suture \Su"ture\, n. [L. sutura, fr. suere, sutum, to sew or
             stitch: cf. F. suture. See Sew to unite with thread.]
  1(a) a strand or fiber used to sew parts of the living body; also :
       a stitch made with a suture
   (b) the act or process of sewing with sutures

  2(a) a uniting of parts
   (b) the seam or seamlike line along which two things or parts are
       sewed or united

I had 7 stitches for my cross implant. One night while entertaining myself on elements that altered the state of my mind, I decided that it looked really neat that I was sewed up. It made me feel very unreal, and doll-like. Thats when I began to really like the look of stitches. Later I decided that I'd like to try wearing a band of stitches around my forearm for a while. Almost all the definitions from above apply to what I wanted, with one exception. I didn't want a cut, I didn't have more than one piece to attach to another. All I wanted was to be sewed up, not to be cut.

I tried to poke a sewing needle through my skin just to see how it'd feel, but I ended up hurting myself driving the blunt end it into my thumb trying to push it in. I also didn't know how deep to go, so I just gave up with the sewing needle. Soon after this, I discovered Ethicon's great site on wound management, and their knot tying site too. I spoke to a few friends and most told me to just call around and see if any medical supplies places would sell me stitching equipment (the curved needle and the non dissolving line). One friend however had a mother that was willing to help me in my search. A few weeks later, I had 2 Ethicon suturing kits in my hands. Technically, I was competent to give myself stitches (Ethicon's site rules), however I lacked information about one part: I didn't know how deep to go. Also, I had never practiced before. So I just decided to find someone else to do it for me.

I decided that it would be best to talk to Steve Haworth about this, since he was already very good at suturing, and he's pretty open minded to these sort of things. He told me it would definitely be possible, and since I was planning on seeing him before going to DefCon 6.0, we agreed to try it out when I was there.

We started on the stitches first, since I figured they would cripple me the least and also so I could experience them before deciding to do what we also decided to do later (see below). First, we drew a line around my arm, and little dots to mark where the needle would go in and how it would come out. The type of stitch was decided as well and which direction it would go. We chose to go with one piece of the stitch line going through my arm, just in and out and in and out, crossing the drawn line diagonally over my skin, and diagonally under my skin (but perpendicular to the stitches outside my skin).

Going into my skin wasn't painful, it was somewhat uncomfortable though. Coming out, however, stung a lot. The coming out pain was mostly due to the fact that it stretched the skin outwards before puncturing it. A receiving tube was used to lessen the sting when the needle came out of my skin by forcing the needle to make the puncture faster. While under the skin, it felt neat, sort of squishy. The outside of my arm was more painful than the inside, but neither was a big deal. Only a few holes bled, and those were on the inside of my arm. I bruised from those. Bruises look neat when you can see them form and spread.

After all the stitches were done, we pulled the stitch line really tight, through all the holes, so the skin bunched up a lot under the exposed stitches. This made the whole thing feel much more tight, and was more painful on movement. If I relaxed and kept my arm straight, I felt nothing more than slight tightness. But if I turned my arm, it stretched the stitches and hurt quite a bit. The greatest thing was that I could control it. When I wanted a huge sensation, all I had to do was twist my arm, and it was like getting re-stitched again. They didn't hurt too much when performing everyday movements, but I could, whenever I wanted, cause sharp pain that caused me to have chills throughout my body.

While I was hanging out with Steve for the day before I got my stuff done, we discussed many things he thought of doing, and things he'd like to try. One thing that he mentioned was staples. Surgical staples are used to close wounds on the abdomen area or lower.. for appendix removals, or hernias, etc... I'm sure they have a specific type of use I don't know about, but mostly I've seen them there for that purpose. I think that staples might stay in the skin longer than stitches without the chance for infection, so they use them for cuts that require longer healing time.

They come in a disposable stapler, looking like normal staples, a little wider and thiner though (staple 1), but when you pull the stapler's trigger, claws come out and pinch the staple into a closed rectangle (staple 2). Half of it sits inside you, the other half outside you, with the cut skin in the middle. There is also a special staple remover that pinches the staple in half causing the bottom of the rectangle to point back into the original position (with the teeth straight down), so it can easily lift out of your skin (staple 3). Unless the staples are removed when perfectly straight, they bend to the side and the sharp points don't lift out like they are supposed to. If they bend too much, the spikes jam up into your skin from the inside. This hurts a lot. There isn't much you can do either other than get used to the pain and try to straighten the staple and try again.

Anyways, I just loved the ideas of staples in me. I almost wanted to get staples instead of stitches, but decided to get both! It took me a while to decide where I wanted to get them put in, but I finally decided to get a band around my neck, similar to the band of stitches around my arm. Steve said it wouldn't be a problem, since the staples were not meant to go very deep, and it would be safe to get them in the neck. I was very excited when we picked up the equipment and drove back to start stapling!

Once we got all the equipment to do the staples, we cleaned my neck and we were ready to do it. First, four staples would be put in, one in the front, one in the back, and one on each side, and then, if I could handle the pain, we were going to go in between them, and then if I still wanted to continue, we'd go between those, and between those, etc..

He held the stapler up to my neck, and it was right on my Adam's apple. I had to try to swallow right as he was stapling me, so it would move up when he actually pulled the trigger. Everyone in the room (Steve, I, and four other friends) was really quiet, expecting me to jump out of my skin. I was expecting a horrible disgusting feeling in my neck. Instead, when he pulled the trigger (somewhat fast), it didn't hurt nearly as much as I had expected, more like a quick pinch. I was pleased and let Steve know it didn't hurt much. I turned 90 degrees and let him do the next staple on the side, then the back, then the other side. It went very quickly. I kept turning around over and over until he had put 32 staples into my neck.

When he squeezed the trigger really slowly, it felt much better (even though it hurt a bit more). Doing them fast felt like being pinched, which was not fun. Slowly, I could feel the staple touch my skin, bend, slowly clamp my skin and push against it, then puncture it and the last part, where the staple was moving though my skin, it felt very soft and squishy. This didn't sting at all, it was much more a solid pain, like the difference between being cut and punched (the cut stings). The reason I think it didn't hurt is because the staple never exited me. When I got my stitches, I noticed it hurt a lot more when the needle came out than when it went into me, I've noticed this with piercings too. The staples never came 'out', so that part of the pain was completely gone. There was also the fact that I was really scared before I got them, and probably built up enough endorphins before we even started.

I really like how this turned out, very much like a tight neck collar, but always attached to me.

Final result

Final result Closeup final result Silly procedure picture

After we were all done with with my neck, we had something like 33 staples left over. Steve wanted to try them out on my arm (he had never done staples before on anyone). This time, he wanted to press the stapler into my skin really hard before pulling the trigger so the staple would be much deeper, and the top would be flush with my skin, He couldn't do that on my neck because my skin wasn't thick enough there, but on my arm, there was no such problem.

He started just doing a straight vertical line. One after the other, right next to each other. He pressed with a lot of pressure, and slowly squeezed the trigger. The same sensation as felt when he squeezed slowly on my neck was felt here, but even stronger.

Everything about doing it on the arm hurt a bit more, but was much less sensitive. It's hard to explain without contradicting myself, but it was felt more painful, even though it really wasn't. Maybe it hurt less, but I just felt it more.

After doing nine staples, I told Steve to start a fork and do two lines, so it would look zipper-like. After 7 on each fork, it was going to run into my tattoo, so I told him to stick arms and a head on it and make it a stick man. We used the last staple for a nose.

The arm hurt a lot for the next few days, getting it bumped was very painful. It felt like lots of little pins inside of me that just stabbed around in all directions. Very unfun. After about a week, they were still very painful, even in the relaxed position. My arm was very crippled, so I decided to remove them.

I couldn't remove them myself because I couldn't reach them easily, and I didn't want to screw up because I was at a weird angle, so I had my friend Neal help me. I quickly taught Neal how to use the remover, and he removed the first staple, he did it somewhat fast and it stung a bit. I asked him to do the rest slower. The feeling of getting them put in slowly was reversed when they were pulled out slowly. If they got a little caught coming out, or were in crooked, they were a bit more painful to pull out. Neal didn't mess up really badly like I explained above, so nothing hurt really bad. Getting them pulled out was pleasant because as he slowly pulled them out, one by one, the pain slowly went away. When they were all out, I was a bit sore, but not in the kind of pain I was in when they were still in me.


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