Thursday, August 14, 2008

In Which I Make A Poor Decision

Over the years, I've made some pretty poor decisions. Nothing that has ultimately done any real harm, but they are still things that I have lived to regret. Things like dropping out of college, trading in my gas-efficient sedan for a gas-guzzling V8 truck, and getting a tattoo without thoroughly researching my options to find the best facility first.

Out of all of those things that I regret, I regret the tattoo the most. Not so much the fact that I got the tattoo, but rather where I had it done. I failed myself and did very little research before going under the needle.

After I had made the decision about what I wanted to get and where I wanted it, I hunted around to find a tattoo parlor that looked reputable. There were a couple of different options in my area, and both seemed to be good. I didn't know anyone that had experience with either shop, so I picked one that seemed to be the better of the two, and set up my appointment.

On the day of my appointment, I walked in with a copy of the image I wanted permanently inked under my skin. I had made a copy of what I wanted direct from my vintage vinyl copy of Led Zeppelin IV:

I signed a release form, shelled out the $85, and the artist began her work. Just over an hour later, I was finished. She gave me after-care instructions and a topical creme to use for it, and I was out the door.

Here is where everything started to go downhill.

Despite following the after-care instructions perfectly, a thick black scab quickly formed over the entire tattoo. The skin was red and raw around the edges of the tattoo, and when I called to the tattoo shop for help, they said that it was normal. They told me not to remove the scab, as I would lose the color in that spot. I listened to them, not knowing any better.

I ended up removing all of the pieces of scab material when pus and strange-colored fluid started oozing out. There was a large circle of redness surrounding the entire tattoo, and was very painful to the touch. Beginning to get scared for my relative health from this, I went to a pharmacy and they recommended a topical antibiotic to stave off the obvious infection before it spread any more.

From that point, three weeks after getting the tattoo, it took another month for it to heal completely. Here is what I was left with:

See all the spots with no color? That is where it was so infected, none of the color stayed in the skin at all. See that tiny little dot on the inside left portion of the tattoo? That was a mistake that the artist made. See how uneven the thickness of the design is in some areas? That was the artist not paying attention to the original design. In the two years that I have had the tattoo, the color has faded dramatically. It started out being a dark, jet black, but is now a grey-black.
I've considered getting it touched up, but I probably won't. It has character and originality, even with all of its flaws. It was a horrible first experience with tattooing, but that hasn't stopped me from wanting another. I'll put a lot more effort and research into where I get it done this time around, though.
Anyone else have a bad experience with tattoo's? Or is it just me?
EDIT: It appears that I forgot to mention where the tattoo is. It is on inside of my right forearm.