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Diabetic Shares Tattoo Success Story

My name is Ronda and I am 32 years old. I have sported at least one tattoo since I was 17 years old, and I now have five of them. I am looking forward to getting a sixth in the very near future. This may all seem dull and unexciting until I tell you that I am an insulin dependent diabetic. I have had diabetes since I was nine years old. I have always been warned about infections and taking good care of my skin, so you can imagine the responses I got when I first decided I wanted a tattoo.

I had just graduated from High School and was getting ready to attend college in my upstate NY home town. I was very excited about the possibility and went about getting some friends together to share the experience. I was told that I was crazy and that I was going to get an infection and be sorry that I had done such a silly thing. I was told that it would hurt terribly and I would be in pain for weeks. I have to admit, I was a little nervous, but I knew it was something I wanted.

I finally talked two of my friends into going to Syracuse, NY with me. Syracuse was the closest place to where we lived that had a reputable place to get inked. When we first stepped into the tattoo shop, I had no idea what sort of art I wanted. I knew I wanted something tasteful and feminine; something that reflected my personality. It didn't take me long to find something that appealed to me. The shop was filled with books and photos of tattoo art that interested me. I went for a teal rose on my left breast. I had to fill out some forms and answer some questions.

I was really nervous that I would have to tell the artist that I am a diabetic and that he would refuse to tattoo me. I did end up telling him and he set about making me comfortable with the process. He showed me how each person got a new needle and showed me how all the instruments were made sanitary. He then explained how I would take care of the new tattoo with lots of warm soap and water. He explained that if I kept the area clean, had minimal sun exposure, and used some "tattoo goo" for a specified period of time, the chance of infection was minimal. After we had finished our conversation I was ready to go and feeling good about my decision. I was not sure what to expect as far as pain. I was relieved when I realized it didn't really hurt. It was difficult to sit still and not take deep breathes while he created a beautiful rose for me on my chest!

I was extremely pleased with my first tattoo. I went home that afternoon with every piece of advice still ringing in my ears. I kept my tattoo clean and applied my tattoo goo faithfully for several weeks. While my friends both developed some ugly scabs and were very red, I had no problems. There was absolutely no blood, no swelling, no scabbing, and no infection. I was thrilled! Everyone had told me that as a diabetic I would have a hard time getting the tat to heal. I was glad they were wrong. I have enjoyed the same success with each of my tattoos there after.

Each of my tattoos is on a different part of the body, and they all healed quickly. I have a butterfly on my ankle, a rose on my chest, flowers and hearts on my tummy, a hummingbird on my shoulder blade and a lizard that extends from my left hip down to the back of my thigh. I know that not everyone is the same, but it is nice to know that having diabetes doesn't mean you can't be part of an art world that has grown in numbers steadily over the years. It is important and pretty easy to follow the simple rules for taking care of a new tattoo, so I hope that others with similar concerns to mine will go ahead and enjoy the experience.

-Ronda Murphy

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