Twenty days ago I fulfilled a pretty major desire to get another tattoo to commemorate my transition to being a full time writer. I had wanted to get it once I published my first book, but I’m pretty much the biggest pansy in the world when it comes to pain so I kept putting it off. With that book being set in Dublin, when we moved here I thought it’d be symbolic to get the tattoo done here so I started researching tattoo studios and narrowed it down to two. I visited the first a couple of months back and didn’t get a great vibe from the receptionist who couldn’t really tell me which artist would be my best option and who tried to steer me away from the person whose work I’d admired online (and who did one of my friend’s tattoos). I eventually went to the other studio after more word-of-mouth recommendations and got really good vibes from everyone I interacted with. I booked my appointment and the next week went in to have my tattoo done.
During the tattoo, it hurt, but not as much as I thought it would. There was really only one spot that was truly painful and while I sweated like a water buffalo and my heart raced like I’d just run a marathon, I never passed out. I just kept doing some anti-anxiety breathing exercises I know and kept drinking ice cold water. Before I knew it, I was done and quite thrilled with how it turned out, especially since the artist did it entirely free-hand.
Days passed and everything seemed to be healing exactly as expected and really, I was quite happy since I’d heard so many horror stories. I had peeling, but not a ton, and I didn’t pick at it. But then I noticed the ink was becoming raised and the lines you can see above between the feather blades had basically filled in. It went from feeling light and whispy to dark and heavy, which, well, harrumph.
Here it is at nine days. At this point, it felt fine. The ink was still healing, but no ill after effects to speak of.
Then, I woke up one morning and I itched like a thousand mosquitos had munched on my skin overnight. I also noticed the ink was really quite raised and three dimensional. The skin around my tattoo looked swollen and the ink had a weird wrinkled appearance, kind of like puff paint.
As the day wore on I noticed that it was becoming red and even more raised around the little whispy parts toward the pen tip. Then, red inside the shaded areas on the left. I should probably say that I dyed my hair the day before and some websites mentioned that I could be having an allergic reaction but based on the photos I researched the next day of what *that* looked like, I ruled that out. At that point, the itching was intolerable and I was miserable so I sent the studio a picture and asked what I should do. They told me to get Fucidin and that’s when my whole intro to Irish healthcare saga began. The doctor told me if things didn’t improve in a few days I should go back in for some oral antibiotics because there was a definite infection. I used the ointment as prescribed and after about two days the itchiness started to subside to a more manageable level but I still have moments where I want to chew my arm off. They’re just not all the time. I have problems wearing any clothes on my arm though which is really quite inconvenient because my house is damn cold. When I do wear sweaters or anything, I don’t so much itch as burn. I just can’t fathom why everything was going according to expectations but then suddenly everything went sideways, and I didn’t at all expect to be sitting here 20 days after my tattoo with my skin feeling worse than it did when I walked out of the studio. Everything I’d read had me being right as rain after two weeks at most. I’m thinking of going back to the doctor and getting those damn oral antibiotics. Mostly I don’t know what else to do. If someone I knew were to tell me this was all completely normal I’d shrug and accept it, but right now I have the Internet and I may as well be on WebMD at this point.
These two pictures were taken twenty minutes ago. You can still see some redness, but not as much as there was and while my ink is still raised and wrinkled, it’s much less so than the other day. The ink still seems really blown out in several places. I did some research on several tattoo forums and people with similar results were told it looked like their artist overworked their skin.
All told, it doesn’t look hideous and if it weren’t for the obscene itching and burning and inability to have anything touch it, I wouldn’t think twice about it. It’s just the torture of that which is driving me mad.