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Collarrrggghhbone microdermals, four shiny dics under my collarbones.

The first few weeks of having microdermals in my collarbones heightened my natural traits of being worried, obsessive and panicky! Perhaps I'm exaggerating slightly but I really have fretted over these small pieces of metal more than what a normal person would.

Surface piercings astound me, I love the look of beads being screwed directly into the skin, and they have the added bonus of generally being found below the neck, so are viable options for me due to my part-time job's slightly vague guidelines on piercings (one day I'll pluck up the courage to get a vertical labret!)

I didn't fret because I was a stranger to surface piercings. The sternum was the one I originally wanted, but this ended up being a surface bar corset in between my shoulder blades (which I still have) so I knew how they healed and the procedure.

My friends and I had booked tickets for an Alexisonfire gig in Manchester at the beginning of March this year (2007). We were going to stay with a friend in the city and I decided it would be a perfect time to finally indulge in the sternum bar. I was looking at some more images in the BME galleries when I stumbled across a pair of collarbone surface piercings that were beautifully placed and healed nicely. I debated with myself, my boyfriend and friends "Sternum or collarbones?". In my heart I knew I would go for the collarbones, but I emailed Holier Than Thou in Manchester (they did my corset) about both. Graham's response was that my sternum would probably be done with microdermals to minimise rejection in such a taut area. I had read a lot about microdermals and was interested in having some in the future.

We got to Manchester after a 3 hour train journey and went straight to Holier Than Thou, a 10 minute walk from the station. Marcus was at the desk and after asking about collarbones, he pinched the skin below them and told me that surface bars would be too risky given what my skin is like in that area. He told me I would need microdermals. We chatted about the procedure and removal and then came the question of price. £50 a piece with discs. I was surprised but not totally put off. My instinct (and sums in my head told me I could pay off £200 in just over two weeks wages) said yes. I booked them for midday the next day.

The day after, I had gotten good nights sleep after the gig, but I was nervous. I had been reassured that compared to my corset, the microdermals would be 'a walk in the park'

We returned to the studio, signed the consent forms and waiting for the room and jewellery to be prepared. I'd had a good breakfast and bought a fizzy drink on the advice of Graham, who would be putting the microdermals in. The room had been refurbished since I had my corset and I had a guided tour of the new facilities to alleviate my germ-phobia. My boyfriend was there for support, our other friends went off into town.

Graham washed his hands in the no-hand sink and put on gloves, a mask and an apron. He started marking me up, using my bra straps and sternum as markers. There was much pinching and pulling, and plenty of silly poses (kind of like how I dance!) for me to pull. These were important to ensure that the microdermals moved smoothly over my bones when, for example I lifted my arm up. They were placed two on each side of my body, directly parallel underneath my collarbones, giving the appearance of standard surface bars. When we were satisfied I sat on the bed and sipped my drink, preparing myself for something that with any luck would be less painful that my corset.

It wasn't. In fact, by the second one it was far far more painful. The one thing that could have eased the pain as the needles went in and the microdermal 'toe' and 'heel' were put in was to keep breathing in the slow, calm way that Graham told me to. Unfortunately my breathing went all over the place and I gripped my sides to displace the pain. I don't think this helped Graham much as moving my arms caused my skin around the area to move. We had a break after we did the left side and I lay still on the bed, shaking and groaning. I didn't want to carry on, but I had got halfway so it would have been silly to back out. I asked Graham for some more tissues for the area of the bed where my jeans had been to protect my corset from any bacteria or germs that were on my jeans. It was remarkably lucid moment for me at a time where I thought I was going to pass out. I necked my drink and breathed deeply before preparing myself for the last two.

The fourth was bittersweet because although it was the last one and it would all be over, it was as painful as the others and I burst into tears. I apologised to Graham for crying because I felt as if me crying reflected badly on him, even though it is an auto-response to pain!

I stayed laid on the bed whilst Graham began to clean up my blood with gauze and tidy up the room. My first reaction to the bloody, markered and shiny collarbones was relief, but also an urge to rearrange my eyeliner!

I put on a clean t-shirt we had in our bag and I stumbled out into the front of the shop. There were some people waiting and I bet they thought I was a wimp! I had some sweets and waited so they could make sure I was alright.

On the train home my body was stiff and I drank more sugary drinks, Jelly Belly beans, a banana, chocolate and 2 bags of crisps! I got home and my parents hugged me (not too tight) and asked me how I was before shoving a massive plate of veggie Bolognese in front of me. We had been told to take the dressings off that evening and clean with plain boiled water, as salt can crust under the discs. Graham had also told us that one girl accidentally pulled out one of her microdermals in the shower, so we should be careful in the early days.

Guess what happened. My boyfriend accidentally pulled one out! It fell onto my bed and I burst into tears, which he yelled "OH MY GOD!" but quickly and painlessly put it back in. I started making plans for if another one fell out somewhere inconvenient like work, college or on the bus and my Mum told me not to be so hysterical, that they were fine and one of her patients at work has an eye that fall outs so I should calm down!

Unfortunately, I started work at 8am the next day. Mum removed the overnight dressings and applied Melonin pads with surgical tape (we had run out of the self-adhesive dressings) The tape pinched my skin but covered up the dull ache that had enveloped my chest. Stacking shelves was not a fun way to spend 10 hours.

I emailed Graham the next day after another shift at work to tell him about the one falling out, but that I had got through work okay.

Over the next few days, I developed some cracking bruises to add to the dried blood. About 5cm around each microdermal went bright purple initially, which then became a large smudge of purple and yellow! We were cleaning them everyday and I was wearing dressings day and night to prevent me panicking in case one fell out. I took off all my necklaces and wore my hair up in bed and in the shower and put the plug in, just in case. Cleaning was boiled water applied to the skin gently by laying a soaked flannel across them, then very gently removing dry debris with cotton buds. I also used Provon which I bought at HTT for use in the shower. I would constantly check they were there by feeling through my shirt and dressings for the four little pieces of metal. I would panic at twinges and sounds of metal on the ground (it always turned out to be stones)

I've had them almost two months now and cleaning is now about 4 times weekly now they are dry and healing well. My mother says it is silly to disturb a dry healing wound with water if possible. I still use Provon in the shower. Occasionally matter gets stuck in them, which has to be gently removed. I still wear my hair up and no jewellery in bed, yet on more than one occasion my hair has managed to twist around them, which always shocks me! They have settled mostly flat, if not at a slight angle. There is space for things to get caught, but as they have healed, they have come closer to my skin.

Overall, I am very very happy with them, despite them being sometimes difficult. Even though I imagine they were much more painful to get and more expensive than surface bars, I think it has been worth it to avoid the problems surface bars in taut areas can have. My collarbones look wonderful and I hope to have them for a long time to come.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 16 May 2007
in Surface & Unusual Piercing

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Artist: Graham
Studio: Holier+Than+Thou
Location: Manchester%2C+England

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