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Holy Crap! I Felt That!

If you’ve been keeping up with the latest gossip here on Boobcast, you know that yesterday I went in to Dr. Elliott’s office for a second round of areolae and nipple tattooing. It went SO much faster than the first time. The PA who did the tattooing said that the reason it took less time is because I already had pigment deposited under the skin. So instead of a two hour session like the first time, I was only in for about 45 minutes from the time I walked in to the time I left.

I had Ken take a few photos so that you can get an idea of what was going on. The first photo is the “Before” and you can see that I only had a little bit of pigment left from the first round in August of 2010.

The second photo below is an image of the actual tattooing. I have explained the process before, but for anyone not familiar, this is different from the kind of tattooing that is done at a tattoo studio. At a tattoo studio, the gun actually injects the dye under the skin. With medical tattooing, the pigment is applied and then the gun she is holding is run over the area to be tattooed and the skin is abraded so that the dye sinks in under the skin.

This type of tattooing takes a great deal more aftercare than a tattoo from a studio requires. With your standard tattoo, you probably won’t lose any of the tattoo if there is scabbing. With a medical tattoo, it’s just the opposite. With a medical tattoo, you MUST keep it moist with Vasaline because if it dries out and scabs up, the flaking of the scab will take the pigment right off with the scab. So for the next few weeks, Vasaline, gauze and paper tape are my best friends.

With either type of tattoo, a major consideration is how the scar tissue will take the ink. Scar tissue absorbs ink differently because of its composition. Sometimes it takes really well but most of the time, it ends up like the “Before” photo. Thus, people usually have to do more than one round of tattooing.

Below you can see what the application process looks like. She has already applied the pigment and is abrading the skin. This is where things got interesting. Last time all I felt was pressure. THIS time, however, was different on my right breast. I had more sensation from the vibration of the gun. AND in a few spots, I actually had

NORMAL sensation. My regular readers may recall that I have a couple other tattoos. Yes they were uncomfortable to get but one of them has a great story and the other commemorates this very difficult part of my life.

There were some areas that felt like she was briefly touching a smouldering matchhead to those spots. It stabbed and burnt like a regular tattoo would. It got SO intense I actually had to ask for a break!

Please understand that I am, in no way, shape or form, complaining. I’m THRILLED!!! After so much time being numb, I actually had real, authentic sensation!! I actually said “Holy crap! I FELT that!” when she started on that side.  I’m SO excited that, after all this time, my nerves are regrowing enough that I could experience full, normal sensation. I was even happier when she told me that she recently did a touch up for a woman four years out from her reconstruction and that woman had FULL SENSATION! So there’s hope!! I cannot begin to express just how excited I am by this new level of sensation. Yes it was pain but after a year and a half of numbness, pain was a welcome friend.

 

Flap Revision

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog you know that I’m scheduled for the next (and hopefully LAST) round of nipple and areolae tattooing on Monday in Atlanta. The Twins are numb and I have two other tattoos so pain or fear of discomfort  isn’t an issue. As I said in “Understanding My Fears”, it’s about the chair.

I think I can handle that now.

What has me freaking out THIS week is the possibility of a flap revision on my right nipple. I emailed Suzanne, Dr. Elliot’s assistant, about using dermal filler to plump up my right nipple because it’s flatter than the left. She told me that Dr. Elliot said that it’s not permanent and that, after the skin heals from tattooing, he’d like to talk about flap revision.

Now, I understand that differences are normal. In nature most women have some asymmetry. And, as I’ve said before, I just want this all to be over with. The idea of another surgery had me feeling like a deer in headlights. The headlights, in this case, belonged to a locomotive just chock full of my baggage.

I’m not sure, at this point, if I should just suck it up and deal, accepting the asymmetry, or if I should consider the flap revision. My right nipple is half the height of the left and they’re not going to contract any more. But if I have the flap revision then I get to wait another three months or so before I know for certain if they’ll be the same size.

What if the right one ends up bigger than the left? Do I have yet another revision? No, that’s not going to happen. I’m torn because it’s my body and it should be how I want it to be after all this crap. But I also recognize the limits of plastic and reconstructive surgery. I wonder if I’m demanding too much. Plastic and reconstructive surgery has its limits. A surgeon can’t put my boobs back where they were when I was 16. A surgeon can’t create new breasts without scars.

So can a surgeon create symmetrical nipples? According to this site, if it is a reduction, yes it can be done, but I’m not finding anything about making nipples bigger to improve symmetry.

The photos below are from after the first round of tattooing but they will do well for an example of size comparison. As you can see, my left nipple is significantly taller than my right.

I’m not someone who is embarrassed by a little nip poke-through. If it was an issue with a specific event I’d just wear a lightly padded bra to camouflage the protrusion. After having no nipples (not to mention no breasts) for as long as I did, plump, pokey nipples are something I enjoy. Plus during foreplay, a nipple like that is easier to access.

I guess what it comes down to is what I’m willing to put up with. I have to heal up from the tattooing first before I can consider any further steps.

Even though the dermal filler is just temporary, I might see about giving that a try anyway to see if it even makes a difference to my mental state. If it doesn’t, there’s no point in looking into a <shudder> flap revision.

And then there is my husband, who is concerned that there might be a possibility of necrosis again. I tried to reassure him that the nipple reconstruction went just fine with no complications. I guess I’m not the only one with a baggage train.

 

right nipple

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

I Set A Date

In my last post I talked about finally understanding exactly WHY I was so afraid of having the next round of tattooing done. It went back to when I had the debrideing done and the cadaver skin bandage and general just being in the chair in the first surgeon’s office. I was still having traumatic memories related to those moments.

Now that I understand it was related to that man and those experiences I can face tattooing, knowing that all i have to do is keep reminding myself that the tattooist is not him; that this is making things better and the Twins are just fine.

It’s kind of like being a rape survivor. You tell yourself that the person you are with is not the one who hurt you. You focus on the new doctor, breathing deeply, making small talk to distract yourself and and telling yourself over and over again that you are safe. I say this from personal experience, not only from a surgury-gone-wrong standpoint, but also from a rape standpoint.

Like the title says, I set a date for the second, and hopefully final round of tattooing. I’ll be in Atlanta on November 21 and my appointment is for 4 pm. As is par for the course, I’ll have Ken take a few photos so you get the idea of what it’s like.

If you would like to learn more about medical tattooing, please visit here. You can also use the search feature to the right to find all my entries dealing with this part of the process.

 

Understanding My Fears

My regular readers know that I have been saying for months that the only thing I have left to do is one more round of areolae tattooing. The first round ended up being too light after it all healed. I have been putting it off, making excuses, using my so-called “busy” schedule to make even more excuses not to do it. After all, it’s only tattooing, right? What’s the big deal about that?

Well apparently it’s a huge deal because as I was typing the email to Dr. Elliott’s office inquiring about the tattooist’s schedule for next month, I started tearing up. Thinking about sitting in that chair again made me start shaking. Before I knew it, I was curled up in a little ball on my husband’s lap, sobbing and having a flashback to the day I had the debridement.

It was then that I realized that it’s not the tattooing. I have two decorative tattoos already. That doesn’t bother me at all.

It’s the chair.

More precisely it’s the memories of what happened in the chair in the original PS’s office. Even though there was no pain during the debridement, what happened to me was pretty severe. It was severe enough to cause flashbacks on a number of occasions.

Along with the debridement, there was also the time he tried using cadaver skin as a bandage by sewing it on to me. Adding to the creepy factor and my total lack of understanding about precisely what that was supposed to accomplish (AND his lack of explanation beyond “This is a very expensive treatment that I’m giving you”), there was one additional factor. As he was sewing the cadaver skin on, he hit a couple spots that still had sensation, so I screamed. Either he or his nurse (I don’t remember which) told me to stop because I was “scaring people in the waiting room”.

Thus I spent some time this evening huddled in my husband’s lap having PTSD flashbacks and begging him not to make me go back to that place. Fortunately Ken has dealt with this before and he reassured me that I never have to see that man again.Except to, perhaps, piss on his grave one day. Ken is a good man and he deals with an amazing amount of crap.

Yeah, it was pretty bad.

I think now that I finally understand the source of my fears, I can begin to deal with them. Now I can remind myself that 1) I never have to see the original PS again and 2) That is NOT the original PS OR his office. it is Dr. Elliott’s people, who have always been kind, caring and gentle with me.

Being able to remind myself of those things if or when I start to panic will help see me through any possible flashbacks when I get the tattooing done. Once I hear from Dr. Elliott’s office I’ll post the scheduled date here. And, of course, when I get the tattooing done, I’ll have Ken take pictures of the process for this blog.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Advice From My Lawyer

Regular readers may recall an incident several weeks ago dealing with a reply to a post I made on the Complaints Board after my necrosis situation initially occurred. Not long after I replied and complained to the doctor’s office, I got a Cease and Desist letter from the doctor’s lawyer. In case this has never happened to you, believe me when I say, it’s a scary thing.

Fortunately, along with that C&D letter, I got a copy of the settlement. After fretting fearfully and worrying myself into a state of panic, my husband contacted our estate lawyer, who was kind enough to look at the letter and contract. She advised that I remove links to the Complaints Board and any posts mentioning specifics about the settlement. So I will be spending the evening doing just that. She also advised that, while there was nothing specific preventing me from mentioning the doctor’s name, it might be considered a violation of the spirit of the arrangement. Thus, the doctor will remain nameless.

It’s a real relief knowing that I cannot be forced to shut this site down. That was, quite honestly, my biggest fear. I’ve lost so much and been through so much, I don’t know if I could have dealt with having Boobcast taken from me, too. I would have been willing to go all the way to the Supreme Court to keep this place open. Fortunately, now I know I don’t have to worry about it.

 

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2011 in Law, Lawyer, Legal

 

Four Years And Still In Mourning

Today I gave a pep talk to a woman I admire in hopes that some of my own life experience might help her. She is having problems with both men and women who feel that it is okay to say cruel and hateful things to her simply because they disagree with her. The tone of her initial post felt like she was about ready to throw in the towel on doing the work she enjoys because of these hateful people. So I posted the following to her:

I want to tell you a story and I hope this helps you get your feet under you a bit better. Several years ago, back before I was a skeptic and before I had a decent sense of self worth, I had a boob job. I hated the way they looked after breastfeeding two kids and I thought that, as I approached the age of 40, it would make me feel better about myself.

I ended up developing necrosis due to unconfirmed surgical complications and I lost both of my nipples and areolae. I don’t know if there’s a worse experience than watching your own intimate body parts rot away but if there is, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

There’s much more to the story which you can read on http://boobcast.com if you are interested.

About a year after my chest healed, (I was severely deformed and required two reconstruction surgeries which i have long since had, to rousing success) I was finally in a mental state to start writing about what happened to me. I was bound and determined to write about it because if I DIDN’T write about it publicly, then, in my mind, the hack that did this to me would win.

That wouldn’t do.

There were SO many times when I had to stop in the middle of writing a post and go have a good, long cry. But I did it. I did it because I REFUSED to let my situation dictate my life. I refused to let what others told me change what I truly thought was the right thing to do.

Boobcast has made a real difference in women’s lives. I get regular emails telling me as much. I talk to women regularly who are scared and in need of reassurance and advice. I’m so very grateful I can do that.

When I was a little girl my father told me to “Stand and fight if you believe you’re right”. I learned determination from my mother who, after a motorcycle accident that left her in ICU for six months, taught herself to walk again when doctors said she never would.

Believe me when I tell you that I know it’s hard. I know it’s disheartening and some days you just want to give up and let the world go to Hell in its own little monogrammed handbasket. And some day you may decide you’ve had enough and that’s okay.

But please don’t let THEM make that decision for you.

I really hope that helps her. She’s doing good work in the skeptical and critical-thinking community and I would hate to see her give up because of all the hate mail and awful things people say about her in the blogosphere.

Unfortunately, this good deed of mine seems to have had some emotional backlash. I realized that even though Boobcast is doing good work, I am still in mourning for my loss. It has been four years as of yesterday since that first surgery and it still hurts emotionally. Not to the degree it used to, but it’s still a visceral pain. I feel nauseous remembering what I went through. I have tears in my eyes remembering what it was like and I wonder if I will ever completely heal emotionally from this.

I have had people suggest that I just walk away from Boobcast for a while. I can’t do that. Women email me regularly asking questions and seeking advice. I know what it’s like to be that terrified so abandoning the thing I have created here is not an option.

The upside is that where there were once great, wracking sobs, there are now just tears and a dull ache. Four years seems like forever and a single heartbeat at the same time. I guess I’m healing. They keep telling me that healing takes time. It’s just taking so long. I know that it will never be truly over because I will always bear the scars of reconstruction as a reminder. I will also always be here for others going through this nightmare.

I can’t abandon my post as long as I’m needed.

It has also been suggested that I start talking to women’s groups about what I have experienced. With the settlement I have, I’m not sure I can do that, but I’m looking in to it. The recent cease and desist letter I got about my comments on the Complaints Board scares the Hell out of me. We’re having a lawyer look at that to make sure that it only pertains to the settlement and not the case itself. If that is the case and it only pertains to the settlement, I will probably start doing that.

In the mean time, life continues on. I still need to have one last round of tattooing done and hopefully that will be it for the medical stuff. I’m thinking that perhaps I’ll do it in November or December, depending on the tattooists schedule. I’ll post when I have something concrete.

 

Feeling Helpless

Have I mentioned lately that I despise feeling helpless? I hate this feeling with a blazing passion.

Since finding the response from someone on the Complaints Board, I have been dealing with a great deal of rage and grief. I haven’t consulted a lawyer about this yet because right now I am emotionally incapable of having a discussion about this without breaking down into a sobbing mess.

My husband has contacted the doctor’s office and requested that their lawyer send us a copy of the agreement that we both signed. Since our original copy disappeared, we need to know for certain what we are dealing with. However, when Ken spoke to our trust lawyer, she said that just because someone on their side violated the agreement, that doesn’t mean that I was permitted to do the same.

I’m really not sure how that works. If someone breaches the terms of a contract, then that contract becomes null and void, doesn’t it? I really feel like I’m back at square one with this whole situation. It’s as if the surgeon and his people can do whatever they want, but I have no recourse. If I DO publish the name publicly, then I could potentially open myself up to a lawsuit.

If any of you have any ideas, I’d appreciate the input.

[Editor’s Note: This post has been edited to remove a link and name under advice of my lawyer. Visit here for details]