"When do you want to do nipples?"
The words hang in the air of my plastic surgeon's office. Echoing endlessly in my ears because no matter how much I think about it, no matter how ready I claim to be about this portion of reconstruction, nothing prepares me for hearing those words in an actual sentence. A question spoken so casually, as if I was asked what I wanted for lunch... It's not that simple. The question comes at me as if I had an answer. That's the weird part. How could any person possibly have an answer to that question? You don't just get used to the idea of new nipples.
I had to get used to the idea of a bilateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction. When all my options were weighed, it actually wasn't that difficult, but nipple reconstruction? I'm shaking my head even now in disbelief, although, disbelief doesn't truly describe what I feel. I believe it. I know it's coming, yet I find it impossible to wrap my brain around it. Young girls don't grow up dreaming of new nipples one day. I doubt that's something anyone does.
***Brothers and/or father may want to stop reading here.
Nipple. It's a silly word, isn't it? It's not a word that commands a lot of respect. I keep picturing a big cartoon baby bottle with a huge rubber nipple stretched over the top. That's how I see it now, but if I try hard enough, I can remember how mine used to look before cancer took them away. They were nice. One of the few body parts I actually liked. A good shade of pink, not too large, not too small. Just right. But, they're gone and I'd rather not think too much about what I've lost. I'm supposed to look forward and think about what I'm gaining. After all, I keep hearing how nipple reconstruction is the icing on the cake. How the hard part is over, the final step has arrived. I'm about to be "done."
Well, that's what I hear, but here's what I know. I'm not comfortable with the whole scenario. I don't like the process, being awake while my surgeon cuts and manipulates skin to create nipples where before there were none. Not to mention the grape-like size I'd have to endure while healing and waiting for the inevitable shrinkage. I also, don't believe the end result looks that great. Perhaps somewhere, in some far off distant imaginary world, there's a resemblance to a woman's nipples, but not by much.
I'm wavering though because ultimately, breasts should have nipples, right? I have to decide. I can't remain in this boob limbo forever, where implants are done, but finishing touches are left off...can I? If I'm uncomfortable with the idea, why get nipples? Do I move forward or stand still?
Not surprisingly, neither option is a clear winner. It's not that I don't want to be finished with this mess. I do. It's hard to look in the mirror and see all the scarring and if nipple reconstruction with the eventual areola tattooing can make it look a bit better, then I want it, but despite having silicone implants, aka "fake boobs" and accepting them, the nipple thing, seems more fake...faker. A plastic cherry topping a wedding cake.
I think the real question here is not whether I should do the nipples, but why I can't accept what I have, if I feel this way? Why the need to reach some man-made stop sign? So, I can use it as a springboard to the rest of my life? "Nips and tats done, must be ready to move on." I should be able to do that regardless. Apparently, I still have some thinking to do.
Any thoughts on this from those that have done it... or not?