Friday, September 16, 2016

Does this hurt?

My arms hurt.

I got tattoos yesterday on both shoulders, and while I love the tattoos themselves, the damage my body sustained is kind of annoying.  It turns out that poking one thousand tiny holes in my skin is painful.  Who knew?

People talk about how much pain is involved in getting tattoos but I wasn't at all sure what to expect for myself.  I know that getting them right on the meat of my shoulder as I am should minimize the suffering but I couldn't really translate that to what it would actually feel like.

Before I really got started somebody in the tattoo parlour fainted, which apparently is a fairly common occurrence.  That didn't fuss me any though as fainting really isn't a thing that affects me.  I don't like being poked with needles but it isn't going to knock me out.

Initially the pain was quite trivial.  No worse than the pain from running really hard or other strenuous exercise.  I didn't have the runner's high to compensate of course, but it just wasn't much of a thing.

Later it got pretty unpleasant.  I grunted and winced a lot, and by the end I really had to dissociate a fair bit to be able to ignore the pain.  I was able to read my book all right but I wouldn't have been able to think clearly or have a decent conversation.  I couldn't really tell if the increase in pain over time was due to fatigue, hunger, or a shift in the way the artist was working.  The last parts were filling in big areas which apparently hurts more but putting together the parts of the changes in pain is challenging.

At any rate it wasn't that bad.  It was a long time though - five hours actually in the chair being stabbed wears you down, even if the pain isn't really much of a problem in the beginning.  Perhaps when I get tattoos in more delicate places things will be different.  However, I can say that all those people that told me that I wouldn't be able to sit in the chair being tattooed for more than a couple hours were wrong!  Hah!

Things are kind of unpleasant today though.  My shoulders are really sore, especially when I move my arms up and bend the damaged skin.  Showering was actually quite easy but hoo boy did it sting a lot after I had gotten out and carefully dried myself off.  Sleeping was also challenging as I couldn't sleep on either side so I ended up on the couch on my back propped up with lots of cushions.  It wasn't the best.

Final conclusions about the pain:  It is annoying, for sure.  But the pain of getting a tattoo is definitely not the thing that will delay me from getting more of them.  The price holds that honour, as I certainly found it hard to swallow the cost.  Once I convince myself to spend the money, the physical suffering is a small thing in comparison.  If somebody gave me ten grand to spend getting myself tatted up I would be in the parlour an awful lot over the next few months, you can be sure of that.


  1. 1) Your tattoos look great btw, and I really want to know who you got to do them, because they are in a illustration style I want for one of the ones I am planning. Let me know plz?

    2) I can tell you why filling in large areas hurts more! Tattoo needles generally come in clusters of varying nmbers of points, so for detail work each stab is going to be of maybe 1-3 needles, while for larger areas the artist is probably going to be using a bigger cluster, so you're being with stabbed with more needles simultaneously with each jab. Fun, or something!

    3) I find it funny that people thought you'd be the type to tap out after a couple of hours. It just seems obv to me that you'd power through it. Meanwhile, I'm just jealous because I am always super fascinated by pain, and none of my tattoos have involved much detail work or any shading, and they've all been over so quickly I feel like I just haven't had a proper tattoo experience yet :P

    1. 1. Chronic Ink at Eglinton and Mount Pleasant. Amber was my artist. Recommended.

      2. Good to know! It was clear to me that the filling in was more painful, but I didn't know details.

      3. Yeah, I never was going to step out. I was surprised to still be there almost eight hours after I got into the shop, and next time I would bring more food, but giving up was not a thing.

  2. Your post makes me wonder if taking a pain killer (Advil /Motrin. /similar) before the procedure is recommended. Uh, recommended for the general public I mean. Clearly as long as Passion is in charge, pain won't be a barrier for you personally.

    I doubt I'll end up getting any tattoos with the surface area you had done. So I won't be able to test my mettle against yours. I do expect my masochist tendencies might come in handy in dealing with whatever pain I'm subjected to. (I'm generally pretty stoic in pain, labour pains notwithstanding.)

    1. Passion isn't interested in sitting in a chair for hours on end. Boring. Director gets that job. So probably a pain killer pill wouldn't be a bad idea, but clearly I didn't need it.

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