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September 8, 1997

---Essay---

OUCH! The agony of navel ring removal

By Jessica Norton

On a fateful July day, while on vacation 300 miles away from my home, my friends, and my parents, I marched into my second piercing parlor (or should I say piercing parlor/wig shop) of the day. My goal: to have a steel rod shot through my navel.

Sound like fun?

Well, it did to me -- at least at first.

Entering the tiny store in the corner of an unknown mall in the middle of Ohio I was armed with the following facts:

A) Having your navel pierced is like having surgery. It leaves an open wound which takes six to nine months to heal and during that time is very susceptible to bacteria and other nasty infection causing problems.

and

B) My chances of forming an infection were 40 percent.

Since the chance of infection was so high, I had to wear loose clothing that came above and below my navel, so no chaffing, which could cause irritation leading to infection, would occur.

I could not take baths (yes, I could shower), swim in pools, or go on water rides which could splash germ-infested water onto my precious exposed navel.

Keep in mind the month was July.

Until one week after the 'surgery,' I had to keep ointments like Bacitracin on the wound to help promote healthy healing. After that, I had to religiously wash my piercing out with a salt water mixture.

Yes, I had to rub salt in my own wound.

Despite knowing I was doomed, I still wanted this.

I wanted this piercing for no good reason but my own wishing, wanting, will, and because I could. Somehow my guardian, a family friend, persuaded the piercer/grim reaper of death, that it really was okay with my parents to let this happen -- even though we both knew they would flip.

My uncleaned stomach was now in the unwashed hands of a worker who obviously didn't have a clue about what she was about to do.

She aimed the piercing gun at my stomach and fired away.

The next thing I remember is having the steel of the earring ripping threw my skin and having my body hit the floor.

I passed out.

After 20 minutes of getting air and paying $40 to the nice-but-extremely-clueless woman, I was out the door.

I later learned that body piercing is supposed to be done with a needle. Using guns raises the chances of infection -- and it's illegal in some states.

I also learned that I had to avoid any contact with my navel for the next week. If anything touched it, I winced. I didn't sit without wincing for the next four days.

In the shower I had to turn this rod without screaming out loud so my skin wouldn't heal directly on the earring itself. You don't know pain until you've done this.

Finally, after two weeks of pure torture (not to mention not being able to swim on my summer vacation) I returned home to even more pain.

Furious at me for going against their wishes, my parents grounded me and forced me to remove my beloved -- and still healing -- navel ring.

Though getting my navel pierced hurt, the pain of taking it out sent me into orbit.

You are more than likely asking yourself, what was she thinking? I don't have a clue.

What do I have to show for this incident? Some memories, a large scar, a hole that's not yet healed, and this to say: WHEN CAN I DO IT AGAIN?


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