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Not only hedgehogs have spines

I can't honestly say it was something I'd been dying to get since the year dot, nor even that it was until then anything I'd thought about much at all. Looking back, I'd say it was when I saw it on Spacy's IAM page that I started wondering... a spinal surface bar piercing - or maybe a pair?! We exchanged messages, and I did a bit of research on the BME surface/unusual page. Mmmm, yes - very cool, I thoughtl. Luckily I'd had no real problems with the surface piercings I'd had so far - a wrist-bar, two napes and a pair of 'Love Handles' (my rather unusual rib cage D-Rings) - so when I took the train down to Brighton at the end of September last year (2001) I asked at Perforations about adding a pair of spinals to my collection.

No problem, said Jon, although because of the rejection risk they'd advise using special surface bars which they don't ordinarily keep in stock but could order in for me. I was naturally disappointed, but took what I'm sure was sound advice Listen to what your piercer tells you. I got myself measured up, though: it was basically a choice between 25mm and 30mm bars, and after much bending, twisting and neck contortions so I could assess the placement in the mirror, I decided on a pair of 25mm. Oh - and I made the most of the occasion by getting a third nape (done with PTFE) and a guiche!The bars, Jon told me, would probably be ready from the wholesalers in about a fortnight. As luck would have it, there was a bit of a delay, so that when I next took the train down the bars weren't yet ready. Instead, I came away with a set of back rings! Needless to say the gu ys at Perforations came up trumps in the end, and October 27th saw me making the now familiar trip back to Brighton.

The line was partly closed owing to 'engineering works' so my train was packed full to overflowing with half the world, his dog and his hamster, and a carriage-full of Colchester football supporters. I got a call on my mobile phone to say that my IAM friends and locals Noot, and Puck were running late, but as the train was being diverted via Lewes, that didn't really seem to matter. I got into Brighton around 11.30; in the time it took me to get a bottle of Coke from the station booth, the others arrived. I'd achieved my usual feat of arranging fine weather, so we all set off for Perforations via the scenic route. [For scenic read hilly - I hadn't realized until then just how hilly Brighton is] At least it avoided the throngs of Saturday shoppers! After only a brief wait chatting to Rob down we all went into the 'Blue room'. First of all, Dom took a look at my back rings and adjusted them a little. Yay - still looking good. Now for the spinals...! I'll admit I took one look at the staple-shaped jewelry in its little plastic bag and thought: Aaargh - that looks enormous - that is never going to fit - there isn't room - I'm going to be paralysed. But, Dom is a professional: the marking up took as long as necessary...legs apart...bend forward...straighten up......Just about every conceivable angle and contortion was covered as he made sure the natural movement and bending of my back and spine were accommodated. All the time I was trying to look round in the mirror to make sure the placement looked fine. Eventually we were ready. Noot kindly wielded my digital camera, and I laid face-down on the bench. A liberal squirt from the can of freeze-spray, a freehand pinch, and apart from a brief moment or two of discomfort...Wow! Same again for the second one about an inch lower done. Compared to the measuring and marking time, it wa s all over in a flash. All that remained was to have a protective dres sing pad taped over. We celebrated with a burger and chips and, joined by several other IAMers, headed off to the Windmill pub where we sat on the benches outside in the warm late October sun, much to the consternation of the 'locals' inside who we sensed were giving us the customary 'who are those freaks?' through-the-windows-looks.

Aftercare of spinal bars is something that isn't really covered in the standard leaflet, of course. So I simply followed the obvious - keep it clean, adding a little antiseptic liquid or sea-salt to the bath water every day; careful when drying, not to rub too vigorously with a towel ouch. Clothing I found needs to be either loose, or if tight, really tight to avoid any rubbing or irritation. Sitting and normal movement posed no problems, apart from car driving, where the angle of the seat tended to put pressure on the bars awkwardly. At first I noticed the skin surface above both bars flaking and peeling slightly, but that stopped after first couple of weeks.

I'd been getting along fine with them for a couple of months or so, when I got out of bed one morning to discover a small silver coloured ball on the bottom sheet. It was unmistakeably from one of my piercings, and it took me only a moment or two to find the culprit - my top spinal bar. Why it had worked loose I've no idea. Rather than twist round in front of a mirror, I persuaded my wife to screw it back on for me. Disconcertingly, exactly the same thing happened two days later, but since then although I try and check regularly, they've shown no sign of working loose again. Strange unpredictable things piercings can be!


submitted by: Don
on: 01 April 2002
in Surface & Unusual Piercing

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Artist: Dom
Studio: Perforations
Location: Brighton%2C+UK

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