Meet my new right hand man – The Beaux

Posted on December 3, 2013

… or el bow in spanish. Lebeau in french. Bo Jackson in MLB/NFL speak. The Beaux is a balloon (I’m a bit nervous you guys may think he looks like sperm). He’s purple, to match my cane. The Beaux is my fifth tattoo. His string moves as I bend my arm. 

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I am normally a fairly impulsive person. But when getting a tattoo I experience a characteristic that is foreign to me – restraint. It’s nice to have something that doesn’t feel forced or rushed. It simply happens when the time is right. Since it happens when the time is right, this means it doesn’t happen when the time isn’t right. The time wasn’t right in March. I had been playing around with the idea of a balloon tattoo when SuperNeuro invited me to a neuromuscular conference. She said there would be 5 or 6 other specialists in attendance. But when I got there, 22 doctors piled in. I was terrified and thrilled. The doctors sat with me, emulating Dr. House for a few hours. It’s an experience that has left a lasting impression on me, to have been shown such thought by so many. I am sure this won’t be the last time I write about it. 

Anyway, at one point, one of the doctors brought up my tattoos, wondering if tattoo ink could be causing my symptoms. All the other doctors cracked up saying I didn’t have prison tats. Apparently tattoo ink used to have lead in it. My tattoo ink has always been vegetable based. Regardless, he scared me off of my balloon tattoo for a while. But not for long… 

One day I started sketching balloons. I was having a hard time getting it right. I asked my friend Caroline for help and she said yes very quickly. She’s a painter, but hasn’t always been. When Caroline first started painting, I recall feeling amused by her creations. Over the years though, I have frequently found myself moved by her works. While I remain amused, I feel that I have gained a greater understanding of who she is through her art. She speaks through her art, saying what she may not have the words for. This is a tad ironic considering she’s a writer by trade. 

Caroline uses balloons frequently in her paintings. In discussing the feelings a balloon may evoke, she brought up feelings of loss, like a lost idea, being out of reach, floating away. She once did a painting of a mom bird feeding a worm to a baby bird. Only it wasn’t a worm. It was a popped balloon. For me balloons represent freedom, movement, childhood, innocence. These are all things I hope The Beaux will continue to impress upon me.

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So anyway, we got to spend time with Caroline over Thanksgiving. She was sketching balloons (while I was sketching textbook drawings of ovaries). Eventually her tattoo drawings moved from the sketchpad, directly onto my arm. What came out of this was a balloon with large inquisitive eyes and a sweet little smile. We walked into the tattoo shop with the drawing on my arm. And now he’s The Beaux. He’s perfect. 

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On the way home, Caroline said “with that on your arm, nobody will be able to stay mad at you for long”. And I think she may be right. Every time I catch a glimpse of him, I smile. 

Oh, I wanted to write a quick note for my fellow CIDP’ers: It felt so weird getting this tattoo. I could feel the needles in my fingertips as he was tattooing my arm… it was a lot like that Harry Potter Blood Quill scene where he writes on paper and it cuts into the back of his hand. 

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