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Nape Piercing - A Year On

I got my first piercing by a woman with cigarette-stained hands when I was thirteen. She took a blunt pierce of metal and shoved it through my ear using a piercing gun. I was, at that stage, too young to be pierced in a professional studio, so I kept getting pierced that way for a few years after that.

I was, however, a pretty active member of three outdoor adventure clubs and so I was regularly sailing, canoeing and rock climbing. Because of this, my choice of modifications was limited to what I could heal while wearing a helmet several times a week. I when I was fifteen, however, with several piercings under my belt, I realised that being in the sea and in rivers on a regular basis, I really shouldn't have been getting pierced at all. Once I realised this, I took a break from the sports, but soon after I decided that, although I loved being pierced, the sports were more important to me at the time and so I stopped being pierced and removed all but my two healed cartilage piercings and my healed labret.

Anyways, upon finishing school and starting college in 2004, I gave up the sports and again took an interest in body modification. Not long after, I got a new job which was very modification friendly, and so began looking at piercings that interested me, and since I was now 18 and old enough to have anything I wanted pierced in a professional studio, my mind wandered from the standard cartilage piercings I had been looking at for years.

Eventually I settled on a nape piercing, almost a year later. I can't remember where I found it or first saw it, but I do remember deciding that after college on Wednesday 26th October I would head to Snakebite and enquire about healing times, possible problems and the price. One of my friends wanted to have her side labret pierced, so we made a day out of it. We ate, made sure we had cash and headed on our way.

I found out that the healing time was anything up to a year, and that it was difficult to keep, even though they would pierce with the appropriate shaped surface bar and that the price was €75, including a new bar in six months, should th piercing last that long. I decided that I would go for it there and then, because I know in my heart that once I decide on something like this, if I don't do it soon, it gets put back and back until I forget about it.

Anyways, the piercer, Steve, spent a good 40 minutes marking me up and making sure I was happy with the placement. We discussed the type of clothing I wear, activities I do, the way my neck moved - everything to ensure that the piercing was going to be placed as well as possible. When we were ready to go, I was told to hop up onto the bed, but I asked if I could sit facing the back of the chair as I thought I'd be more comfortable this way. Steve was fine with this, and so we started. At this point, my brother arrived in the studio and came in just as we were lining up the needle.

The piercing was performed freehand at 1.6mm, although I'm unsure if the needle was 2.0mm. It was a difficult sensation to describe. It wasn't painful at all, although I could definitely feel exactly where the needle was. It took slight bit longer than I expected for the needle to pass through, and there was a slight stinging just as it broke the skin. The jewellery was slid in without me even noticing, and that was that!

When I stood up, Steve made me roll my neck so as it see if it felt ok to me. I was quite nervous of tugging on the piercing and so the first time I rolled my neck, it was quite a weak one, but I found that I literally couldn't feel it there at all, and so gained the confidence to roll my neck completely. I was shocked that it made absolutely no difference to how it felt to move my neck. We discussed aftercare and, after my friend was pierced, we left delighted, an hour and a half after we had arrived.

Day One: The first night, I left the piercing well alone. I slept on my stomach so as not to irritate the piercing and slept without waking.

Day Two: The piercing was crusting a lot already. I woke and found that I needed to soak pretty quickly as the amount of dried lymph was actually quite uncomfortable. I wore a light hoodie so as not to have anything rubbing against the piercing in college.

Week Two: By the second week, the swelling had begun and, while there was no discomfort, the site was quite red. I found during this week that soaking with a shot glass instead of a cotton ball worked well. I also started to sleep on my back after realising that it put no pressure on the piercing at all.

Week Three: Sever lymphing, even bleeding on rare occasions. I got quite worried about it, but the piercing itself looked fine, and after checking it with my piercer, I was more at ease.

Week Four: Swelling disappeared, but itching became a major problem. Right side of piercing, the entry hole, was quite tender if touched. Reduced soaks to one a day.

Month Two: I decided during this month that I would grow my hair back as I had been shaving it and was afraid of the small bits of clipped hair would make their way into the piercing and irritate it. The entry hole was still quite sensitive. The left side of the piercing developed a large lump under the skin. It wasn't visible at all, but felt tough to the touch, much like a hive. I had been sick, and my piercer put it down to that, and sure enough it went away within a week of fully recovering from illness. Reduced soaks to every two days.

Month Three: In early January, I experienced one day of complete agony. The entry hole was burning. It was painful when left alone, but if touched it hurt to an unbelievable level. The next day it was fine, but a few days later I noticed that the one side of the piercing had migrated and was now hanging lower than the left side. Reduced soaks to when necessary.

Month Four: Let side of piercing slowly migrated out and matched the entry hole. Was sick again, and lump returned and subsided. Lymphing had all but stopped.

Month Six: Made appointment to have surface bar downsized. Piercing had seemed settled when I awoke one day to find it sore and swollen. I returned to daily soaks, but it didn't help. Was convinced that it had begun to reject, and so cancelled my appointment. I decided that I would give it two weeks and if it hadn't improved, it would come out. Wore a white shirt on a night out and the next day found the collar had dried blood and lymph on it. Not nice.

It did improve however, and I decided that I would soon have the bar downsized.

Month Seven: Had piercing checked and the bar downsized. It was now far more snug and was much more comfortable.

Month Nine: Piercing became irritated by someone deciding that they wanted to pull on it in a bar. Soon settled, however, and things were back to normal.

Month Ten: Piercing had been migrated a little bit outwards, but I kept an eye on it and it seemed to stop at around this point.

Month Fourteen: This is where I now stand. The reactions from people have come to be pretty boring, and the whisperings of "look at his neck" can become quite irritating, especially when from people who are from an age group where you'd expect a bit more.

I'd never say healing this piercing has been easy. It got irritated very easily, and while the actual procedure was fine, the pain afterwards could get pretty bad. It may be one of the easier surface piercings to heal, but I don't think it's one that people should take lightly. It does take a lot of care and attention, and if you don't have the time, or if your lifestyle doesn't agree with it, then it's not something that you should line yourself up for.

It's still one of my favourite piercings, despite being pierced five times since this procedure and while it can still act up every now and then, the work I put into it has definitely been worth it.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 25 Dec. 2006
in Surface & Unusual Piercing

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Artist: Steve
Studio: Snakebite
Location: Dublin

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