This is one of the most painful things that I have ever experienced, and it honestly felt as if it were going on forever.
While Christmas shopping with my boyfriend on Saturday evening, I walked past the tattoo and piercing shop in the mall and saw that it was still open. I have been wanting this piercing for about 7 or 8 months now – ever since I had seen it in a friend of mine’s ear. Knowing that I have wanted the ear piercing for a while, my boyfriend encouraged me to do it then and there. For fear of being called a chicken and pulling out again, I went into the shop and did it. But I am suffering now. The ear is swollen and throbs constantly which, unfortunately, is all part of the long healing process.
I did some research on the piercing and found out that it takes between 4 weeks and 6 months to heal properly depending on the person. It has only been 4 days since I had it done, and I feel like I am going to be one of those 6 month cases.
My experience in the shop:
Now I don’t walk into a tattoo and piercing shop expecting 5 star hotel service, I only expect that they can tattoo and pierce extremely efficiently, pain-free (somewhat), that their work is of good quality and that they do not use a piercing gun (more on this later). I was helped by a woman who has been piercing ears for over 10 years which made me feel a little bit better and somewhat more confident.
I go and sit down on the bench and she starts putting on her gloves and opening up the needle, needless to say that the palms of my hands were super sweaty from my nerves. Now I have a fear of needles, an odd fear when I think about the fact that I am sitting on a bench… in a piercing studio… getting and industrial piercing… meaning 2 holes through the cartilage of my ear. Hmmm… Anyways, as I was saying, after opening up the sterilised needle, the lady realises that she has forgotten some important step (marking my ear with a pen to indicate where she needs to push the needle through) and asks me to hold this HUGE needle (WHAT?!). I do as I am told but warn her to spray some more sterilising spray on that needle because I drenched it in fearful sweat.
And so the torture begins… What was only meant to take all of 5 or 6 minutes, took about 20. She pushes the needle through the cartilage and I think ‘fantastic, all that is left is putting the bar into my ear and I will be out of this scary shop playing the heaviest metal of all’. Oh but was I wrong… 10 minutes later, after the lady had been tugging, pulling, and wrestling with my poor little ear she lets out a loud “FUCK”. 😐 Now this is really not something you want to hear coming from someone that has been mercilessly fiddling with your ear.
Trembling, I ask her what the problem is and she tells me that I have exceptionally small ears, which she noticed right in the beginning when marking my ear, and that the holes that she has made don’t allow the bar to fit into both holes simultaneously. My faced paled in 1 second flat, my heart rate elevated, and if I think back on it, I think I almost fainted. The lady then tells me that not to stress, she will just make another hole… EXCUSE ME?! YOU WILL DO NO SUCH THING! That means 3 holes in my poor “little” ear – I feel that there is no more room on my “dinky” ear for another hole.
But she proceeds to open up a new needle and give me an new hole and then came this stream of blood that poured from my poor ear. In all this drama, I turned to my boyfriend with tears welling up in my eyes, to say that I wanted him to buy me a Coca Cola but he couldn’t go yet because I still needed to hold his hand.
By this stage, I have been instructed to lay down on the bench because I looked as if I were about to pass out. I had been given a paper towel and had been instructed to hold it by my ear to catch the blood. From my point of view on the bench was my left arm holding the paper towel on my right shoulder and my right hand holding my boyfriends hand which had started turning blue from my clenching so tightly.
The fiddling last for what seemed to be forever…
During all of this drama I thought about asking the piercer to give me a breather but the thought of coming back to the tugging and yanking just made me feel so sick that I just stuck out all 20 minutes of the nauseating pain. I have never been in that much discomfort, and I have 3 tattoos as well as the fact that I have had my nose ring done twice.
After the ordeal, having cold water patted onto the back of my neck to calm me down and after having slugged down a Coke, I still had the courage and energy to walk around the shops and buy 2 more gifts – brave me. 🙂 The picture below was taken as soon as I sat up from the bench.
These 2 pictures below show the difference that 1 sea salt soak (discussed later) and a good nights sleep made for my ear. On the left is my ear on the Monday after the piercing, it is very swollen and red, and on the right is what my ear looked like on the Tuesday after the piercing. The swelling is particularly uncomfortable and the ear throbs constantly. This will apparently happen for the next 2 weeks.
I will admit that I have not slept on my right hand side since I got my Industrial piercing done because I am scared I hurt it.
Cleaning and Caring for the Industrial Piercing: This part of the post is educational 🙂
This is not a piercing to be taken lightly – I knew this before getting mine done – but you always under estimate what you know until you are in the situation. The piercing is hard work, as were all my others, but I love it and I chose it so I am going to look after it.
The piercing should be cleaned twice a day in a Sea Salt Soak (SSS). What this is, is just a pinch of Sea Salt in hot water that is a drinkable temperature held over the piercing for 5 minutes. I generally fill up a cup of water to the brim, add the salt, and tilt my head sideways so that i can rest my ear into the water.
If you ever want to touch the piercing, which you are advised against, you need to make sure that your hands are clean. Do not just assume that your hands are clean, actually wash them with soap and water before touching the piercing.
If you have been instructed to move the bar every now and then like I have been, then I would suggest that you either do a SSS before hand or just soak the piercing in warm water for 30 seconds so that all the crust and dry blood (if any) can soften first, making moving easier. If you move the bar without loosening up the crusts and dry blood, the chances that you will hurt your ear and possibly cause more bleeding is high – not a risk you should be willing to take if you want the piercing to heal properly.
Cartilage piercings are the most intrusive, uncomfortable, and should not be taken lightly. The cartilage is sensitive to infections and that is why it should be treated and cleaned properly as well as being kept away from harsh contact such as contact sports for at least 6 months. If you love your contact sports don’t be silly and go and get this piercing, you are wasting your time. The contact can damage the already hurt cartilage and cause keloids even if it was done with a needle (discussed further in the next paragraph). It is also important not to hold a dirty phone to your ear during your healing process. To avoid this I have had to change the ear that I hold my phone up to. A phone is one of the main carriers of the Staph bacteria, and although it can be treated with antibiotics, it’s effects can be extremely irritating and painful.
Another thing to note about this piercing is that it should never be done with a piercing gun because these are designed for your earlobe only. With the gun, the cartilage is actually cracked and broken and it will heal badly – yes it will heal (eventually – it just take ages longer), but you will most likely be left with a scar tissue lump, known as a Keloid, at the back of your ear like the one illustrated below. If I asked you if you would pierce your nose with a gun, you would probably look at me in disgust for even considering something like that. But why wouldn’t you? It’s cartilage…
There are a number of pages and personal blogs that you can go and read about the piercing gun, here is one that I like most because it explains everything that you need to know about why the piercing gun is so bad for piercing cartilage. If you are considering getting yours done with a gun, then read that post and maybe it will change your mind.
If you are interested in my weekly updates of my ear, then just keep watching this space as I will update this post every week with the progress on my Industrial Piercing.
The picture was taken 1 week after the piercing, and as you can see the top hole has crust in it. Although it is itchy (signs of healing) the crust isn’t bad at all. The crust is easily removed after the SSS.
The picture below was taken 1 month after the piercing. As you can see, the piercing is still slightly swollen and it is tender when touched or under pressure. I am able to sleep on the ear now but the pillow needs o be super soft and fluffy so that it takes away from the pressure put on the ear. I am still doing the SSS but not everyday – we will see how that goes. 🙂
The picture below was taken 2 months after the piercing. As I said before, I am not doing the SSS everyday as you are advised to and I am now paying the price. As you can see at the lower hole, I have formed a small sack of skin that fills with liquid (it sounds disgusting) – it isn’t painful but does produce a lot of crust in the mornings. I am now going back to doing a SSS everyday to see if that helps – research says it should. Other than that, the piercing is healing fine and the is hardly any pain when I sleep on it.
There is less redness and a lot less itching! And I have noticed that the swelling is slowly going down. I was told that it would take a very long time before you will notice that the ear will be less swollen and even longer before the ear returns to its normal size.
I went for a breakfast run and was successfully able to put a helmet over the piercing. Fantastic sign of progress. It is now only 4 more months until it should be fully healed. I’m counting down the days. 🙂
The photo below was taken 3 months after the piercing was done – I am officially halfway through my healing process and the finish line is so close. As you can see, the lump that formed at the bottom piercing hole – visible in the previous picture – has now disappeared. All I did to get rid of it was increase the number of SSS that I would do daily – form zero to hero right there. It took about 2 weeks for the lump to disappear completely but I have decided to keep up the SSS just incase the lump decides to come back. There is no puss coming from the bottom hole anymore, and only a little bit from the top hole. The top hole is still slightly swollen, but it doesnt bug me at all since I still have 3 months left of healing. Other than that, the piercing is painless, and I can sleep comfortably on the ear at night.
These are all really good signs of a speedy recovery, and the healing stages have come and gone really quickly. I do hope that this means that my piercing could be healed before the 6 month mark. 🙂 All positives for piercings to come.
The picture below was taken exactly 6 months after the piercing was done. I never thought that I would reach this stage – it certainly took its sweet merry time to come around. But on a lighter note, the piercing is fully healed. There is no puss or oozing, there is no pain either, and on top of all of that I can sleep on the right with no discomfort whatsoever. When I first got it, someone mentioned to me that it will probably always feel strange to sleep on my right side, but funny enough I haven’t even noticed it. It is now just another piercing on my body that will be there until I am fed up with it.
There were a few things that I noted on my journey to this point, namely:
I never knew what it felt like to brush over my ear until this piercing…
I did not have my hair done for 6 months because I was too scared that the hairdresser would touch my ear and my regrowth was terrible – I was even asked where I had my ombre done.
I really hate sleeping on my left hand side.
I will probably do this ALL over again. 🙂 🙂
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