Sunday, February 22, 2009

self-contained pharmacy

As a result of this so-called recession and my efforts to save up for my long-awaited move to San Francisco later this spring, I’ve recently decided to ditch the acrylic claws I’ve been sporting since summer. Upkeep just got too pricey, and despite how much I’m going to miss the orgasmic sensation they lent to hair-washing, they simply had to go. But before they did I had an experience with ‘em that unexpectedly led to some new insights on the body and its miraculous ability to heal itself.
I was enjoying a relaxing night at a friend’s house, just hanging around blabbing and drinking my famous mojitos. After finishing off the last of the Bacardi I went to toss the empty bottle into the pull-out garbage contraption under her sink, but didn’t realize that the drawer was spring-loaded. It snapped back into place before I could remove my hand, catching one of my nails and leaving it with a horizontal hairline crack. I of course uttered the requisite profanities, but thought nothing of the seemingly minor injury…until two days later. Upon attempting to fall asleep that night I couldn’t shake the sense that something was wrong with my now throbbing and slightly hot fingernail. I decided that I needed to remove the acrylic nail, which I had repaired with nail glue, and relieve the pressure. Upon doing so (which by the way was an uncomfortable 20-minute ordeal) I found that not only the acrylic nail but my own nail was cracked. This left room for an infection to creep in, hence the yellowish puss that emerged when I finally managed to get all of the acrylic off. Okay…this is turning into a longer story than I had meant it to be…so I’ll just say that I was basically left with only half a nail and half a swollen, tender, sore patch of exposed flesh. It looked terrible that night, bright red and seeping, but as the days went on the wound healed incredibly fast. A callous formed in less than a day and the nail grew back within a week. I marveled at the way my body had healed itself, kicking the infection, protecting the raw skin, and re-growing the nail all in a matter of days.
Sci-fi books and movies offer tales of limbs that can re-grow within seconds of being severed, and wounds that heal almost instantaneously after being obtained. Real-life healing is not quite so miraculous, but our bodies are capable of reversing injuries and illnesses that can in some cases seem irreversible. This type of healing occurs automatically, that is, without any conscious effort on the part of the victim. But is it also possible to utilize one’s mind to facilitate healing? In my experience, and according to the accounts of both patients and medical professionals the world over, it sure is.
Take visualization, for example. It is said that by visualizing one’s cancerous cells becoming healthy again, or visualizing a rash disappearing, one can actually aid in the acceleration of such healing. Mental techniques such as the shifting of one’s focus away from pain can also be a valuable addition to other methods of pain management. Or what about the placebo effect? Time and time again, participants in medical trials who are administered sugar pills have been known to reap the benefits of the medication they believe they’re being given. In these cases, the intangible, our thoughts, have a measurable healing effect on the tangible, our bodies. This relationship got me thinking – when it comes to body modification, does the reverse correlation apply? Can our bodies heal our minds?
Damn right they can.

Just a few examples I can think of:
-Some tattoos remind us of what’s important in life, like straight-edge tattoos. The wearer sees his or her XXX tattoo every day, reinforcing the mindset that led to becoming edge in the first place.
-Memorial tattoos, which many people claim have been tremendously helpful with the grieving process.
-Tattoos in general often boost confidence and improve body image.
-Suspension is said to reduce anxiety and increase confidence in many hangers. Such an undertaking puts an unfathomable strain on the mind, perhaps even more so than on the body. The individual is forced to pit mind against body, ignoring or distracting themselves from the overwhelming urge to escape the intense pain and pressure that comes along with suspending. Relief is a choice, and in deciding to remain hanging, even if only for a short period of time, the individual may come to realize or discover his or her mental potential. Many have reported experiencing a heightened sense of control over their emotions and lives in general after a suspension experience.

The body and mind are in an inextricable relationship with one another. They are in constant interaction, and under the right circumstances they can even heal one another. But they can also seriously disturb one another, as studies on how stress affects physical health have quite clearly shown. Here, the mind takes a toll on the body. The body can also have a negative impact on the mind, though, as when individuals with (what they consider to be) a less than ideal physical appearance become depressed or debilitatingly self-conscious.
These examples go to show that we should perhaps be more aware of our thoughts and the images we choose to harbor in our minds. We should, by the same token, also think carefully about what we choose to do with our bodies. Tattoos that remind us of negative aspects of life, such as one I recently saw inscribed on an old friend that reads “Love Kills Slowly,” just don’t make sense to me. Now, perhaps all the theories out there about visualization and positive thinking are a big load of horse shit, but on the off chance that they’re not, I plan to steer clear of mods with any kind of a negative association. Even if the sentiment represented by my friend’s tattoo has been a prevalent theme in his life thus far, is it one that he wants to remember forever? Is it one that he wants reinforced every time he looks at his arm? Perhaps it’s more badass than a tat that reads “Love Is All You Need,” but more functional? I seriously doubt it.
So, my little modsters, love your bodies. Funny how for us that means sticking them with needles and hanging them from 6g hooks! Nonetheless, take care of ‘em, and they’ll be sure to repay you with a mindset as brilliant as the reflection of the sun’s rays off your labret.

p.s. - Peep this story from Discovery news. A recently developed tattoo ink can alert Diabetes sufferers to abnormal blood glucose levels! Maybe now we'll get some respekt!

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