Friday, 27 March 1998 Day One
It's probably best to start with yesterday, Thursday, 26 March, aka "Day Zero," the day the actual piercings were done, even though I first put finger to keyboard today, on Day One:
Upon meeting Adrienne, I got the immediate sense that she's very likable, and wants to put her clients at ease so they'll get as much out of the experience as possible. A different vibe as compared to Jon Cobb, but no less competent or trustworthy. Almost the first thing she said was to ask if I was nervous, which did put me at ease somehow. So I said yes, because I was.
First was the talk about aftercare. These were going to be my fourth and fifth non-tongue piercings, but I listened anyway. For nipples, her care sheet recommends Betadine or Hibiclens twice daily for two months, then Hibiclens or an antibacterial soap at least once daily for the next four to six months. She also verbally recommened Provon. I realize that neither has a very good reputation in the r.a.b FAQs, but my PA and (aborted) apadravya did fine with Betadine so I decided to stick with it, at least initially.
Next was looking at the worksite. I've known for some time now that
(surprise!) my nipples are slightly different in shape, size, and how they
act, but she determined a pair of things that I hadn't noticed: One sits a
little higher than the other, and both (along with their aereolae) slope
outward--by which I mean they're higher toward the center of my body than
toward the outside.
We ignored the first characteristic. She said that my nipples aren't large enough for her to have tried to even out the rings by putting one or both above or below the horizontal centerlines. And if they had been, I still would have told her to center them on the individual nipples intead of worrying about absolute levels.
She solved the second by aligning the piercings with my nipples themselves, meaning both are a little off of horizontal. She felt that doing this would flow better with how my body's shaped, and this seemed reasonable to me.
Judging from she's seen and pierced, my nipples are relatively decent-sized for a man. I chose the larger of the two pair of rings based on her saying that they might be easier to manipulate while cleaning than the smaller pair. They're a matched brace of Anatometal SSS CBRs, 14-gauge, 1/2" diameter, with SSS balls. Nice and shiny. Interestingly enough, while the beads are in no danger of falling out, they rotate freely. She says it's just something she's noticed with SSS Ananometal beads on their SSS CBRs.
When she went to mark the placement, the Sharpie--the rock on which the piercing industry is founded--gave her some trouble. Fortunately, I was happy with her first sets of entry and exit holes, so she didn't have to fight a second round with the marker.
Not that it made much difference to me, she decided to do the left one first. Hello, Mr. Clamp! Wasn't really painful, just pinched a bit, but I've had more fun. Then the needle. That was not fun. Not not not. There was pain, kindof a searing pain, then it felt like some hesitation just before it exited--which was its own extra BURST of pain. I tensed up A LOT during it. Wonder if that's a mild taste of how H. R. Giger's/Ridley Scott's chestbursters would feel as they exited?
Once the jewelry itself was in, she moved on to the other nipple, leaving closing the rings and ball insertion for later. Mr. Clamp pinched again. I've read a number of accounts that say that the pain's worse on the second nipple, because you know what to expect. For me, that was true. The pain was at least twice as intense, as was the muscle tension.
I was surprised that there wasn't any blood, from either of them. But I'm not complaining, as this is a good sign that my shirts won't get stained. After the beads were in and the rings were closed, she told me to not worry that the beads can spin in place. I was riding some endorphins and strong feelings and didn't really notice, even when she demonstrated...
A little less than an hour after they were pierced, I smacked the inside edge of the left ring against the bathroom door (my apartment's full of weird angles). I got a tiny amount of blood from the inside puncture, which I dabbed away with warm water on a piece of paper towel.
I tried on a couple of different shirts, to try and find the loosest and
most comfortable. The rings project out at about a 30-degree angle, though
she told me that they'll lie more vertically as they heal. When I went to
bed, I gingerly tried lying face down, and found it to be surprisingly
comfortable. I could feel the twin points saying that something's
different, but I was comfortable. Lying on my side is or isn't, depending
on how I place my arms.
Okay, that was yesterday. This is today:
For various reasons I'll leave out of the story, my boss gave me today (Friday) off. I would not have complained even if I wouldn't of welcomed the chance to run around my apartment shirtless all day. Yesterday's weather was beautiful, today's was even moreso, and the rest of the weekend looks to continue the trend. Which just means that I'll be more comfortable sans shirt, though I'll wear them to bed as a precaution. I left around midafternoon to meet a friend, which gave me a number of new and interesting sensations. My backpack's straps were nowhere near the nipples, but the pull they exerted against the shirt was transferred in weird ways. Occasionally, the impact of my feet hitting the ground felt like it was directly transmitted right to them. I spent time trying to walk as smoothly as possible.
While out, I bought some disposable cups. On my return, I tried the warm-water-and-table-salt trick. There was a little discharge on the inner puncture of the left nipple (same as where the blood'd appeared) but no other discharge that I could see. A couple of minutes with the cup of salt water took it right off. The saltwater was followed by a little warm, plain water, which was left alone to air dry.
Something's different, more than just the obvious "There's metal through my nipples." I felt it last night, and I feel it today. I can't put my finger on it, but it's there.
Thursday, 2 April 1998 Day Seven
Last night's Wing Chun (a Chinese martial art optimized for ultra-close- range infighting, for those who don't know--Bruce Lee's base art, to provide a point of reference) was less of a problem that I'd feared. Almost the worst part was changing into a t-shirt, one that was a little too tight for comfort.
Saturday, 11 April 1998 Day Sixteen
Things are progressing pretty well thus far. It should be obvious that I'm not being especially conscientious about writing entries every day, but a dozen days of "...woke up with some slight crusties, cleaned them off, listen to the nipples be grouchy about having to wear a shirt to work, cleaned them again upon getting home, maybe clean them again just before bedtime if it was more than a few hours between their second cleaning and bedtime, and found them to be pretty happily settled down upon actually going to bed..." gets old really, really fast. Plus it wastes electrons. So I've been desisting.
I've found myself bumping them about once a day, maybe slightly less frequently. They aren't especially happy about this treatment, but it only takes them a couple of minutes to settle down. (Though if by this time they've been smothered under a shirt for several hours, they tend to "settle down" to low-grade grumbling about such nasty treatment.)
I've abandoned using the Betadine. It's excessively harsh and has been drying out my nipples, an idea I don't find pleasing. I'm going to go searching for Provon over the next week. In the last few days, cleaning has taken on two different forms: 1) When I shower, that's about all I do as the Safeguard bar soap I use is antibacterial. 2) When waking up or after getting home from work, I do the warm-saltwater bit, combined with some liquid Dial antibacterial soap. Working well so far, as the crusties are gone after each and the nipples are quiet within five minutes of my finishing either routine. Except, as I've mentioned, when putting on a shirt for going to work; they're fine with the old, ultra-loose t-shirts I wear to bed.
My nipples' sizes and shapes have been changing. It's something I was expecting but I didn't know what to expect; I didn't even try to conceptualize what the changes might be like. First, I think they're getting a little wider, if not taller. More dramatically, the shapes have been becomming less "peak"-like, more "mesa"-shaped. I surprised myself by essentially having no opinion on the changes, but at least I don't dislike them. Which is good, because I have no control over the changes and the final outcome.
To speak to the recent "piercings and sports" threads:
The Wing Chun classes haven't proven to be a problem--we're not doing contact sparring (at least not yet) and t-shirts provide me with enough room to move without problems. Things might be different when my kali group starts meeting again: We were talking about starting into sparring over this summer, which means a couple of different things. Kali itself, as an oversimplification, is a stick- and blade-based martial art from the Phillippines, originating so villagers could protect their homesteads from raiders and competing villagers (think "jungle machetes and the sticks you can cut with them," also an oversimplification), so kali sparring basically means headgear, gloves, jockstrap-with-cup, and light- to mid-contact with padded sticks. (No, we don't spar with machetes, neither blunt nor sharp.) We also borrow a lot from Western boxing and Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) with all that both arts entail. I predict that my defensive reactions will improve dramatically, quickly...
The other potentially-problematic physical activity is the mountain bike I bought in mid-March, to replace the one that was stolen last August after I'd had it for a little under a month. To carry needful things, like work clothes to wear while my commute clothes hang on the wall until it's time to go home, I bought one of the kind of messenger bags that bike messengers use, one named "Tag Junkie" (see http://www.timbuk2.com/tagj.html) for a visual). The main strap comes up over my left shoulder, down over my chest between my nipples, and down to rejoin the bag's body a little above my right hip. The secondary strap meets it over my sternum, to stabilize the whole affair. Looks good on paper and just walking around empty, but I discovered while walking home with a full load of groceries that the main strap likes to ride up--directly into my right nipple!--unless I continually tighten both straps. Due to this, I might confine my biking to the weekends for a while until my nipples heal some more and toughen up a bit. I don't relish the thought of dividing my attention between Pittsburgh roads, Pittsburgh traffic, and imminent nipple piercing-destruction caused by my trusty carryall; just the first two are enough to worry about. Still haven't decided.
Sunday, 12 April 1998 Day Seventeen
Today, I noticed a slight tear on the inner (ie, the one closer to my sternum) piercing-hole (anyone have any idea what else I should call it?) of the left nipple. I'm wondering how long I've been seeing it without having it "click" mentally. This is the nipple I banged up against a door less than an hour after it was pierced, and also the side of the ring that struck the door.
I noticed it because it seems to like to fill up with crusties. Not so bad perhaps, except it looked like a bit of skin tissue was growing out over some of the crusties, potentially trapping them. When I noticed this whole thing, the particular crusties were a little darker in color and the overall effect was something similar to a blackhead. I fished the lump of crusties out with lots of warm water, wet paper towels, and patience. It looks like part of the outer skin layer, which was trying to grow over/trap the crusties came away too. The overall shape of the piercing+tear is almost similar to an old-fashioned keyhole. I might wind up hoping it closes while having to keep it open to prevent it from closing up over crusties... I'll see what my piercer thinks about all of this when I call.
Activity-wise, I rode my bike around for some unknown number of miles yesterday without problems. Didn't use my messenger bag as I didn't need its capacity, used instead a backpack that I cinched up tight against my back. Today, I rode the 3.1 miles (almost 5 km) from apartment to work, and then back, to get an idea of how long the commute-ride would take. (Almost exactly 30 minutes each way, a time that WILL come down.) Neither Tag Junkie(tm) nor backpack, and no problems.
Writing about riding reminds me that I didn't include anything about the first time I took out my bike after the piercings. They were about three or four days old and still pretty angsty about life. I kept to paved roads to keeps the bumps and jarrings down, but I could still feel a large difference. Riding shocks didn't feel like they were all travelling to, and concentrating in, my nipples, but close enough. Mountain tires aren't the smoothest things around for paved roads; the stretches of cobblestones were especially interesting...
Monday, 13 April 1998 Day Eighteen
While cleaning them tonight, after soaking them with Na+H20, I noticed that there's a similar, smaller tear on the inner hole of the right nipple. I also noticed that whenever I flip either ring up while cleaning, each ring essentially rotates in the outer hole of it's nipple, but moves into the tear alongside its inner hole. Makes me think I've not been gentle and/or careful enough when I clean them. Time to make a mental note to change this and do my job a bit better.
Wednesday, 15 April 1998 Day Twenty
Last night (Tuesday), I was writing mail to a friend about, among other things, how my nipples are healing. I noticed that the tear on the inner hole had closed itself up--it was as round and tear-less as it's outer complement. The inner hole on the right nipple looked much the same as it did on Monday.
"'Curiouser and curiouser,' said Alice." Between last night and this afternoon, the left-inner tear has reopened a bit. The right is still pretty much unchanged. Can't remember hearing/reading about this sort of opening/healing cycle so probably best that I move up the time when I call Adrienne. Doubt it'll happen tonight; I best make it happen tomorrow.
Thursday, 16 April 1998 Day Twenty-One
I fished anyother clump of ejecta out of the tear in the left nipple tonight. Was a small, smooth-surfaced lump, a darkish amber in color, with a darker center. (Apologies if that's more than you wish to know, but...) They've not been too vocal lately, just keep generating some crusties--some of which fill up the tears and make them look healed-closed; other times, it looks like they have healed closed, then a little while later they're back.
Saturday, 18 April 1998 Day Twenty-Three
I'm so pissed right now I could scream, except it'd bother the neighbors. In the shower, I somehow, I'm still not sure how, bashed the left nipple. Upon post-toweldown examination, I discovered that I now have a tear starting up out of the outer pierce-point as well. Not as large as the tear on the inner, but it's there. Of all the stupid, careless things I could have done, especially since its other tear has been in the forefront of my mind for over a week. The two tears both arc gently up toward each other.
The left nipple piercing hasn't gotten a break in its entire short life. Banging it against the door when it was less than an hour old, through numerous, almost daily, bangs and bruises. It just hasn't had an easy time of things.
I'm tempted to just give up on it for now, take out the jewelry, let it heal for a couple of months, and then have it re-pierced, maybe wait until the weather turns cooler, maybe not. The first thing stopping me is knowing that if I take one out to try again later, I'll do it with both--so they'll be balanced WRT each other when re-pierced and during the second healing period. The second thing stopping me is that I took out my apadravya jewelry and I don't want to make a habit of having piercings redone at the first sign of trouble. Was planning to call my piercer over last week, but changed my mind in order to gather more data before doing so. Well, I've got a goodly amount of data now, and she'll be getting a call soonest.
On to other things. Yesterday, maybe Thursday, it occurred to me that maybe the left-inner tear hasn't been going through a cycle of healing and reopening. It might be that some of the discharge, when it hardens, has been "gluing" the tear closed. The cleanings remove the "glue" and it looks like it's opened again.
Took my bike out for a ride today. Don't have a computer on the bike so I don't know how far I rode, but it was my longest ride so far. It's notable because I took my messenger bag along. It was almost empty, just what I wanted for my first time using it with pierced nipples. I even reversed its straps, throwing it over the other shoulder, partway through. End result was that the nipples were a little cranky when I was done, but I didn't notice any serious problems during the ride itself. I felt a beginning twinge a few times when the main strap would ride up, so I just tightened the secondary some more to solve it. (And, of course, it's possible that this experiment tenderized them to the point where they were more vulnerable to the sort of abuse the one received in the shower, but there's no way to know for certain.)
Thursday, 23 April 1998 Day Twenty-Eight
They seem to be doing a little better, or at least okay. The tears aren't as prevalent. I'm hesitent to say that they're healing closed because, last time I did, reality made a liar of me. They were really quiet all Monday, grouchy all Tuesday because of wearing a shirt, semi-grouchy Wednesday for the same reason, and quiet today.
I've noticed that they grumble and ache for a little while immediately after being cleaned, so I've been taking the minimalist approach to cleaning them: Lotsa soaking in the shower followed by gently using wet paper towels to make sure that the crusties are gone, then leave them alone. Outside of the shower, such as when just waking up, it's warm salt water, followed by the same wet paper towels, followed by the same leaving them alone. I'm not trying to run soap through the piercings, I'm just getting rid of the crusties and leaving them alone. They seem to appreciate that.
After my description, my piercer said she knows what I'm talking about. She said that the tears probably aren't tears, but are instead cracks forming at the likely spots because my nipples are overly dry. Their surfaces have felt dry for a little over two weeks (which was about when I stopped using the Betadine), but I didn't think they were that dry. This simply hadn't occurred to me, but it makes a lot of sense. She said that the Dial soap's citric acid has skin-drying properties, as does the salt in the salt water. She suggested deleting the salt from the saltwater and switching from Dial to Phisoderm--which is, she says, milder. Then give it a couple of weeks and, if things don't improve, give her another call; she has something else in mind but wants to see if/how the Phisoderm helps.
Bike rides along trails, yesterday and today, went off without a hitch as far as the piercings were concerned. Not a whisper out of either of them. This was without a backpack or my messenger bag, but over roughish terrain.
Sunday, 26 April 1998 Day Thirty-One
From a followup of my posting the first journal-file to r.a.b, I learned some physiological terms. Specifically, in response to my writing
Today, I noticed a slight tear on the inner (ie, the one closer to my sternum) piercing-hole (anyone have any idea what else I should call it?) of the left nipple.
mouse followed up by saying:
In medical/physiological terms the inner hole would be considered "medial" (toward the middle) while the outter hole would be considered "lateral" (toward the side). For those length-of-the- wobbly-part directions, the part closes to the body would be considered "proximal" (close to the beginning(or base)) while the farthest from the body would be considered "distal" distant from the beginning)... its all greek/latin to me :)
My thanks for the lesson, and I plan on using these terms as my journal-writing progresses.
Friday, 22 May 1998 Day Fifty-Seven
It just hit me that, as far as this journal is concerned, I've really been slacking. No entries in almost four weeks? Well, that's partially because they haven't really done anything noteworthy. At times I forget that they've been pierced because they're frequently so quiet.
In response to the "cracks" that formed beside some of the entry/exit holes (see Day 28 for more), my piercer recommended that I lay off both the Betadine (which is contra-recommended in the r.a.b Piercing FAQ and serves me right for using) and the warm saltwater, as both can have a drying effect. She suggested I switch to Phisoderm. I've actually not gotten any yet; instead, I've just been going with medium-hot water and antibacterial SafeGuard bar soap. But I will be picking up some the next time I go to a store.
About two (maybe three?) weeks ago, they were both pretty tight for a couple of days. Remembering the posts I've seen from people who've forced rotation under such circumstances only to wind up pulling part or all of the newly- formed epithelial skin layer out of the piercing, I didn't try to rotate them. Just soaked them well, cleaning off the crusties that came loose from the soakings, didn't try to rotate them regardless of how long or how hot I'd soaked 'em, and a few days they were back to normal.
About a week ago, when the right nipple REALLY didn't want to be touched and didn't want the jewelry to be rotated during cleaning. I'm guessing that it was the epithelial layer again, because all of the softened crusties had been cleaned off and it still felt like something craggy was being pulled through the piercing. I took the hint, stopped rotating it for a couple of days, and now it's back to normal again.
As I write this, they're both a little annoyed at the temperature in my office. If the thermistat is accurate, it's currently about 65 F (18.3 C) and they don't seem to be pleased. Today, at least; normally, they haven't minded lower temperatures.
Wednesday, 27 May 1998 Day Sixty-Two
Unusual thing happened while cleaning this morning: I unintentionally tweaked/twisted the left nipple a bit and it looked like I was about to get a little blood seepage out of the medial hole--though the blood ended up seeping out of the lateral hole. No trace of blood on the paper towel when wiping or dabbing the medial. Just a couple of drops, so I'm not going to worry unless/until it happens again. And I'll pay more conscious attention to what I'm doing.
Thursday, 28 May 1998 Day Sixty-Three
Interesting dichotomy. From weeks without an entry in the last journal installment, to two days in a row in this. Anyway. On the whole, they've been very well behaved over the last few weeks. So well, in fact, that I've had days where I could easily forgotten that I'd had them pierced. Which is, unfortunately, implicitely stating that I haven't been blessed with the higher levels of sensitivity that some people have reported.
Monday of this week was Memorial Day in the US. While the three-day weekend was nice, my day-sense is currently screwed. Which is likely to continue throughout the summer as my "vacation" is going to consist of taking off one or two days here and there, giving me long weekends--a consequence of having no money, thanks to Uncle Fucking Sam deciding that, if one of your job's bennies is free tuition, said tuition-amount is taxed at over 40%. Amoral money-grubbing bastiches.
Friday, 29 May 1998 Day Sixty-Four
Yesterday I wrote that I'm not seeing any additional sensitivity; today I proved myself wrong. I've managed to smack myself three times today, twice with computer cabling, and each time they've proven to be much more sensitive than of old. It just doesn't seem like it under normal circumstances...
Tuesday, 3 June 1998 Day Sixty-Nine
For about a week, I had a pimple-like thing growing at the edge of the right, medial hole. I was wondering if it was turning out to be a keloid, and tried gently squeezing it to determine its consistency--when a small amount of white pus (sebum, I'm guessing) came out. The "connection" was internal, as the pus exited from within the piercing itself. For the next couple of days, it got regular squeezings, followed by a lot of rotating and a lot of warm water (to clear out any of the pus that might have gone deeper into the piercing instead of exiting).
A couple of days ago, I found myself deciding that I don't really think of these piercings as permanent. I don't really have anything against them, but they might become problems because of the sorts of things I do in the martial arts (for one, I'm considering getting back into grappling). Or sparring might turn out to be a problem after all. So I might take them out six months to a year from now. I simply don't know yet. I have a couple of interesting complications in my life right now, and they're causing me to reevaluate a lot of different things. Too early to tell.
Friday, 24 July 1998 Day One Hundred Twenty
There's really been nothing to report over the last 50-some days. I think there's been a little migration of the right nipple, maybe a little more pronounced on the lateral (outer) side.
One exception was that a friend jumped on my. Literally. I was talking
to someone and BOOM I had someone else hanging off of me. I'm about
5'10" and 240, he's 6'0" and ~165. He just wanted to get my attention and
maybe shock me. Partially worked: Got my attention and surprised me, but
not shock. I'm kinda proud that I took the impact and adjusted to the new
center of balance, instead of falling over, with absolutely no warning.
The right nipple twinged for a second because it was hit, but that went away in a few minutes. No complications (pus, weeping, extraordinary levels of crusties, et cetera) came of it.
Haven't given any more thought to when, or if, I'm going to take out the jewelry. I don't know if I'm looking at them as a permanent parts of me, or as something temporary. This decision has probably been postponed until after I've sparred a couple of times with them in.
Nothing worthy of note's happened, so I've not been making notes. I think I'm going to put this journal on hold. I'll post this to r.a.b and submit it to BME, but I'm not going start another entry. I'll write up an entry if something significant occurs, like an injury or if I take them out, but I'm not going to keep leaving entries open for weeks on end.
A link to the full Journal on BME can be found on my BME/World account, (http://www.BME.FreeQ.com/world/pierce/david/). Thanks for reading.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 15 May 1998
in Nipple Piercing