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Double center tongue piercing...and aftercare!

I had been planning a trip to Mali with my boyfriend that was due to take place in early January, but I just broke up with him last week (hence, no more trip). Bummer on the travel front, but I figured to celebrate my newfound singleness; rejoice in the fact that I would be remaining in California, with water clean enough to wash fresh piercings in; give myself a pat on the back for being almost done with school for the semester; and just because I hadn't gotten a new piercing for a few months and was feeling a little itchy, I decided to go get my tongue pierced. For some reason, a tongue piercing had never really been something I had seriously considered, but in the last few weeks it started to seem like a pretty sweet thing to get...at the very least, it would give my labia a break for awhile! (They like getting pierced though, I'm convinced.) I was going to wait until the end of January and do it over Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday (three-day weekend), but then realized I would probably have to work over that weekend, and I just happened to have three days off...starting tomorrow (I was thinking this on Tuesday)! I was totally undecided. "Should I? Shouldn't I? What about the person I'm supposed to meet with on Thursday? And my volunteer commitment (reading to preschoolers)?" Luckily, I know myself pretty well and knew that if I didn't get pierced the next day, I would then spend the next few days (month, actually – however long until I actually got the damn thing) obsessing over tongue piercings, looking them up on BME, Google, you name it...in lieu of working on my last research paper. Great procrastination technique. So after dropping off my penultimate paper to my professor, I hopped in my car and drove over to Body Manipulations. After I parked, I made phone calls to the three people I had plans with in the next few days and rainchecked, then walked in and saw Paul at the counter. I had originally wanted two – as a (recovering) alcoholic, a personal philosophy I tend to live by is that if one is good, two (or more) must be better – but then scrapped the idea because I figured two would make my tongue twice as swollen as one, and I had to be back at work (as a receptionist at a busy skin care salon – read: lots of speaking to clients) on Saturday. But when I mentioned this to Paul, he told me getting two wouldn't make it swell any more than one (or not enough to make a difference, anyway): either way, my tongue was going to be super swollen from the trauma of having a needle shoved through it...so, of course, I decided to go for two. "Sweet! Let's do it!"

We went into the piercing room, and I sat in the chair. Paul took a close-up look at my tongue, determined that two piercings would, in fact, fit, and marked with a pen where the barbells would go. I'm more used to going in for below-the-belt piercings (except for my earlobes – just one hole in each, though they're at a 00 gauge – these are my first above-the-neck piercings!), and for some reason it's easier to take my pants off than it is to have someone's face about two inches away from mine while he's grasping my tongue and checking out placement options, which he marked with a purple marker. I checked the purple dots in the mirror, loved the placement, decided to do the piercing sitting up (as opposed to lying down – Paul said it didn't matter either way), and the piercing commenced. I had read that tongue piercings were some of the least painful piercings to get, so I wasn't super nervous about that, but I always get really hyped up and...not anxious, because "anxious" has somewhat bad connotations...let's say "a feeling of excited anticipation"...that practically makes me bounce off the walls. He clamped my tongue and had to remind me to take a deep breath, relax, and let my tongue go floppy. I envisioned a lop-eared rabbit's ear, and flop went my tongue. The piercings themselves went quickly. There was no sharp pain; instead, it felt more like just pressure – exactly like a metal bar being put through my tongue, funnily enough. It wasn't totally painless, but there was no "pinch" like I experienced with my vertical hood piercing. The second one didn't hurt anymore than the first, even though they're placed pretty close together. Paul screwed the balls on, gave me aftercare instructions, I gave him a hug, paid, got some mouthwash, said goodbye, and bounced down the street to my car. My friend had called me just as I was leaving, so I called her right back; while my speech wasn't exactly normal, it was totally possible to talk and be intelligible.

When I got home about an hour later, the first thing I did was go to the freezer and make a big glass of ice water, heavy on the ice. I'd sip on mouthfuls of ice water, then when the ice cubes were small enough to suck on comfortably, would suck on those, then when they got too small I'd refill the glass...and continued like that for the rest of the evening. I didn't eat anything that night; I was looking longingly at ice cream, but then read somewhere that the dairy has bacteria in it that are not conducive to the health of fresh piercings. I made a mental note to go buy sorbet the next day. I did go out to meet with some people that night, and just stopped by Starbucks and got a really large cup of ice water that tided me over until I got home. One great side effect of all this ice and ice water is that it's drastically increased my water intake...I try to drink a lot of water, but a lot of the time I just don't. Hooray for hydration!

I was a little nervous to go to sleep, since I had read that the really bad swelling starts on the second day. I slept with two pillows, so my head was propped up more than it normally is; I thought that might keep the blood from pooling in my head and therefore reduce the chances of major swelling, though I'm not at all sure if that's entirely accurate.

Day 2 (Thursday: day after piercing): I woke up the next morning with hardly any more swelling than the day before. I think the swelling I did have was more just a function of not sucking on ice for the whole time I was asleep. I had some (warm, not hot) coffee and a dairy-free Odwalla smoothie for breakfast, then brushed my teeth and did a sea salt soak in the shower before rinsing with an alcohol-free mouthwash. I stayed home most of the day, and carried a glass of ice water with me at all times. I pretty much kept my tongue on ice all day. I heated up some tomato soup for lunch, and it went down wonderfully – I was super hungry by then! I stuck with a soup that didn't have any pieces of anything in it, because I was concerned I might have to chew them to swallow them, and didn't know if that would wreak havoc in my mouth at this point. One thing about the soup, though, was that my tongue is not nearly as agile as it normally is, so I'd sometimes get little globs of soup dripping down my chin. A paper towel came in really handy, and I didn't have any other problems, but I was glad I wasn't eating lunch with anyone that day! I talked a little, not a ton, and while I definitely felt a little self-conscious and kinda lispy, some people didn't even notice. When I got home for dinner, I felt like my tongue was in good enough shape to tackle (carefully) a few slices of pizza. I avoided the crust and kept my chewing to a single side of my mouth, but everything worked out fine. After the second slice, though, I could tell my tongue muscle was getting a little overworked, or I could just feel it working a lot. So I rinsed with more ice water.... Then ate some of the sorbet I had bought earlier in the day. So good! Then I flossed, brushed, sea salt soaked, and rinsed with the mouthwash again, before returning to my beloved ice cubes. Really, ice cubes are AMAZING right now, so amazing I cannot stress enough the extent of their awesomeness. I'm not sure if I'm overdoing it by doing both sea salt soaks and mouthwash, but so far my tongue feels fine and is looking really good. It is definitely annoying for now, but I can already tell I'm going to love it when it's healed and I can talk normally again. For now, though it definitely takes more effort than normal to talk and I am lisping a little, it's not nearly as bad as I had thought and worried it would be.

Day 3 (Friday): Same deal in the morning, and I kept sucking on ice cubes...until I went for a hair appointment in the afternoon. I had forgotten to take any Ibuprofen before I left the house, and ran out of ice water just as I got to the salon. Two and a half hours later, of neither pain killers nor ice water, and I was SO miserable. It wasn't so much that it hurt a ton, because the pain wasn't unbearable, it was just really, really uncomfortable. I drove home and was totally bummed out, but I didn't want to be bummed out by a piercing and I knew I was going to like it once I got over this hump, so I started thinking of ways to turn it around and make myself happier. This is what I came up with: all this aftercare is just another extension of the piercing itself. With most of my piercings, there's been some pain during the actual procedure, but aftercare has been a breeze – just remember to sea salt soak and wash it twice a day, and don't touch it with dirty hands – pretty easy. But the more you have to take care of something, the more you like it in the end. It's like getting a new pet – once you've fed and walked it for awhile, you totally bond with it. And the more annoyance and discomfort I have to feel, the more rewarding the piercing is going to be once it's healed.

Day 4 (Saturday): I stopped by Body Manipulations just to have it checked out; I had never had a tongue piercing before, so I didn't really know what's normal and what isn't. Christopher took a look and said it was fine, and less swelling than he'd expect after getting two, so I went happily along my merry way. I also checked with him about doing both sea salt soaks and mouthwash, and he said that's perfect.

Day 6 (Monday): At about 3.30pm, I suddenly noticed my tongue was much more nimble than it had seemed that morning! The swelling felt like it had gone way down. Sweet! Relief!

Day 8 (Wednesday – exactly one week after getting it pierced): I caught myself mid-verse, belting out a song along with the radio. That would have been totally unthinkable and unappealing even just two days ago! I was so ecstatically happy and in love with my new piercings today, at the risk of having the friendly Body Manipulations people think I'm totally weird (which I kinda am), I had an overwhelming compulsion to call and tell them so: "Oh my god, I just had to call you guys and tell you how much I love my tongue piercings! I am so incredibly glad I got two, I really think one would be totally lonely in there, and I would have been really bummed if I had only gotten one. Seriously! The swelling's totally gone down, I can talk normally, everything is awesome. Yay! Love it!"

Day 10 (Friday): Woohoo, I can whistle!!! Very cool. Now that the swelling has gone down so much, there's definitely a bunch of barbell sticking out. I haven't bitten down on one yet, and am being very careful to avoid doing so...and I'm making a concerted effort to not play with it too much with my teeth. However, I have discovered that I can play with it by pushing the barbells up and down by pressing my tongue to the roof of my mouth, then on the bottom of my mouth...get it? I actually started doing that yesterday, and the first many times I did it, it felt SO gross! I'd push the bar down with the roof of my mouth, could feel the metal sliding through my tongue, and I'd go, "Ewwwwwwwwww! Gross!" with a huge grin and a total giggle. Fun times, I tell you.

Day 11 (Saturday): Totally pain free...awesome possum.

7 ½ weeks later: I love them!! I got the bars shortened about 3 ½ weeks after getting the piercing, and it's working out wonderfully. The barbells feel like a totally natural part of my tongue now. It is possible to accidentally bite down on the barbells and I've done it a few times, but I don't have to exercise too much extra caution to make sure that doesn't happen. All in all...definitely a do-againer!! Piercings rock.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 07 Feb. 2008
in Tongue Piercing

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Artist: Paul+Stoll
Studio: Body+Manipulations
Location: San+Francisco%2C+CA

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