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Pain From Pearls

"No wonder you're late. Why, this watch is exactly two days slow". - Mad Hatter

I've mentioned, in previous experiences, that I suffer from Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia (FMS), for those who may not know, "is a widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorder for which the cause is still unknown. Fibromyalgia means pain in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons - the soft fibrous tissues in the body." (http://www.fmnetnews.com/pages/basics.html) What that means then, in short, is having FMS hurts.

I spend most days in at least moderate pain. Other days the pain is so bad it's all I can do not to curl up in a ball and cry. Yet, I manage. I try to lead a healthier lifestyle and stay active and when the pain is really bad I take something to ease it. Having FMS also means my body, my skin, is more sensitive. A friendly poke in the arm leaves the spot sore for a good 10 minutes or more. A hug can leave me aching. Getting tattooed HURTS.

When I first started getting tattooed I didn't suffer from FMS, or at least, not enough to pinpoint what was going on or to make tattooing any more uncomfortable than what I expect is the usual. I was kind of surprised, then, when at my last tattoo session the pain was so intense it was all I could do to keep from crying and all I could do to sit for the three and a half hours I did before I said - stop!

That memory still fresh, I looked towards my next tattoo appointment with a mix of excitement and dread. I love the beautiful works on my skin. Love how friendly my artist is and how at ease I feel with him. I do not, however, love the pain. I wasn't sure how to approach this next appointment. What should I do to make myself most comfortable? Do I take pain medication before I go? Is it advisable to take something like Tylenol with Codeine before getting tattooed? Should I plan on taking some before and more afterward?

Generally when I'm getting worked on, I bring along an orange juice. I couldn't recommend something like this more for keeping your blood sugar up. With me, the first touch of the needle always seems to send my blood sugar plummeting and I've even felt lightheaded and dizzy on occasion so having that orange juice is crucial, plus, you get thirsty after awhile!

On the day of the appointment I decided to take one Tylenol 3. I'd asked around and the only negative I heard was that if the T3 makes you a bit spaced out you probably shouldn't take it. Since it doesn't affect me in that way at all, I decided I would be safe.

I've developed a ritual of sorts in that King of Fools is right by a McDonald's, so I stop in there for a hamburger, small fry and a pop before my appointment. It's important to eat before getting tattooed so I had my usual before heading up to the shop. When I got up there one of the girls told me Shane was running late and asked if I could come back in an hour. That was fine with me so I headed back out to wander Yonge Street for a bit.

Eventually it was time to go back and when I got there, Shane was there. He took a few minutes to get set up and then I went to the back room with him. When he started to work all my fears of intense pain vanished. While it didn't tickle, this was certainly no where near the pain of last time. I didn't cringe, I didn't try to shrink away, I just sat and talked with Shane throughout the appointment.

I'm not sure if it was because this appointment was primarily shading or if there were other factors involved but it felt like a normal tattoo session this time and I had no problem sitting for the two and a half hours that Shane worked on my arm.

When he was finished I couldn't believe the difference. I'd been walking around with the outline for a year but this was almost like an entirely new tattoo. The way it popped was incredible. Shane remarked that I'd sat much better this time and that I'd hardly bled at all. I figured this was a really good sign and he bandaged me up and sent me on my way.

When I got back to my friends' place that night, I removed the bandage and washed my arm. I still couldn't get over how incredible it looked.

The healing went really well this time. There was only some very mild scabbing and lots of flaking. My arm was sore the next day in that same way your arms are sore after lifting weights but it only lasted for the one day.

On day 2 I started applying lotion. I couldn't find my usual unscented Keri in a small bottle and I couldn't find any Lubriderm either so I settled on Vaseline Extra Strength lotion since it said it was good for sensitive skin. I got a little bottle I could carry around because I knew I would be out and about in Toronto while I was healing and I figured this would suit me best.

The itching didn't start until about 4 days after the tattoo. Thankfully it only really lasted 3 days but it was a long 3 days of persistent itch that you can't scratch.

One thing I wasn't prepared for with this tattoo was the attention it attracted. Like I mentioned above, I've been walking around with the outline for a year and while I get a remark now and then it was nothing compared to what this last week or so has been. Nearly every place I go someone stops me to ask about my tattoo. While it's a great advertisement for Shane the attention is starting to wear a little thin. What's funny is I have friends with full sleeves and I didn't really understand why they often felt more comfortable covering their tattoos. Now I do. Compliments are nice and the questions are harmless but for someone who prefers not to have the spotlight on them, attracting this much attention is a little unsettling.

One really nice incident, however, happened on the subway. I was looking at a little girl with dreadlocks when I realized her parents were talking about my tattoo. They were standing a little way away from me but I could still hear their comments. They were remarking on how beautiful it was, how it was like a work of art and that it looked like it was painted on my skin. All I can say is that is a testament to Shane's work and I am very proud to have his creation on my arm.

So now the Mad Hatter and the March Hare truly do look mad and what was once simply an outline now pops off my arm like a living, breathing thing. I look forward to the next chapter as we bring the tattoo down to my elbow and continue to work towards completing my sleeve.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 13 July 2006
in Fantasy Tattoos, Shane Faulkner Tattoo Portfolio

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Artist: Shane Faulkner
Studio: King of Fools
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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