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Liz's multiple lobe punctures

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This tale is going to seem pretty wussy to most of you, considering it is only about a lobe piercing experience but considering I did just about EVERYTHING wrong it might be educational!

I've been fascinated by piercing since I was an adolescent, but I was a pretty late bloomer I finally summoned the nerve to get my ears pierced (at the hairdresser's, with a gun) when I was 12. I was a tomboy in every sense of the word and had to be prodded by my mother to get them done! They have long since healed, and are finally at the point where I can go without wearing jewelry in them for awhile and they won't close up.

So, at the ripe old age of 21, I decided I really wanted more jewelry in my ears. One afternoon, completely spontaneously, I flipped through the Yellow Pages and found out that the local hairdresser offered ear piercing. I called and made an appointment for that evening. Finally, I'd be caught up with everyone else! The studio was within walking distance of my dorm so I hoofed it down and met my "piercer" - a nice woman not much older than myself who had several cartilege piercings and her tongue done. She restated what she had said on the phone: "We only do lobes here". I had no problem with that! It wasn't long ago that hairdressers and inexperienced piercers at local malls were firing those damn guns through any part of your ear you offered, and I'd heard some horror stories about the results. But I was convinced that a gun was the way to go for lobes. Well, you know what they say about hindsight

She sat me down in a chair and I explained what I wanted: 2 new holes in the left lobe and 1 in the right (I'm a big fan of asymmetry). She had me pick out the studs, and apologized because the pickings were pretty slim I had to settle for simple gold studs in a t-shape with tiny rhinestones in the center (god, they were tacky). I didn't worry about it because ultimately I wanted to wear rings in the holes, after they had healed. So after marking the lobes and getting my approval, my piercer wiped something on my lobes (betadine?) and loaded the gun. I was nervous, if only because it had been so long since I first got them pierced. She lined up the gun and CHUNK - I felt a sharp pinch and a lot of pressure, but really no pain. It sounded like a staple gun going off. She finished the other two and I was pretty proud of myself. She gave me this tiny "Caring for your new piercings" card and I thanked her and paid, tipping well. My ears were a bit sore and tender that night but that passed quickly, and they didn't bother me unless I got them tangled in my hair or bumped them accidentally.

So, as you may have inferred from the title, my first mistake was getting my lobes done with a gun. The SECOND was not adequately researching what I should use to clean them. I decided that it would probably be best to use a strong germ-killer so, you guessed it I doused them in isopropyl alcohol. I would soak a cotton ball with the stuff and really soak my lobes, turning the studs and making sure it stung. I figured if it stung like that, I had to be doing something right. I did this for a month, and then started talking to other people about piercings and found out that alcohol wasn't the way to go. I casually asked my school nurse about it one day, and sure enough, she gave me a pamphlet on caring for piercings that said NOT to use anything as harsh as alcohol. So, OK I started using antibacterial soap.

Nearly 5 weeks had passed, and I was eager to get the ugly studs out of my lobes. First I needed appropriate jewelry. So I went to the mall and started examining the offerings at Hot Topic. I quickly realized that most of the sexy CBRs were available only for much larger guages than mine were done in (naturally, because most people are smart enough to get them done with needles!) I did, however, find narrower silver-colored rings that had the bead soldered on one end of the wire, with a hole that you'd fit the other end into. They were about 20-guage, which looked appropriate, and although they seemed cheap and I had no idea what kind of metal they were, I picked several up. Mistake number 3 - buying cheap jewelry.

I brought them home and removed my studs. The holes in my ear looked pretty raw and tender, and one started "weeping" immediately after removing the stud (it is hard to take those damn things out without putting pressure on the hole!) I pressed on and threaded the rings in. I had to be careful, as the free end of the wire wasn't entirely smooth. But I got them fitted with only a bit of discomfort, and continued with my cleaning regimen, while trying to fight the urge to pick off the crusties (I'd find myself doing it absentmindedly in class, and of course all it did was irritate them).

About a week or so after putting in the rings I felt the back of one of the piercings and noticed it was badly swollen. Finally I looked in a mirror, and was shocked - it was big and red and inflamed. I couldn't just leave it alone, so I pressed and pressed until I popped the damn thing. It let out a good deal of yellow pus and then BLED. But at least that huge swelling went down. After that I was more motivated to quit picking at my rings.

It is now late May (I had them pierced in late January), and there's usually one out of the three that is mildly irritated at any given time. I just try to leave them alone and wash them regularly. Additionally, the cheap faux CBRs I have in them are starting to discolor a bit where the ring passes through my ear - they are getting a bit grey. So as soon as I can I plan to replace them with quality rings. I'm also thinking about stretching them a bit I'd really prefer to wear 14-guage rings in them. Frankly, I wish I'd thought the whole thing through originally and gotten them done with a needle. Those piercing guns should be banned I'm convinced that my ears would have healed faster and better had I gotten them pierced correctly. So even if you are getting your first lobe piercings, please consider having them done by a professional piercer and not some hairdresser wielding a gun! You'll be happier with the results in the long run.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 15 June 1999
in Ear Piercing

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