Reapplying as Mayor of Crazytown

Before I got into my run for mayor, wow am I ever looking forward to a great weekend. I found out earlier in the week that my daughter Nefarious was able to able to come visit this weekend, so I spent the next couple days rushing to put together a great weekend. We’re beginning it on Friday by going to visit all her old friends at her old school, and then going to see the live comedy stage show Potted Potter that evening. Then on Saturday we’re hooking up with one of her oldest friends and going to the Spring Fling at the Skydome (I hate using the new corporate name) — they’re building a carnival inside it for March Break — and then going to see The Lorax in the afternoon. Then on Sunday, since we had such a good time at The Nutcracker, we’re going to see The National Ballet’s presentation of Sleeping Beauty, and then I imagine going out for a nice supper. Not sure what we’ll do Monday before she catches her flight back, but I have a few good ideas.

So… as you can imagine, I will probably not be answering my phone very much this weekend and will be very busy! I don’t even want to think about how dead I will be on Tuesday, but it will be more than worth the pain, I’m sure.

And now…

For the past few weeks I have been nurturing a new body modification that I have kept under wraps because I had no idea how it was going to turn out or if it would even work, and I didn’t want to embarrass myself prematurely by doing something silly and ill-advised. Well, it may still be that, but three weeks in I have no undue redness or heat, no discharge, no other signs of infection, and to my genuine surprise and amusement and relief, not a single sign of problems. So I feel a little more comfortable publicly admitting what I’m doing.

It’s pretty common for body modification to be about healing on a psychiatric level. We see it on the various tattoo reality show as we listen to one client after another drone on about their profound yet repetitive touching story that motivated them to get tattooed. There are hundreds if not thousands of experiences on BME about people reclaiming their bodies with piercings and scars and so on. And in this case, I fall into that category.

A few years ago I had an orange-sized bone tumor taken out of my leg, and in the process, a lot of nerve damage was done. As a result, I have, in addition to the chronic pain from my genetic myopathy that’s calcifying my muscles, a great deal of pain in the right leg from the knee down, with the worst of it being on the inside of the calf centred about three inches above the ankle, which has become a strange dead zone for me that is paradoxically both devoid of sensation and overflowing with hypersensitivity and pain. For some reason this nerve damage has also affected circulation (area is at times extremely cold or extremely hot in comparison to the other leg and even surrounding tissue), skin condition (the skin is thicker, drier, and prone to scarring), and scarring. Over time I have grown to hate it, it’s a nexus and focal point for everything that has gone wrong with my body. At times I would pick at it absentmindedly until it was bloody and wrecked, subconsciously but in vain trying to tear it off my body. This behavior was doing me no good. So I set out to reclaim it, to make it mine again.

About fifteen years ago I was sitting with Jon Cobb (this was in Philly when we were housemates) talking about what would in time become microdermals, although he called it pocketing when he first came up with the concept. The idea was how to to trick the body into creating a permanent “socket” that would be able to hold jewelry. So that’s what I thought might work here, something very true to his original concept of single-point pocketing. I made an incision right in the centre of the worst of the affected part of the leg, straight in using a #11 scalpel followed by a sharp spatula of my own creation. For jewelry I used a silicone rod with a flattened bulb at the end, somewhat analogous to a labret stud. I made these myself in increasing sizes quickly increasing it to about a 2ga (1/4″ diameter). I used different plastics as I experimented but right now I’m settling on a high grade silicone which is very soft and flexible but quite strong. But I am still experimenting so I may swing back into harder jewelry. Oh, and the jewelry is cast, not carved, so it’s very smooth.

I’m gonna say these are not for the squeamish.

EDIT/UPDATE: I don’t really like those pictures so I quickly cleaned off my leg and took a couple more at higher resolution to show how healthy it is. Still surprised that I’m willing to post what is to me the ugliest part of my body, with the exception of what both my daughter and Caitlin assure me is extremely disturbing but I absolutely love!

The wetness in the jewelry-out picture [first set] is because I’d just flushed it out with sterile saline, which has been the majority of the aftercare. And the indent line is from my sock. I want to point out that almost all of the redness and dryness of the surrounding skin is completely unrelated to the pocketing. I actually really hate looking at it, it’s so disgusting to me… were it not for being thrilled about this project I’d never be willing to show my leg in public let alone look at it with my own eyes. But all that hideousness is due to the complications from my tumor removal surgery. So please try and ignore my skin quality.

I want to repeat that there have been no complications whatsoever. There’s a little lymph discharge, which you can see in the picture as the yellowish right around the hole, but that’s to be expected. I actually somewhat suspect that part of the reason it’s healed so well is due to some of the unique characteristics of my genetics and the tissue’s behavior from the neuropathic damage. Assuming it continues to be trouble free, and I start seeing signs of permanent healing, I’ll keep it and update in a month or so I figure.

I’m happy to say have gone from despising that part of my body to really babying it and taking care of it obsessively, trying to get that messed up skin to get healthy. I think that means it’s been successful on more than one level? Healing not just the modification?

* * *

Anyway… shortly I am headed to the airport and I can’t wait!

Finally, I have to be responsible and put up a disclaimer that I don’t recommend this body modification for anyone else, and want to be clear that while I have not had any problems over the first three weeks, it’s also far from healed and piercings this deep and this large should be experimented with by only those with extensive experience with atypical body modification.

PS. The comic in the background of the picture is Terry Moore‘s “Rachel Rising” (the amazing new issue came out yesterday), which I can’t recommend highly enough. You can get them in your local comic book store, or buy them online in digital form here. Or pirate it, but trust me, this is an independent creator-owned comic and more than worth paying for to ensure it continues. Far too many of the best series die young.


  1. Tobias wrote:

    I’m curious, what’s the your end result goal?

    Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Permalink
  2. Shannon wrote:

    Well, Tobias, it’s largely a personal project about reclaiming a part of my body that has betrayed me… taking it back and turning it into something that I like again. So my end goal is somewhat “virtual” in comparison to something more public.

    In terms of jewelry, I don’t know. It’s not my priority really, but it would be easy to make a “pretty” fitting of some sort for the exposed end.

    Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Permalink
  3. erika wrote:

    i think the way this mod is leading you through healing is absolutely beautiful. i hope i don’t miss the updates.

    Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Permalink
  4. Elizabeth wrote:

    This not crazy at allllll. Psh. Glad you are happier with it now.

    Friday, March 9, 2012 at 6:17 am | Permalink
  5. Dresden wrote:

    I’d make a piece of jewelry with a chestburster head at the end from Aliens. That’d be pretty metal.

    Friday, March 9, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink
  6. dna wrote:

    i was thinking the same as dresden, though the possibilities are endless – a little arm reaching out, a twisty turny earthworm, a mushroom. sign me up! :)

    Friday, March 9, 2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink
  7. Mike wrote:

    You could have another one on the opposite side of the leg so it looks straight though…

    Friday, March 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Permalink
  8. Shannon wrote:

    I thought about that, Mike, but I’m not sure if the anatomy allows for it because there is more prominent and active musculature and connective tissue on the outside that I’d be worried about damaging since it’s rather invasive.

    I am however loving the ideas put forward by Dresden and DNA and will probably do some sculpting based on those concepts.

    Friday, March 9, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Permalink
  9. andrew wrote:

    will your flesh grow into the silicone while its healing like ears do? i put silicone plugs in my ears for the healing stage after i got em pierced.. the skin grew into the silicone and ripped a large chunk of skin out when i pulled it out.

    Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 12:34 am | Permalink
  10. Susan wrote:

    This? Is lovely. Reclaiming the body is such an important part of body modification work. “This body which has brought me such trouble and stress? This. This is mine.” Good on you for creating a new (?) bod-mod. I’m sure someone somewhere has done this before, but I’ve never seen.

    Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 1:22 am | Permalink
  11. m. "gus" alexandra wrote:

    reading this article really touched me shannon, thank you so much for being brave enough to show us a part of your body you do not like.
    i think this is an absolutely interesting modification and something only someone with your type of knowledge and experience (and possibly your type of disease) should ever try.
    i love the ideas coming from people to sculpt wonderful “ends” for the jewellery. i cannot WAIT to see what you come up with and hope to see more of it if you are comfortable sharing.
    much love and admiration. xx.

    Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 1:24 am | Permalink
  12. Shannon wrote:

    Andrew – Definitely not, silicone is inert and when properly made, relatively non-porous. The body should not be able to grow into it or adhere to it.

    It’s possible that what you experienced is more due to the fact that with silicone it is possible to maintain a piercing in an “unhealed” state longterm, with it acting like an occlusive bandage over the wound. That MIGHT be what happened to you. Alternately, because of the way that silicone puts constant pressure on a piercing if your jewelry is larger than where the body wants to relax to, it can do far more damage than overstretching with other materials. If your body really did grow into the silicone, rather than just giving the illusion of having done so, that’s rather troubling!!! Sorry to hear you had that complication. But no, I don’t expect to have anything like that happen.

    Either way I’m watching it closely, and have the ability to make jewelry here so worst case I can always create something more appropriate.

    Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 7:46 am | Permalink
  13. starbadger wrote:

    Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink
  14. andrew wrote:

    ohh ok. that makes much more sense then. thanks! :]

    Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink
  15. quinnn wrote:

    There are so many different kinds of silicone. I work with it and make silicone medical equipment. We have some that is highly inflexible and smooth as glass (smoother than some of the glass jewelry I have for sure) and some is very flexible and while not porous, it is highly textured and I can see skin growing onto it easily (this silicone is used to make things that don’t enter the body).

    Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Permalink
  16. Miss Liss wrote:

    I too am looking forward to your jewellery ideas. How about a “crystal ball” – with an image inside painted of bones and muscle: a little window into your leg? Maybe the image enclosed in the material for safety of course. Or a snowglobe!?

    Hope you’re having fun with your little girly, and that the repercussions on your body aren’t too bad. x

    Monday, March 12, 2012 at 4:15 am | Permalink
  17. Grant wrote:

    Do you think you could encapsulate magnets so you would get the same sense as before but with less risk of the magnets breaking down?

    Friday, March 16, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink
  18. jon cobb wrote:

    I can’t help but think a magnet cored base to allow free moving, break away style heads would be real cool down the road if these work. Something strong enough should be reasonably easy, especially if there’s some locator peg too. Seeing a pocket be so large is sobering (laugh). We have some nerve huh old friend?

    Sunday, March 18, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Permalink
  19. Iris wrote:

    What an amazing post, I really enjoyed reading this. I’m really curious about what you use to get the surrounding skin healthier?

    Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. […] wanted to update everyone on my leg pocketing. Since first writing about it, I have done two more pocketings above the first one using an identical procedure and, currently at […]

Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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