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after 16 piercings, finally got the cahones to get my tongue pierced.

I'm writing in about my tongue piercing because for some funny reason, it was the one I was the most squikked out about and the one that has been the most interesting sensory journey for me so far(for reference - the others are 6 ear piercings, 2 nipple piercings, 1 navel, 1 hood, 6 labia). Mostly I got this one done because I've always been intrigued about my simultaneous phobia and fascination about the particular piercing, and life is about challenges, eh? Plus one of these days I might want to get all girly and match my tongue, navel, and hood with the same color/pattern balls.

I live in Olympia WA and I decided to get the piercing done by Tommy at Gargoyle Tattoo in Aberdeen, WA because that's who did 15 of the piercings I currently have. He's very professional and pretty funny so it makes the piercing process a good one. Also, the previous piercings all turned out really well and have healed nicely. A note on Gargoyle: nice clean place, good aseptic/sterile set-up, they most definitely autoclave their equipment and jewelry (this should be a given, though in my travels I have seen some horrible things at some other places that shall remain nameless), and Tommy is a totally cool piercer and has reasonable prices. Only negative I will say is that the piercing area is a little small but that's fine with me – I don't have to lounge around when I'm getting pierced.

Because of my general fear of having metal shot through my tongue, I made an appointment about 2 weeks beforehand. That way I figured I wouldn't be able to wiggle out of it in good conscience – plus I wanted to order my own jewelry for some other stuff I was getting done. As the 'fateful day' got closer and closer, I was getting more and more nervous.

My being anal retentive, I planned a whole list of things to get beforehand and/or bring with me as preparation. I do a fair amount of reading and did a bit of research on tongue piercings before I took the plunge, so to speak. I've read a whole range of stories about not being able to swallow well, being a drool-meister for a few days, salt rinses, squishy food, feeling oogie, etc.etc. So kind of like one sets up a little home for a pet hamster before bringing it home from the pet store, I set up my little recovery environment beforehand in anticipation.

(1) I bought amorphous squishy food for the home – yogurt (yes I know dairy for some is seen as verboten – luckily it seemed to be OK with me), rice, oatmeal, soup...

(2) sea salt – I bought a decent sized bag of it from the health food store – sitting there in its plastic baggie it looked like the focal point of a rockin' party from the 70's or 80's.

(3) I stocked up on distilled water. I filled two liter Nalgene water bottles – one chilled with ice, one made up into a light salt solution for rinses for use when heading back from the piercer's

(4) A big cup to spit/drool into for the long drive afterwards

(5) Towel & paper towels, just in case I turned into a drooling beast of wonder

(6) Ibuprofen – if you can, I totally recommend taking this or any other NSAID before you get pierced and periodically over the next several days. It helps reduce the swelling

(7) H2Ocean spray - buy it ahead of time online - it's a lot cheaper that way. (I've only used it a few times when I couldn't do the bulk rinse 'n' spit)

(8) (note: while I didn't get this for the initial piercing, in hindsight I would recommend picking up Dental Wax ahead of time - to help protect the back of your teeth for that time after the swelling goes down and before you get the barbell swapped out)

I had to drive from Aberdeen to Everett after the piercing (about 3 hours) so that's why I needed to do some of the prep – I figure the most crucial time is the few hours right after you get a piercing done because that is when your body is most traumatized and before your immune system has mobilized troops to the source of the disturbance, so why not start in the car on the drive back?

Before the piercing I brushed the Dickens out of my teeth, flossed enough to do my dentist proud, and scraped my tongue with a tongue scraper. I drove to Aberdeen immediately afterwards so I don't think there was a lot of time for the Crest Gel Cavity Creeps to repopulate before the piercing.

Soooo. I was scheduled to be pierced at 1:30 – to be expected there was a little bit of a backlog. About 15 min later I went back to the piercing room. I was getting a couple other things done (jewelry swapped out on existing labia piercings and another labia piercing done – but that's a story for a different day) so there was a discussion of what I wanted to have done first. I figured I was least comfy with the tongue piercing, so I wanted that done first. Tommy set up a tray with the aseptic blue absorbent paper stuff and all of the piercing accoutrements such as the clamp, needle, teeny tub o' gentian violet, toothpicks (for marking), barbell. (I'm starting to get nervous, beads o' sweat on forehead) Tommy gave me H2Ocean arctic ocean rinse to swish for 30 seconds (heart started pounding, pulse and blood pressure increasing). He then dried out my tongue and put a dot o' gentian violet where the final ka-chunk would happen (heart pounding faster, getting dizzy with ne rvous, more sweat beading on forehead), gave me a mirror to check out the spot and see if it was OK with me, which it was (more sweat forming on forehead, oops – deodorant gave out, no longer "confident, dry and secure" in the axillary region). Tommy told me to stick out my tongue and he put the clamp on the front of it – ow ow owie ow ow owie ow. That's the part that hurt. (heart leaping out of chest, getting dizzy dizzy dizzy in my head) I started getting super nervous, asked him to take the clamp off my tongue so I could mentally re-wrap my head around the whole thing. After a few minutes I said I was ready – or at least as ready as I'd ever be – he put the clamp back on my tongue, asked me to indicate when I was ready. Finally I got the cahones to indicate I was ready and pop, needle went thru tongue, jewelry soon after.

Wow. I didn't believe what everyone else was writing, as if my nerve endings were somehow special or different than everyone else's. Nope – it barely hurt at all and I had gotten totally psyched out beforehand. There was a little bit of blood but not much – enough to get a metallic taste but that was about it. After the piercing and before my tongue swelled up it was extraordinarily hard to talk with this big ol' barbell just swimming around in my mouth.

After I left, I had to take a long drive up to Everett to meet up with folks – at a Chinese restaurant. The whole trip up I was either sucking on cold distilled water or rinsing my mouth with salt water and spitting (read: trying to spit but really sloppily spitting/drooling) used salt water into a cup. Towel came in handy. I got to the restaurant and could barely speak. L's were super painful because the ball on the bottom of the barbell was butting up to the part where my tongue met up with the bottom of my mouth. S's and T's were just plain sloppy and laughable. I resorted to writing on a napkin to communicate. While everyone else was getting some pretty tasty looking chow, I got the green tea ice cream, a big glass of ice water, and I got peer-pressured into some cold sake (oooh naughty – I think the booze helped the pain a little bit, but this is not recommended). I also took more ibuprofen with the ice cream.

I went to a party afterwards and spent the whole time sucking on salt water, rinsing, spitting. Occasionally drinking water. The tongue wasn't hurting yet – it was just really difficult to talk, so I wasn't exactly the life of the party. I did cave and have two shots of tequila. Mmmmm. Tequila. Once again, not recommended.

The next day I was warned would be the worst – my tongue would feel like a swollen and bruised slab of flesh stuck stickily to the roof of my mouth like a beached sea creature languishing in the sun. Nope – it wasn't bad - the first day was the worst and it's gotten steadily better from there. It was definitely swollen up to the dimensions of the big ol' barbell in my mouth but after some ibuprofen and a big glass of water I could talk normally. My tongue felt a little numb towards the tip – like I had burned it on something hot – but that was about all.

Then it was time for food. My first food post-piercing. Scrambled eggs with cheese, and boy was it a fascinating experience. It really makes you appreciate what you are eating as you are gingerly chewing bits of food, maneuvering it past the metal. It's never taken me that long to go through a plate of eggs.

That day I was out and about so I didn't do salt rinses as often as I should have. I did make a point of rinsing after food and after brushing my teeth and drinking stuff other than water. The tongue was still pretty swollen but it was OK to talk. I had re-mastered my L's. S's and T's took careful crafting but were coming out fine.

Days 3,4,5, and 6 were about the same as day 2, just with more salt rinses. The tongue has been pretty swollen, though on day 6 (yesterday) I noticed that the swelling was starting to go down a little bit. I caught myself fiddling with the ball on the end. One thing I have noticed about the barbell since the swelling has gone down is that it's irritating my gums a little bit. I think it's because rather than being caught up in a big fleshy mass of tongue, it now has some room for play so it's nestling up against the back of my front lower teeth. To combat this, I bought some dental wax, dried the back of my front teeth the best I could, and applied dental wax to absorb any of the impact from the barbell and this has helped a lot.

So that's where I am with the healing process so far. It's been going well but I can hardly wait for this puppy to heal so I can take part in currently verboten activities and so I can swap out the post for something a little less cumbersome. I can't say at this point if the piercing itself is "worth it", whatever that means, but I can say it has been an interesting process. I will probably be able to judge my level of happiness with the piercing in about 3 weeks from now when the piercing has settled a bit more.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 23 Sept. 2008
in Tongue Piercing

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Artist: Tommy
Studio: Gargoyle+Tattoo
Location: Aberdeen%2CWA

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