Wednesday, December 8, 2010

MacMadame has a tattoo

It's been 2.5 weeks since I got my tattoo and I'm just now getting around to writing about it. This is mostly because the photos that will accompany this post needed some culling and Photoshop work and I've just not wanted to do it. But it's also because I'm in a bit of a post-IM funk and also have my first cold in 2.5 years ... which I'm also blaming on IMAZ because supposedly doing an Ironman will compromise your immune system.

Anyway, I have been talking about this tattoo pretty much since I signed up for IMAZ or maybe even before that. Knowing myself, I decided I had to get the tattoo immediately after finishing or I would never get around to it. (Similar to my idea to get a naval piercing which has never happened and probably never will at this point because you aren't supposed to swim for weeks after.)

Last year at IMAZ, our group made friends with one of the other participants who lives in the area and one of us is still in touch so I asked her to ask him for a referral to someone in the Tempe area.

I was sent to "Tattoo Ted" who, it turns out, operates a tattoo palour out of his condo.

When I first called him to set everything up, I think I woke him up and I got a bit concerned that I was going to let him cut into my skin because he seemed a bit marginal. But the second time I called, he was wide-awake and seemed like a reasonable human being so I went through with it.

I managed to drag The Sherpa and Mr Mac and Mini-Mac with me. Everyone else had a conflict with my scheduled appointment time. I did it the day after IMAZ, since we were leaving the next day.

Having people with me made it more fun in some ways, but they spent a lot of time laughing at me which was annoying. Tattoo Ted also laughed at me. But first he complemented my skin and also my ability to keep my leg still.

They were laughing because I was making faces and squealing and also trying to distract myself by tapping my finger on the chair. This works great in the dentist's office but doesn't work so well for a tattoo on the leg. I think it's because the finger was too close to the place being worked on. So I started tapping my head instead. Later on I switched to looking something up on my iPad

So I guess I shouldn't be surprised they were laughing since I'm sure it pretty funny to watch. Tattoo Ted was laughing because people who react like I do don't tend to hold the body part being tattooed still. But I was too terrified of getting a bad tattoo to move my leg even a millimeter. Plus, it's easy to hold your leg still while your upper body moves.

I'm not sure what I expected getting a tattoo to be like but it wasn't like whatever that was. First, I knew it would hurt a bit. I have been told that getting one around the ankle is particularly bad because there isn't a lot of padding there. I would say that parts of it hurt way more than I was expecting and parts weren't bad at all.

It turns out that the place I got my tattoo had two sensitive spots. Unfortunately, the first spot just happened to be where Tattoo Ted started the tattoo! I thought I was going to die if that's how painful it was going to be. But then he moved on and it was okay. Until he hit the second spot. But once the outline was done, I knew the worst and that made it easier to deal with the filling in of the color.

I didn't expect there to be visible blood either. Or that there would be lots of ink that had to get wiped off. I worried that it would settle into parts of my leg not getting tattooed, but was pretty sure it wouldn't work that way.

The other thing I didn't expect was that it would continue hurting after I got it. I'm not sure what I thought a tattoo was but it turns out it's a lot like getting road rash. Only pretty. The internet sites I searched for care tips compare it to getting a third degree burn. That's probably more accurate but I've never had one of those and I have had road rash so I'm sticking with that analogy.

For the first week, I was in a bit of a panic most of the time sure I was taking care of it wrong because I kept finding bits of colored dead skin stuck to my pants leg even though I kept it open to the air as much as possible, wore loose pants and put on the A+D ointment (and later the Curel lotion) religiously.

Then on the next Monday, I took a shower and when I patted my tattoo dry, huge amounts of skin/scabs came off and the red part looked really pink. I was quite concerned and found my tattoo after-care instructions and read them again. I was quite relieved when I got to the paragraph that said this would happen at about 1 week out. I was still concerned about the pink color but my m-dot is now quite red, the color I wanted it to be and it was originally just like everyone said would happen.

As for the design I ended up with, it's not what I originally envisioned. I originally had this idea that I would get a very small m-dot with a cactus worked in there somehow. Then, every time I did an Ironman, I'd get a new one and put them around my ankle like an ankle bracelet. At some point, I realized that the chances I would get that many tattoos was rather small. Plus, I couldn't come up with a good way to get the cactus in there. I tried a couple of times but even my best effort ended up with the cactus looking like a man waving his arms behind an m-dot.

While roaming around the Expo, I finally saw an IM tattoo that turned on the light bulb. It was an m-dot that has a small swimmer, biker and runner built-in to the legs of the M. I thought it was brilliant. But I didn't want to copy it because I wanted my tattoo to be mine and mind alone. So I decided I would put the cactus in the first leg of the M and then I could add an outline of a maple leaf to the middle leg and some waves (for Cozumel) to the last leg.

Even if I don't do those exactly races, I figured for each Ironman I did,  I could put something inside the M. It has five spots in the corners and most of the races I am thinking about doing could be done with a black outline. Plus, if I ever get to Kona, I could turn the dot into a Kona flower somehow. Also, I can decide after each race if it's one I want to commemorate in a permanent way.

So that's what I did. This new design required the m-dot to be much bigger than I had planned (about 4x the size I had started so that the little race-specific tokens wouldn't turn into little blurs. I kept it on my ankle though just above where my sports socks go. If I had it on my calf, I wouldn't be able to wear skirts in places I didn't want to show off my tattoo and yet hardly anyone would actually see it since most of the time I wear pants.

I like it and I now understand why people say it's a mile to your first tattoo but an inch to your second.

I don't really want to cover my body with tattoos like some people do because I still have the concern about getting something I think is cool today, but end up hating in a few years. But I wouldn't be surprised if I some day get another one that is not Ironman- or endurance-race related. Maybe something to celebrate my children...

Except now my son is talking about getting a tattoo and that kind of horrifies me. What have I started?
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