In the middle of this past not-so-seasonal summer, a friend mentioned that she was interested in getting an industrial, and wondered if I could hook her up with a knowledgeable and safe piercer. I told her of a few reasonable places in the city where she could count on not getting HIV thrown into the deal for free, but I couldn't offer her any first hand experience, as I hadn't personally been pierced by any of them. I also mentioned that my own piercer, Dywer, is amazing and now works, although a good hike, not too far away. Because she decided that she'd rather travel, and be pierced by someone who comes highly recommended, and another mutual friend decided that he felt the need to add to his collection of piercings, I agreed (very willingly, of course) to tag along. After all, what kind of friend recommends a piercer at the other end of the city and doesn't even show the referees the way? Of course, this lead to me deciding that I'd like another piercing too. So we were al
l set for our "piercing party", as soon as we could find a day we were all free, and we had all finalized our plans.
I had been doing some research into microdermals, but a couple of Facebook messages to Dwyer later, I realized that they weren't going to happen, or at least not then. My immediate next thought was something cartilage related, probably a helix. I t would have been my first cartilage piercing, both something I've more or less been dreading and something I've been very much looking forward to. In the end, though, my ego won out. I wasn't prepared to get anything super awesome, frankly because I was scared, but also because I do make an effort to keep my piercings as hidden as possible. So I decided that my least scary and most acceptable (by society at large, anyway) option would be a helix. Standing beside an unpierced friend asking for an industrial and another friend asking for a rook, I knew that I wouldn't be able to get a helix. I would definitely feel left out.
So my search continued, and somewhere along the way, I remembered that I had previously toyed with the idea of getting my tongue web pierced. It hadn't really been a serious though until I was more or less desperate to find something that I both wanted, and could hide easily. And this appeared to be the solution! It was easily hidden, but I could show people if I felt the need (directing people underneath your tongue is kind of awkward, but much less so than, say, having to explain a VCH, and very much more legal); it shouldn't affect my speech or my ability to eat (in the long term, of course); and best of all, it shouldn't be unbearably painful, so I wouldn't have to be a wimp in front of the friends.
We, thankfully, didn't get too lost attempting to drive to the shop under my less than stellar navigating skills (we only drove past it once). I was the first time that I'd seen Dwyer's new shop, and the first time that I'd met the owner. He seemed friendly enough, although he has a rather peculiar sense of humour, and keeps a (well trained) dog (in the lobby only) in the shop. Dwyer showed up (literally, as he works in the basement) a few minutes later after finishing with his previous customers, and seemed very impressed that I came bearing cookies.
We signed our lives away (not really, just the usual "my blood isn't going to be dangerous to Dwyer and I know what I'm doing" form), and negotiated prices, as Dwyer had lost his pricing sheet, and his prices depend on jewelry regardless. Then I unilaterally decided that I would be pierced last, as I had done this all before and I didn't want the friends to chicken out after watching Dwyer stick me with a needle.
It turns out that this wasn't the best idea I've ever had. I watched my friends getting pierced, and became increasingly nervous (manifesting as not being able to stand still, otherwise known as dancing around like a loser). Something about watching other people's cartilage being pierced and the though of leaving with a piece of metal in my mouth were wreaking havoc on my sanity. I kept telling myself that I'd be fine, and Dwyer kindly pointed out that with everything else I have pierced, I was being completely irrational for being nervous about a tongue web. He was nice about it, though, and encouraged breathing calmly.
I managed to stop dancing around when it was my turn, and sit down on Dwyer's comfortable bench thing. We decided on a 14 gauge CBR, and, given the option, chose one with a slightly larger diameter. Dwyer was obviously relieved at my decision, as he has rather large hands, and I have a rather small mouth, and closing the ring might have become a challenge had I wanted the smaller ring.
He had me swish with non-alcoholic mouthwash, which produced some funny faces that amused my friends. Then came the instructions to open my mouth a wide as I could, and press my tongue against the top of my mouth. I did brilliantly at this for about twenty seconds, and then pretty much completely lost control of my tongue. Dwyer did manage to get me to make my tongue cooperate long enough to pierce it before disaster struck. The piercing itself didn't hurt at all. It was really more of a "oh, there's something in my mouth" sensation than anything else. I don't think I really noticed that it was done until I Dwyer warned me not to move my tongue, or I'd be leaving with more piercings than I had requested.
At the same time as Dwyer was trying to put the jewelry in, my tongue decided that it had had enough, and was through cooperating. So, there's Dwyer, patiently trying to maneuver a CBR and a (yes, still sharp and dangerous) needle around my mouth, and, not for lack of trying, I can't keep my tongue either still or out of the way. I really felt terrible for Dwyer at the time, and nervous for my piercing (and the rest of my mouth that was in imminent danger of being pierced by accident), although looking back, we must have made quite the spectacle. After some fussing, the needle came out of my tongue web, and we sat back for a minute to catch our respective breaths, and decide what to do next. Dwyer suggested either tapering the hole back open, or starting again (which he recommended as it would be less traumatic and probably easier to do).
I took a few deep (supposedly relaxing) breaths, and gave Dwyer the go-ahead for round two. This time, he used a clamp, due to all the trouble on the first go-round. He clamped, and then pierced. Again, it was painless, and I felt the "I have something new in my mouth" feeling, but nothing else. He again struggled a bit to get the CBR in, but the problems were mostly maneuvering-large-hands-in-a-small-mouth related. When Dwyer announced that the CBR was finally where it belonged, he was greeted by a collective sigh of relief. I think we were all pleased that we were almost done, and that we wouldn't be sitting there indefinitely, trying to make my tongue cooperate. Thankfully, the bead went into the CBR without a hitch, and I was more than happy to finally be ready to leave.
I was a little wary of talking, lest it be painful, and so I moved my tongue as little as possible while thanking Dwyer and paying, and thus spoke with a bit of a lisp. I could talk reasonably well immediately afterwards, though, if I made the effort. I couldn't really feel the piercing, but I was aware that there was something in my mouth, and the CBR felt huge for a few days. It was almost as if I was holding a coin under my tongue. And, of course, I had the lovely taste or latex gloves in my mouth for a few hours. Fortunately for me, the latex taste disappeared with a few sips of water, and I eventually adjusted to having a CBR under my tongue. It does tend to sit either on one side or the other of my mouth (with the bead touching my tongue, instead of being closer to my teeth). At first I though this was just because Dwyer closed the ring without pushing it through the web more than necessary, but I've found it will go back to this position, no matter how I try and make i t sit. I think it's related to how much space there is in certain places under my tongue (and there seems to be more space closer to where my tongue starts, than there is farther out, towards my gums.
I first though when I got home was that I should eat something, because I was hungry, and because bodies generally heal better when they are provided with the energy to do so. For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to eat toast and a banana. I quickly discovered that this wasn't going to happen. I had to tear up the toast into itty-bitty pieces, and swallow them without chewing to avoid pain. Because of the large risk of choking, coupled with my clumsiness, I gave up on the toast after a few itty-bitty pieces, and didn't even try to figure out how to eat the banana. I had a cup of tea, though, and found that drinking wasn't an issue at all. The next day I found my brains, and stuck to soup and tea. After a couple of days, I was fine, to eat regular food slowly and carefully, if it was cut into small pieces and placed properly on my tongue with a fork or spoon. I did find that if I ate too vigorously or for too long, the piercing would start to hurt, but this was e asily cured by giving it a few minutes to "recover."
Other than eating, the piercing was super easy to take care of. I kept a bottle of my sea salt soak (half a teaspoon of salt to 500 mL of water) in hand, and rinsed after putting anything in my mouth. I was rinsing about four or five times a day, and tried to eat and drink at specific times, instead of having a snack here and a glass of juice there, to make it easier to remember to rinse.
Dwyer counseled me not to drink alcohol for a few weeks, and to avoid kissing and other sexual acts while the piercing was healing. I went out two weeks post-piercing, and had a few beers, and all was well. I brought my sea salt soak with me, and rinsed after drinking as a precaution, but I'm sure I was being overly cautious.
Keeping the plaque off the CBR is still something that I'm still figuring out. I let it be for the fist few weeks, as gross as it was, to avoid bumping the piercing more than necessary, and then gave it a good cleaning. I've found that it's quite hard to maneuver my hands and my tongue in such a way that I can scrape the plaque off of the CBR, and it helps have a decent chunk of time to devote to the task, so I can focus. I generally try and let the plaque build up for a few days, as it's easier (although grosser) to see and feel, and thus to scrape off, when there's more of it. It does tend to stay on the inside of the CBR, and around the bead, and tends to come off fairly easily.
In general, I'm quite pleased with my tongue web, but it is one of the trickier piercings I've had to deal with. Getting it pierced was a hassle, albeit one that I thoroughly enjoyed, and wouldn't dissuade me from future piercings. Considering that I enjoy eating, the first few days required some creativity, but it wasn't unbearable. The aftercare and healing was more or less uneventful, although the piercing will sometimes become a little irritated (specifically if I play with it too much).
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 10 Nov. 2009
in Tongue Piercing