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Getting Your Ears Pierced

by Stephanie

I’d always promised myself that I’d get my ears pierced after I retired. I didn’t really want the hassle of explaining over and over again why I’d done it and then trying to cut off the conversation before it went in directions I wasn’t prepared to go.

So – I have finally retired! Last Wednesday, 7 January, was my last day at work. While that is a major milestone in anyone’s life, this posting isn’t about that. The second milestone was that Friday I went and got my ears done.

I did some research – not enough to become an expert or even write a Shopping Guide page yet, but enough to decide what I wanted and how I wanted it done. I’m a wuss – yes, breaking news on Cornbury.org. Those of you who’ve had your ears pierced, laugh away. I hate blood tests, shots, dentist visits – anything that perforates my precious tender skin. I get prickly, crawly feelings up my legs just thinking about needles. But I’m also fed up with clip-on earrings. So I decided to find a place that would have two technicians, automatic piercing guns, nice little studs that wouldn’t get in the way of sleeping or hair brushing and a package that included the recommended disinfectant. In short, as painless and convenient as possible.

I came out wrong on almost every count.

I visited Waves, in Haney Place mall – in drab, sadly, but hey, it’s home town. I was introduced to Elwood, a charming gentleman, soft-spoken and very reassuring – as long as didn’t look at his tattoos. Fine – I wasn’t here for ink. Oh – and as long as I didn’t look at his ears. Not only were they pierced, he had extended the piercings to the point that he had beautiful 1-inch wooden disks in them. Oh – and as long as I didn’t look at his silver nose ring.OK, fine – wasn’t here for that either, but if he could make all this work I figured he knew what he was doing.

I’ve lived with five-year-olds for a while now, so I had a long list of “why” questions. Elwood answered everything I could think of with solid information and he really seemed to appreciate that I would want to know as much as possible about the process.

I didn’t get my two beautiful blonde technicians fondling my earlobes; I got Elwood. I have to say, it would be hard to find a better, gentler, more careful, more knowledgeable person.

Elwood doesn’t use two guns. He doesn’t even use one gun. It’s not that he’s a pacfist; he explained that a gun simply can’t be properly sterilised. Even with a sterile insert, there can be some blowback or spray of blood onto the gun itself as the stud is driven into your earlobe. Guns have the distressing habit of melting when you try to sterilise them in the autoclave. Instead he uses an extremely sharp sterile needle – a new one for each ear – and a hollow rod into which the needle is pushed by hand.

Elwood doesn’t recommend studs. Studs, he explained, have a notch in the shaft to secure the backing clip, but if your ear decides to swell there’s nowhere for it to go. Instead he recommended surgical steel C-rings with a tiny steel ball to close the ends. They’re bigger to leave room for swelling and they’re easy to insert and remove should problems arise.

OK, what about aftercare? Disinfectant solution, turning studs and all that? Nope – the best stuff to use is sterile saline to rinse the crud away from around your oh-so-tender earlobes. Squirt it on from a pressurised can, then let your body’s own immune system take care of the healing. You don’t turn the studs or slide the rings about; that just slides bacteria into the piercing and rips away newly formed skin.

OK, I thought, here goes. “Let’s do it,” I said. Elwood put on surgical gloves, then selected two needles, two rods, two rings and a package of disinfecting wipes – all individually sealed in sterile packaging. He meticulously laid everything out on a sterile paper sheet, and wiped each earlobe with a disinfectant cleansing solution. Then he marked the location of each piercing and clipped the rings on to show me where they’d go. After I approved the placement, he began. He lubricated the tip of the needle, and then, placing the hollow rod behind my left earlobe, he quickly but gently pushed the needle through. There was a sharp pain which lasted for a few seconds, then some pushing as he fitted one end of the ring over the tip of the needle and slid the needle back out, letting the ring follow it through. He fitted the tiny ball between the ends of the ring to secure it and that was that.

Oh yeah, both ears. The right ear hurt slightly more than the left but again the pain was gone after a few seconds.

“So, what kind of jewelry do you plan to wear?” he asked.

Well, he lived and trained in San Francisco so he wasn’t going to bat an eye no matter what I said, so I told him I was transgender and plan to present as a woman more often (remember that retirement thing?).

“Cool,” he said. “It’s a good thing we placed the piercings where we did so that you can wear a variety of things. Too low and you can’t wear things like shepherd hooks and your studs will face up instead of out; too high and you can’t wear hoops.”

We chatted a while and I told him about Cornbury and what we’re all about; then it was off to the next most painful part of the process. My debit card winced visibly as I paid top dollar so I could take home what amounted to a couple of grams of steel and a can of saline.

So here it is two days later and I couldn’t be happier. There’s no pain, no swelling, no nothing. I look like a bikerina (that’s the couth ladylike term for biker chick) with steel rings in my ears, but that’s only for six weeks. Then I can put all my clip-ons up on Craigslist!

Guess I’ll have to start looking for a Harley to go with my new earrings and my retirement…

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