I think I surprised a few people at my last appointment. I asked about getting a tattoo as the appointment was winding down. I had wanted one for years, & thought maybe during the period that I was finally off the immunosuppressant I could maybe get one safely.
I was afraid to do so before because of the infection risk. The immunosuppressant I take does make me more prone to infection, plus slows my body’s ability to heal wounds. (I think the superficial cuts & scrapes from my car accident took more time to heal than most people’s would).
After discussing it with my team, I decided I will remain tattoo-less. (Or, I’ll stick with an occasional henna tattoo for kicks). I figured they would tell me no, but my gemini curiosity did get the better of me. I had to ask the question, & get an honest opinion.
I’ve known a few transplant patients who have had tattoos before & after transplant. They have gotten them in spite the risks. I don’t judge that decision. It’s a form of expression, it’s body art.
Other people may differ in their opinions of them, but I’ve never judged anyone with piercings or tattoos. In fact, I admire them. I know when they choose a tattoo it means something to that person on a deeply emotional level. I know several gifted tattoo artists, even grew up with one.
So when I came across this story, it drove that home for me that significance in yet another way.
In fact, when I started searching, I found an archive of some great stories from the Gift of Life Donor Program’s Second Chance blog series, “Inked: The Permanence of Love.” This blog series highlights thirty stories in thirty days of personally touching stories behind both transplant recipient & organ donor tattoos.
(This series was almost lost in the mix of an overwhelming amount of links to medical sites advising against tattoos. While I understand it & didn’t find it surprising, I was hoping for a few more links to meaningful stories behind these tattoos instead in my search. At least I did find that series. It was a fun one to click through.)
Yet, I would be remiss if I forgot to mention that I’ve also seen some impressive art in the area of rare disease.
Two of my long-time volunteer friends that help organize the Community Alliance in my area have the tuberous sclerosis complex awareness ribbon tattooed to their legs.
A few other LAM sisters have feathers or cool & unique lung tattoos or inspiring quotes.
I’ve also seen some beautiful tattoos in the chronic illness world as well.
When I see all of these works of art, I typically know the people who have them & the stories behind their body art. I admire their creativity & their self expression. It gives me “warm fuzzies”.