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Nipple piercing leading to partial masectomy

ple piercing leading to partial masectomy

[I've thought about whether I should include this experience or not, since it serves as great ammunition for the banning of piercing. However, I think it's more important that it's drilled into people's heads that piercing is very serious and things can go wrong no matter how careful you are. It may not be common, but it does happen... - ed.]

Here goes...

I had both my nipples pierced in July of last year to celebrate the event of the coming of my 25th birthday that November. A bit early but the piercings were to be done as a reminder that it was a huge event for me to have spent a quarter of a century alive and kicking around on earth. So I spent several months visiting and watching local piercers here in KY as well as doing the same with reputable piercers when I traveled to NYC to visit friends.

To make things simple and keep the prelude part short here's the easy part.

I woke one day last July with the desire to be pierced. I mean I physically woke up knowing this was the day I was to pierced. I had not expected to get a feeling that it was just time, rather I had been waiting for more like the right moment in my shcedule to present itself. Well, I'm know for following my instincts so I ditched work and did what any person needing guidance would do...I looked piercers up in the phone book. I saw a new ad I hadn't noticed before and gave the shop a call and luckily the shops master piercer Jeff answered the phone. He answered all my questions just right, gave me that great vibe feeling I had spent so long looking for and after settling the details off I went to get pierced.

The actual piercing experience itself wasn't nearly as traumatic (thanks to Jeff) as what was to come months later but I can say it did live exactly up to my expectations and beyond. I was so happy with my shiny new nipple rings and oh so careful about doing exactly as told and yes, I can honestly say I went above and beyond the rigid cleaning schedule I was to follow. In fact you can say I was deeply religious about my cleanings and was proud that 6 months later I had properly healing nipple rings with out once ever seeing a trace of infection.

Unfortunately that was to show up later.

It wasn't until I was doing what all females should do each month, a self breast exam, that I first noticed the lump. I took my fears and worries to my gynocologist this past February during my annual checkup and nearly made her fall out of her chair when she saw my pierced nipples. First set she ever laid eyes on and she had many questions about them and even took pictures of them to show to her collegues and to use in a case study she was beginning on generation X and our body modification/mutilation fads. Her approach to my piercings was purely clinical and in her mind my lump was not related to the ring threaded through my nipple, especially since I was cleaning them 2-3 times daily and they seemed to be healing perfectly fine.

After a painful but negative mamogram to determine what the lump could be it was deemed that I was suffering from a simple cyst that had formed in my right breast in response to the hormone shot DepoProvera I use as birth control. That satisfied me as well as her and I got instructions to cut out caffine, wear a bra even to bed and put hot compresses on the spot and the lump would disolve on it's own in time. So I just reinserted my nipple rings after she was done with her tests and went on my merry way thinking it would do as she said it would and just go away.

But the lump didn't go away...it got bigger and began to HURT. If you've ever had a toothache that throbs and throbs then you can understand just how bad this pain felt...I had a toothache in my chest that got only got worse with each passing day.

By now it was May of this year and I was nearing hysteria from the pain. After another visit to my gynocologist I was refered to see a surgeon to possibly lance the cyst. It was thought that it had obviously just shifted and grew in response to the continuation of my hormone shots and after he drained the fluid I would be all better again.

Wrong again. Instead I sat in the examining room of a very upset surgeon who had just stuck a needle into the supposed cyst expecting clear fluid to come out and instead got in response a syringe full of green puss. Then another and another and after 3 he stopped and just shook his head and said wait here. So I sat half naked in the cold room and waited for the doctor to come back and tell me what was going on and why now I felt like someone was shoving a railroad spike through my chest even though nothing had been done all that horrible to my breast. Imagine the feeling of someone putting their thumb on the inside of your body directly behind your nipple and pushing hard.

I wait for what seems like a few hours but was more like 10 minutes and back in comes the doctor with a pair of pliers, a nurse and a very grim look on his face.

He begins his explanation by saying I'm sorry, not a good sign in my book, so I ask what for. He replies an infection has gotten into several of the ducts of your breast and the only way to remove it is to operate at once to remove the ducts. Now we are not talking just any garden variety infection, what I had inside me and eventually in my bloodstream was staph and before it was finally all removed I lost more than my nipple piercings.

I was told that he had run a culture on the fluid and thankfully it wasn't anything cancerous but it had shown up as a particularily bad strain of staph. It seems that by piercing through my nipple I had severed a small vien feeding directly into one of the many nipple ducts in my breast. Even though I had been carefully cleaning the area and keeping it sterile, at some point the area came in contact with staph and it moved into my body through the piercing hole and made it's way into the inflamed duct and well, spread through the delicate tissue quite rapidly.

It wasn't until he explained exactly what he had to do to my breast that it all sank in. Because of the extent of the infection in my breast I was going to have to have at best a partial masectomy and should he open me up and find the damage was as bad as he thought then I would indeed lose nearly all of my entire right breast. Which I did by the way since by the time I had brought my problem to him the infection had had a chance to work itself down into the lymph nodes under my right arm causing some of those to be removed as well. It's funny now how upset I got with him over having to remove both my nipple piercings before surgery when much much more than losing $90 bucks, some jewelry and the celebration of my 25th birthday was at stake.

So now it's near the end of July and two operations later and one more to go at this point is what my future holds. I'm 25 and have about 40-45% of my right breast left and will have to have painful and costly reconstruction surgery in 6-12 months to my left healthy breast to finish up what having my nipples pierced did to my body. Right now I'm stuck walking around with half a right breast and a shunt in my arm for dialysis. The infection worked its way through my body as I waited for the "simple" cyst to go away and has caused permanent damage to my kidneys and I face many more months and years of dialysis and two more equally harsh 2-3 day hospital stays to flush my system of the remaining staph that is so strong now regular antibotics can't touch it.

There probably never will be any concrete provable answers as to why I got such a horrible infection in just my right breast when both nipples were pierced. To be honest the doctor said he can't be sure I didn't get the infection when I got the initally piercings done. This devestated me since I was so cautious and watched very carefully as Jeff pierced me. I remember clearly that I made sure I had him do all the appropriate cleanliness things and he used disposable needles, a new one for each piercing, fresh jewelry still sealed in their packages and autoclaved right in front of me when I was pierced, as well as fresh gloves with each step he took...he went through 6 pair if I remember correctly as I teased him about it and he replied something like better safe than sorry.

Well, now I'm sorry even though I was safe. I'm sorry I ever decided to get my nipples pierced.

On a medical note, it seems that staph bacteria is something that is actuallly everywhere and on most everything but tends to stay in the "good" infection stage unless given a host, i.e. a damaged part of your body to infect. We, as humans, just wash the staph bacteria away when we clean ourselves and in taking such stict cleaning measures with my nipples rings I asumed I had kept them perfectly clean and free infection. I was wrong, the infection had found itself a home in the damage caused by my piercing long before I ever knew there had been a part of my body hurt.

So here's my story. I am proof that we damage our bodies in small but significant ways when we pursue our right to body modification of our choosing. I knew before the piercings I was going to have two holes in my body for however long they lasted and would have scar tissue when my nipple rings were finally removed. That didn't bother me that much really, but losing most of my breast, well that bothers me quite a bit. I'm not saying stop piercing, because we all know it just won't happen, but what I am saying is everyone engaging in body piercing of any type should be aware there are potentially more dangerous, long lasting risks involved beyond the normal damage associated with body piercing. And before taking a chance with your body and getting pierced you should weigh those risks fully and intelligently. I didn't properly do so and have paid the price with more flesh than I wished to spare. I would really hate to hear what happened in my life happening again in anyone else's.

Ann

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 01 Aug. 1997
in Nipple Piercing

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