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My scrap-book back

I can't believe this whole little project began with a spur-of-the-moment decision while on holiday in Europe last summer. I was back packing round Central/Eastern Europe with two of my friends and in all honesty if I'd have known I was going to get a brand while I was away I would've planned a lot better! I'd always toyed with the idea of getting some work like that done but finding someone in Britain prepared to do it, usually means a mission of a journey to get there. So we arrive in in the Czech Republic in the middle of July with our rucksacks and had no idea I would be leaving Prague just 2 days later with the strike brand of the heart in the first picture. Obviously at the time it seemed a great idea to get an asymmetrical heart done since it fit the shape of my back and just gave it some position, but hindsight is a wonderful thing and I soon wished I'd had a symmetric one. So that healed up with as little irritation as I could give it (!!!) since I was in a foreign country and didn't want to risk any sort of infection getting at it, though it has healed fairly smooth with no raised scarring.

It's only six months later when I'm talking to my piercer about my adventures and happen to mention that I'd love to get some skin removal around it just to balance out the two halves of the shape, that he lets slip that he's perfectly prepared to do it for me. Right, that was it! I was straight home and throwing out ideas and doodles everywhere trying to find something in the tribal style that all my other work was in, but also that was simple enough to apply to scarification. Finally came up with the idea that's now emblazoned on my lower back!

I will put my hands in the air and say I was actually scared that afternoon before I had to go in later that day when the shop shut. Tattoos and piercings were nothing alien anymore and even with my brand I'd decided I wanted it and had it done all in the space of an hour really! But this... this I'd had a week to think about, with everyone telling just how much it was going to hurt and how it would be absolutely unbearable. I still can't believe how much I was shaking!

It was really only after I was laid out on the table and the design had been drawn up on me that the adrenaline kicked in and I started to settle down. I'd chosen not to pre-apply any local anaesthetic cream because I feel that a big part of getting any modification is the pain. It's all about the sensation and the overwhelming feeling when it's all done that you accomplished something, and I like to think I have a very high pain threshold anyway, which I guess helps.

That first incision and suddenly I switched off like I usually do. Since I seem to be in a deeply honest mood I'll say that the pain was nothing like I expected. I really thought it would be some unbearable searing constant channel of pain, but it really was just like having an uncomfortably painful tattoo. Nothing more. The outline incisions were the easy parts though. It was the filleting of the skin away that hurt a little more, especially near the brand where the scar tissue had built up and the flesh wouldn't come away so easily. There wasn't even as much blood as I'd expected and the whole thing took about an hour and half, if that really. Little did I know that was the easy bit...

By the time I'd got home, all padded and bandaged up I just had to get the dried blood off my back so jumped in the shower. But just the feeling of the warm water running over the open wound was enough to actually make me cry. Maybe if it was on my arm or leg, somewhere a little more separate from my actual body, I might be able to cope a little better but it was actually unbearable. It was the same the next morning and it took all of my strength to pick up the bottle of lemon juice and exfoliating sponge and rub away at the piece to stop any scab being laid down. I reckoned it was more bearable to do this twice a day, more gently, than once a day but have to scrub really hard at it. So I'd loosen it up with hot water in the shower first then apply a diluted lemon juice solution, getting slowly stronger while scratching any scab off. After a few days it slotted into my daily routine, but I still dreaded waking up every morning and getting home every evening, knowing I'd have to do it again. During the day it really wasn't that bad however. My real problem was just general flexing and moving around, not because of the wound, but because how the scab would set. The scab would loosen up in the shower but then set again in one position usually when I was asleep, then moving to a different position stretched or compressed the scab which is what actually hurt.

Usually, I'd class being a fast healer as a blessing, but in this case it was a nightmare. I went back to check everything was okay with it after about a week and all he did was tell me I wasn't scrubbing and irritating it hard enough. Me and my boyfriend went straight home and I had to force myself to sit still while he scrubbed away at all the sections with a toothbrush to take every bit of healed skin off again and leave it back at the bare wound. I cried again! After that though it healed faster than ever, no matter how hard I scrubbed and rubbed salt into it it kept laying down new skin instead of scab and finally I'm left with my final piece, and it's now 4 weeks on, with a tiny bit of dry skin left to flake off.

It's not quite as dark a scar as I would've liked but I know I did everything I possibly could to make it as irritated as possible, while still stopping any infections. It's still produced a slightly sunken scar though which is what I wanted. That's what I love so much about this little project now, is that it's all about the feel and the texture, now just about the look. The next step in about a month is to re-cut along the outsides of the scar again and then brand inside the cut, just to give it a crisper, cleaner edge. Then I'll probably go on and get some tattoo work down to extend it. My little body mod collage.

I wish I could give the guy who did it and everyone that helped out a lot more credit than I can, but for legal reasons I can't even mention their names! They know who they are though and they know how much I love it!! Thanks a lot guys! I know it's been a long four weeks but it has been worth every moment. And such an experience! And that's all life is... a series of experiences. If you get them, take them!


submitted by: CherrY VampyrE
on: 13 March 2008
in Scarification

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Location: UK

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