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At the impressionable age of eighteen, I decided to have my navel pierced. It was just a whim, without any real prompting. I had had my nose pierced a few weeks prior to this decision, and had found the experience to be exhilarating! I loved the aesthetics, and the resulting current of adrenaline-fuelled energy. I was very interested in the prospect of another piercing, and the navel was suggested to me. It seemed like a relatively safe and obvious choice. After all, how bad could it be when fourteen-year-old girls all over the continent were getting it done in shopping malls? I was slightly wary of the navel piercing though: show off my stomach? Bleh! That seemed a little spooky. I was however single-minded in my need for another piercing. So, one wintry evening I enlisted the company of a friend, scrounged up some cash and made my way to a shop in the downtown area that my then-partner had recommended.

Once at the shop, I met with the piercer and picked out the barbell I wanted. The jewellery was sterilized and all equipment was opened in front of me. The piercer was meticulous in cleaning the area around my navel, and kindly put up with all my nervous, asinine questions! (" What's your middle name? Is that a picture of your mom?" being prime examples.) I actually managed to embarrass myself further by yelling "Aah! No feeling!" as the needle went in. Not my proudest moment, although I'm told it was hilarious to watch me vehemently give the thumbs-down. The piercer threatened (jokingly...I think) to cover my mouth with duct tape next time I came in. I went home with aftercare instructions, H2Ocean spray, and a head rush.

I followed the instructions to the letter, carefully washing the piercing twice a day with unscented bar soap, and spraying the area with the H2Ocean a few times a day. Unfortunately, both were persistently painful, itchy and there was some discharge. I complained at length to some pierced friends, all of who told me that this was simply a part of the healing process, and not an infection. Not wanting to be seen as a baby, I stopped complaining. I continued to wash the piercings and gave up on sleeping on my stomach, which had become too painful. I was also unable to bend at the waist comfortably or wear tight shirts, and touching my stomach became forbidden. Even hugs were awkward and sore.

I put up with this for about four or five months (I'm nothing if not persistent!) before heading back to talk to the piercer. He gave the area an once-over and said it was probably a mild infection. He advised me to treat the piercing as if it were new: lots of cleaning, lots of aftercare spray, no touching, et cetera. Professionals of any type tend to intimidate me, and I was too nervous to tell him that I had been doing exactly that since the piercing took place. I went home determined to fix the damn thing. I had tried changing soaps, washing more frequently, less frequently. Nothing provoked any real difference in the piercing.

One morning, I woke up to red lines on the skin of my stomach, surrounding the navel. Instantly, panic set in. Discharge and pain I could handle, but this? This was terrifying! Vague, half-formed ideas of blood infections swirled through my mind. I called up a friend: "Lines! Red ones! It really hurts!" After a few minutes of listening to me babble tearfully into the phone, she suggested that I try to take out the barbell. I unscrewed the top and tugged on the barbell. Not only did it not come out, it was extremely painful! I spent the next hour wandering the house shirtless. I alternated soaking the barbell in warm salt water and gently pulling on it, but it clearly did not want to leave. The barbell was so enmeshed in crusted pus and blood that trying to ease it out only resulted in more blood. This was well beyond my realm of experience, and I was completely at a loss. Eventually, I sat in a hot bath for about twenty minutes and it came out of its own accord. I had no idea what I could have done wrong. What could possibly have caused this piercing to reject so violently? In short, why did my body hate that sliver of metal? The idea of a metal allergy crossed my mind, but I brushed it off. I had been pierced with surgical steel, and no one is allergic to that, right? I chalked up the experience to poor aftercare on my part, and moved on, seeking out new piercings to attempt. I have considered the prospect of getting the navel pierced again, although the twin rings of scar tissue that mar my stomach are something of a deterrent.

As a side note, I discovered after another piercing rejected that I do in fact have an allergy to metal. I have since been pierced with titanium and found it to be a great alternative!


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 10 July 2007
in Navel Piercing

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Artist: Rev.+J
Studio: Living+Colour
Location: Ottawa%2C+ON

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