Wednesday, 4 April 2012

My First Tattoo

I finally had my tattoo done after months of knowing exactly what I wanted and where. Everytime I planned to go with my friend something happened or I was ill. Then I had a right rough time of it at the end of last year and it was the last of my priorities. As far as I knew I hadn't told my Mum about my plans to get a tattoo, I was debating whether to tell her on the day when I couldn't back out of my appointment and deposit or to just turn up with it already done. She totally surprised me one night when we were having a heart to heart a few weeks back and she told me I should get my anchor. At first I didn't know what she meant, and then it slowly dawned on me. I have absolutely no recollection of telling her, but with everything going on in the last few months maybe I did, I have no idea! She proceeded to surprise me even more by saying she wanted one! Believe me, my Mum is the last lady I would expect would like tattoos let alone actually get one! Within days she'd scouted out a studio in our town, booked our appointment and put the deposit down, all I had to do was pop in to confirm my design and size.
I've always loved anchors, I have no end of nautical clothes, jewellery and bags. I particularly love anything with an anchor on. I decided I wanted an anchor on my wrist, a small one that would hide under my watch if I ever needed to conceal it.
Tattoos originally gained popularity between sailors who spread tattooing around the world with nautical symbols being some of the oldest modern examples of tattoo designs. An anchor holds a ship still, keeping the sailors safe from winds and currents which could drag them away. Its due to this anchors are associated with safe voyages, stability and protection from adversity. The anchor is reliable, safe and unchanging. It keeps ships and people grounded and constant. In religious terms the anchor is an ancient symbol used to represent a hidden cross. Like the fish it was a symbol that the wearer was Christian and faithful to the religion. They were safe and trustworthy. For early Christians, the anchor symbolised steadfastness, determination, strength, loyalty and devotion. The surrounding currents and changing winds cannot move the anchor, and the faithful Christians could likewise not be moved or altered.
Although my anchor is not in anyway connected to the religious history, it does symbolise to me what the Christians saw it as. I'm very close to my family and the anchor represents how I feel about them because they always keep me safe and close to them.

The day came round so fast. I was advised my tattoo couldn't be as small as I wanted because it would blur. As it got closer to my appointment time my excitement started to mix with nervousness and on the actual day I was pretty scared. The previous tattoo had overrun so we had to wait about half an hour which wasn't so bad as you have to fill in a form for the studio and read through a sheet about after-care and the science of tattoos. It was probably a good thing to get used to hearing the gun going, made it less scary when it was my turn. I went first as I was pretty scared and didn't want to be put off if my Mum's hurt haha. As advised by friends I'd taken a sweet drink, Cola Lucozade (seriously good!) and had been drinking it while waiting. My tattooist has to be the nicest, most professional guy I could ever have dreamt of. He wanted me to be 100% happy with the size and location. He kept making little jokes to make me laugh and told me off for looking so nervous as it was making him nervous! He told me it would feel like someone was pinching me and not letting go, and it was similar to a cat scratch. I don't remember a pinching sensation but the cat scratch is spot on. People say the outline is worse than the colour but I couldn't really tell a difference. He kept asking me if I was ok but I'd started to feel really hot and faint, and had to ask if he had a fan. It was with most urgency he shouted for his assistant to get one haha. The cool air really helped, so glad they had a fan! The worst part was the curves of the anchor, quite painful compared to when he was going straight. I felt such elation when he'd finished and clingfilmed my wrist. My Mum went next and ended up getting hers shadowed rather than solid black, I love how hers has turned out, it looks so striking. I think sitting down after mine and drinking the lucozade really helped, don't think I could have walked out straight afterwards. The next 90 minutes were pretty awful, the pain was pretty intense, just a continuous throbbing. I was wishing I could just put some germolene on to ease the pain. I went shopping with Mum for a while then off to Asda to get Mothers Day supplies as I was cooking. I got the occasion stabbing pain, but when we took the clingfilm off that evening it really hurt, probably the air hitting it.
day three, still swollen and red 
For the first three days we were instructed to wash the tattoo a minimum of twice a day with Dettol soap to keep it clean as its a wound that can become infected. After three days a sparingly amount of Savlon is allowed. When you read the science of tattoos it makes you realise how many people don't care right for their tattoo. The pigments are a chemical which is housed in a carrier solution, the carrier being water. Oil and water don't mix, so using Bepanthen or Vaseline which are oil based will pull out the pigment. Savlon is the least oil based antibacterial moisturising cream so that's what they told us to use. 

The evening of getting my tattoo it was stinging quite a bit, but I was in and out of the house, taking a coat over my arm and the change in air temperature probably contributed. As soon as my boyfriend saw it he said my arm was swollen but I hadn't noticed, but when we woke the next day you could tell it had been as my tattoo looked much smaller. The second day it was quite red around the tattoo but not much pain, just the occasional throb and it had started to feel tight.
i've twisted my arm to take this, scabs 
Day three I didn't have anything to report, again it looked much smaller and I was still being careful not to knock it. Day four was the day of the great tattoo scabbing itch. The tattoo looked like it was going really dry and was pretty itchy. I was quite good at distracting myself, and ignoring the itch. I wouldn't dream of touching it let alone scratching it, its a lifelong investment so needs to be looked after. The skin felt tight and I couldn't wait until I could moisturise it!
After a week my tattoo was still slightly scabby and incredibly dry. I had a manic few days and I never used Savlon to moisturise it and I think this is definitely why it went so dry. As soon as I started to regularly put Savlon on the improvement was amazing. I'm now all healed, and got rid of the dryness.
mum's chinese 'love' symbol 
my anchor 
I'm now thinking of my next tattoo. I'll probably get a swallow next, bit of a sailor theme going on but I love them. I've found some amazing ones on Google so just need to decide on my design and location. A lot of people say tattoos are addictive and I have to agree. I am the biggest wimp pain wise so for me to say I'll be going through it again must mean it can't be that bad. I would stress though tattoos are a massive step and you should be a million percent sure before you go ahead and do it. Even when I was getting mine done I was thinking this is forever, oh my god.
I'd love to see and hear about your tattoos!
Em x 

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