Rather a lot of gore and trouble, but I got there in the end!
I began thinking about a piercing about 6 months before my 16th birthday. I'm not going to pretend it has been a life long dream of mine, but I remember seeing a couple of really beautiful navel piercings and realising that I could have one too.
I found out that another of my friends wanted her navel pierced, we decided that we would go along together, together with a friend that wanted her helix done. We started to look around for studios and decided on Millennium, after hearing positive accounts from friends and family, and the large sign outside declaring it "Southampton's Number 1 Piercer".
So in mid- October (2007), the three of us went in on a Saturday afternoon, feeling pretty excited. We went straight into the backroom, which was spotless, and looked a little like a doctor's office, which was reassuring as I was terrified of infection!
Our piercer (unfortunately I can't remember his name!) was absolutely fantastic, and went through after care before we all got pierced, which I thought was nice :). He answered my thousands of paranoid questions, and even admitted than it was nice to see that we were all so concerned!
The piercing itself was done superbly, he changed his gloves multiple times, checked over and over than the marking was OK, and opened the needle very deliberately in front of us, showing the seal breaking.
To be honest, I don't really remember the pain, I think I was just so pleased with my new teal barbell that I didn't give it a seconds thought!
In the days afterwards, the area was tender and hurt when I bent down, but it was nothing too extraordinary. After two weeks, I began to get concerned, as the area around the top was still pink. Naturally, being the paranoid perfectionist that I am, I thought it was infected and scoured the internet looking for snippets of information that could help. Looking back, I know I was being completely irrational; of course the hole's going to be a little red when it's freshly pierced! But comparing to my friend's who had had hers done on the same day, I couldn't help my worry.
But i eventually got over it, and 3 months later, 2 days before Christmas, I decided that the 3 months were up and it was time to change the ring to a little piece that had been an early gift from a friend. I washed my hands thoroughly, and expected it to be difficult, and was surprised when it slipped in easily! However I found that the new barbell was a little short and that I would change it back the next morning. After getting changed for school, i suddenly remembered I hadn't yet changed it, so, washing my hands, knelt down, took out the new one and started to thread the old one back in.
It was quite horrific. I was in a bit of a rush to catch my train, but found the bar wouldn't poke through the top hole, it was getting stuck, almost as if the hole had closed over. Knowing that I couldn't leave it until i returned home, stupidly, i pushed and pushed, and even when blood was trickling out of the hole, I still kept wiggling and pushing. Eventually, after losing quite a bit of blood, i got it through.
In the weeks afterwards, it seemed to be fine, although I had obviously scratched the inside of the hole quite badly, as if i ever moved the bar a lot cleaning it, blood would start coming out of the hole again.
So i vowed to not touch it at all for 3 weeks, so the scab on the inside would heal properly. And it worked.
I was finally satisfied, my lovely new piercing had finally healed! Of course, it wasn't that simple!!
Slowly, I began to notice that a small lump of skin was growing about 1cm away from the bottom hole. Like the old boiling frog tale, it happened so slowly that I didnt even notice it getting bigger until I realised it was pushing the bottom ball slightly to the side. After doing some research on good old BMEzine, and talking to my mum (who was a children's nurse for 15 years) I decided that it was a keloid.
I phoned up the original piercing shop and the guy confirmed this straight away, and told me to get some tea tree oil on it straight away. I was glad it wasn't anything too serious (ha ha how wrong I was...)
After applying it 3 times a day for a week, I noticed that the lump was actually growing and becoming redder, which i assumed was swelling, due to the irritating effects of the oil. I persisted, in denial that it was actually getting worse.
One night, i had a quick look, and saw a great big fat scab on top of the lump. The lump was now about the size of the nail on my index finger, sticking out into the bellybutton. Not being able to resist, I picked the scab off, after washing my hands, because i guessed that if the lump was peeling off in layers, it wouldn't hurt to help it along ;)
Underneath the scab was a patch of glassy skin, highly shiny and clear. Through the skin I could see....green. I began to get pretty terrified, because I know green=infection. It was pretty late but I was nearly in tears, so i went downstairs to see my mum. She took one look at it and nearly vomited. Haha.
She said that the only way to start think about getting rid of it, was to lance it, like a boil, to get all the pus and blood out. By now I was pretty desperate, scared of losing the piercing, being scarred for life, and even having to go to hospital.
From her spending so many years working at a hospital, we have a small stash of surgical wipes and dressings, so after heating a sewing needle under a flame and washing her hands, she knelt down it front of me and stuck the needle in. The pain was absolutely unbelievable. She actually had to keep taking the needle out and sticking it back in, because there was nothing coming out. After a couple of attempts, she hit it and you would not believe the amount of shit that came out, in basically all colours of the rainbow. She just kept squeezing until all that was coming out was blood. At one point I had to lie on the floor, because I lost my sight, the pain was so bad.
Anyway, she put a dressing on, but in the next couple of days, the lump built up pus again, and she lanced it again. Then the whole process happened again, and again and again. Of course, it was definitely improving, the piercing itself seemed to be acting as a drain and getting rid of some of the pus. But unfortunately, by now, the lump of skin, 1cm from the bottom hole, had been lanced so many times that it had a huge purple blob of scar tissue, which looked awful.
However.......It has been about a month since the final lance, and miraculously, there is no longer any scar tissue, it is now a pink patch the size of a pinhead! The lump of infection has all but disappeared, which is a relief, because at one point, you could feel almost a 'cavern' that went over 2cm beneath the surface.
After thinking about it, I now know that the first time I tried to change the ring, I dug a hole in the side of the pierced channel, which got infected and the infection grew inwards, as it had no where else to go. I feel extremely lucky that it never turned into a major disaster, if I didn't have such a unsqueamish mum who was not prepared to squeeze out the pus, it could have dug further inwards and started ruining my internal organs :O
But anyway, I escaped almost totally unscathed, and much wiser. I would never dream of changing a piercing (particularly a deep one) until it was completely healed; not just well-sort-of-i-guess-it-must-be-by-now.
All I can say now is that, if you want a piercing, read up on all the hazards before you go ahead with it. I'm not entirely sure if I would have had it done if I knew how many sleepless nights it had resulted in, but I love it now. And most importantly, never be scared to ask for help; if I hadn't, I would be a lot worse off!
Good luck :)
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 01 May 2008
in Navel Piercing