Be it put on paper, cardboard, a computer screen or even on a drunken half-naked friend with a permanent marker, the plan of getting a tattoo is not often the most celebrated idea. What troubles my family members and GPs more is due to me having an irritating skin condition - eczema. Which is exactly why I wanted to do it. So let me give you the 'low-down' about my condition; if I had to describe myself, smooth and silky would be the last adjectives in my useable vocabulary. I have my fair share of skin abnormalities: heavy wrinkles, bumpy scar tissue and pockmarks - all from having one too many bad days. But you can be sure I compensate with a contagious smile.
If I use even a modicum of logic, there is no way I can justify to any General Practitioner my desire to have needles that will repeatedly stab and inject layers of my skin with a foreign substance. For many years I had an ongoing curiosity about getting myself "inked": how it would look over scar tissue. Would I ruin it by scratching even a little bit? What possibility is there of having an adverse reaction? Could it have long-term effects? These are especially daunting thoughts to a natural worrier. Throughout those many years leading up to that fateful day - which happened to be my birthday - I was constantly at war with myself. My heart raged out 'Just do it!' as my brain kept flashing warnings 'It's not worth the risk!' It was often that I found myself being split into two very different aspects of my personality. I wanted to be someone that didn't have to worry about their skin, someone spontaneous and adventurous, to be able to do something quite unlike my reserved self, but it was only a matter of time until those thoughts were shot down by the possible dangers and regrets.
When I visited with tattoo artists they were very positive about tattoos on those with eczema, but it is important to mention that everyone has different levels of severity when it comes to this condition and though there shouldn't be a problem with a good tattoo artist and tattoo - doesn't mean that there is never a risk. I was forewarned that some of the colours could even cause an allergic reaction many years into the future - which did cause me to hesitate. But from those visits, I had made up my mind to do all I could to create the best environment for someone to get a tattoo with eczema and suffer the consequences later. I made it my mission to have the best skin I possibly could when I went under the needle. Stress, changing weather, dust and other allergies are the main contributors to me having an aggravated skin reaction - sometimes even forcing me to be admitted to hospital to then be mummified. So when I found myself in the stiflingly hot Philippines without an ounce of stress and skin that I eventually felt comfortable in, I couldn't help myself but throw caution to the wind and make a conscious choice to alter my skin. And that is what I think I wanted to do, I wanted to take control, not be a slave to the habit of disfiguring my own skin. Those moments of weakness that leave scars on my body don't define me but the tattoo that I look at every day does, to me it shows I can take charge, and that I'm not controlled by my itchy urges.
It has now been a few years since I had my tattoo done and though my skin has had its ups and downs, the area of my tattoo has withstood much itching while still retaining the original design. For all my misgivings I am happy with the result, I haven't experienced any bad reactions from either the ink or the act of puncturing my skin with needles. I am even inclined to go under the needle many more times, it might be for artistic purposes but I feel that it is much more likely to test how much of my bumpy, scarred skin can be covered up. Because if people can get plastic surgery to improve their image then why should I not use this medium to improve my self-image?