septum experience @ rings of desire
When I was in high school, a girl I knew had a septum ring. She
showed me how she could flip it into her nostrils and allowed me to
lightly tug on it. The stretchy resistance from her nose was
intoxicating. The exotic image of the septum ring remained filed in my
memory, but it was not until college that this image would be translated
to my own flesh.
As a college freshman I had the ubiquitous pierced tongue and
craved more. I had intense dreams in which my septum was pierced, and
upon awakening, would be inevitably hit with a wave of loss upon realizing
that my septum was unperforated. My family is opposed to piercing; my
mother found even my cartilege pierce to be "extreme" for her tastes. So
the septum seemed to be the perfect compromise. I could tuck it into my
nostrils when visiting family, display it in its full glory the rest of
the time, and no one would be the wiser. Now all I had to do was find a
Well, one day when I was poking around in the French Quarter (I live in New Orleans) I stumbled upon the renowned Rings of Desire, operated by Master Piercer Elayne Angel. I ascended a flight of stairs and found myself in a comfortable and soothing atmosphere, replete with sofas and a cat. Beneath glass counters, every imaginable type of jewelry glistened invitingly. Delicate navel rings, elaborate nipple shields, chunky 0 gauge acrylics, ferocious septum tusks...I began to salivate and curse my college's tuition bill. Then I remembered my own virgin septum. I asked the beautifully tattooed and pierced woman behind the counter ( I would later discover that this was Angel herself!) about prices. The piercing fee for an associate was 25 dollars, and hers was 35 dollars. Sadly, I could not afford this with the added cost of jewelry. Then she told me I could have an apprentice do it on Thursday for only 10 dollars. YAY! Elated, I set an appointment for Thursday. The rest of the week could not have crawled by more slowly. FINALLY Thursday rolled around. I caught the St. Charles streetcar down to the quarter and walked/ran the rest of the way. Soaked in sweat, (it's hot in New Orleans, what can I say?) and out of breath, I arrived. Picking out the jewelry didn't take too long. I knew I wanted a circular barbell so I would have the "flipping" option, and my meager funds dictated that I get a simple surgical steel one. It was 14 gauge. Once I had chosen my jewelry, the man behind the counter (Todd) told me, "There, now the hard part's done!" "No" I replied, "The hard part is paying for it!" Along with a bottle of ear cleaning solution, the total came to just under 70 dollars. After paying and filling out some paperwork, I settled myself on the couch farthest away from the cat. They're cute, but I'm allergic and didn't need to be sneezing while a needle pierced my nose.
I can't say I was really nervous or fearful of the pain. I was more consumed by the fact that soon I would have a pierce in plain view, which would radically alter society's perception of me. Perhaps even my perception of myself. I flipped through some back issues of PFIQ while I pondered, and admired the genital piercings in particular. A vertical clit hood pierce was added to my mental wish list. "Come on back, we're ready for you." Elayne smiled encouragingly (She did this throughout the procedure) and led me through the mirrored door. I was inside a room with one window, cabinets in the back, a hat rack, a stool, a small work table, and a large purple chair in the middle. Elayne introduced me to Paul, my piercer. I took a seat on the chair. I rather liked the fact that it was purple: it made the environment less clinical. I am guessing this deep royal purple is one of Elayne Angel's favorite colors as it was prevalent in the decor of the studio as well as her tattoos and web site (www.ringsofdesire.com). She asked me if I was allergic to shellfish (I'm not) I guess because she sterilized the septum with an Iodine based material, or maybe just iodine. While it dried, she went through the cleaning procedure. I was to moisten a Qtip in the ear cleaning solution and apply it to side of the septum ring, then, using the other half of the qtip, apply it to the other side. Crust would need to be soaked off or scrubbed with a qtip. Then I was to rotate the ring through. She would repeat those instructions again at the end of the piercing, but obviously I didn't pay very much attention then! Now it was time for the placement. I was fortunate to have an apprentice doing my pierce, as I got to listen to Elayne explain exactly-and I mean EXACTLY- how to pierce a septum. She explained how crucial it was to get the markings right. A crooked septum ring looks so bad. Apparently this is tricky to do, since you are piercing through a dark and hidden place. My nostrils are not too cavernous though. Elayne said they were good nostrils to learn on. Well, thanks! She and Paul massaged and prodded my septum for a while to find the "soft spot". I was surprised where the marking was done: I hadn't thought it would be at the very tip of the septum. I had an idea in my mind that it would be more at the base, closer to the lip. She had Paul do the markings and corrected his marks once. I noticed, with some trepidation, that Paul's hands were trembling slightly. I felt very grateful that I was the piercee and not the piercer. Suddenly my job seemed so easy. All I had to do was lie there and get pierced. I could definitely sympathize with his slight nervousness. Once Elayne had given Paul's marks the A-OK, it was time to proceed with the piercing. (The marks looked fine to me) I lay back on the chair; my head felt slightly lower than my feet. Elayne showed Paul the proper way to hold the needle and where to put his hands. Using a qtip in one nostril and the recieving tube in the other, he massaged my septum, trying to get a feel for where the pierce would be. Elayne said it was very important that his "line of sight" be accurate. "Some people think this is the worst part!" she told me as he positioned the tube. Swiftly, he exchanged the Qtip for the needle. I was instructed to close my eyes, but for some reason I was really reluctant to. I don't know why. It's not like I could see what was going on anyway. But anyway, I closed them. "Take a deep breath in and then let it out" I heard. Oh man, I knew what was coming now. Obediantly I breathed in and then pushed it out. A sharp burning splinter of silver fire forced its way through the tough flesh. Severe pain shocking in its intensity as the needle sliced cleanly, yet seemingly so slowly. How thick was my septum anyway? Then it seemed like it was over instantaneously. The time of the piercing is not like real time, in that it is hard for me to describe whether felt like it took a long or short time. For the piercer, it only took a few seconds. For me, it took an undefinable amount of time. A frozen instant, a flash of time immortalized in a frame of pain. When people ask if it hurt, which they quite frequently do, I always respond with an enthusiastic yes. What I don't mention to them is the lucidity, the clarity which this pain can bestow on you. Later I would learn that part of the reason the actual pierce had seemed to take so long was that when Paul gave the needle its initial forceful push, it did not go all the way through. He had paused after this before driving the needle home. I can just imagine my nose squishing to the left from the force of the needle. With the piercing finished, I opened my now watering eyes. In the mirror I saw myself reflected, the needle stuck savagely through my septum. I have to admit it looked pretty barbaric and awesome. Elayne now showed Paul the motion he should use to guide the jewelry into place. He did this, the ring smoothly but painfully following the needle. However, as he screwed on the internally threaded balls his hands must have slipped, because I heard a clink as the ball dropped to the floor. A state of emergency ensued. "Quick, marinate it!" Elayne said. The ball was immediately placed in a cup of some kind of sterilizing agent. The episode reinforced how stringently hygienic Rings of Desire is. After a change of gloves the ball was securely screwed on. I was handed a mirror and there I was with a septum ring. I felt dazed and contented. There was a trace amount of blood. At this point Elayne showed me how to flip it up. I really didn't feel like subjecting my nose to any more trauma , but she knew it was important that I learn. I pursed my lips to stretch open the nostril and she gently and efficiently slid it up. Then, using Qtips, she slid it back out and wiped off the snot the ring had on it from being in my nose. Talk about kind and attentive. "How are you feeling?" she asked me. I assured her that I felt fine. I wiped my eyes with a kleenex. Elayne then offered me water and candy, both of which I eagerly accepted. I remember it being really hard to unwrap the Dumdum, and my hand kept shaking as I drank the water. Once again Elayne explained the cleaning procedure, warning me in particular not to touch my face, but this time I was preoccupied by the candy. She congratulated me on my composure (I didn't feel composed!) and told me I could go whenever I felt ready. I was ready then, and she took my candy wrapper and cup to throw away. (Elayne really does spoil you!) I asked Paul if it was his first time piercing a septum. He said that it was, and I was not entirely surprised. But the placement was dead-on perfect. Sometimes, during the healing process, it did look uneven, but ultimately straightened out. I collected my cleanser and aftercare sheet, thanked Paul, and left. I have since learned that Paul is moving to Colorado with his girlfriend, so I wish him luck. I should mention how strongly I recommend having an apprentice pierce you. Both parties benefit: the piercer gets some experience while the piercee receives a discount. And hearing a master piercer explain the intricacies of piercing to her apprentice is so illuminating. Once I was out of the studio, I was aware of the attention the septum ring generated. People, particularly older ones, seemed either fascinated or repelled by it. I went and sat by the river, watching the huge boats and feeling a breeze come off the water and blast me in the face. It was soothing. I did not feel euphoria, but a deep sense of peace and satisfaction in my life. My inner vision of my self had become concrete, and I was overpowered by pleasure and strangely, relief. I don't know how long I sat there before I headed back to my dorm. People's reactions have been surprisingly profuse for what I thought was a relatively common pierce. Some have never seen it before. Others ask why I did it. Many ask about the pain involved or tell me it looks painful. One woman came up to me and said, "When I saw that thing in your nose it made my headache just a little bit worse!" Many small children are fascinated.
Three days after I got it, I had to flip it up to visit my grandmother. This was really tricky and painful, but I needn't have bothered. The first thing she said when she saw me was "What's that in your nose?" I guess the silver gleams from within the nostril. So, while it is inconspicuous, it is by no means invisible. You really need a black retainer for that. Anyway, my entire family knows about it now. I love my grandmother, but she has a big mouth. They give me a hard time about it, you know, the "If God wanted you to have that in your nose you would have been born with it." Does anybody else get sick of that argument? I followed the aftercare, but sometimes couldn't resist playing with it with dirty hands. It healed well and uneventfully, and now, two months later, I can tug it. In fact, pulling it feels pretty good and has gotten to be a tic of mine when I do homework. Now I feel that intoxicating stretch between flesh and metal whenever I want to.
Thanks for reading this. I hope it was worth your time.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 01 Dec. 1998
in Nose Piercing