I’d wanted to get a tattoo for the last couple years, but I didn’t know where I wanted it or of what. I had a few ideas, and decided to go with something timeless and had a symbolic meaning to me. I got it done at a tattoo parlour in the city I was in for school during the summer, and thankfully I got a chose an artist who knew exactly what he was doing and made the entire experience a lot more enjoyable and bearable.
For the design, I went with a horizontal design of a rose with thorns on it’s stem on the left side of my ribcage. It is about 3-4 inches in length. Roses symbolize love and passion usually, but to me it also symbolized balance and new beginnings.
Now for the pain… I was not expecting it to be a walk in the park, but I was also not expecting it to hurt as much as it did. When I asked the artist how long it would take, he said about 45 minutes, but for me it only took 30 minutes, mainly because I was laying very still and didn’t take any breaks. I thought it would be better to power through the entire thing.
As soon as the needle hit my skin, it felt fine… for the first 5 seconds. People describe tattoo pain like someone is scratching you with a needle, but it literally felt like someone was stabbing me with something sharp and dragging it across my skin. I was just trying to focus on my breathing and lay still so I wouldn’t mess up the artist’s flow and he would be able to finish it faster. About halfway through, I could feel sweat on my body from the pain, no lie. By the end of it, the side of my body I was laying on felt damp because of all the sweat! There was also a girl beside me who was getting her arm tattooed, who told me she remembers her first tattoo, which was also on her ribcage, and how much it hurt. My poor friend was watching me go through it all and tried consoling me by stroking my leg so she wouldn’t make me twitch or move. I would rate the pain a 8.5/10 for the ribcage. It hurt more during the actual outline and less during the shading. Some artists have a heavy hand and it may hurt more, but my artist was light handed so the ink was not raised once it healed. I did bleed a bit though, especially around the leaves. After it was finished, he put a piece of gauze over it to protect it, but told me to take it off after the first 4-5 hours to start washing and putting on the ointment.
The healing process wasn’t that bad, and it healed very quickly. The only problem was that I couldn’t wear a bra the first week because the band would go right over the tattoo and disrupt the scabbing. It was also a pain to have to wash it 3 times a day (it is not easy to wash the side of your rib in a sink) and rub vitamin E ointment on it. After it was done, it only hurt to touch for the first couple days, then it was a test of keeping the area moisturized while it scabbed. It got itchy quite a bit, but I wasn’t supposed to scratch it at all.
I’m so happy with the final product, which made all the pain worth it. It’s a known fact that your ribcage is one of the most painful parts of your body to get tattooed, so I know I’ll be ready for my next one!