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My Christmas Present

'd been thinking about getting my nipple pierced for sometime after I got an earring in March 1996. I loved playing with my earring and thought "wouldn't it be good to be able to play with a nipple ring as well".

After I broke up with my girlfriend in September, I thought the time had come - I needed a little self esteem boost and a symbol that I had 'moved on'. The thought of having someone new playing with it solidified my decision. I mentally set down the date - Christmas 1996.

After checking out a few places, I decided to go with Expert Tattoo in Brisbane, Australia. Though I liked The Piercing Shop - or what I saw of it a lot better (it looked clean and had a professional set up), price was the main consideration. Expert Tattoo offered a 14 carat (so they said) gold ring for the same price as a stainless steel one from The Piercing Shop. I was to somewhat regret my decision.

I asked my mum for a 'ring' for Christmas. She agreed to me picking it out and said she would pay for it. I told my sister of my plan and convinced her to come with me to 'hold my hand'. She was horrified that I planned to deface my body with a piercing - especially in an area so visible (I told her that that was the whole point). However, out of some concern for me (I guess) and probably a morbid sense of curiosity, she came along.

So mid-afternoon on 24 December 1996, I rock up to the tattoo parlour. After a shortish wait (while he was tattooing another customer's shoulder), Andre told me to come in and have a seat. Within seconds of me telling him that I wanted my nipple pierced he was pulling implements off the shelf and dragging little plastic bags out of cupboards. I thought that he was going to pierce my nipple without even telling me how he was going to go about it, what ring he was going to put in or even what nipple he was going to pierce. At this point, I began thinking that it would be easier to get eggs from a rooster than it was to get Andre to tell me what was happening. He was making me very nervous and I had to slow him down.

"Hang on a sec, can you just tell me what the procedure is?"

"Well yes, but I'll explain it as we go along. If I tell you too much you might back out" he said, eyeing off my left nipple.

"Well," stopping him, "I was thinking about getting my right nipple pierced. Does the side of the piercing mean anything - you know like if you have an earring in your right ear it means you're gay?" (well that's what I heard anyway)

"Oh," he paused, "umm no it doesn't make a difference either way."

"Well in that case," I said, "can I get my right nipple pierced?"

Then he pulls out a silver ring.

"Hang on, can you tell me how much a gold ring would be?"

"Well a 9 carat gold ring is $80 including the piercing." He said.

"I've heard that 9 carat is not pure enough to put through a piercing and that there is an increased chance of infection?"

"Well it depends on your body, but we can do a 14 carat for $90." He replied.

"Okay let's go with that."

Perhaps against my better judgement, I decided to go through with it - after all, I had come this far.

Andre had marked my right nipple with a pen. He clamped the nipple. I took a deep breath, looked away and he pushed it through. I must admit that the experience was not as painful as I expected. Then again, I have had about a million needles shoved into me so I have gotten over my fear of them. I looked down to see a little plastic tube going through my nipple. Then Andre started pushing the ring through the tube. This kinda stung but it was over in short time - he had obviously done this a million times before - and then he removed the tube and joined the ring with a gold bead . I looked down and there it was - gold ring through right nipple.

The endorphins and the adrenaline was coursing through my arteries. I was pumped. I almost ran across the road when we left.

But this is not the end.

When I got home I took my shirt off to have a look. My mum came into the room and wanted to see the 'ring' I had chosen for my Christmas present. I turned around and, as you'd expect, her eyes furiously searched my hands for the 'ring'. She asked where it was and when I told her that I was wearing it, she looked again...and again. I was enjoying the little joke but she eventually did spot and then nearly passed out. Hee hee...

Christmas day with the relatives. I went for a swim in the pool after lunch and my aunty, uncle and grandfather nearly passed out as well. Up to now it had all been worth it...

But it was soon to turn ugly.

As I expected, it was reasonably crusty and purulent for a while after the piercing. I was constantly swabbing it with Dettol trying to keep it clean but when I followed it up with vitamin E cream (renown for its healing properties) it got infected. Finally I cleared it up with an antiseptic cream called Benpathen which nursing mothers use for "nipple care"...or so I thought.

About six weeks after the piercing, I went swimming in the local fresh water river. That same night my nipple became sore and red. Over the next few days it swelled up to a small lump underneath the nipple. The doctor prescribed some antibiotics and, after the full course and constant squeezing of the area over the next week, the dam wall burst. I needn't describe the deluge. Unfortunately it didn't all come out and I was left with a lump in the same area - smaller but still noticeable to me. The doctor said that it would eventually go down and it didn't hurt so I put up with it.

12 months later I went swimming in the same river and the same night the nipple became sore and red again. Another course of antibiotics didn't even touch the swelling or the pain. The doctor recommended I have an ultrasound to check that it wasn't cancer. 'Thankfully' it was just a abscess.

After several needles of local anaesthetic, the doctor chose a site in the middle of the lump - close to the nipple. Cut, cut, stab, stab (pain pain), pus, pus, pus. He had succeeded in draining the abscess!! Over the next two weeks I had to go to him everyday to get Betadine soaked wicks poked into the wound to ensure that it remained clean and healed from the inside out.

Yes it hurt everytime he poked away with those pointy forceps. Yes it has hurt a hell of a lot more than that small prick on Christmas Eve 1996. Yes I have paid much more than the $90 for the piercing (but thank god for socialised medicine or it would have cost me an arm and a leg). But now it has healed and, apart from a small scar, looks like I always thought it should. Feeling is another matter (basically it has made the nipple less sensitive than moreso).

What else?

The gold bead turned out not to be gold but plastic painted gold. The paint came off in the shower after I returned home to Canberra. Thankfully the ring seems to be gold - whether it was the 14 carat that I was sold on is another question. After explaining my disappointment to the piercer (next time I was in town), he explained that gold beads are worth almost as much as the gold ring - not economical - and easy to lose. He replaced it with a haematite ball. Pity he didn't give me that choice 12 months before.

Q. So have I learned anything from this experience?
A. Yes lots - surely you can tell that by reading my story.

Q. Then, after all these trials, tribulations, needles, antibiotics and fake gold beads, would I do it again?
A. Well I'd think about it carefully, decide that the pain of a large abscess and the pointy things that were stuck into me to get rid of it outweighs the fleeting moments of endorphin induced piercing pleasure, recognise that I can't go swimming again without some trepidation, remember that I have less feeling that I did when I started out, and then take one look at myself with my shirt off and pick up the phone..."Piercing parlour?? Can I make an appointment to get my frenum pierced?..."

Roderick

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 01 March 1998
in Nipple Piercing

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