I sat down and tried to peel off any paper left. This took about 15 minutes, because it was hard to tell what was paper and what was just thick blood. I ended up using a cloth towel, which James suggested, to wipe over the wound, and that picked up any paper towel left.
Once it was all as dry and as clean as possible, I set to work putting on the Vaseline. Wayde had explained that this would keep the area wet and stop any scabs from forming. This way the scars would form evenly across the design. The problem was that the Vaseline warmed up really quickly from my body heat, and it became really sticky and soft. It was really difficult to get it to stay on the wounds. I did the best I could, and then wrapped the whole area with plastic and sticky taped it up.
It's now two days since the procedure and I have worked out a few tricks to washing and dressing the area. Putting my thigh under the water, and letting it run down, helped a lot while it was still fresh. But now after a few days it's fine to hold it under the spray, it doesn't hurt. Using a towel to wipe away any gunk or dressing works well too. And the best way to get the Vaseline to stick is this: wipe the whole area as dry as you can. Get a big dob of Vaseline from the tub, and put it in the middle of the area. Then spread it out really thickly, as quickly as you can. Don't worry about getting it evenly spread. So long as it's all covered, it's fine. The more you touch it the warmer it gets and it will all just end up coming off and being stuck on your fingers. Wipe your hands on a towel or tissues, and then gladwrap the whole area tightly, and tape it. If it's on an area that sweats, like the back of your leg, it might be an idea to put some paper towels around the bottom, and tape them there, to soak up the fluids. Because they will leak out! Sweat + white blood cells + lymph + a little blood + general body stuff will come out as an orangey yellowy liquid.
The experience as a whole was really, really intense, but I did enjoy it. It was a very different kind of pain to piercings and tattoos. Wayde is an awesome artist and I recommend him to anyone looking at getting a skin removal. Check out his gallery on his iam page (iam.quaid). He's really laid back, but totally switched on, and knows what he's doing. He makes sure that you're aware of what he's going to do next, and that you're prepared for anything that might be uncomfortable or painful. I'm really pleased with my skin removal and I hope it heals up well. I have uploaded pictures, so check out my iam page if you are interested. Hopefully I explained myself okay and you can understand what I wrote. And I hope it wasn't so long you gave up reading it!
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 15 Aug. 2005