Thursday, May 24, 2012

Superficially Me

Its been over a year now & no, it hasn't washed away, although I did once have a nightmare that it did. I thought discussing my tattoo would only mean narrating why I got it; instead I've got stories to share about what happens during and after as well.

Lesson #1: Needles hurt. Who knew?

Yeah it hurts, but its not really pain. Its this indescribable mix of scorching heat, vibration, pressure & a couple of IMs going in at once. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't apprehensive. Thoughts of choosing between whiskey, tequila, paracetamol & Tramadol kept going through my head. Eventually, I chose a girl to hold my hand.
I have the tattoo over my upper back, a good place as the skin here is thick and from what I've read, relatively insensitive to pain. Medicine never taught me the meaning of "relative".
And yes, its not funny when the stupid machine cords start tickling your lower back & the artist thinks you're tensing up because of the pain. I don't think he bought that story; not a proud moment for yours truly.
Would I do it again? Yes!! This damn thing brings out the masochist in you.

Lesson #2: Exhibitionism is out of the question

I've always thought people get the most amazing tattoos on their wrists, or the inside of their forearms, but its forbidden territory for doctors. I wouldn't personally get one anywhere that was easily visible. Its just that every physician is supposed to conform to the layman's idea of a competent doctor. You wouldn't ever want to be in a plane flown by a pilot wearing his hat backwards, would you? That being said, this tattoo was personal & I'm deeply attached to it. I don't think about whether its visible to the world. Its very cliched to say this, but I got it for ME! My shoulders, arms & feet though are reserved for future.
Also, I'd take this moment to thank my friends, who've never refrained from ripping apart t-shirt collars to get a better look.

Lesson #3: There'll always be 'people'

I was posted in I.Med last summer & still remember beads of sweat rolling down my nose when I did my post-emerg collections. I avoided my coat like the plague. So, I'm strolling ahead of my Unit Head during rounds & she goes, "Is that a tattoo?". I just nodded and slowled my pace to let her pass me. I thought she'd stop; except, (long pause) she didn't. She then did this great impression of a National Geographic journalist interviewing the tribes of the Amazon."How much does it hurt? How much did it cost you? Does your family know? Is it safe? Where did you get it? Why did you get it? I swear if my son one day walked upto me and told me he wanted to get a tattoo, he wouldn't have a home anymore. Personal reasons?! I don't really understand your generation." I looked at my registrar amid all this & we shared a simultaneous facepalm moment.
Other nicer instances include a Gynac nurse who almost hit me on the back because she thought the halo was a bug & then proceeded to get all the nurses to gang up on me to show it to them. Did you have a facepalm moment right now too? See, we're bonding.

Lesson #4: Those lingering moments of doubt eventually wither away

Of course, there were times after I'd taken the plunge when there were genuine doubts.
Did I make the right call?
Didn't he open the needles in front of me? Damn! Should've checked the seals myself
Maybe I could've gone with different artwork
Does this seem lopsided to you?
But, I love it & am at peace with it. I would've done a million things differently, if I'd had time. But, I suppose anyone would be that paranoid with something this permanent. Eventually, I'm going to go get some white retouches done on this to add more details at the flexion of the wing. But, I'd never change its structure, or what it says.

Lesson #5: Bis Vivit Qui Bene Vivit - One who lives well, lives twice

Those are the words I chose for my angel. This was my little slice of closure over losing someone close to me. And that's the lesson I hold dearest. I read the statement in two different ways.
One should live their lives to the fullest, take in all they can, because a life truly 'lived' is worth twice one spent in vain. 
A person who's been honest & good to those around him, deserves another chance. 
Getting inked wasn't ever about holding onto a memory or letting go. It was just honouring someone, knowing I have a keepsake with me, a sliver of where I'm from and what made me.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Did it hurt?
Is it permanent?
What's that supposed to mean?
Why'd you get it done?
Can doctors have them?