Saturday, March 10

Arguing with Myself: An Ode to Pierced Ears

Or why informed consent is important when dealing with hereditary allergies

When I was in Junior High I begged and pleaded to get my ears pierced. My sister and
I had tons of old clip and screw on earrings, but they were so painful to wear.
I eventually prevailed and got my much desired pierced ears. After six months I
noticed a problem. My ears were getting infected even though the holes had been
healed for months.

So I tried different earrings. Eventually I determined that
I could only wear sterling silver or pewter, not just in my ears, but now
anywhere on my body. My neck would break out in tiny sandpaper bumps, and if I
wore a watch without covering the back it would eventually irritate the skin so
much it would lift right off leaving a raw red area.

Over time I learned to deal with my allergy. Every few years I develop a fun new
facet (because staying the same would be boring).
In High School I wore a costume necklace for a choir performance. After less than an hour I had broken out so badly that I still have a scar in my cleavage from the center drop.
In college I found out that the rivets in my jeans were a problem, so I cover every rivet in every pair with mole skin.
My husband and I had to drive almost 60 miles to find a jeweler who would cast our wedding rings in sterling.
When Elroy was born my best friend made me a sling with special plastic rings so that I wouldn’t have to worry about having a reaction.
If I hold straight pins in my mouth, even for the time it takes to stitch a seam, my lips blister and swell.

I have adapted. My inability to find or afford jewelry I can wear is part of why
I design my own. About 2 years ago I found out that my allergy is hereditary. My maternal great grandmother had the same allergy, as does my cousin. Up until then I thought it was just because my body didn’t like me.

Now that my girls are two, Hubby has been pushing to get their ears pierced. He does not have any allergies in his family, and his nieces both had their ears pierced as toddlers with no ill
effects. I understand that piercing infant and toddler’s ears is a normal and perfectly socially acceptable occurrence in many cultures. I feel that it is every parent’s right to make that decision
themselves. I’m not trying to advocate one way or another.

Hubby argues that so far the kids don’t seem to have picked up the other issues (low-grade febrile seizures) that run in my family, and so should not have picked this one up either. He may be right. My sister-in-law often references a study she read somewhere stating how allergies only get passed on the dad’s side. Her girls ears were pierced early (her husband is of Latin descent) and
she has ‘theories’ about allergies. This is not true. I know for a fact that I have family allergies from both parents and those have been passed on regardless of the parent’s gender.

I’m not against them getting their ears (or other places as they get older) pierced; I just want to wait until they’re old enough to understand the possible consequences and give informed consent. I can’t take the thought of dooming them to my allergy because earrings are pretty on
little girls. And I can’t imagine having an allergy like this and finding out that I could have avoided it if not for someone else’s vanity. Had I known how bad it could get, I might have gotten mine done with more caution.

Happily, I have come up with a way to check for the warning signs without getting their ears
done. I have always had issues with watch backs. I used to cover mine with nail polish or later moleskin long before my allergy reared its ugly head. As watches might be wasted on toddlers, I found a company on-line that sells stainless steel jewelry for reasonable prices (I couldn’t find surgical steel for cheap enough to buy three just as a test). So, just after Christmas each girl got a steel I.D. style bracelet with her initial engraved on it. I plan to have them wear the bracelets for at least the next year or until they show signs of sensitivity. Peach is already starting to show what could be early symptoms . . .

Thursday, March 8

Just a little something I put together . . .

Back before Halloween I found metal gears at my local craft store. They were awesome, so I bought a few packages. I saw them at a couple other stores and so wasn’t worried about finding them again.

What was I thinking . . . ?

When I needed more of them, they were gone. No one had them. The only place I found any was on etsy where an enterprising seller had broken up the pack and was selling it in small (expensive) lots. I despaired of finding them again before next Halloween. And I haven’t.

But I did find a new series of craft gears (for jewelry and scrapbooking) in similar metal finishes. These were bigger and had different shapes than the last set, and had more interesting detail. This new series also has clock hands in a selection of styles and sizes, chess piece charms, wings, birds, crowns . . .

And then
inspiration struck. A little time and some glue later . . . .
And then inspiration struck. A little time and some glue later . . . .

Faux-Pocket Watches!
I have a metal allergy so mine will be hanging from the vest I plan to make,
but they could also be worn as pendants. So . . . what do you think?