101 ways not to look after you navel...
My navel has always been done as a pretty, secretive piercing that I liked the look of. I was 14 when I first got it pierced, it was about a year after the craze seemed to have started in my school, and all the time I saw girls pulling up their school shirts and playing with pretty gems and showing their friends their freshly pierced stomachs.
But I didn't want mine done at that point. And even if I did, I knew my mother would never let me, it was hard enough getting my ears pierced once. But then after speaking to a few friends about it, saying how pretty they thought it was and after looking on the internet for pictures of the piercing I decided to get it done. I'd like to say there was some meaningful reason to get it done, but there wasn't. I liked the look of it and so decided to get it done. You might have a better reason than me, or you too might be thinking of it just because you think it's pretty.
I spoke to some friends who had been pierced in a shop called Pro Body without their parents being there, and they told me it'd cost £30 to get it pierced, or £25 if I wanted a ring. That was great, I didn't even bring up the subject with my mum, I knew it was a waste of breath. So I started saving. I was still only getting £5 a month spending money, and it was mid-summer so no Christmas or birthday money to help me but somehow I managed it. I'm terrible with money, I tend to spend it as soon as I get it, something I've got worse at since I've got older. So I had £25, and knew I should wait a few more weeks to get that last £5 so I could have a bar instead of the ring, even then in my pre-BME days I knew that it was better with the bar.
Needless to say I didn't wait, and off I went into Bradford one day to visit the piercers. I met my then boyfriend and we went there. I dawdled, I had butterflies in my tummy and I'd suddenly realised what I was about to do. But my boyfriend told me that I should just get it over with if I really wanted to do it, so down the steps we went and got greeted by a friendly man with lots of facial piercings. I told him what I wanted pierced, and he showed me all the jewellery I could have. Curved barbells with coloured gems in them, ones without, and lots of rings with pretty gems in. As much as I wanted something pretty and sparkling in there, I didn't have the money and instead stuck to a plain ring with a plain ball. I thought that once it was healed and I had some more money I could change it to something prettier. This was just the first piece of jewellery.
So he led me into a tiny room that was painted quite a dark colour, but had lots of mirrors all over the walls. I sat in a comfortable computer chair while he found the right jewellery and laid everything out on the counter so he could reach for them as he needed them. He pulled some gloves out of a box and slipped them on and rubbed something over my stomach. The procedure was explained to me, and then I was told to stand up to make the piercing easier for him to do. So he marked me up and said that he'd have to grab my stomach with some. So he grabbed it, asked if it was okay, it pinched a little, but was nothing unbearable. I looked up as he positioned the needle with the blue mark he'd made on my stomach. Then he said "finished". I looked down and I had a little ring sticking out from my navel. It was pretty, and didn't hurt. I was actually surprised when he said it was finished. He put a dressing over it and told me to keep it on for at least three hours. He also talked about aftercare, and said I could change the jewellery after three days if I wanted to. I thanked him and went home.
I started cleaning my piercing with salt water twice a day. I got up before my mum to do it, and did it after she'd gone to bed. I did everything as I was told, and it was looking okay. A little gunky around the jewellery, and sometimes it'd hurt if I moved into a strange position. But nothing unbearable. Until one afternoon I was wearing a skirt with a spiky belt around it. When I stood up to go to the bathroom the ring got caught around the belt buckle. It hurt, but since my parents didn't know about it yet I smiled and walked to the bathroom hunched over a little with the ring still caught around the belt. As soon as the door closed behind me I unhooked the ring and stood up properly. It was fine, a little red, but not bleeding or anything nasty. I was relieved.
Over the next few months it stayed gunked up, it wasn't healing and looking beautiful like all the other girls' piercings were. But I kept telling myself it would get better. I'd stopped cleaning it now, since I'd been told only to do so for two weeks. I'd spent the time wearing long shirts, sitting with cushions in front of my stomach, anything to make it less obviously I had it pierced. But they didn't suspect anything, so it probably didn't matter that I had it pierced.
Then I was on holiday with a friend, and she told me TCP would help it heal as that's what she used and her navel was perfectly healthy. I didn't try it when I was with her, but she was using it a lot, and my mum had commented on the smell and knew that it was from Michelle cleaning her piercing.
When I got home my navel was being particularly yukky, I'd had it for two or three months now and it wasn't improving at all. I didn't think to go to the piercer again for some advice, but I did think of the TCP and put a large amount on a cotton ball and swabbed my stomach with it. The smell filled the top floor of the house, and my mum realised as soon as she got home what it was. I lied and said that my recently pierced lobes had been feeling painful and I wanted to see if it would work, but I'm obviously a terrible liar because she asked straight away to see my navel. I pulled my shirt up quickly and put it back down again, hoping the flash was too quick for her to see, but quick enough to keep her satisfied. Of course it wasn't! And she was a bit angry. But more so since I hadn't told her than getting it done.
When I started school again I quickly learnt that my navel sat exactly where my disgusting school trousers sat (yes, they were that high!) and this caused more pain to my poor, poor navel. It wasn't healing, I still had the ring in as I still hadn't come up with enough money to get it changed, but I was convincing myself this was normal, and one day I'd wake up and it would look just like everyone else's.
By now I had a funny growth on the top of the ring, and knew I should probably change it, but I still had no money to do so. My dads girlfriend had a collection of jewellery from her navel piercing that she never wore, so gave me it in the hope it would help my navel to heal itself. So I put in the longest curved barbell and hoped for the best.
She also advised me to fill an egg cup with salt water and hold it against my stomach for five minutes at a time, that's what she did and it worked out well for her. So I did, I sat with a little Forever Friends egg cup on my stomach.
For a while it helped, and every time it looked to be making progress I did something stupid that would take me back to the start again. This time it was putting in a bar that was too short just because I liked the purple-blue colour of the spikes at the top. It irritated the holes and left deep indentations on the skin, but I still didn't take it out. And on a holiday my dad picked me up a black barbell with a skull with a gem in it's mouth to wear in it, that was as short as the one I had in. I changed it right away and ignored the itchy feelings I felt from wearing it. My navel gunked up again and this time had a blister at the top that I picked bits off every so often.
I eventually gave up on the piercing after eight or nine months of gunk stained clothes and pain on the advice of my stepsister, who'd had something similar happen to her. I refused to blame the problems I had with my navel on myself. I knew very little about piercings at the time, and didn't know about jewellery types and proper aftercare. I thought they were simple things, and blamed the piercer for a long time for what had happened. And it hasn't been until just now that I realise just how much I did wrong with that piercing. I don't advise anyone to do anything I did, if I'd been back to Paul earlier I'm sure I'd have been set back on track and I might have been able to keep the piercing. I guess you learn from your mistakes, and I did when I had it pierced again.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 22 Feb. 2007
in Navel Piercing