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The End of a Surface Project

Just over a year and a half ago I got two surface piercings; bars on both my upper arms, just below my runic text tattoos. These were intended to be the start of a larger surface project which extended above and below the tattoos by a good few inches.
The plan was to have a horizontal staple with two balls (transdermal implants) at the very bottom of the project, with a vertical surface piercing above that, the balls of which were to be interspersed with a horizontal staple. The tattoo would sit just above the top ball of the surface bar and the surface project would be mirrored above the tattoo.
I intended to look something like this:

A rather crude drawing but you get the idea.

I got the first set of surface piercings (the set under the tattoos) done by Sean at Pierced Up in Bristol in February 2006 and initially had very few problems. As mentioned in my previous experience the right piercing healed up much quicker than the left, with the left remaining red and slightly sore for some time after the piercing was done, but initially, with the help of sea salt soaks, both were healing up.

Right arm, a couple of weeks after getting it done - some redness but on the whole healing well. The left arm was taking longer to heal than the right, and the bruise that had developed after the piercing was taking a while to fade. I called into see Sean who though the sea salt may have been drying out the skin, so I reverted to using just warm water, which seemed to help.

While all of this was going on, however, winter was still being winter and, being the owner of (then) three horses I was having to go up to the yard where they were stabled twice a day, usually in the pouring rain, in order to let them out, muck out, feed, water and exercise them, as well as doing the other myriad tasks that come with owning three horses, one of whom was extremely hard to catch and very much in foal. Cari, my pregnant mare, was living out so looking after her was relatively easy - indeed the only danger my still new and healing surface piercings had to face was that the colt she shared the field with would become too enthusiastic when trying to reach his feed bucket and knock me in the arm. Cola and Echo, however, were different stories.

While my piercings were placed on an area of the arm which didn't really have much movement, they were placed at the perfect height for Cola's head, and he took it into his mind that my left arm made a perfect scratching post. Each morning, on entering Cola's stable to rug him and let him out, I was met with a whinny and a vigorous head butt. No matter how much I tried to avoid it, invariably I would end up backed against the wall with Cola scratching himself on my poor surface piercing and thoroughly enjoying it.

Surface piercing on my left arm, looking very sore and irritated.

Through all of this though, I persevered. My right surface bar was doing fine and so I babied the left as much as possible and kept up the sea salt soaks, interspersing them with plain warm water soaks whenever the piercing looked like the skin was drying out. This didn't seem to help though, and my left arm got more and more sore. While not painful when I was using my arm, if I knocked the piercing, or the skin around it, it would hurt, and the skin around the holes, particularly the top hole, became extremely irritated, a kind of puss-y blister developing which, no matter what I did, I couldn't shift.A blurry photo but the piercing clearly looks very irritated.

But not only did I have to deal with Cola's using me as a scratching post - Echo, who was stabled at the time, shared his field with a rather temperamental five year old called Clip. One dark, wet, windy evening myself and the owner of the yard went to get Echo and Clip to bring them in for the night. I was leading Echo with Margaret leading Clip in front. At the gate he stopped and refused to walk on. Cold, wet and far too cocksure I slapped Clip on the flank and said 'Come on Clip, shift your arse.' Immediately Clip's hind leg shot out and connected with my left thigh. Echo jerked back, pulling the lead rope out of my hands and breaking my thumb; I, unable to move because of the thick mud, could only windmill my arms as Clip bucked, both legs shooting out and hitting my ribs. With nothing to hold onto I fell back into the mud, shocked, stunned and wondering how the hell my surface piercings were going to cope.

Once Clip was under control we led the horses back to the yard, me walking like John Wayne. Undressing in the stable I was covered in mud from head to toe - I had only been wearing a fleecy jumper, not a coat, and it seemed like mud was everywhere. Fortunately the one place that seemed to have the least of it were my upper arms - the surface piercings, while being bruised when I landed on the floor, hadn't been caught in the mud. Unfortunately it meant that not only did my body have to deal with healing my broken thumb and bruised ribs and thigh, I still had my surface piercings to heal, in particular the sore, left one.

For a while after that things seemed to go ok. My right piercing was, by now, absolutely fine - the redness had completely disappeared and the occasional accidental knocking of the piercing had no effect on it at all. I was still salt soaking the left and trying to ignore it in the hopes it would get better if I left it the hell alone, but things really came to a head in the April, about three months after the piercing had been done.

I and a friend decided to go for a ride around the bridleway owned by the owner of our yard. It had been a gorgeous April day and it was approaching evening as we rounded the corner at the top of the last field before we hit the home straight. As usual we opened the gate into the long field through which we normally galloped flat out. The horses, recognising where we were, were eager to get going and as soon as the gate was closed we took off, enjoying the thundering of hooves and the wind in our faces. I was on Echo on the right of the path, more towards the middle of the field; my friend Rose, on Taz, to my left. Suddenly, with no warning, Taz spooked at something to his left and shot across my path. Echo swerved to the right, I went to the left and that would have been the end of it, had my foot not been caught in the stirrup. With my ankle through the stirrup iron I had no choice but to be dragged along the ground at a flat out gallop, my head inches away from Echo's dinner plate sized hooves; my left arm catching, dragging and bouncing along the hard ground. Looking back on it it can only have been a few seconds before my foot became free and I dropped to the ground, but as I was being dragged along two thoughts kept running through my head: my head is too close to his hooves and oh my god, my piercing.

On getting home that evening I got into the bath to soak my bruised bones and check on my surface piercing. It didn't look good. Not as bad as I thought it would have been, but not good nonetheless. The area around the top of the hole, which had been irritated and forming a blister for some time, looked even more red, and a bruise was forming around the piercing and down my arm. I wanted to try and save the piercing but at the back of my mind I'm sure the thought was there that it just wouldn't work.

A week or so later, while at home in Wales, I made the decision to remove the piercing from my left arm. Trying to unscrew the ball was an interesting experience as I only had one available hand; the piercing being in a position that I couldn't reach with my left hand. Luckily the ball hadn't been screwed on so tightly that I couldn't remove it and so, wearing latex gloves, I unscrewed the top ball and pulled the bar out of my arm. Surprisingly removing the piercing hurt more than having it pierced in the first place, and I watched as the holes closed up almost immediately. I cleaned the entry and exit holes with warm water and hypoallergenic soap, and that was the end of the surface piercing in my left arm.

I left the bar in the right arm for a bit longer as it had healed well and I was sure that I would get the left repierced sooner, but as the month wore on, things between me and my then boyfriend got worse and that, coupled with the fact that I didn't like looking so lopsided, made me remove the piercing from the right arm.

I called in to see Sean to discuss another piercing a few weeks later and he asked how the surface bars were doing. I explained what had happened and, looking disappointed, he said 'You should have come to see me. If I think I can save a piercing I'll do everything to help.'. Thinking about it now I realise that I should have gone to see him, but coming off Echo was, I think, the straw that broke the camel's back - I don't think there's any way the piercing could have been saved after that.

As for my decision to remove the piercing on my right arm, I do regret it in some ways. While I think removing it was the best idea (I'm getting half sleeves in just under a month and the piercings wouldn't work with the design I'm having; I will still be getting this surface project done though, just on my forearms rather than upper arms), my reasons for removing it weren't. As soon as I'd taken it out I regretted it, and in the end it made no difference to the situation between me and my boyfriend - we still split up.

Details

submitted by: Anonymous
on: 06 June 2007
in Surface & Unusual Piercing

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Artist: Sean
Studio: Pierced+Up
Location: Bristol

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