The first real body piercing I received was my tongue. I got it pierced while at the first tattoo shop I worked at. I had gotten my earlobe done at the mall when it was fashionable to wear a single earring, but I couldn’t count that as a real body piercing. My decision to get my tongue pierced was a spur-of-the-moment act encouraged by my wife at the time. She had been toying with the idea of having her tongue pierced and finally decided to act on it. Of course with peer pressure from all sides, I ended up sitting in the chair for the piercing as well.

At this point in my career, I had seen various piercing procedures done but had little interest in personally puncturing my own flesh. Even though I had seen many piercing procedures done to others, I was still a bit apprehensive about getting my tongue done. It wasn’t because I lacked confidence in Brian, the guy doing the actual piercing. Nor was it a fear of not knowing what to expect. It was more my fear of how I would take the pain and how it would be outwardly expressed in front of my friends and family members. In short, I was afraid of making a fool out of myself.

Of course this was a totally irrelevant feeling since no one was really concerned about that in the slightest. It was more of an instinctive desire to see others in pain. I know I had chuckled to myself when some big muscle-bound guy squirmed as his skin was clamped in forceps. That sense of the macabre when blood is drawn and body fluids dribble. When the squeal of discomfort struggles to be uttered as someone is pulling on your tongue. And I was about to be the next victim.

I tried to relax as best I could and put on the bravest face I could muster. I gave a forced smile to my audience in false bravado and concentrated on Brian. He set things up on the counter, prepped me up and talked to me about what he was doing and what to expect. I half listened to him as I tried to clear my mind of all sorts of terrifying and ludicrous thoughts. Then he clamped my tongue.

Reality suddenly snapped me back to the moment. While it was not an excruciating pain, it was very uncomfortable. Sort of like being escorted to a corner by your ear when you did something really bad as a kid. Remember that pain? Well, imagine it on your tongue. If Brian had the inclination to start walking around while leading me with the forceps, I would have willingly followed. To top it all off, I was drooling like an infant.

“Open your mouth wide,” Brian said, “and stick out your tongue.” I think the build up to the piercing took longer than the actual penetration of metal through skin did. “Take a deep breath,” Brian told me. “Let it out. Now take another breath.” While Brian was giving me Lamaze lessons, I was anxiously waiting to feel the pain of the piercing. I could tell he was close to doing it because I felt the tip of the needle as he rested it against the top of my tongue. It was not a comfortable position, trying to keep my tongue out, and here he was lecturing me on how to breathe.

I was just thinking that if he told me to breathe one more time I would reach up and choke him. Before the thought could formulate into action he stuck the needle through my tongue. It wasn’t a sharp pain as I had expected. I did feel pain but it was a weird type of pain. Not what I had imagined it would be like. If a sewing pin or a syringe has ever pricked your skin you would probably imagine the piercing to be similar. It wasn’t. While I can not readily describe the sensation, I was now feeling a sharper thudding pain where the needle went through my tongue.

Now I found it more difficult to keep my tongue extended in order for Brian to insert the jewelry. It took a combination of his pulling and scolding and my concentration to keep the tongue out for him to put the barbell in. Once done and the clamp was released I felt a wave of relief. I wiped the drool from my chin and rinsed the blood from my mouth with mouthwash. I never knew how much mouthwash burned when held in the mouth for too long. I spit out the fluid and turned to my audience and showed off my new piercing.

So, how does it feel?” someone asked. I could feel my swollen tongue in my mouth and wasn’t sure if I would be able to reply intelligibly. “Ah feil fyne.” The words coming from my mouth sounded weird to me. I suddenly realized that my tongue wasn’t moving the way I was asking it too. The swelling of my tongue, while not overly painful, was definitely hindering the normal movement needed to talk. With a ‘thumbs-up’ and a shaky grin from me the crowd dissipated back to what they had been doing.

Now began the long process of healing. I noticed that my tongue really didn’t hurt, at least not in any really painful way. It was more of an annoying thudding type of pain, like that of a sore thumb after smacking it with a hammer. The piercing definitely let me know it was there. The only time I received any kind of sharp pain was if I tried to do something with my tongue that it didn’t, or couldn’t, do. On the second day I made the mistake of trying to eat spaghetti-o’s. I figured they were soft and would be easy to chew. I didn’t count on them getting caught ring-toss style on the barbell.

The only other time my piercing gave me a problem was when I discovered I was allergic to certain green fruits and vegetables. I was driving in to work one morning about two weeks after I was pierced. I had an apple I was going to eat on the way in. I was on the “Q” bridge and I bit into the apple when suddenly my tongue began to swell again. I panicked and pulled over as soon as I could. I realized that the hole where the barbell went through was really itchy. I had experience some itching in the back of my throat before but it never connected that I was allergic to these foods. It wasn’t until I had a major wound in my mouth that reality set in.

Well, I’ve had my tongue piercing in for quite a while now and I love it. I have a small collection of jewelry to play with and if you would like to know more about tongue piercing, just stop by and visit me at the studio.

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