Friday, March 11, 2011

Far Too Long....

It has been too long since my last post in June. I admit that I have been extremely discouraged during the time from then to now - about the future of my tattoo removal. I had my 8th treatment on July 15th, 2010 - just a month or so after my last post. I had put ten weeks between that treatment and the one before, and the loss of ink was minor and barely noticeable from the time before.

I went in for treatment number 9 in October 14, 2010. This is what I looked like just before my treatment.

Between treatment number 8 and 9, I went off the immunesuppresent drugs I was taking for an autoimmune disorder. I knew your immune system helps by removing the ink particles once the laser breaks them up (that's the point), so I thought I would see more results than before now having a stronger immune system...finally! I also waited three months this time. At the time I went in for the treatment, the usual pictures were taken and they called out the count of my number of treatments ('this is #9). The PA let me know that they would not do more than 10 treatments with that laser. I was told my next option would be dermabrasion. After that statement, all the doctors (including the lead-doctor) came into the room to see the progress and make guesses about what to do and where I was headed. As it turned out, they had just received a new laser that day, which they had not set up, and the head doctor thought I would be a good candidate to try it out, and he approved the treatment for which I had come in for. I did it. A week later the doctor's office called to say, they had the laser up and ready, and they wanted to schedule an appointment. 'I just had a treatment a week ago', I replied to the request. I was happy though, because I didn't want to be a guinea pig! All I knew of the new laser was that it went deeper, and my mind thought....bigger blisters and more pain! It was near that phone call that my skin peeled, and I found the loss of ink was nearly unnoticeable....oh, the disappointment. I also had the worst "pink" skin, which actually turned to a noticeable scar.

(It didn't stay this bad)

I think I peeled my skin off too soon....maybe this is what is causing scarring. Maybe I should have let it peel naturally and dealt with the itch? (BTW: the itch around peel time goes away if you do not let it get too dry....add more polysporin) 

So in a matter of months, I thought I had figured out solutions to the problem, which were time and then my immune system, and I had taken care of both. As had become the pattern, I felt the disappointment post-treatment, and now I struggled with the idea of having just one more treatment before I had to get my skin shaven off to finally take care of it.

As I sit and write today, March 10, 2011, I realize part of what made me want to chronicle this process was how excited I was to watch this tattoo, which I hated, disappear. As the removal turned dismal, my eagerness was nonexistent, not only because of the dispare, but I was not sure how far I would really go. Would I want to go through the months of healing from dermabrasion or should I cover up this failed attempt at removal with another tattoo? What would I get, and how many attempts should I do before I cover it up? Wouldn't I hate it as much as the first cover-up?

I had my tenth treatment at 4pm on March 7, 2011. I used the new laser. It turns out, as I never asked, it is the Q-plus Laser. I still have not Googled it. I wonder what I would find?

.....Anyway, when I went in for this treatment, the assistant was boasting how she, herself also having removal, noticed a 'significant difference' with this laser as opposed to the previous one with which I was getting my previous treatments. I asked how many treatments she was on, and she replied, '3'. I, too, had significant changes on treatment number 3, so I was not instantly convinced.

The process went as usual except now I had to wear purple glasses instead of brown. I had much less shots of the anesthesia, but I felt nothing. The anesthesia seemed to wear off faster, because soon after, I felt the "sunburn" feeling. The burning lasted the entire day, and I could feel it bruising...badly. I have noticed the longer I put between treatments - the worse the bruising. When I was getting treatments done a month in between, I almost didn't bruise at all. I guess that's a testament to adaptation, and in my case, the loss of it when you put so much time between treatments.

For the past two days, all has seemed normal. I only bandage once a day, because I hate fighting with tape and having it rip of my skin and cause new blisters. I have realized I do not need to tape it's ok to have the arm bulge of bandage. I don't like telling people about my tattoo - in person, because the next thing they want to do is see it, so I guess I really have tried to hide it.   

Well, an hour ago, when I removed the bandage to take a shower, I appear to be seeing more white-skin and seemingly less ink. I caution myself, because this stage can be deceiving, as it is so red, bruised and blistered. All of that can fade into disappointment as the black ink begins to shine through again, but I feel hopeful again.

This is what I see... (sorry for the shine)

I asked the doctor's office for the pictures from my last few treatments, and I will post them when I get them.

I wonder if disappointment will find me once again, or will I really see significant change?

- Sarah