Why I’m against “gun” peircings

Last week, when Jamie and I had a couple of days off together, I decided it’d be a good idea to shove some earrings in to see how the holes were doing (I wear earrings very infrequently). And that is why I decided to write this.

When I was 7, I got my ears peirced for the first time. At the time, our local mall (Tanglewood) was a pretty bustling place and had a Spencer’s Gifts in it (this was also a few years before the Valley View Spencer’s put a life-sized Crypt Keeper ontop of a blow-up chair and set him up as a display. I still want that damned Crypt Keeper). At Spencer’s, you could get your ears peirced.

It was my decision, and after the first…trauma, I screamed–which caused everyone in the store to stop and stare–and I hopped off the chair and ran…right into a corner. Because I’m a genius and didn’t run out of the store.

After being calmed down, they handed me a giant stuffed Odie head to hold onto while the girl shot me again with the damned peircing gun. I screamed, I cried even more, and I ended up drooling all over the Odie pillow/toy thing. I still feel bad for ruining that thing and it’s been quite a while. I’m sure they just damaged it out and didn’t think twice, but still. And I’m still wondering why my parents didn’t apologize and pay for the stupid thing, especially since they were definitely of the mindset of “you break it, you bought it.”

The “after care” was: “Here, open a packet of this neosporin-like-goo and rub it on the front and back of the ear, wiggle the peircing around, and don’t forget to do it every day.”

I was seven, it was summer, and I was going to a “day camp” at the time (the only time I went to a “day camp.” It was…awkward as hell). One of the days of this “day camp” (it was for like a week or something), we went to Claytor Lake, and, because I was a kid, the girls I was hanging out with were trying to do headstands in the water, so I did too. I could do it, but at some point, I ended up getting dirt/silt/sand/whatever in my earring hole. The “counsellor” cleaned it as best she could (with a bare hand) and I cleaned as best I could with the sand-covered towel I had.

The hole got infected, my mom pulled the earrings out and said we’d try again later on.

During this time, my knowledge of tattoo parlors were: only biker’s, established bands, military men, and people who served jail/prison time went there. (never stopped me from wanting a tattoo though!) It was working its way into mainstream, popstars didn’t have tattoos, and rarely were there any holes anywhere besides ears and navels. (though, there was the one singer who had a nose ring and I thought that was the coolest shit ever…which reminds me, I need to put my nose ring back in. yay retail with a no-facial-peircings policy.)

The coolest part of this time was when we went to Virginia Beach and had to walk through the lobby of a tattoo parlor because it was attached to some other store and I got to see some neat looking people. The guy behind the counter was covered in tattoos and discussing something with a badass looking chick (also with a few tattoos).

A couple years pass and we end up in Tanglewood again. This time it was showing signs of…not as bustling as it had been (it was the beginnings of the decay that they’re still trying fix) We went into Afterthoughts (basically Claire’s, but with wigs), which turned into “Icing, by Claires” and I think it’s now a Claire’s store. Basically, it’s a store geared towards girls who want bling, tons of fun earrings and nail polish, and little oddities. Also great for getting super cheap homecoming/prom jewelery.

My mom said she’d get her ears done (second holes) if I’d do it. This was at a time before I learned that if you clench your jaw, scrunch your face or roll your eyes, the pain becomes a lot worse.

So, I get it done. It’s done with a gun, the same way as the first one. The thing looked like a mix between a handgun and a hot-glue gun.

I was…11 at the time and was given new “aftercare” instructions: buy this bottle of watered-down rubbing alcohol, use a q-tip twice a day and rub it on the front and back of your ears, wiggle the earrings, and don’t go swimming for a week. Oh, and also “clean” them after every shower for the six-weeks healing process.

Sometime after the “healing time,” I got to change out the earrings and put in the ones my mom bought me (tradgedy/comedy masks. they were awesome. I wish I could get another pair). They were fairly expensive and I took them out once for like an hour (to screw around and try on a friend’s earrings) and the holes tried to close up.

Then I learn that the rather expensive earrings are plated with nickel on the posts. (they were like $25. that’s pretty expensive considering that I find $6 from a specialty shop is expensive) And the nickel has decided to peel off and reveal, black/discoloured…metal of some kind. The nickel went into my ear, I was unable to put any other earring in unless I wanted to deal with burning, itching pain/discomfort. And the other earring post decided to bubble and act like it was going to peel at any moment.

Mom gave up and told me to let the holes close up, because it’d be safer, and see if the nickel would eventually go away. I have no idea if it has.

The holes closed up and a few years later, and I was 15 or 16, and I did it again. I was expecting the large, clunky gun and I explained that I wanted one hole for my left side and the three others on my right. I weirded out the lady who was going to stab me with this…weird little thing that looked like a miniature stapler.

It still hurt like hell, but the bottom holes have managed to stay in. The top third hole has something in it and grew over.¬†Even though the bottom holes were guaged down to a 6g (over time, I didn’t blow them out or anything), I’ve had nothing but problems with them. The whole “ear cheese” thing started way before I went from an 18 to a 14 on just a regular pair of earrings. (the holes are back to 18/16g)

The middle hole, while rarely has anything in it, also poses the same problem as the bottom holes. The other day, when I was putting some earrings in, I put a post in it and ended up popping a bunch of…goo out of it. I wore the earring in it for maybe an hour, took it out, and just went on with the day.

My ear hurt, but that’s nothing new lately, and didn’t notice that anything was wrong until the next morning when Jamie looked at me and pointed out that my ear was swollen and purple. Popped the hole and got blood and pus, cleaned the ear, covered it in neosporin (because at this point, I don’t care if the hole closes up), and went on with the day. It was sore for a couple of days and, fuck it, I’m not going to try to put anything in it again.

Jamie’s been pointing out for a couple of years that I should just go to Buddha or Boofy and get my ears hollowed out. (Buddha is a local peircer and Boofy’s a pro up in Richmond. He is awesome and I love him to death and I still feel bad for missing him when he came down to Roanoke to visit for a few days) I’d love to get my ears re-guaged, but I do also realize that I need to do something to fix the problem that I have.

I am a good example as to why you don’t go to a store to get your ears done and get shot with a “gun.” It’s always a much better idea to go to a professional peircer, whose job is to stab you safely, hygenically, with a hollow needle that will take out the skin, not cut it and push it to the side.

I’ve gotten my lip peirced (and it has grown over, due to…things) and that hurt, but mainly because I worked myself up and I was a lot worse about hollow points than I am now. I’ve also gotten my nostril peirced (which is still there! yay!) The nose peircing stung, but didn’t hurt all that much. The tricks of just closing your eyes, not clenching the jaw, and blanking out worked rather well.

Being stabbed was a lot less painful than being shot with a “gun.” Talking to and being reassured by a liscened professional is a whole lot better than signing a piece of paper, sitting on a chair as a teenager/early-to-mid 20s retail monkey pulls out a “sterile” packet of pointy posts–conveniently located in a drawer that’s sometimes covered in dust that sits beside the chair, overly-used mini-staplegun of evil, and, hopefully, gloves.

Going to a professional, they make sure you watch as they put on gloves, pull out the double-sterilized utensils, put you at ease, and talk with you while you sit (or lay) there for about 10 minutes after while the shock wears off. Sure, it may be a little more expensive than going to some retail store, but the professional works with you. If a tattooist (or apprentice) isn’t doing anything and you’re freaking out, they’ll hold your hand. At least, at the shop we go to (because Alex’s is awesome and everyone’s always super nice and professional), they’re always super cool. They’re very strict about rules and they go over the healing/cleaning process with you as many times as you need to make sure you understand them. At the shop we go to, they make sure the jewelery is comfortable and not so tight you have to get it surgically removed (this has happened to a friend of ours, but he went to a different shop).

It’s hard to wear earrings, which sucks because I’ve got neat little bat ones (locally made!) and I can only wear them for short amounts of time on odd occasions. (e.g: going to a wedding: I will wear them during the ceremony, but please ignore me while I pull them out during the reception. if the ceremony is long, I will take it out while the officate is still talking). It doesn’t matter if I clean them with rubbing alcohol and put them in, I’ll still get the same problems. The only way for me to be able to fix this is to head down to our preferred shop and get it done. (which will be eventually…at some point or another)

And, if someone does decide to go to a tattoo/piercing shop and get it done, don’t forget to tip. It’s the polite thing to do and if you can afford to get stabbed by a professional, you can afford a couple extra bucks to give them for their time and patience.