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Wings of steel (or - when routine goes adventure)

Some may ask "what is so special about doing your 6th and 7th body suspensions that warrants another experience for BME?" Furthermore, I did this in the superman position again, my preferred way of "flying" and a suspension I've done and described three times already. It had almost started to become routine. A well loved-routine for sure, but would it be worth another experience? Definitely yes – particularly since these ones were different - routine became an adventure again. I was even more nervous than before the very first suspension I did - and I think that's telling A LOT. It could have been an easy experience, doing the same nice thing again, floating above everything happily for hours. But I decided long ago that this time I wanted to do something different.

For over a year now I've been wearing what I like to call "wings of steel" – a group of large gauge surface piercings going down my back. See my "High flying dreams - permanent suspension piercings experience about this project – which I'd like to continue here to tell you how this project advances. This also was featured on modblog before (here).  By now, they're fully healed - click here for one of the pictures I recently uploaded to BME - and, hopefully, suitable for suspending.

There wasn't much information available about people who tried to heal large-gauge piercings so they could be "re-used" for suspensions. Apart from Fakir Musafar's famous deep chest piercings which are (or were used) for suspending, I've only seen this pop up on BME once (here – and that way AFTER I began my project), so there really wasn't much to start out with. Suspending from permanent/healed piercings was repeatedly described to me as being more painful than suspending from fresh ones due to lack of endorphins. And I was warned of a greater risk of tearing at the exit points, as the skin would be weaker in the area where the jewelry sits. Hell, even the BME suspension FAQ isn't very encouraging, answering the "Can I get suspension piercings permanently and suspend from them?" question with a capital "NO". But I wanted to go ahead despite all the "no, realistically not possible, and if so – what for?" attitude toward my project that I encountered in the community. My questions were: "Will it work? Will it be so painful, that instead of this wonderful floating, flying feeling, will it only be a fight against myself? Will I damage my piercings?" And, "Do I risk to tear the rims of the holes, leading to a bad re-healing time, or even to loss of the nice metal in my back?". I think I did (and still do) my best to minimize those adverse effects: I decided to go with the six permanent holes in the back plus "regular" piercings in my legs, which would hopefully disperse the force of weight to a sub-critical level when suspending from them later. Additionally, I got those in stages to not overburden my body with healing too many piercings at once. And I've been very meticulous in my daily care routine – almost "over-nursing" them. Also, I figured that getting the hooks in my legs freshly pierced every time should provide me with the amounts of "natural painkillers" in endorphins sufficient to avoid being overwhelmed with pain while going up (as I am rather pain resistant, endorphins never were that big an issue for me). Last but not least I hoped, that the even, well-balanced force on each piercing of a superman – or an angel – suspension, should help prevent the kind of damage on one of the exit holes that may happen with the Fakir-style piercings

That was the theory. Will I prove it to be right? Or not?

I was playing with pretty high stakes here – if I was wrong and it didn't work, I might go home without my beautiful back surface piercings - an extremely sad idea. So I was nervous. I mean REALLY nervous, anxious, and doubtful that I really should do it at all.

Then the time for the first test arrived – the fourth annual Swiss IAM meeting, held in a beautiful location in the heart of Switzerland. I was watching other people hanging and having great experiences but I still did not really know if I should dare it. After hours of anxiety-filled procrastination I finally decided to go ahead and dare to do it. Dare2wear was the name of the studio where I commissioned the piercings in my back – and now I would indeed dare, dare to fly. Stop waiting and hesitating, stop feeling sorry for not fulfilling a desire and DO IT. After making that decision for good, a lot of the angst was gone.

When it was time to get hooked, we quickly found out that the 5mm / 4g hooks the Visavajara team was using were quite different in size from the hooks made by Chandler I was pierced with before and for whose size my piercings were designed. They were a lot narrower! My piercings were designed for 60mm wide hooks, whereas the hooks used by the Visavajara team only had a width of 40mm. There again came the nagging question: should I really push a 60mm wide piercing into a – max – 40mm wide hook which would stress the holes a lot and counteract my plan to avoid imbalanced forces creating strong, maybe tearing local pulls? Fortunately I had four of the "correct" hooks with me, and Marc (IAM:little-swastika) quickly made some improvised but cool-looking safeties for them. It was decided to use my four hooks in my lower back (the lower back piercings were a few months fresher than the upper back ones) and so my older and presumably more healed (and also a bit shorter pierced) upper back piercings had to deal with the narrower hooks.

Changing the jewelry out to the hooks proved to be a surprisingly easy undertaking. The cunning hands of the team removed the surface bars in my piercings and replaced them with the hooks in no time without any force or problem. It felt like it was supposed to – a jewelry change. I hope the pictures illustrate this somewhat - click through for a larger view (and thank you for snapping them):

There was no pain at all. And my fears about the hooks being too narrow proved to be ill-founded. To my surprise, they fit well. Then came the legs. My thighs and calves were pierced conventionally, with 3mm (8g) hooks. The needle easily passed through the skin of the upper legs – twice two piercings were done simultaneously, employing the old ritual (prepare – breathe in – breathe out – pierce!).

The lower legs, however, did not even think of behaving like that. As usual, the piercing procedure for these hooks was agonizingly painful. And, quite new to my experience, I was hardly able to walk after I had them in. My calves were feeling like they were going on strike!

The feeling in the different body parts remained constant while rigging and when the first serious pulling forces were applied. During the going-up phase I wanted to rise really slow, to allow my back piercings to gradually adapt to the stress, to avoid damaging them as much as possible. But I realized soon that my back wasn't giving me any grief – it was my lower legs that hurt a lot. I usually never needed more than a few minutes to get off the ground, but this time the lifting procedure took me a quarter of an hour. But, finally, I succeeded and got airborne (again, click through for larger view - and the, hm, "interesting" color of my skin is due to sunburn...):

I had a typical, nice, painless body suspension, a true superman flight, wonderful as I learned to expect and love it. I was flying on my permanent surface piercings.

Wings of steel.

This time, 10 minutes after the take off, the adventure had ended – my shortest flight yet. But both the team and myself decided to play it safe and to not risk any tearing and keep my holes happy. After coming down again, walking back the short distance to the piercing station proved to be really painful – and again, my surface-bars-to-suspension-hooks back piercings weren't giving me any trouble, but my lower legs were killing me! It was one of the rare times I was happy to get rid of some metal. Most likely, the hooks pressed onto some sensitive spot in my right calf, probably onto a nerve. It certainly did not feel the way I am used to. The hooks in my back were swapped out for the surface bars – again, there were no problems at all. It was a pain-free and easy procedure (again, click through for larger pics):


All in all, the piercings in my back did not look particularly stressed. OK, so they were a bit swollen and a bit red, but it was hard to believe that I hung from them minutes before.
I took even more care of the piercings in my back as usual thereafter, and a few days later the piercings looked better than before. Success! While my back was fine almost immediately, the right calf shocked me – I lost feeling all the way down to the foot for almost a month. It was obvious that this time the hook pressed onto some delicate tissue – strangely enough, I got the piercing in the exact same position as before, through the scars of the previous suspensions.

Six weeks later, the Berlin summercamp suspension event was scheduled, which I attended again. Due to the fact it was Chandler who helped me starting with the project exactly a year before, I was particularly happy to hang there again – from my permanent suspension piercings this time! The condition of the holes in my back was OK: they were still not absolutely perfectly healed, but as good as it got – 6 weeks closer to that point than they were in Switzerland. Again, it was funny to feel the ease of changing jewelry to hooks. Someone on the crew mentioned that he wished " it would be always that easy". Indeed, there was a change in feeling with the leg piercings. Traditionally I wanted to reuse old scars, forgetting about a shorter than usual, 6 week healing time-span. The procedure was painful enough to make me swear again – something I never did with piercings before. But then, I was getting up, walking around, and the hooks, all of them, felt like parts of me – like it should be. I got off the ground quickly and trouble-free – followed by a beautiful forty-five minute suspension that I stopped only to avoid over-stressing my back.

Again, the surface bars were easy to but back in, and the holes did not look stressed. Looking at them, it was hard to believe I had been hanging from them at all. And after a few days, no sign of any stress remained.

; ;

So – successes all down the line. Healing piercings and re-using them for suspensions DOES WORK - I can hang from my back for a considerable amount of time, and probably even quite regularly without any apparent damage.

During the last months the piercings became even more stable and resistant. Although healing is not yet fully completed, it is definitely very close. And there is no sign of rejection. When I started the project I got quite pessimistic predictions about the chances to successfully heal them, due to the large size of the piercings (5mm in diameter, up to 60mm wide and nearly 10mm deep under the skin). Meanwhile I believe they did heal so well, not in spite of, but because of the rather large size. Not only are the forces of a suspension now well distributed onto a lot of skin, but I also do not experience any negative repercussions in daily life. They don't get snagged easily, I can use backpacks and the like without any issues, and I can – and do so – sleep on my back, even if lying on solid ground.

I wonder if going as big as possible for the intended placement might help with healing for a lot of other surface projects...

My project has reached now the next and – for now – final level. A week after the Berlin meeting I found out that the piercings in my calves had not yet closed – the calves which felt so good that time with the metal inside. Might it be possible to reinsert the hooks? It was! Again, I commissioned fitting jewelry (3mm diameter/33mm wide, again at Dare2wear, Amsterdam) and had it fit in there. Right now these 3 month old surface-piercings are well healing – even though sometimes I can not resist playing with them by pulling at them with suspension-like force.

I can't wait to hang from them again!

Special thanks to IAM:MrNomodifications for correcting the text and helping me out with the HTML codes.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 21 Dec. 2008
in Ritual

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