Sunday, October 7, 2012


On Thursday, I changed my body forever. It will never be same. Believe it or not, I have tattooed my body. 

The before shot
At the age of nearly 44, I never thought I would EVER get a tattoo. I mean, why? What is the point? I certainly was not going to stick some random picture of a flower on my body. If I was going to get a tattoo, it had to be meaningful. For instance, my nephew, David, died in May of 2001. I'll never forget it. I had just quit my job to become a stay at home mom while pregnant with our 3rd child. The very next day I got a call that David, at the age of 27, had a massive heart attack and died. 27. Way too young to die. A year or so later, my sister, Sus,  put the Star of David on the inside of her ankle. Now that I understand.

Signing my paperwork. No, I am not drunk. 
On Wednesday, I had to have a little heart to heart with myself. Are you sure you want to do this? A tattoo is permanent. Really permanent. Of course, everyone has to do weigh in on the subject. Yes, you should get a tattoo it's quite an accomplishment. No, you shouldn't get a tattoo. Do you know what that will look like when you are 80? Back and forth. Back and forth. I mean I rarely keep my hairstyle the same for more than 6 months let alone putting something permanent on my body. Carla - are you sure you want to do this? 

Jason prepares to torture  me. 
As I was getting ready to leave for my appointment, Samantha's friend, Luke, texted me saying I could always quit the Ironman, but this tattoo wasn't going anywhere. Well, thanks, that was so helpful, Luke. I explained I was putting the tattoo on the back of my shoulder because then I wouldn't have to see it every single day. If I get tired of it, I don't have to stare at it...just my class participants. 

And so it begins....
Luke, in his ever practical way, texted me: 
It's kinda like my shoes, so many stains but I won't clean because each one represents something I did. but I can take shoes off. 

Luke - you are so not helping. I've run this over in my head a million times. I am proud of my day at Ironman Louisville. I started out with a much more complex tattoo, but because I was worried about putting something drastic on my body I toned it down. Now that the time has come to do it, yes, I think I need to think about it and make sure I am ready, but really deep in my heart I knew nothing would come close to my sense of accomplishment in my Ironman. I did it. All by myself. No one else pulled me through. It was me standing on my own staring down 140.6 miles and I loved every single second of it. Then Luke texted me something which did help:
You know what you're doing. I don't need to help. lol. Think of it this way. You will always be proud of that run, so the pride in the tattoo will never go away. 

Such wisdom from an 18-year old college student and those words really did help. I picked up Gene who was coming with me to take lots of pictures. At one point, I wasn't sure if his schedule was going to allow him to come with me. I know I'm a big girl and could go by myself, but I really wanted someone to be there to share my nervousness. Luckily, he was able to come down to American Inkwell and share this momentous occasion.

The first step...the outline. Notice the swim, bike, run figures. 
When I arrived at American Inkwell, Jason, my tattoo artist, had a mock up of the tattoo ready for me to approve. The only thing missing was the 140.6 in the middle of the M-dot. I wanted to make sure the numbers did not look masculine. As Jason put it, he pulled out his best girly handwriting for the 140.6. I filled out the necessary paperwork which contained about 25 questions on my understanding of the tattoo process, that I was not drunk or under the influence of any drugs, and that I was not diabetic.

Wait. What? Problem. I am diabetic. Type 2. A very healthy diabetic though without skin issues. So we move forward. 

Everyone asks: Does it hurt? It's kind of a strange feeling to explain. It feels as if there is a knife that has just slipped under your skin. It's kind of annoying, but not really painful. The longer the line the more annoying it gets. 

No it's not blood. It's red ink all over my shoulder. 
After completing the black outline of the M-dot as well as the swim, bike and run figures, Jason began filling in the red on the M-dot. Jason mentioned most spectators assume the red all over my shoulder is blood; however, it's just the red ink smearing a bit until he gets a chance to clean it up. While filling in with the red, there were a couple of spots where I thought "Hmmm....that doesn't feel so good." All in all, it was less painful than child birth or a kidney stone. Does that help? My whole arm started to tingle after a while with the constant vibrations of the tools against my skin. 


A lot of people said Jason was not very personable, but I guess when you have Gene and I there to help conversation is not an issue. We talked about Jason's new house in West Peoria. The upcoming Tremont Duathlon on October 20th. Yes, we even discussed Ironman Louisville. After cleaning up the red ink, Jason went back and added white to the outline of the 140.6 in order to make it pop a little more.

My first look at the completed product
After seeing my tattoo for the first time, I was definitely pleased. The tattoo was not complex or crazy in any way, but neither was my day at IMLOU. Simple, straightforward, gitter done. 

Jason explains the after care

Finally done with the tattooing process, Jason sits down to explain to me the ins and outs of the after care. Expect blood and possibly serum for 2-3 days...what? Serum. Stuff flowing out of my body? Oh boy. This was going to be interesting. Wash every 4-6 hours and reapply Tat2Butr often. Got it.

4 hours after tattoo
Jason applied bandages which needed to be left on for 2-4 hours. According to him, the longer I left the bandages on the better it would be. No problem, I didn't have anything going on for the afternoon except serving a meal to the high school volleyball team. I was able to leave the bandages on for the required time.

Because Jeff was still in Northern Ireland, I had Samantha helped me remove the bandages. She was a little freaked out. I don't know what she thought it was going to look like, but really it still looked fresh and clean. We made the first mistake of not re-reading the instructions before washing. She put the hand soap directly on my skin. Ouch. That hurt. Yah, I guess you are supposed to work up a lather and then put it on the skin. I realize this only makes sense, but I'm new at this tattoo thing, ok??

Teaching my first class as a Tattooed Lady
After washing, you are supposed to apply Tat2Butr. Tat2Butr - that's the name of the balm. I asked Sam to help me with the "Tat 2 Butter" and she just stops and looks at me. "Mom, really? Tattoo butter?". After about 10 seconds, it dawns on me. It's a play on words...Tat2..Tattoo. Genius that I am! I finally get it. The scary part was that I had to have Samantha explain it to me. Oh my. It's definitely been a long week with little sleep. That's my excuse at least. I'm blaming it ALL on lack of sleep.

So as a result, I am a tattooed lady. Someone asked if I was regressing to my teenage years. If only I could.... Oh well. I am not regressing. I'm very proud of my Ironman accomplishment. The number one comment I get is it's way bigger than I thought you'd go. Well, it is significant enough to tattoo my body. It should be large enough to call your attention to it.

I am feeling quite like a rebel though. Who knows...maybe I am regressing.

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