My first tattoo, better the second time around.
To me my body is a valuable canvas make like the value canvas was given years ago when it was expensive and rare. The only difference is my skin can't recovered and redone. Whatever I chose must stay with me the rest of my life. With this in mind I always wanted to decorate my body with things that had deep meaning for me. It took me years before I figured out in my head what I wanted. I wanted to incorporate stone, arches, flowers and use it to embrace myself. I have no skill at drawing and I really wanted the perfect tattoo for me.
Shortly I ran into a woman at the park being dragged around by a young lab. After talking I realized she was out of her element and offered to show her how to handle the dog. As we got to know each other she told me she was an artist. I saw her work and it was beautiful. I told her that I was looking for someone to make an original sketch of a tattoo and we agreed that I would teach her to train her new puppy and she would make my design. For the next year we perfected the design and made walking her dog fun. One day she showed me a sketch and I knew it was what I wanted.
I had chosen a purple rose (father), chrysanthemum (mother), heather (sister) and rosemary (remembrance) over a key stone with the initials of my family members and other important individuals in my life. It was everything I had wanted. I decided that I wanted it over my heart but everything I read said that it was very painful to get the chest tattooed. I also had a complete mastectomy and that means I have nothing but skin and muscle covering my ribs. I was nervous about the pain. I also hadn't had any tattoo done before and was very naive about the process. I was also worried that I would have problems because I was a transsexual.
I decided to travel around Toronto and visit a few shops with my sketch. I wanted a cost and time estimate plus I wanted to be reassured that they could do such a detailed tattoo. After checking around I only found one guy who sounded right and answered my questions when I came in. Everything sounded good and I agreed to come in the next week. It would cost 150 bucks and about 30-60 minutes. I asked about pain killers and was told not to use anything and that I had to be sober when I signed the consent. I took a copy of all the paperwork home to read before hand and agreed to be sober.
Sunday came and I went down. I was a little early and hung around until everything opened up then I went in and signed the paperwork. I went out for one last smoke before heading upstairs. Unfortunately the shop was wheelchair accessible and the stairs were steep. I managed to make it up with the dog and we got sorted out. He had me lay down on something like a weight bench and he cleaned the area. We talked a bit and for all purposes everything sound right. He cleaned the area and let me tell you it hurt. It hurt and only got worse. My artist kept saying it was normal and wasn't a problem. About 15 minutes in and my muscles were twitching and every time he went near certain point I wanted to yell at him to stop. He told me it was normal that I just had to relax. No pain= no gain sort of thing. It made me not trust him entirely. After 45 minute he was done and it looked alright. The colors were vibrant but the lines didn't look clean and there was a lot of missing color. He t old me not to worry that we could touch it up later. Otherwise he was pleasant and seemed to know what he was doing. I certainly did not and was just proud of myself for making it through. The shop tried to sell my an aftercare lotion but I make my own and wasn't impressed with the petroleum products.
I went home and slowly recovered. The ink seemed to be always coming out and soon all my shirts had a neat imprint of my tattoo on the inside. I regularly rubbed my tattoo with solid fats butter, lard, coconut oil, shea butter and more. For the first week it looked good but it seemed to be fading.
At first I thought it was just in my head but everyone I showed was liking it less and less. By the end of the first month people were being polite but it looked pretty bad. I was worried that I was doing something wrong or maybe I couldn't be tattooed. My major reason for not getting tattooed to date was my fear of having something that looked awful for life. I called my artist and he told me to come down and he would retouch it. It put me at ease when he was so willing to fix it up. So I came by for my appointment which lasted all of 10 minutes. He touched up some shading and said it was done. That some fading was normal. After a couple weeks it still looked pretty bad and came in for another touch up. Everyone I showed it to said it looked pretty bad and thought it was 5 plus years old. This time the guy was a lot less nice and really took the tack that nothing was wrong. He did a couple of minutes and said I was fine. He said I could come back one more time but I didn't r
eally see a point. The tattoo wasn't looking better, I still didn't like it and wasn't happy. Every time he picked up the needle it hurt and I was getting tired of it.
Finally I asked someone who I know that knew their stuff and was impartial. He told me he had seen worse but it was pretty bad. He explained to me that the pain wasn't normal and that most guys take a Percocet when they tattoo their ribs. He suggested I go and see another artist before giving up. He didn't think it would be impossible to tattoo me. I had to go with my mom to her piercer to get a jewelery change and decided to ask the shop what they thought of my tattoo. The moment I showed it to them it was clear they thought it was pretty bad. They got the person who specialized cover ups and after a few minutes she said she could fix it but it would be a lot of work. After agreeing on an appointment time and paying my deposit I left. Still unsure if I would be happy. It turned out my artist actually has a lot of experience fixing this guy's work.
I arrived at my appointment and filled out all of the paperwork. I had planned on taking 10mg of Percocet but I couldn't get a script in times and ended up taking 50mg of codeine and a joint instead once the paperwork was signed. After 20 minutes I was called back and took off my shirt. My first surprise was that she wanted me to sit up. The other guy said it didn't matter and well thats why it wasn't straight. After looking and talking for a bit she got to work fixing the lines. After a few hours we stopped and I was amazed. It didn't hurt, I wasn't shaking and felt like I could have kept going. I felt totally secure in her hands and was completely safe and supported.
I left feeling hopeful maybe this would look better. As the weeks passed I followed the same aftercare as before and had no problems. Everything looked good and I had no problem recovering. Even just redoing the lines and a bit of shading changed everything. People were back paying me compliments instead of politely looking away and changing the subject. I was so happy. About 6 weeks later I returned and had the coloring redone. It looked great, the experience was top notch and I was happy with it again. I think I have 1 more touch up and then it will be done.
For those thinking about a tattoo, the chest is painful but your artist skill greatly determines the pain. Solid clean fats are great moisturizers and are cheaper then a lot of aftercare products. Liquid fats aren't as good. If you aren't happy don't stop until you are. Really check out your artists but if you don't know what your doing you will still make mistakes. Pay good money for a good tattoo. Really think about what you get because it is your body, you want to be happy with it for longer then right now. Ask questions and if you aren't comfortable with something says so, don't just sit there and suffer like I did. Finally have fun what you do with your canvas is limited only by your imagination.
I will probably have more work done, and Jacob will be my artist for anything she is capable of. I trust her implicitly. I am currently designing a combination tattoo/ scarification piece to memorialize my transition but not until I recover from all the other work that has to be done. Thanks for reading my story and hope you enjoy your journey.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 13 Oct. 2008