A LIFE LESS PHYSICAL

The butterfly tattoo

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I’m not a spontaneous tattoo-ee. In fact, I’m not a spontaneous anything. Soon after I got my first tattoo I knew I wanted a second, and after a month or so I knew what I wanted. I then waited a year (yes, a year) before getting it to make sure I reeeeeally wanted it. Last Sunday was finally T-Day.

I woke up a bag of nerves and made my way to Vagabond in Hackney, East London and met Jon, my incredibly lovely tattoo artist for the hour. Covered in tats and hipster beanie in tow, Jon started our appointment talking to me about the image I’d emailed him – a kind-of-abstract butterfly that looked more like a flower.

We talked through the bits we liked from the design and the bits we wanted to change, talked about placement and played around with ideas. Jon then drew the design on my skin in purple pen to make sure I was completely happy.

I lay down on the couch, squeezing the hand of my wonderful friend who stood next to me feeding me sweets and taking photos whilst Jon got to work.

I wish pain was something you could measure. How much easier would the life of a Spoonie be? Not only for chronic pain purposes, but also because asking someone if my tattoo will hurt would then be a question worth asking. As it is, the answer is irrelevant because pain is subjective. So I will tell you that it hurt a bit, was mainly okay with a couple of sharp points which really burned. Doubt that helps you at all, but there we go. (Just in case you want a point of reference, I cope with chronic pain daily so consider myself to be quite hardcore but I also cry when I stub my toe or get a papercut, so perhaps not as hardcore as I like to think.)

It took about 40 mins from “hello” to “goodbye” and I would recommend Vagabond in a heart beat. The whole service was brilliant and I felt totally comfortable under Jon’s needle – even though I don’t look it in the picture above.

After I got my first tattoo, I discovered that the only thing people are really interested in when they see your tattoo is what it means. What does it mean? It can’t just be a paper aeroplane, it must meeeeean something. I tend not to tell people the full thought process behind that one, mainly because there wasn’t much of one but also it sounds pretty silly to others. My second tattoo was more sentimental. I knew it had to be a butterfly from the beginning; butterflies remind me of my late Nan (and in turn, my Auntie and my Mum – all of whom I’m very close to) for reasons which sound silly but, basically, she thought I was a butterfly once. So that’s nice. Butterflies are also the symbol for the National Fibromyalgia Association so that seemed like a second reasons to go for it. I couldn’t find a butterfly image that I liked for a really long time, and then found an abstract picture on Pinterest with no source. So, if you’re the genius that finally gave me my butterfly tattoo, high five to you! And thanks!


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