Monday, August 08, 2005


This past weekend I bought a new porch swing for my parents. As I was loading it onto the back of the truck, I felt a tug on my left nipple ring. And then I heard something metal land on the concrete below me. I look down, still balancing the swing, and see my 10-gauge nipple ring, with the nipple still attached, lying on the ground below me.

For about 4 seconds, I just froze there. Just froze. I oddly enough didn’t feel any real pain right away. But I still had to get this swing hoisted up into the truck. After which I went back into the store and asked for a paper towel, which I folded in quarters and shoved under my tee shirt without looking.

I drove the 40 miles to my parents place with my mind racing as to how deformed I actually now was. ("How much am I bleeding?", "Do I even have a nipple anymore"?, "Damn, I just bought this tee shirt!") I could feel myself sinking deeper and deeper into shock. I finally arrived at my folks' place, and they were a mixture of gratitude and concern: my dad walked out of the room - equating this to being kicked in the balls; my mother yelled at me for the first time in about 30 years; and true to form, my sister Kim jumped in and took over, washing me off, applying ointment and gauze.

For the rest of the day, I kinda joked about it. I was still amazed that I had not yet felt any pain or any real discomfort. I even ended up throwing a frisbee around with two of my nephews and a niece later on that night. Admittedly, I didn't sleep all that well, but then I never get a restful night of sleep at my parents' place (I am such a city boy that the sound of crickets was getting on my nerves.) The next day, Sunday, I slept in a little and got up, had breakfast, talked with my folks, then headed to the shower.

In the bathroom, I removed the (what was now a very dried and bloodied) gauze. And that’s when it all hit me…

The room began to spin and I got tunnel vision. Next thing I know, I am laying on the floor listening to the sound of my dad banging on the bathroom door. First time in my life I have actually fainted. I assured Dad everything was fine, and then suddenly my bowels pressurized and emptied themselves completely (good thing I was near the toilet!). My blood pressure, which is normally about 130/90 (runs high due to my heart condition) dropped to 100/68 – which is still normal for most people but not for someone on four heart medications. And then I vomited. In short, my body had finally come out of its shock – 21 hours after the fact (I have always been a bit of a late bloomer).

A trip to the emergency room, a tetanus shot and an antibiotic later, I sit here with my chest wrapped. Apparently, I didn't need stitches and I have already begun healing and should be completely healed in about three weeks. But until then, I wait to see how it will all turn out. I'm wondering if I should have my right nipple pierced, in order to match the size of what my left may actually turn into, which is slightly larger.

But what amazes me most is the body’s ability to heal itself like it does. When this first happened, I figured I would just have an areola with no nipple at all. But it’s there, thank God. And I have the ring too (sans nipple) which I will either use for the other side someday or shove in a scrapbook.

And today I tell myself that as bad as life gets … it could always be worse.