Before my transplant and I was a frequent flyer to the hospital and you would often see fellow CFer’s with varying degrees of tattoo coverage. Some tattoos would be following the latest trends (think barbed wire, tribal or Asian language inspired). Then you find some people with far more personal markings. One tattoo might symbolise the loss of a fellow CF warrior, or it could be a way of externalising the daily struggle that we often have with CF. Displaying your tattoo’s in a way let’s you ‘own’ the disease. At the end of the day, getting tattooed is a very personal decision.
For me personally, I have used tattoos as time markers. Having a chronic disease like CF, you seem to live your life looking to milestones; teens, 18th, 21st, 30th or 40th birthdays and beyond. After transplant you start collecting years as a friend of mine once told me. One week post, two weeks, one month, 3 months, one year and it goes on.
The irony with delighting in getting needled is that I know many CF’s that HATE having blood tests, canulla’s or ABG’s. I was one of them but learnt to embrace them (except ABG’s, they are the devils work!)
Pain on my Terms is OK
For me and other people I have spoken with who have tattoos, one of there reasons we like them is it is pain but on OUR TERMS. So many procedures to do with CF are compulsory and not at all elective. Some can be extremely painful or invasive.
On the site The Mighty, I discovered this post by a girl who felt the same was as me. It might be difficult for someone without a serious health condition to understand, but I’m sure you will find many people who have challenging issues in life use body art as a way of not only coping but controlling how they feel about their disease.
If you would like to have your tattoo(es) on the blog, you can email the CF Creative Space.