Product Review: Maximum Strength Sting-Kill Capsules


Living out in the country has its hazards, and one of those hazards is insect stings. Bees, yellow jackets, paper wasps and bumblebees are almost constantly buzzing around in my back yard. Usually they’re keen to just leave you alone but every now and then you do draw the ire of one of those buggers and she’ll give you a good sting. It happens.

I first heard of this product on Brave Wilderness, the YouTube channel hosted by Nathaniel “Coyote” Peterson. Coyote has taken some rather intense stings over the years, from velvet ants, tarantula hawks, warrior wasps, bullet ants and soon the so-called executioner wasp. Whatever the case, this benzocaine and menthol based gel is in his arsenal for all the crazy stings he subjects himself to.

This was an impulse grab at the pharmacy this past Thursday, after hearing Coyote rave about it. Little did I know I’d have the opportunity to try it out the very same night!

So I was smoking my evening cigar minding my own business when out of the blue a rather irritable paper wasp decides to tag me on the back of the hand. I wasn’t doing anything to that little thing; it just came out of the blue and got me, the sorry bitch! Oh well, as I said, risks of country life.

So I got a vial of the sting kill and followed the instructions. Application was quick and easy and immediately had a refreshing cooling effect on my skin. About 30 seconds later the benzocaine took effect and completely eliminated the burning sensation from the venom. I was truly shocked at how well it worked!

Needless to say I highly recommend Sting-Kill and believe it should be in every medicine cabinet. Insect stings happen, but they don’t have to be more painful than necessary. Easy to use and cheap, do yourself a favor and get some. You’ll thank me later.



Product Review: NumbFast Cream


As mentioned prior, numbing creams are a controversial topic in tattoo culture. There are a vocal minority who adamantly protest the use of these products but it seems for the most part it’s become more acceptable. As the ribs are quite a sensitive area and given color packing is usually the most painful part of a tattoo (due to the heavy hit, large needles and multiple passes made over an area to pack color) I knew I was going to need some help to get through it. I should say the line work and graywashes didn’t really hurt that bad, even on the side. That said, the solid black fill on the silhouette (which, despite being black ink, is color packing as opposed to shading/graywash) was sheer agony. That’s what made me decide “OK, numbing cream it is.”

I’d tried a couple of products before. For my first tattoo I had a Canadian friend smuggle me in some EMLA, which is only Rx in the US. I then tried Hush and found it largely ineffective, not to mention it burns like hell when you put it on due to the menthol base. So I looked around and I decided to try this product, which was reasonably priced (about $15 for a 30g tube; covers about a 6″ x 6″ area) and had a strong concentration of lidocaine (5%) so I figured I’d give this a go.

The directions included say to apply and rub in the first layer then smear a thick layer over the area and cover with saran wrap or similar cover for at least two hours to let the cream take effect. I did exactly that and by the time I got to the tattoo parlor and got cleaned off and shaved I was numb – I couldn’t even feel the razor against my skin while I was being shaved.

Getting up on the “operating table” and getting underway I was expecting a “dull roar” as it were. What I experienced was anything but – I felt little more than the vibration of the machine. I do think some areas got numb a little easier than others as I still felt needles in areas more than others, but it was little more than a mild sting – think a fresh mosquito bite. The pain remained more than tolerable for 1.5 hours, at which point it was almost like a light switch and the pain became near excruciating again. Luckily by this point there was enough broken skin for the Vasocaine spray (also 5% lidocaine) to take over and keep the pain manageable for the rest of the session (note: I required two sprays of Vasocaine during the last 1.5 hours of the 3 hour long session). I’m also positive this would have a similar efficacy for most body piercings, with the exception of ear cartilage piercings and/or tongue piercings (sorry, you’re on your own with those), permanent makeup, injections, blood draws and a number of other things.

I asked Jade if it affected how I took the ink at all and she said no, much to my relief. Some numbing creams can affect it – EMLA being one of them because it contains epinephrine. Alas, my skin is very easy to tattoo anyway (I have a good, but not excessive amount of elasticity and I accept all pigments equally well) so that might be part of that.

In my experience with NumbFast, I’ve come to the conclusion that the key for effective numbing is not so much brand but rather a 5% concentration of whatever numbing agent it uses – be it lidocaine, prilocaine or a mix of the two (as is in EMLA – it’s 2.5% each lidocaine and prilocaine). Anything less than that does not have adequate strength to effectively numb the skin. Unfortunately, Texas is a stick in the mud in that tattoo shops cannot buy numbing agents of this strength so if you live in Texas you’re on your own (that’s OK – I supply my own which is a workaround). That said, NumbFast does meet this requirement of 5% concentration and as such this cream gets my seal of approval as a numbing cream. Just be sure you follow the instructions exactly as written to achieve the desired effect.

Rating: 4/5.




Tattoo Topic Tuesday: Numbing Cream/Gel/Spray

This is definitely a contentious topic within the tattoo community, but something I wanted to weigh in on because of my use of these products in the past as well as in my upcoming color procedure on my ribs.

There are the old, crusty, die-hard tattoo canvases and artists who are stuck with this toxic mindset that a tattoo must be as painful as possible because you have to “earn” your tattoo. Now, obviously that has a glimmer of truth – tattoos are painful because of how they are applied, but the concept that one has to endure excruciating pain to “earn” it is totally false. As far as I’m concerned we don’t earn our tattoos by enduring pain, we earn them by working our asses off to pay for them (nobody said tattoos were cheap and good ones sure aren’t).

Sorry, but this is the 21st century. Tattooing is a much “softer and kinder art form” (quote legendary tattoo artist Lyle Tuttle) than it was in decades and centuries past. The reality is that we all have different pain tolerances and different bodies so what someone finds as “no big deal” another person might find excruciating. I’m one such person. My pain tolerance is pathetic. I think it’s probably an autism-induced hypersensitivity (much like my increased hearing – don’t whisper shit about me across the road at a busy intersection because I will hear you). Does that mean I shouldn’t have tattoos, and especially ones that are meaningful to me?

Of course, 7 tattoos later I don’t think that’s the case at all, for me or anyone. If a symbol is so meaningful to you that you would permanently etch it into your dermis, then you should do whatever you have to in order to make that a reality, even if that means the use of numbing products. It’s OK. These big, bad macho attitudes of “tattoos have to hurt” belong in the historical garbage bin along with toxic hypermasculinity, gender roles, homophobia/transphobia and a whole host of other shit we should have evolved past by now (but unfortunately have not completely). I’d actively avoid any tattoo artist who outright says you have to “earn” your tattoo – I’d see that as a red flag that they’re the type who will really dig into you and make you hurt more than necessary. Unfortunately such artists do exist, including some “big name” artists.

Now, depending on your pain tolerance and where you’ll be getting the tattoo you might not need it at all. On my shoulders and calves I didn’t really need it – those places were tolerable without it. That was little more than a cat scratch type feeling. Wrists were kind of OK because they were small pieces. I was OK on my ribs during the line work but once the black fill on the silhouette started that really ramped up – that was some of the worst pain I’d ever felt (that is, before I got sprayed with Vasocaine). As such, I think line work on the ribs is the max out of my personal tolerance level (yes, shading/color packing needles are more painful than lining needles as they have to impact the skin harder to penetrate due to having a larger surface area – more needle points).

So, now that we’ve established that it is totally acceptable (in my view anyway, and in the view of most tattoo artists I’ve talked to) to use numbing products, what are some things I’ve personally tried and how well did they work? EMLA was good, but I had to have it smuggled in (it’s Rx only in the US whereas it’s OTC everywhere else; go figure; stupid). Hush gel was OK but didn’t last long and it burns like hell when you apply it (it’s menthol based). Vasocaine is a great fast-acting sprayable product for the middle of a session but it’s ineffective on unbroken skin so ineffective at the start of the session. Some swear by Dr. Numb but it’s quite pricey. I’m going to try NumbFast for my rib color procedure (5% lidocaine) and will report back on its efficacy.

Now, I will say if you choose to use numbing products, please have reasonable expectations of its efficacy. If you’re expecting a completely pain-free tattoo you’ve gone off the deep end. It’s not that effective. It will take a considerable amount of the edge off but that’s about it – enough so that the pain you are left feeling will be little more than a mild irritation. Also, please be sure to follow the directions exactly when applying. Numbing creams are not like hydrocortisone or anything like that – you do not rub them in. You apply a thick layer, smear it over the area and cover with saran wrap to sit for at least an hour prior to the procedure.

The bottom line is that there is no such thing as totally removing the pain, but there is such a thing as making it tolerable. If you have an unusually low pain tolerance or are getting tattooed in a sensitive area, numbing products can help you get through your tattoo with a minimum of distress. In my view, there is no shame in using them and anyone who says otherwise is just being an arrogant snob. Ignore them. You do what you need to do to get a tattoo that’s meaningful to you (even if that meaning is “because it looks cool”) and looks good on your canvas.

What are your experiences with tattoo numbing products? Please share them.

Now For a Rather Embarrassing Health “Issue” – Advice/Suggestions Needed

I’m looking for some advice or suggestions from anyone who might also have this particular issue or know someone who does and thus have experience with it, because this is really getting old quickly (and I’ve suffered from it most of my life).

Ever since I can remember I’ve struggled with horrible postnasal drip. I know allergies contribute to it a fair bit but even when I’m not in the middle of an attack it’s still there and I find myself clearing my throat almost nonstop. It’s gross and embarrassing, especially in any kind of public setting. Perhaps I wouldn’t be so self-conscious about it had I not been relentlessly teased for it in school (all the other kids just had to make a loud, dramatic “ahhhh-ahhheeemmmmm!!!!!” when they walked past me in the hall just to make fun of me) but it’s still bothersome nonetheless.

I also wouldn’t be so worried about it if I was one of those tone-deaf, amusic people but I’m not. I don’t have the prettiest of singing voices (never have) but I do like to sing karaoke and at home with a guitar (and have been known to play open mics in some intimate coffee shop settings and such). I don’t think much of my own voice but everyone who ever hears me sing reassures me I’m better than I give myself credit for so I keep on. Of course, the problem arises in that constant throat clearing can do some major damage to the vocal cords (by repeatedly causing them to come together forcefully) and can even have a fairly noticeable degradation f one’s speaking voice, much less one’s singing voice.

Now, I’ve not totally dismissed the slight possibility that it’s an autistic hypersensitivity in that I react that way to even the slightest thickening of mucus on my vocal cords but I doubt it as I can usually feel things loosening up and moving around when I make that “ah-ahem” noise. I do try to limit it as much as possible in any kind of social setting but of course then I tend to go really croaky if I wait too long and then I’m hacking forever. It’s like a losing battle.

Again, surely I’m not the only one who struggles with this so if anyone else does please chime in with your suggestions because I’m tired of it and I’d especially like to not struggle when I’m trying to sing. It has a way of making life somewhat miserable.

I’m getting desperate. Any suggestions from anyone, please say something.

The Autistic Pride Award

So I was “passively” nominated for the Autistic Pride Award by Laina over at The Silent Wave Blog. I do appreciate it and although this does feel somewhat weird to me (as autistic pride is somewhat of a foreign concept to me due to the way my life has panned out) but I’ll give it my best shot.

The rules are really simple…

  1. Whoever wants to participate, participate.  I’m focusing primarily on Asperger’s/autistic people, of course, but anyone who supports autistic people and neurodiversity is welcome!
  2. Do link back to the blogger who gave you the idea
  3. Do link back to Silent Wave as the original creator.
  4. Describe a bit about yourself.  However much you feel comfortable saying.
  5. List your main “special interests” or areas of primary focus/niche specialties.
  6. If you’re on the spectrum yourself, describe why you’re proud to be Aspergian/autistic or what you like about being Aspergian/autistic.
  7. If you’re not on the spectrum yourself, you can use this opportunity to describe a loved one in your life who is and what makes them awesome, or you can explain what autism means to you and why you think the world would be a better place if it were to be more embracing of autism.
  8. (Of course, you can answer more than one!  For example, someone who is autistic can also describe how much better the world would be if it was more open toward autism.)
  9. If you like, you can list other blogs or resources that are autism/neurodiversity-positive, to give them a shout-out, too.

That’s it. 🙂

So a bit about myself:

ASL: 30/M/USA originally from Roswell, NM, currently living in Abilene, TX. Right now I work as a lift plan engineer for a large crane company, a job I totally despise but it pays the bills well enough. After having my dream career yanked out from under me due to my autism diagnosis (however unfair that seems), but eventually realizing it would have been the same unsatisfying dead end as this direction, I’ve set my sights on one day owning my own cigar and whiskey lounge.

I was diagnosed with AS/HFA at the age of 14 despite much resistance from my parents who did not want to accept I was different. They thought I was just a defiant child and treated me as such, sometimes being subject to psychological and physical abuse. I still live with some of the emotional scarring from that but our relationship is much better now that they’ve accepted it.

My main “special interests” are as follows:

  • Tattoos/piercings/body modifications
  • Music (both playing and listening)
  • Change bell ringing (for those unfamiliar, here’s an explanation)
  • Microbrew Beer
  • Scotch Whisky
  • Cigars
  • Auto racing (particularly open wheel racing)
  • 80s Fashion (with a particular love affair with men’s short shorts LOL :-P)
  • Aviation/airplanes
  • Philosophy (with particular emphasis on existential nihilsm and antinatalism/efilism).

What I like about being (why I’m proud to be) Aspergian/autistic:

This really is a tough one. For the longest time I’ve hated being this way and I’ve only very recently warmed up to it and accepted it as part of me (though if I were to be totally honest most of the time I still wish it wasn’t). Alas, I have to pick something here so I will say a few things. I love being able to absorb information like a sponge and retain it forever and that it enables me to maintain intense concentration on a particular task for countless hours (so long as I’m actively engaged in the task at hand). I also like that I have practically no self-censor and am able to speak my mind no matter how unpopular my opinion might be. Lastly, I feel it’s part of the reason I enjoy physical touch. In a particularly hands-off society, the power of a hug, kiss on the cheek or cuddling (even among just friends) is grossly underestimated and I think it’s easier for me to accept and enjoy physical affection than if I was neurotypical.

Why I think the world would be a better place if it embraced autism:

Well, that’s an easy one for me to answer, seeing as how I was a victim of exclusion from the aviation world due to my diagnosis (no current world aviation governing body grants medical clearance to fly for autism spectrum people), embracing autism would actually mean most of us could live our dreams and probably excel at them. There are certain professions in which the condition would be a net asset but the stigma surrounding the condition holds all of us down. Life is hard enough as it is, don’t make it any harder for us please.

As far as resources, well, I don’t think I can share any more here that the creator of this award didn’t so I’ll just refer you back to her resources page.

So that’s my contribution to this topic. Maybe it was sort of lame and cliche, but maybe you enjoyed it. At any rate, I think this kind of thing is good for me as it helps me to be more comfortable in my own skin. Hope I didn’t bore you to tears and by all means please participate if you’re interested.

“Be the Freak You Were Born to Be”

My ex-girlfriend’s best friend’s blog back in the day had that as her tagline. Admittedly I never much paid attention to that tagline and even laughed it off as somewhat funny but I have to say, as I’ve gotten older (and maybe wiser, I have no idea) I’ve come to embrace that saying more in the way I express myself.

I’ve never been one to totally fit the mold so to speak, though I did try when I was younger. I would do my best to mask my autism and act neurotypical when in the public eye. After all, neurotypical people were the proper ones and I, the autistic, was the abnormal one who needed to make myself fit in the mold, right?

Well that was the way I lived for many, many years, though as I got older it got more and more painful to do. It’s like the depressed person who tries to put on that fake smile, pretend to be fine but really feels like shit day in and day out. Eventually that feeling like shit can’t be masked anymore and when that mask breaks sometimes the consequences are catastrophic. Having clinical depression which runs comorbidly with autism spectrum disorder, I know the results of that all too well also.

When I started learning to express my true inner self, it was like a huge burden lifted off of me. I’ll never forget the time I tried on a pair of short shorts for the first time (oh how seeing women in them made me envious during the hot times, but being male I wasn’t supposed to wear them). It was so liberating and comfortable (yes, I chalk my liking of them up on account of a sensory processing issue – I briefly explained this in a previous post), not to mention I kind of liked the way I looked in them. So I permanently adopted the look and quit caring about societal standards in that way.

Once I got over that one hurdle, I started expressing myself more genuinely in other ways, allowing myself to “geek out” (term borrowed from my ex-gf) about the things that interested me and showing and engaging in those interests openly, however weird those interests might have seemed to others. I’d keep my motor tics to myself as I could, but if I had to let it out I did so (man, I can’t imagine how badly it must suck to have Tourettes).

Though most recently, entering the world of body modifications was like the real big thing in ultimately just being that freak I was born to be. As I continue to add tattoos and piercings, I find other things to change about my appearance or otherwise that more accurately reflect who I am. In addition to the ink and jewelry I’ve even added black eyeliner and such to my appearance, because quite frankly it just matches my soul (the emo side of it anyway – and I am an emo dude deep down).

Unleashing my inner self, in addition to being liberating and just easier, also had a more profound effect that I never anticipated – I actually have more friends now. I honestly imagined I’d have fewer because people would realize the freak I really am, but no. Though I did lose a few friends in the process (who thought I had gone off the deep end), I formed new friendships that were much more deep and profound and ultimately wound up with a net gain in friends. I still don’t have all that many friends, mind you, but it was an interesting observation.

So here I am, 30 years old, still autistic as ever, the only change is I don’t hide it the way I used to. If I had a choice, would I still choose to be neurotypical? Absolutely. That much has not changed. My life would have been a lot easier being neurotypical and if a “cure” were to become available today I’d still likely accept it. As liberating as it is to unleash your true inner self it’s still not easy being a freak, but if I had to be born a freak I’d much rather openly be the freak I was born to be than to try to put on a false front and conceal it. I’ll never forget how miserable that made me.

Potential Health Benefits of Tattoos?

Well, I think everyone knows the health risks of tattoos, including risk of infection and allergic reaction, of which the risk of both are all but eliminated when tattoos are done in a clean environment with sterile equipment and high-risk pigments (such as red) are spot test beforehand. However, can tattoos have an upside other than the beautiful artwork left behind and the adrenaline and endorphin rush that you get during the session?

Perhaps so. I happened across this article the other day that suggested people with multiple tattoos might demonstrate a small immune boost. Oddly enough, those with just one tattoo or were getting their first showed a dip. I guess the moral of the story is if you’re going to get tattoos get multiple!

Anyway, of course I take it with a grain of salt but as a tattoo enthusiast studies like this pique my interest. I imagine it’s like the consumption of alcoholic beverages though: there are some health benefits associated with it but they are not great enough to recommend it for all adults. Tattoos aren’t for everyone and I wouldn’t ever pressure anyone to get a tattoo, but for those who do enjoy them there might be a small benefit.

Of course, for me tattoos have benefitted me in a number of ways. I seem to have improved my pain tolerance over the course of my inked journey and I’m just more confident in my appearance overall now that I’ve decorated my own personal “temple” the way I see fit so yes, despite getting a bad reputation I know I’m far better for having tattoos and that they have benefitted both my physical and mental health.