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Kat's Spine Ladder Saga (Issue #1)

(I worte this in "notepad", So I apologise if the spelling smells of unwashed gym socks) I'd been thinking about getting the "back ladder", or "spine ladder" (or whatever the term-of-the-day might be) for awhile, but never really had the money to fund it or a piercer who was really excited about doing it for me. Well, it happened that I was in HTC to look for some new ear jewlery (being that the bastard crowd surfer knocked one of my tunnels out of my head and I've been cruising around with a rolled up business card shoved in my ear ever since...) but the very cool talons that I was looking at happened to cost a lot bit more than I had to spend. My thought process probably should have leaned towards something like keeping the extra money and using it for feeding myself and putting gasoline in my car for the next two weeks, but instead my piercing-addicted little brain screamed for more holes! So I decided to start the ladder. There was no real wait, he took me into the room and we discussed what we were trying to accomplish in the long run. Most ladders that I've seen are the same length barbells spaced evenly down the length of the back, but in my never ending quest for originality, I decided to go for something a bit different. My ladder is going to start with a long barbell (most likely an inch and a half), taper down in size between my shoulder blades and then taper back out to the longest length at the base of my back. The spaces between the barbells are going to get smaller as the barbells get shorter. Neat idea, huh? Don't copy it or I'll find you and I'll eat your children. Anyway. We discussed this and when we finally had every thing straight he marked me and let me check it out. This first piercing was right in the center of my neck. Really pretty, however it was difficult for me to see, being that my head is not detachable. When I was satisfied with the marking, he had me lay face down on the bed/table and did the whole skin massage thing so that no other tissue would be in the way. He clamped the skin, which, even when clamped F***ing tight, was still about 3/4 of an inch of tissue to go thru. Then came the fun part... the actual piercing really didn't hurt that much... nothing compared to the satanic pain associated with the hood piercing, but when he put the jewlery thru, it hurt. Bad. Not like hammering a rusty, tabasco-covered nail thru your foot...but still, rather painful. The barbell was externally threaded, which makes a HUGE difference. He screwed the beads on and introduced me to Steve Haworth before I left. Well, I left quite happily and went off to work, where I got many stupid questions from the shaggy lemmings that we in the hair industry call "clients". I began washing the piercing with Provon twice a day in the shower, and sea-salt soaking once a day. I REALLY babied it. I put band-aids over it whenever I put products in my hair, I avoided sleeping on my back, I made sure my shampoo ran into my eyes instead of down my neck.... every day remembering that surface-to-surface piercings have a high rejection rate. Well, despite all my obsessive care, the piercing got really pissed off, not infected... just really swollen and sore, so I took off from work early and traveled back down to HTC to have it looked at. That night Phish happened to be in. He told me that my problem was that my beads were "nesting", and therefore none of that normal drainage stuff could get out... so it was just sitting there, collecting in this giant, fluid filled bubble in the back of my neck. Yummy. Phish put some larger beads on, and pushed some of the fluid out.. which hurt when he was doing it, but the reduced pressure felt SO very nice when he was finished. Phish and I discussed my plan for the rest of the ladder and we decided that I would come back to him (as opposed to the guy that did the first one) to get the next four done. He ordered the barbells for me and I again went to work to deal with the evil people who finally came to terms with the fact that mullets weren't cool, and it was about damn time to get a new hairstyle. The night my jewlery came in I was supposed to be helping my mother move a piano and all of her other furniture into a u-haul truck. Luckily enough though, she decided not to do it that night, so as soon as I got out of work I picked up my friend Pj and we cruised down to HTC. Phish was expecting me, so again, I didn't have to wait that long. After signing all of the necessary paperwork and paying, Phish let Pj and I into the room and began the process. We discussed how to space the barbells and, as he began to mark my back he mentioned that my first barbell was off center a little to the left. He wasn't the first one to notice this, so we decided to take out the first one, let it heal and do it over again in the right place so as not to screw up the whole ladder.

The marking process took 1/2 an hour.  Phish made extremely sure that

all of the barbells were perfectly spaced, perfectly straight, perfectly centered. He called in people to get second, third and fourth opinions on his markings. I have to say that, even though I didn't really like standing perfectly still for all that time, Phish is awesome for making sure that everything was exact and perfect. When he was finally happy with his markings, Phish had me lay face down on the table/bed. He asked me if I cared if he clamped me or not.... I told him it didn't matter to me, so he opted not to. This made the experience a bit different from any other piercing I've ever recieved. The process doesn't take as long, and, at least for me, it didn't hurt as much. The clamp has always added a certain stressful element that I didn't have to deal with this time. Yay! The piercings were no problem. The needle didn't cause me any unusual amounts of pain, and the jewlery went in extremely smoothly. I got a little bit stressed right before the third one, I started thinking about the pain.. which ALWAYS makes it worse and so of corse, it hurt worse than the others, but that was my own damn fault for thinking about the pain instead of concentrating on holding my breath. Phish lost the needle on the fourth one.. I guess it wasn't quite as long as he thought, but he found the hole again and got the jewelery thru without causing me any more pain than normal. Phish used internally threaded jewlery, which makes an incredible difference. I couldn't even feel him putting it thru. He also had the barbells made with longer legs (is that what you'd call them?!!) so I wouldn't have the same problem with nesting as I did with the first one. He's really looking out for me and making sure that everything is perfect with this. Phish is awesome! When he was finished, I stood up to look at them in the mirror, but he made me wait until he'd had a good look at them first. When I finally saw them they were beautiful. Perfect in every way. He called in his consultants and everybody was saying how excellent they were. We waited around for a little while to get some of Phish's business cards (which I've been distributing like a maniac to anyone who asks me about the piercings) and we discussed creative answers for the annoying questions that come along with such a work of art. After many thanks we finally left Phish alone, a full 1/2 hour after HTC was supposed to be closed. (He's so nice!) I've now had the piercings for two days and they've given me no trouble at all. They're simple to wash in the shower, and I can sea-salt soak them all at once with the use of sterile gauze pads. Like with the first one, I wash them in the shower in the morning with Provon, sea-salt soak them for 1/2 an hour in the evening right before my nightly shower where I wash them with Provon again. I try to sleep on my stomach and keep clothing off of them as much as possible. The holes from the first, now removed piercing, are healing nicely. I include them in the Provon washes and the salt soaks. There's no fluid trapped inside, and the area isn't sore at all.
I'll write more as I add more to this work-in-progress. But before I finish this I just have to say that Phish is an incredible piercer. I trust him entirely and I won't let anybody else pierce me from now on. If you happen to be in Phoenix looking for a piercer, call up HTC and go to Phish. Seriously. I'm not just saying that. Stop looking at me that way. ok. I'm finished now. Bye. ~~~~~~~~ Riiiiiight, so now it's been awhile and I have more holes, and therefore more to write. Hmm. Well, the four exsisting piercings have done very nicely. There was a period about a week into it where they all got pissed off one at a time. The top one got swollen and sore, followed by the second one, then the third and fourth. I went into see Phish about it, and he told me that some swelling that far into the process was fairly normal.... what happens is that the fluid draining from the middle of the piercing has trouble getting out. At that point, sea salt soaks had an increased importance, they relieved a lot of the pressure and therefore the pain. So, for awhile I was doing two soaks a day. (By the way, if anybody out there has a more convienent way of soaking back ladders, I'd really like to know. Up to this point I've been heating up distilled water in the microwave, adding sea salt and then using gauze pads soaked in the solution to soak my back. It works, but Jesus, does it make a mess. Not to mention the amount of money I'm spending on gauze pads.) Anyway. After the swelling stopped, the "itching death" phase started. Phish said that it was a good thing... that itching was a sign of rapid healing but ARUGH! Just thinking about it is making me crazy. There were times I had to sit on my hands and bite my lips to the point of pain just to keep myself from scratching my back and therefore inflicting doom upon my piercings. It was like..... there's nothing I can describe that even comes close to how much it itches. There was once I was sitting in traffic on the freeway and the itching was driving me so crazy I just screamed until my throat hurt more than my back itched. (Note: People in traffic will fear you if you do this) I did find out that sea salt soaks GREATLY relieved the itching, and so the next two weeks became the "sea salt rules my life" period. The itching finally subsided and the healing process is going along quite nicely now.... washing has become much easier as I have been able to start moving the barbells around more. So I took all my christmas cash and went right down to HTC and got the next four done. Phish re-pierced the top one.... HE got it in the middle where it was supposed to be the first time. And three more down in between my shoulder blades. The skin gets tighter down there and, therefore is more of a pain in the butt to pierce, but Phish did an excellent job. The tighter skin is also insanely painful to pierce it seems. The pain involved with lowest one (at this point) rivals my hood piercing. Phish is a bit concerned with the lower ones nesting, but as always, he's looking out for me and had already ordered barbells with even LONGER legs in case it happens. I'm two days into these, and the only problem I've had thus far is that one of the balls on the lowest piercing fell off while I was at a party and I couldn't get the bar back thru the skin, and instead of risking catching the falling-out barbell on something, I opted to take the whole thing out. Phish is probably going to bludgeon my skull when I go in there tomorrow and tell him about it. I will wear a helmet. More when it happens..... ~~~~~~~~~~ The saga continues..... I went in to show Phish how bad I had accidently been and he did not bludgon me! (So the helmet was useless and Phish looked at me funny) He did, however, decide that the two lowest of the remaining piercings were a little bit low on the left side. When I say "a little bit" I mean 1/2s of millimeters. Phish says he can't sleep at night if it's not right, so we decided to take out the allegedilly crooked piercings and re-pierce them when they had healed. Phish also said he'd throw in the next new piercing for free, because he kicks more ass than....um... something that kicks a truckload of ass. Woo. I cleaned the barbell-less holes the same way I cleaned the barbell-full ones and in barely any time at all they were ready to be pierced again. The procedure wasn't much different that it was every other time, so I'll spare you the details again, but I will say the the scar tissue from the piercings we had to remove made the re-piercing procedure noticeably more painful. I cared for the piercings the same as the others, but about a week into the four new ones, the second-from-the-bottom started to nest fairly severly. It was intensly painful, so I upped my sea-salt soaks to three or four times a day with no avail unfortunately. The day I went in to see Phish he wasn't there, so I had to let another piercer put larger beads on the pissed off piercing. (I am surprised by how reluctant I am to let anybody but Phish touch my piercings) I had to go back in again the next day because the piercing still hurt. Luckily Phish was there that time, and again, we decided that we needed to remove the pissed off piercing and re-do it shallower when it healed. So I walked around with a missing rung for a few days until the two piercings above and below the missing one began to nest. At this point I was having a crisis because I thought that I was caring for them improperly, but when I once again went in to visit Phish he assured me that nesting was something that happened and that there was really no way to prevent a piercing from nesting. There seems to be a very fine line between a piercing that will nest and a piercing that will reject, and I seem to swell a lot, which makes it even more difficult to get perfect. At any rate, we decided to take out the very bottom piercing and put larger balls on the remaining "new" piercings. Since then I have been dutifully sea-salt soaking twice a day and provoning in the shower morning and night. The holes are healing nicely and the remaining piercings have stopped their nesting and feel excellent. They didn't even get angry during the superman suspension I recently recieved on my birthday. (I'm working on the story about that and will send it into BME as soon as it's finished.) Woo.
As always, I'll write more when it occurs.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 08 Feb. 2001
in Surface & Unusual Piercing

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Artist: Phish+%28The+greatest+piercer+in+the+known+universe%29
Studio: HTC+of+Phoenix+and+HTC+of+Tempe
Location: Phoenix%2FTempe+Arizona

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