Asleep at the Wheel

I have been horribly remiss in my updates and will post all my new work forthwith, six to date, all done by the fine gents at Revolution Ink in Pelham, Alabama.  In the meantime, please join me on Facebook at tattorneyatlaw.  Updates to come here and there ASAP.  Thank you!

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Mini Medieval Torture Device

I can’t believe that I forgot to mention one of the other “implements” I used to use in my futile attempts to remove my tattoos: a needle roller.  I used this little dandy toward the end of my laser treatments when my dermatologist had me convinced that my tattoos wouldn’t get any lighter.  She suggested potentially using the needle roller to try and draw the blood up to the ink so that the underlying pigment would be carried away.  

So, rather than pay retail, I went online and ordered a mid sized needle roller.  And yes, you can order what diameter needles are on that sucker.  I wanted mine to be intense, as I figured the thicker, the more painful, and thus the better the circulation.  Plus it helps with stretch marks, or so said the online hawker of the wares.  

Needless to say, it worked about as well as doing nothing.  But it helped increase my pain threshold, as one never knows when one might have to sample ancient medieval torture type devices.

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The Melodramatic Nostalgia of Tattoo Reporting

I LOVE THIS AUTHOR

tattoohistorian.com

On Saturday I presented a paper at the 2014 Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association annual conference (on what ended up being quite a solid panel with my fellow tattoo-scholar friends Amelia Klem Osterud and Nick Schonberger and a sociologist Derek Roberts who we hadn’t met before but who is doing some interesting work).

It’s not the kind of paper that I would ever publish in a journal, but I thought I’d archive a slightly revised version of it here. I think I offer a useful critique of some of the recent editorial media pieces about tattooing as well as some helpful guidelines at the end for anyone authoring tattoo writing. I also didn’t get to present the entire paper because, well, perhaps I tend to ramble on a bit…so this is a way to get it all out there. In the process of doing research for this paper, I mined…

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So this one time, I went on a sort of pilgrimage

Outside of Chicago, in a big suburb where Catholicism was king, rumors of an appearance of the Virgin Mary was drawing attention.  And to a curious twenty-something Catholic who had a feeling that the picture in the window represented more than the Holy Mother, this was an event not to be missed.  Sure enough, in an attic window of a small bungalow in a Latino Community, there glowed an outline of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  It was a pastel rainbow; perhaps someone tried to clean the window, and the chemical left a residue.  Perhaps it was the way the old glass was fused (?) (floated ?) (not sure of the word.)  Without a doubt, those who came to see couldn’t miss Her outline.  For the small mass of people, the summer street was strangely quiet.  Everyone was having a moment, thinking, tuning into his or her idea of faith.  The “appearance” meant more to the people there than an oil smear in an old window; it was a small reminder that perhaps, even in the hustle, we weren’t forgotten after all.

I enjoyed the short trip and would love to visit sites significant to Catholicism, as for me, I enjoy the human side of the saints; their lives, their struggles, their feelings, and their failures . . . their humanity.  However, my post today respects the Virgin Mary.  Since becoming a mother, I finally understand that special love a mother has for her child.  And, whether or not you are a Christian, I expect every parent can relate to the love, the pride, and the work that goes into supporting a child.

The first and most beloved rendition of the Virgin Mary I must get is of her presented as the modern Mary of the Streets.

Madonnina

I cannot fathom a more beautiful representation of a mother than this, though the original painting is actually of a young Italian girl caring for her infant brother.  (It has since been adopted as a tribute to the Virgin Mary, and the copies depict Mary in a blue wrap.)  Regardless, it speaks to me, of the simplicity of the love of a mother for her child, and I shall look to it for support, as a regular everyday mother, when I need a moment of guidance.

The other work I’d like on my right forearm is my favorite traditional depiction, Our Lady of Guadalupe.  I like this particular piece depicting Mary because it similarly casts her in a very human way, approachable, as someone one can look to for encouragement, advice, “mothering.”  And maybe because this is how she appeared to me once, from a window in Chicago on a summer day.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Intermission

Though this blog is intended to be a discussion of tattoos and their removal, I need to take a moment to discuss another issue with my body.

Over the course of about the last ten years, on and off, I’ve been having a number of apparently un-diagnosable issues.  Beginning just about twelve years ago to the day, I wasn’t feeling well, so I went to my doctor with a fever, rapid heartbeat, and the oddest thing, blood in my urine.  I’ve seen enough episodes of House to know now that blood in one’s urine tends to be a very serious issue.  In fact, after the doctor diagnosed me with a urinary infection, she was concerned enough about me to call me at home.  Yep, the first and last time a doctor actually followed up after hours with me.  Sadly, the bloody urine continued, so I underwent blood, urine, and other tests.  After the contrast dye CT came back revealing a large cyst on an ovary, I went under the knife and had it removed to no detriment to any of my organs.  The bloody urine stopped, but every doctor I saw at the time insisted that it was a coincidence, that my reproductive system should not affect my renal system and vice-versa.

In 2007, I became pregnant and had my daughter in 2008.  The bloody urine started again in early 2013.  Based solely on my experiences in 2002, I immediately went to an urologist to sort out what was going on, though my gut instinct was telling me I had another cyst that was causing the same bizarre issues.  Mind you, also, it was not the blood in the urine that freaked me out; it was the other symptoms, unending exhaustion, welts on my face, bloated belly, and other issues that started to scare and trouble me.  The urologist told me that there was nothing wrong when in fact I was in the throes of some kind of infection.  At my Thursday appointment, he sent me home.  From his parking lot, I went to see the doctor who delivered my daughter; that ob/gyn admitted me to the hospital for three days with a severe kidney infection.  I can’t help but wonder what would have happened to me, had I went home to suffer that day.

Thereafter, I went and saw a nephrologist to find out if I was having kidney problems (no), a new urologist (no), and my ob/gyn (no.)  I went full circle to the doctor who first ordered the contrast CT in 2002 and begged her to request a new contrast dye CT.  This time it was clean.  In desperation, I went back to my second urologist.  My ob/gyn was insisting my issues were renal; my urologist insisted it was gynecological.  I tended to agree based on my gut instincts and personal research that it was a gynecological issue.  I was also impressed that an urologist could recognize that this could indeed be a gynecological issue.  I read quite a bit about endometriosis and now hoped that someone would perform a laparoscopy to confirm my suspicions.  My second urologist referred me to a new ob/gyn who immediately agreed to do a laparoscopy, the only procedure where one can find out exactly what is going on – other tests don’t cut it.

I couldn’t wait to have the scope, as by that time, I was having extreme flank pain, abdominal swelling, nausea, and skin welts.  I went into surgery with a happy heart.  I was not surprised when I woke up to learn that I had several endometriosis spots that my doctor lasered out, a huge polyp in my urinary tract, and my uterus and bladder were fused together.  The doctor carefully lasered my uterus free from my bladder and removed it along with my cervix performing a “laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy.”

I am taking the time to write this to encourage ladies out there if you are not getting relief, keep looking until you get the help you need.  DO NOT TAKE “NO” FOR AN ANSWER!  I have been seeking answers on and off for over ten years from doctors who refused to acknowledge that gynecological problems can wreak havoc on a woman’s entire system.  In fact, my surgeon compared the pervasiveness of endometriosis to that of cancer; it can spread everywhere and cause great pain to the sufferer.  I also had to listen to seemingly very intelligent doctors write me off as “some people just pee blood,” and “are you sure that it’s not coming from your vagina?”  For heaven’s sake, I am sure that some people have renal issues causing bloody urine, but what of the host of other issues I was having?  And about the source of the blood?  Dear, oh dear.  Yes, I know the difference between my urethra and my vagina.  So, ladies, join endometriosis groups on Facebook, ask questions online and in person, and don’t ever, ever give up.  Be your own best advocate.

Who doesn’t love an underdog?

I don’t know about you, but I am a HUGE sucker for sports movies. Rocky, Miracle, Field of Dreams, heck even the Mighty Ducks makes me happy.  Plus, being a former athlete, there is something about that adrenaline rush that never, ever dies.  So what do I get to cover what appears to be tenderization where my big ol’ A used to be? Seems like something sporty is in order.

When I was planning the tattoos that I am now having removed and/or corrected, I’d always wanted to get something fight related. Course that’s cuz I used to study karate and kinda fancy myself a tough chick.  Maybe it’s because I like tough fellas.  Maybe it’s because I dig Sylvester Stallone.  (And before you start hating, do remember that he wrote Rocky AND Saturday Night Fever!  Didn’t know that?  The man is an artistic genius.  Leave it at that.)  I also adore an underdog.  So on whom is the Rocky story based?  Is there a real “Rocky?”

You bet your boxing’ gloves there is, and his name is Chuck Wepner.  At first, from what I understand, ole Sly wasn’t too eager to admit it (and therefore potentially share in his profits somehow,) but eventually, aside from it being completely obvious, he came clean.  (The original Rocky may not be all that obvious, but when you fast-forward to the sequel in which Rocky fights a WWE wrestler, it becomes pretty clear that Rocky is Wepner.  It doesn’t end there.  For a more thorough glance into the story see this: http://espn.go.com/boxing/story/_/page/IamChuckWepner/chuck-wepner-recognized-rocky-fame.)

Okay, so I get Sly Stallone as Rocky and Chuck Wepner as, well, Chuck Wepner side by side, but in what style?  Hmmmm, yes indeed! Because it is a matter of “trivia,” I will have to draw it up (or rather have it drawn up for the artistically challenged like myself) into something akin to the Ripleys Believe It or Not comics with a little printed banner underneath that tells in a few words the Wepner-is-Rocky story.  Get to work artists, your commission will be forthcoming.

Rocky Wepner

Trash Polka? Who’s bringing the accordion?

So I’m watching Best Ink (cousin to the similarly delightful Ink Masters), and I see some cool black tattoos with flashes of unlined red here and there.  I love black tattoos and my favorite color is red; I’m about as complex at times as Sponge Bob Square Pants.  And no outline on the red?  How cool!  How revolutionary!  In the words of Jenna Marbles: “WHAT ARE THIS???”

They call it “Trash Polka.”  Hmmmm.  Interesting.  I love tattoos and I can polka like nobody’s business, but I’m bewildered.  So I turn to the Interwebz and the Googles and “go fish.”

The best write up I found to describe the art form is  by Karen L. Hudson and can be found here: http://tat2guru.com/what-are-trash-polka-tattoos-where-did-the-style-originate/

… and I get it… all of it except why Strauss II’s  Tritsch Tratsch Polka is a “polka.”  It has none of the usual oom-pah-pah beat or outstanding lyrics akin to rolling out any barrels, so I had to go to my online staple, Wikipedia, to get clued in.  Turns out that Strauss II and his contemporaries wrote “polkas” prior to the modern polka’s evolution akin to what we might consider to be classical music and waltzes, yet were made for dancing.  Heck, according to the Wiki, Strauss II wrote a “polka” that “evokes the uncorking of champagne bottles,” so I suppose it ain’t all bad, though I do not believe an accordion was anywhere to be found.

Okay, back to the point.  Yup, I am planning for a Trash Polka piece.  I’d like to get my pal Shakespeare on my lower back above my hip or perhaps on my ribs with his quote from Henry VI in unlined red smattered about his profile: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”  As I post from the rest of my tattoo wish list, you will see why this selection and placement is important to me.  (And, no, it ain’t cuz I’m a lawyer.  That’s just the irony talking.)

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“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” Henry VI (IV.ii.73)

Every tattoo lover keeps a list. I think. Or maybe not.

So many tattoo lovers maintain an ongoing yet ever changing list of dream tattoos.  What art we want, where on the body we want it, how it must be done.  Perhaps the list includes reasons why, perhaps not.  Of course, I have a list I intend to share with you here in an order that I hope you might find most interesting, not the order in which I intend to get the tattoos.  

As I mentioned in the removal portion of my blog, the first tattoos I will have done are the yin yang and the Kanji love characters that I had lightened.  After that, the sky, or the surface area of my skin, is the limit.

Redux

So what’s next?  Well, the hubs says he doesn’t want me to look like a comic book, which I don’t find funny, since I’ve been mentally planning my sleeves for the last five years now.  He says I need make my first $1 million before I can get sleeves, so the tats don’t impact my future earning potential.  What a snore.

Now that I removed my failures from being potential conversation pieces, I’d love to tattoo my real accomplishments.  Then, I can have the constant reminder close at hand (literally) that I am not defined by the stupid choices I made when I was young but by my day to day choices, sacrifices, and achievements.

What about you?  What are your experiences pertaining to tattoos?  Tattoo removal?  Please do share your stories and photos.

Thank you so much for reading!  I’ll post more shots after I get the black ones re-done, as well as any other tattoo removal tidbits I stumble across.  

The big reveal

As of January 2014, nearly a full seven years into removing these tattoos, I got one final laser treatment.  The results are as follows:

Calf “before:”

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Calf “after” in January 2014:

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Possible deminimis color remaining; level out pigment.  Likely will get a tattoo here again one day.

 

Thigh “before:”        

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Thigh “after” in January 2014:

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No color remaining; level out pigment.  No tattoo to cover this silly spot.

 

Foot “before:”

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Foot “after” in January 2014:

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Minimal color “bleeding” remaining; going to have re-done.

 

Hip “before:”

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 Hip “after” in January 2014:      

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Minimal color “bleeding” remaining; going to have re-done.