Mount Whitney is more than just a memory... Now it's a permanent part of me. Tattoo!

I got a new tattoo and there's a story behind it.
I have a few tattoos. I like them. I do envy those who can get large pieces of artwork done on their bodies, but I'm always chicken. Will I really love it years from now?
Shortly after the Camp Fire in Paradise happened, I decided to get a pine tree tattoo. (My post on the fire and recovery efforts)Chanelle and Mark were here visiting for Thanksgiving and on Friday, they said "let's go get a tattoo!" We went to Royal Peacock in Sacramento and we each got a tattoo. 

Tree Tattoo
November 23, 2018

Chanelle got a simple Harry Potter inspired tattoo down her forearm. 
Mark got one that was inspired by a band he likes. 

And I was inspired by this tree, so I got them in a grouping of three on my ankle, sitting on top of an old anklet. 

My artist Mike Jupp at Royal Peacock in Sacramento, starting the first tree. 

The final product after a few days of healing. Love the trees and the detail in the pine needles, not so much adding the one to the old anklet. They don't match... 
As the weeks go by, I like the anklet less and less. 
I became a Pinterest and Instagram junkie, looking at forest and tree tattoos of all kinds, all day long. Also researching and looking at the feeds of local artists, over and over and over. Who can fix this. Can they fix this? Do I need to make a huge tattoo out of what was just an anklet at one point? Ugh.

I love the background mountains in this one

Thinking that we can hide the old anklet in the forest floor of this one. 

Like the reflection of this one and the mountains. 

And found this sketch of Mount Whitney. Love. 
I emailed so many artists, pleading my case that I really needed some help putting this all together and making a cohesive piece. The problem is, most of the top artists won't touch or work around anyone else's work. I finally got a yes from Mac Grommet at The Skull Gallery in Sacramento. 

Mountain Tattoo
Friday, February 1, 2019

He's a well known artist and agreed to help me! My only hesitation with him is that his pics on Instagram are typically dark. Darker than I want. I mentioned this to him and to Lauren, the scheduling manager and they both said he would totally do whatever I needed. He also stressed that most of what I see are brand new, the day they were done and the shading totally heals and lightens up a lot. 

Chris and I were playing around with the placement of the mountain in the background. We ended up being pretty close to where Mac put the stencil. 

All stenciled and ready to go! I was hoping for a small space under the trees, but there isn't any room. He said he would make it with a little bit of variation so it wasn't just a black line, but stippling or adding a spaced line would allow the old anklet to show through. 

Time to get started. It's so hard to be in this position because I can't see what is being done. 
I have to trust in the process. 

Halfway. The anklet is gone. The shading on Whitney looks super dark. He is assuring me this will lighten. 

This side is pretty well done. The trees have sorted of faded into the background. Mac keeps re-assuring me that once the background heals, the trees will pop back out. Ok, ok, I'll stop freaking out.  
Patience... Now I have to wait for it to heal. 

I've had tattoos on my spine and my ribs. I think that the shading around the anklet to make that large solid line may be the most painful place, ever! Not fun. 

It took 3 hours and it's all one. Very sore, read and oozing. I know that so much of the reddish/brown will disappear as that is just my skin being very angry. I get it because that one hurt!  

I'm wrapped and the waiting begins... 
Day 1 - am.

A quick pic of the inside. Day 1. am

Day 1 pm. Just unwrapped for the first time to wash and re-wrap. Looking forward to seeing how much it's going to lighten up. I'm not a fan of the dark. We will see...

Day 2
Still WAY too dark. If it stays like this, I'm already thinking I'll get it removed. 
Now I'm wishing I had stuck with my gut and not gone with Mac as his tattoos are always so dark. I'm just not seeing how this could possibly lights so much that the mountains are light like my inspiration photo. They are just so very dark. I've already looking into laser lightening and they make you wait 6 weeks. We will see...

Day4. The redness is definitely starting to go away. It's still very, very dark. Talking with some co-workers today who also have tattoos, they said they go through the same process, wishing they would lighten up quicker. So, I have hope that it will get lighter and lighter. 

1 week. Let the peeling commence! I am molting black skin everywhere. It's still getting lighter, but I don't think it's ever going to get as light as I wanted it to be. I'm continuing to look at my options for laser lightening and then a touch up. It think that's going to be the best option at this point. 

10 days. It's continuing to peel and lighten. I can finally see some definition in the tree again. I'm hoping it just continues to peel and lighten more so I can stop looking into laser... 

This is the inside. I actually really like this side. I wish the shading on the front was like this, I'd probably be pretty happy with it. 

2 weeks. It's definitely lighter. I've made an appointment with a laser removal clinic to talk about correcting the top skyline and some of the trees that are just shadows between the others. Makes everything look far too busy. I think it will lighten things up and make it less "busy". I know I have to wait until it's 6-8 weeks old, so we will see what the next month brings. 

5 week update
It's been 5 weeks. I've been PATIENTLY waiting for this to lighten. Well, I've decided that it's just never going to be what I have envisioned. Here are the 5 week pics. 

Playing around with the design on Aperture, I was able to lighten the background. 
While not exactly like my example, it's much closer to what I was thinking of. This confirms that I need to have it lightened up with laser. 

Laser Lightening
March 8, 2019

I've been doing  my research on types of lasers, reading reviews and coming up with a plan. I've decided to have a consultation with Cascade Medical Wellness. At the consult I spoke with the Dr who would be performing the laser procedure. He went over what I wanted, looked at my tattoo, looked at my photos of examples and he really thinks he will be able to achieve lightening this in as little as 1 visit. The laser they use is the Cutera Enlighten. I chose this because it is a Pico Sure dual wavelength laser using both pico and nano wavelengths. From everything I've been reading Pico is the way to go for tattoo removal. I've decided to move forward and make an appointment. Here I go! Crossing my fingers that lightening it will achieve the results I was looking for. 

Here it is. The torture device. He's decided to start me out at .7 as my skin is sensitive and I stressed that I really don't want blistering, which can happen after laser treatment. 
The medical assistant applied lidocaine cream and let me sit quietly for 15 minutes while it start to numb the skin. Not sure how it would have been without it, but wow. That was painful. 

The laser reacts to the black ink, so the areas that had more ink hurt worse. It's a feeling like having hot oil splattered on your skin over and over and over and over. Wow. Funny that when they go for the second pass, you can't feel it at all. There may some touching up to do and will have to wait 3 months or so to see how my body carries away the ink to know if I will need another treatment. I was in the office for a little over an hour. 

Immediately after. Still in the office. Covered with Aquaphor. 

While I was there, I have also decided to have this removed from my ribs. This tattoo has a lot of meaning to it since my daughter and I got these as matching tattoos. Mine is on my ribs, here is on her inner bicep. Hers turned out cute, mine turned out kind of blobby. Don't like it. I'm having it removed or lightened and may decide on putting it somewhere else or covering it up. But after the laser treatment, I'm unsure if I'll do anything. It was incredibly painful. This is probably the most sensitive area on the body. I'm tough and I about saw stars. Was so thankful for the immediate ice compress they put on after passing over it. I had to keep stopping, deep breath and prepare for another section. This is small, but wow, super painful. Rib tattoos are no joke to get and even worse to remove. 

A couple of hours later. It's bubbled up and angry. This is very dark and will take many treatments totally remove. Will see how it lightens up. 

The next morning. I can already see it's going to be so much lighter after all the redness goes away. 

The inside that was mainly shading is so very light. Even the line at the top of the ridge looks like it may disappear. I'm excited to see how it lightens up. Having it just barely there is the goal, so hope it lightens to what I think it will. I'm super happy with the process and the Dr and staff were super nice. 

Will keep updating with the process as it lightens...

July 4th, 2019
5 months since tattoo
4 months since laser lightening

It has continued to lighten and looking more and more like what I wanted in the initial concept photo. I'm so glad I chose to have the laser done. I don't think I would ever have liked the dark version. 
This was definitely the right decision. Even though my skin is very dry here, you can see how light everything is. It's not exactly perfect, but it's close enough and I'm not going to tweak it any further.