Risks and other fun things
Every piercing comes with risks, as we all know. We read about other's experiences, we see all the risks, but we think "It'll never happen to me. I have a good piercer whom I trust/ I take care of my piercings/whatever" Unfortunately, it did happen to me despite the piercer I trust and the fact that I care for my piercings. And although it would be easy to blame the following events on an incompetent piercer, or an inconveniently small tongue web, I'll admit. I could've been smarter about everything. I could have realized sooner that this wasn't good. But my blissful ignorance took hold here.
For the longest time, I wanted to get my tongue web pierced. Although I was over 16, I felt I should still ask my mom's permission before getting it, out of respect for her. Once she finally said yes I called up my piercer (we'll call him X) and made the appointment.
The day came, so I headed over to the shop. It went as it usually goes, we hung out for a bit, X set up everything, and finally I took a seat in the chair and got ready. Clamps on, needle ready, and there we go. Feed the jewelry through, make sure the ball is on tight (or so I thought) and we're done. The entire thing was relatively painless, it was more of an awkward feeling than anything.
After having X assure me that the ball on the jewelry was on tight (with every piercing, I'm worried about the jewelry coming out in my sleep due to the ball falling off) and paying him, I bid farewell to everyone at the shop and happily made my way home.
The next morning I wake up, and I feel something in my mouth, so I spit, and what do you know, there's the jewelry, just chilling in my mouth because the ball fell off. I didn't swallow the ball, that was there too. After trying for over half an hour to get the jewelry back through the long closed hole in my tongue web, I gave up, very disappointed.
And so you're thinking "Okay, so obviously considering your piercer couldn't even put a ball on properly, you didn't go back to him, of course" Wrong. I had been getting pierced by X for years, and I figured that accidents happen to anyone, and he said it was fine he'll redo it for free.
After waiting a month or so for my tongue web to heal up completely, I headed back to the shop. Same procedure as last time. Clamps, needle, pierce. But it hurt a lot more this time, it was strange. I figured my tongue web was still tender from last time, X agreed. So all was well in tongue web city.
And so begins the swelling. A little swelling, everything was fine, I wasn't worried. But the swelling didn't stop. Within a few days, only one ball was visible. The other ball was buried deep into my tongue web. I went back to X, it was all I could think to do.
While I was at the shop, so was Veronika (IAM: E-Vomit) who pierces as well. After seeing my tongue web, she realized that X pierced through the tendon under my tongue. Piercing through the tendon isn't a terrible thing to do, as long as you have jewelry to accommodate the major swelling that will follow and you're prepared for it. But my jewelry was pretty small, and I was not expecting that.
So after some deciding, and many promises of it only being one little cut and we'll freeze my mouth so I won't feel a thing, X talked me into allowing him to take a scalpel to my tongue web. I told him I wasn't comfortable with that, a scalpel coming toward my face was something I wasn't quite ready for. But X assured me my mouth would be numbed, and he would only make just one little cut. Just so he could push the ball through it to take out the jewelry.
And there's my nerves kicking in. First spray of lidocaine, after a while my mouth was numb. So I laid down, Veronika was a sweetheart and held my hand because I was nervous. X made a cut. I felt the pressure, so I can't be sure exactly what was going on right away. But after a few short moments the lidocaine wore off and I felt it. Cut. Cut. Cut. I yelled. X handed me a spit cup, I spat out a mouth full of blood. I said that I felt it again, so after a couple more sprays of lidocaine, and me sitting there with it in my mouth for as long as possible, I spat it out and we went back to it.
I thought "Okay, so he's not just doing one little cut, but maybe there's a lot to get through. I'll tough it out. I need this jewelry out of my tongue web" This time the lidocaine barely worked, and I felt every cut. This whole thing goes on for about 45 minutes, when X decides it's time to take a break and goes outside for a smoke. I sit up and just start bawling. It hurt, I didn't want to do this anymore. Veronika took me for a walk and we talked about it. We decided it would be best for me to go to the hospital. So we went back to the shop, got our stuff and hit the road. My other friends Ryan (IAM: Sam Gideon) and Marc came along.
I was worried about going to the hospital. What if they gave me the infamous piercing lecture? What if they made me tell them who did this? By this point I pretty much figured out X wasn't as competent as I always told myself he was. But the shop he worked at was a good one. The tattoo artists are amazing, and the last thing I wanted was to get the shop in trouble. So we get to the hospital, Veronika helped out a lot with dealing with the nurses and everything. Considering that the tendon that X pierced through can cause major swelling in the throat and I could die (it's rare but it happens occasionally) the nurses made me a priority. Which didn't help much, we still waited in the emergency room for quite a while. When the doctor finally saw me and my butchered tongue web, he agreed I needed medical attention but unfortunately, the specialist had already left the hospital so I would have to make an appointment for tomorrow morning. He gave me some heavy painkillers and sent me on my way.
Before I continue with my experience, I want to say how grateful I am Veronika was there for the whole thing and how much I appreciate it.
The next morning Veronika and I got to the hospital, and after a few minutes of waiting we went into the room. After a few questions and some poking around, the doctor (Dr. Lyne Picard) laid me down on the surgery bed and gave me a few shots of local anesthetic. After a bit of a wait, she asked if I felt her poking my tongue web. I didn't. It was time to start. She had to cut my tongue web, where the ball would be embedded, so we could get it out. After about twenty minutes of pushing and poking and cutting, we weren't getting anywhere.
So she let Veronika put on a pair of gloves and help out too! After some brainstorming, and some ideas that were thrown out the window, she could only think of one thing to do. She gave me a ton more shots of local anesthetic, and got ready. When I was good and frozen she took the clamps and took the end of the jewelry that was still poking out the other side. She started to pull. I felt a little tugging sensation, but barely. There was no pain. More pulling. And the jewelry was out. She pulled the entire thing out, both balls still intact, from one side. There was still a ring of flesh around the jewelry. I heaved a sigh of relief. It was out, I was okay.
After talking about it for a bit, she told me that with all the cuts X did (WAY more than one) there might be some damage to my salivary glands, and there would definitely be some scar tissue due to the cuts from the butchering and the surgery.
She prescribed me antibiotics and painkillers, and that was it. She let me keep the jewelry. I stuck around with Veronika for a while longer, because I was supposed to be supervised for a while, just to make sure that if my throat started to swell, I could get to a hospital as soon as possible.
By that evening we decided I was good to go home, so I left.
It's now nearly two months later, and I still feel pain when I lift my tongue. My mouth is rather dry 75% of the time due to the damage to my salivary glands, and there's some pretty heavy scarring.
So, basically, this is experience is a warning. When something feels wrong, take a hint. Get out. I ignored what I was thinking, and I ultimately screwed myself over in the end.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 13 Oct. 2008
in Tongue Piercing