One day when I was nineteen, I decided I wanted my belly button pierced. This would have been fine had I been in or anywhere near a piercing studio but I was in a psychiatric hospital instead. I acquired a thumbtack from a noticeboard somewhere in the hospital and went back to my room. I wont go into the graphic details of piercing my own belly button but I will say that it was a lot harder than I imagined it would be and when I was finished, I didn’t have a bar or ring to put in the piercing. I took one of the studs out of my ear and found a bead to put at one end of it. The piercing wasn’t as deep as a normal belly button piercing so this worked moderately well.

I wandered out onto the ward and saw my favourite psychologist. “Guess what I just did?”, I said with a huge grin. She looked wary but excited by the chance that perhaps I was feeling better and putting some of what she was teaching me into practice. I lifted up my top and revealed my awful piercing attempt. “Did you do that yourself?”, She asked horrified. “Yes, with a thumbtack!”, I replied proudly.

She became very serious. “Take it out. It could get infected, you could get septicemia!”

“What’s septicemia?”, I asked calmly.

She took me to the nurses who agreed that it had to be taken out and cleaned. I also had to give them the thumbtack.

A while after I was out of hospital and my belly button had healed, I got it pierced properly. The piercer noticed the old scar and asked if my belly button had been pierced before. “Yeah, I pierced it myself.”, I said sheepishly. “Oh, okay, right.”, he replied and he pushed the needle through my skin.



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