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Like A Virgin

Before anything else: thanks to bme.com and to the people who share their stories here. I spent a lot of time digging through this site as part of my research, and it really helped. Now I'm on here every day! So I thought I should add a story of my own.

I'd been /obsessed/ with getting my Madonna for most of this year. But I kept putting it off, because I couldn't manage a two week gap between externships. I satisfied myself with trawling the internet for information, personal accounts, pictures and videos. And quizzing everyone I ran into out and about who had one. I finally decided that I would get it done at The Laundry, in Zillmere. Of all of the piercing places in Brisbane, it sounded like the best fit.

Prior to the Madonna, I had 7 ear lobe piercings done between the ages of 10 and 14. When I was 16, I had my nose pierced at a little place in Coolangatta called Koolah, but it's not there anymore. Piercing my nose was a way of asserting control over my life. Things at home were a little all over the place, and my body felt like one of the only things that I was in charge of.

That was nine years ago! Now I'm finishing up postgraduate studies to become a clinical psychologist. The last few years have been hell, ha ha. So maybe in a way the Madonna is also about asserting some control over my life, in the midst of a lot of competing demands.

And so. A fortnight ago my flat-mate and I both had the day off from uni, and were brainstorming things to do. She suggested we go and get my Madonna done. I ummed and ahhed about money, and externships. But really it was exactly what I wanted to do. I called to make an appointment, and the earliest I could get was 3:30pm. So I'd have half the day to stew!

My flat-mate was really nervous about watching the procedure, ha ha. I was playing it cool – I was mostly excited that I would finally /have/ it, and be able to stop obsessing about it. But as we got closer and closer to Zillmere, I was getting a bit nervous!

We arrived at The Laundry, and the lovely Helen sat us down and talked me through the procedure itself, the anatomy of the piercing [she even drew pictures for me!], the healing process and aftercare. We talked about risks associated with the piercing, and the jewelry, and she answered all of my questions. She is really soft-spoken, and has a very mellow vibe. I knew I was in good hands.

Then it was time to get things under way! [The hospital-smell of sterile instruments immediately separates my consciousness from my body, so I may miss or re-arrange what happened a little bit.] I told Helen that I wanted it on the right [obviously – it's a Madonna], because my nose is pierced on the left. I jumped up on the chair, and she cleaned my lip. She drew a dot on my lip, and gave me a mirror to check it out myself. She had me smile really big, and pull a few different faces, to make sure it wouldn't get snagged. We talked about the shape of my upper jaw; teeth, gums and upper lip. She said the shape of my upper jaw was good, in terms of preventing rubbing (more pointed than flat, like my flat-mates, ha ha). After watching me pull faces and inspecting the inside of my mouth, she suggested we use the bottom edge of the dot she had drawn, rather than the centre. I inspected myself in the mirror, trying to use the sample jewelry she had given me to play with to imagine how it would look (a standard 3mm silver ball – the smallest I could get). Sounded fine to me.

Everything was autoclaved and ready to go. She had me lay back in the chair, and lowered it so I was laying flat. My heart was racing! I'd watched lots of videos of the procedure on Youtube, and in most of these the girls were pierced from the inside out, and barely flinched. Stories on BME largely seemed to reflect this, too. So I wasn't expecting it to hurt too much.

I asked Helen if it was alright if my flat-mate filmed it, and she said that was fine. "Make sure the angle is flattering!" I told her [though this was pretty much impossible - I came out looking like Freddie Mercury]. I wanted my friends and family to be able to watch it, and I wanted to see it, too.

Helen put the clamp in place, and checked that the placement was ok on the inside, too. The clamp was fine, very comfortable. Then she positioned the needle against the dot. [When I realized she would be piercing from the outside in, I panicked a little bit, because it hadn't occurred to me that she would do it that way, ha ha.] She chatted to me to distract me. Then she said, "Ready to rock'n'roll?" "Unh hnn." Then she pushed the needle through. It hurt quite a bit more than I expected it to. I didn't flinch or well up or anything, so it wasn't too bad. She pulled the needle out, leaving the tube in. I became very, very interested in the posters on the ceiling. Then she fed the jewelry up through the tube. Once she pulled the tube out, my lip felt a lot better, just as she promised.

My flat-mate hadn't passed out, which was good. Helen screwed the ball on, and then ran some cool water over it through some gauze-y stuff, which was heaven. Then she mopped up the drop of blood on my lip with a cotton bud. It was all done! My consciousness and my body were still not in the same room as I sat up. Helen handed me a mirror. To be honest, with the 2mm or so of excess post (to allow for swelling), it was a bit like, "Huh. It looks like a post sticking out of my face with a ball on the end." So I angled the mirror so that it looked like the ball was flush with my skin. And I was happy. Helen and my flat-mate said it looked good, too.

Helen re-capped the aftercare drill, and I paid her [$55, which included jewelry and aftercare kit, as well as downsizing] and thanked her very much. She said she'd see me in two weeks for my first downsizing. And then my flat-mate and I headed back to catch our bus.

I was yammering at her like an idiot, all juiced-up on adrenaline. My lip felt a bit sore, as you would expect. But it was fine. I took some ibuprofen while I was on the bus to minimize any potential whinging. Mostly I felt a zen-ish relief that I finally had my Madonna, after so long.

My flat-mate and I went to the supermarket on our way home. Standing in the fruit and vegie section, I felt something running down my lip. I thought it might have been weeping. But it was bleeding – quite a lot! Maybe I bumped it. Not sure. Anyway. I hung out in the bathroom for a few minutes until it eased up.

Later in the evening, after playing it cool all day, it all finally hit me. I had a bit of delayed shock, ha ha. I actually got a little bit shaky!

I ate dinner very carefully that night! Did the salt water soak. And slept on my left side, terrified that I would roll over in the night and crush the BioFlex post into my face. But it was fine.

There was a tiny bit of blood now and then over the first couple of days. When the swelling kicked in, it was minimal – probably 1mm at its worst. The crusties and redness arrived around day three or four, I think, but these weren't too bad, either. I kept a compact in my bag, so I could check it out before classes, or things like that. If I was hanging out at home, I just left the crusties, like Helen said.

It didn't hurt at all over the two weeks since I got it pierced, though I bumped it two or three times [often in my sleep] and then it would sting a little bit. I did salt water soaks every evening before bed; five minutes for the first week, and ten minutes for the second week. And sometimes if I felt like it I would do a quick salt water rinse in the morning. I haven't had any problems with this piercing. Sometimes the long post would catch on my gum when I was eating, and sometimes I would knock it. But this wasn't very often, and wasn't too uncomfortable.

I went back two days ago to get it downsized. It was still a little pink, and still with the crusties. Helen said it looked fine. I was more of a sook during the downsizing than I was during the piercing! As Helen was feeding it back through it hit the unhealed segment in the middle, and she had to feel around a bit to get it through. Then as she was screwing the ball on I said "Ow!" What a lame-o. There is still a tiny bit of swelling at the lower edge, but it looks a lot better. And I feel like less of a dick, now that the post is shorter! I think a lot of the people at uni assumed that it was meant to look like that – sticking out of my face like a snail's eye.

In around two weeks I'll go back to The Laundry and [hopefully] walk out with the jewelry flush against my face. When I look in the mirror, I'm still amazed that I have this piercing. I can't wait until I can change the jewelry for something a little more feminine, and discreet. This is a lovely, easy-to-care-for piercing. And I can't say enough good things about Helen, and The Laundry. If you are in Brisbane, consider getting your next piercing there. I'll definitely go back to Helen to get my next piercing done.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 26 Oct. 2009
in Lip Piercing

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Artist: Helen+Martin
Studio: The+Laundry
Location: Zillmere%2C+Brisbane%2C+QLD%2C+Australia

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