The Nape He Won't Soon Forget
(Note: I just finished writing this experience and returned to the top to
tell you --- I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS IS SOOOOOOO LONG!! But you must read it! It was quite an experience! TN) I think of myself as one of the most unlikely piercing candidates around. I'm 40 years old, a teacher, father of an eleven-year-old boy (and a baby girl on the way!), Republican, live in a very small Texas town, and have no visible mods (although I do have 12 hidden tattoos and 3 hidden piercings). I found out last night that I may be an even more unlikely candidate than I had thought. However, thanks to an expert piercer, Tim Young -- at Sacred Heart Studio on Westheimer in Houston -- I am now the extremely proud owner of an incredible nape piercing. Here's the story ---- Last year, I "accidentally" followed a link to a genital piercing club on Yahoo. I lurked there for a while, reading everyday but never contributing and certainly not even considering a piercing for my conservative self. I just didn't see how it would be possible! Although I was intrigued, I was just too afraid of the pain. Well, about 9 months ago, I decided I just had to have something, so I started the internet research. That's when I found BME -- what a turning point in my life!!!! After a great deal of searching, reading, and thinking, I finally decided on a frenum piercing. I then went on a search for a shop. I ended up deciding on Sacred Heart Studio in Houston (about 1 hour, 15 minutes from my home). Well, to make a long story (a little) shorter, I had the frenum done about 8 months ago, and I've loved it ever since. As has happened to so many of you reading this (or probably WILL happen to you soon), I couldn't stop with just one piercing. I honestly had no intention of getting more, but it just kind of crept up on me, and there I was, lying on the table, getting a PA for my 40th birthday! I only kept it 2 days -- R.I.P. -- it just wasn't my "thing" (pun intended). So, I was sure I would stop at two piercings. Then I found myself getting my nipple pierced for Christmas!! Oh, the pain of THAT one!!!! It hurt like fire, but I sure do love it! Three piercings -- certainly that was enough. Hmmm.....nope! A few weeks ago, Meghan (of BME QOD fame) starting talking about how much she loved her new tygon nape piercing. Well, I e-mailed her to get more information, and she was so generous in her detailed help. (Thanks, Meghan!) I proceeded to read and view absolutely everything BME has to offer about the nape piercing. I also called Sacred Heart to talk about it and find out exactly when Tim would be there. Okay -- cut to the chase -- I decided to go to Houston last night about 6:30, and went to tell my son that I'd be back later. He wanted to know what I was doing, and I told him it was a surprise and I'd show him when I got home. (I thought I'd be home about 9:30.) I arrived at the shop at 8:00 P.M. When you step into Sacred Heart Studio, you step into another world. It's incredibly peaceful in there. The shop is a beautiful old building, which I think was a house originally, now renovated to suit their purposes. The rooms are painted vibrant bold colors, each room feeling independent of the others, and connected by beautiful "art deco-like" archways. The foyer, where the front counter is located is some strange very light gray that seems to glow a dim purple. The waiting area is bright yellow trimmed with a vivid aqua blue. There's a white room with purple cabinets reserved for the tattooist, and the off-limits "lab" is hot, hot, hot pink. Oh, I mustn't forget the bathroom -- tangerine (of course) with an Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe print. As you move through the spaces, you step in and out of beautifully and carefully thrown pools of light. The music playing is probably the most eclectic collection I've ever heard, and is somehow very relaxing. Sacred Heart is run by husband-and-wife team, Tim Young and Diane Ianucci. Tim is an artist of various media, including metal sculptures, and Diane is an accomplished fashion designer. AND........they're just all-around great people. They are two of THE MOST PROFESSIONAL people I have ever met in any setting anywhere. If they weren't artists, they could easily have slipped into the world of lawyers, accountants, and surgeons. When I got there, I went through all the "initial stuff" with Diane at the counter and took a seat in one of the tangerine metal retro-chairs in the waiting area. Tim needed about 5 more minutes to finish up with a girl who was getting a really interesting piercing -- a rather large circular barbell right in the center of her bottom lip. After they were finished, Tim gathered the necessary supplies for my nape piercing and started to prep "the little room". He cleaned, and cleaned, and cleaned -- for about 15 to 20 minutes! Everything from himself to the chair, table, counter and sink in the room where we would be. It was an amazing and VERY reassuring thing to watch. (I was able to discreetly spy on this cleaning ritual through a cleverly placed mirror.) You have to understand that when you go to Sacred Heart Studio, you are NOT going to be rushed in and out. Tim will not make a single move without being satisfied that everything is completely clean. Then, he's going to take the time to discuss every aspect of the procedure with you. (8:50) That's what he did for me, and we also discussed placement, and the challenge of working with tygon. Tygon is so flexible that it can be difficult to feed it through the piercing. He said he's had really good luck with using a technique that involves threading a taper through the tygon to give the first inch or so some rigidity in order to send it through following the needle. He also told me that a nape piercing is somewhat different from other piercings in that it just takes longer. You have to make one motion to enter, another motion for moving the needle across about 1/2 inch, repeat that motion several times depending on the length of the piercing, and a final motion to exit. I was ready! (9:00) We went into "the little room" and I was asked to remove my shirt and straddle a padded chair backwards, leaning on the back of the chair. Tim made some nice remarks about some particularly nice tattoo-work that I've had done on my back and shoulder. We chatted about it while he made some very careful marks. He had me stand and check the marks, and I pronounced them "perfect". (9:10) I could feel his hands squeezing the skin on the back of my neck, and I figured he was about ready. I started to breathe deeply and he made entry with the needle. There was just a small prick (like a bee sting) upon the entrance of the needle. As he worked the needle across, it was TOTALLY painless -- I was absolutely amazed!! Just after Tim got the needle inside, though, he found that my skin is incredibly thick in that area. And I mean INCREDIBLY thick. I laughed and said, "That's fat!" He said, "No, it's not. If it were fat, the needle would be sliding through it like butter." Well, instead of the 1/2" movements inside, the needle would only go about 1/8" with each push, and I had the feeling that Tim was having to work really hard just to get that 1/8" done. He said that he was never shocked to learn about the myriad surprises that human anatomy holds. (You know, you always hope that your piercing will be one of the really interesting ones that your piercer will be proud of and remember for a long time. This wasn't the way I wanted to be remembered -- "Rhinoceros-Neck".) Well, the entrance and exit holes are about 1-1/4" apart, so it took about 2 full minutes of piercing to get all the way through. But I was okay, because even though I could "feel" the movement inside, it didn't hurt at all. So, 2 minutes of piercing, it was about 9:15 P.M., and I thought, "Cool! Now he can slip in the jewelry and I'll be home by 10:30!" Silly me. My neck kept presenting Tim with new problems, and he was the calm and consummate professional throughout. A lesser piercer would have given up, but he kept tackling the problem with different creative solutions, and was determined to solve it. First, the taper size that he had always used for this just wouldn't go all the way through. (9:20) He patiently went to get another, threaded it through the tygon, and went to work again. My thick skin just would NOT cooperate, and Tim was getting concerned that he was hurting me. I assured him that he was not, and told him that I trusted him completely. He appeared to stay very cool and sounded calm the whole time -- although I knew he must have been riddled with frustration on the inside -- a sure sign of a true professional. (9:25) He continued to try to coax the taper and tygon through, but it just wouldn't go. (9:30) He then decided that we would have to do a stainless steel surface bar and change it out for tygon in a few days. I was a little disappointed, because I've heard great things about tygon being used in a nape piercing, but mostly, I just wanted the piercing -- even if it had to be a surface bar. But, guess what! It wouldn't go through, either. I don't know what was blocking the path in there, but it was definitely stubborn.
I wasn't in pain, but I was starting to really worry that Tim would have
to give up, and I would have to go home unadorned. (9:35) Finally, Tim said the words I had dreaded, "Well, I'm really sorry, but I think I'm going to have to call this one an abort." I was so disappointed. Then he said, "The only other recourse would be to go through again with a needle, and I'm sure you don't want to do THAT, so..............." I told him again that I trusted him and that if he thought it was safe to do so, I was ready to go for it -- especially since the pain was proving to be so minimal. (If it had been painful at all, I would have given up after about 2 minutes, way back at the beginning.) (9:40) Tim took a deep breath and said "Okay, I am GOING to make this work!" In goes another needle, this time it went through a little quicker, but (of course) it didn't want to come out the exit hole. He managed to work it through, and I figured it would be fairly easy to follow the needle through with the jewelry now that we had switched to a stainless steel surface bar. Well, the second needle path helped, but it was still quite a tug-battle to get anything to follow that needle. (9:45) All of a sudden, Tim said, "Okay, the tygon is all the way through!" The tygon!?!? But how?!?!
He just calmly said, "I knew I could make it work." I was so
surprised and SOOOO happy!!! He took a couple of minutes to get the balls in place and secured, and then he let me see it. 30 minutes of really, really hard work for Tim, and it was absolutely perfect!! Okay, it's the next day, and I have to say, the tygon is super-comfortable and there's still no pain at all. I am completely in love with it! Even my wife thinks it cool-looking. (And she hated the PA.) My son is getting used to it more every hour. He was really grossed out at first, but I told him it's my Borg Implant (from Star Trek), and he thought that was cool. (Wait until he finds out about the frenum someday. He'll REALLY gross out!!) I had no idea that my neck would present such problems. It was a total surprise to me and to Tim. I am so glad that I had chosen to go to a real professional like Tim, or else this nape piercing would not be a reality right now. He had great concern for my welfare throughout the entire procedure, but was not willing to give up until he had exhausted every possibility. I have great respect for him and his knowledge and ability. If you're in the Houston area and considering a piercing of ANY kind, I insist that you at least stop by Sacred Heart Studio on Westheimer (across from "Numbers") and meet Tim and Diane. Don't make your final decision until you've had a chance to talk to the VERY BEST!! So, now I have a frenum, nipple, and nape. Enough? I have an appointment for Friday evening for an apadravya. (I'll let you know how it goes.) TattooNut (e-mail me with questions -- happy to help)
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 06 Feb. 2001
in Surface & Unusual Piercing