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Nipples, Rocks & Raisins

©Brenda Coffee. All rights reserved.

I imagine most people don’t realize a mastectomy also involves removal of the nipple. At first the fact I had only one nipple didn’t bother me, but as my mastectomy and reconstruction began to heal, and I started wearing Lycra tops with built-in bras to the gym, it became obvious to others.

You can tell when someone, usually a guy, is looking at your breasts.
One day I was aware a guy at the gym had locked onto my breasts like radar. I watched as his eyes darted back and forth from one breast to the other. Then he stopped in mid-lift, barbell suspended overhead, with a startled expression like he’d just seen Bigfoot, and I knew… It had finally dawned on him. “She’s only got one nipple.” Of course I thought it was hilarious and began to laugh, which made him forget what he was doing and drop the barbell on his foot. After that I decided it would be a good idea to look for a nipple substitute.

A friend told me about a website that sells rubber nipples that stick on your breasts with small suction cups. You have your choice of pink or brown. I chose pink and placed my order. When they arrived, I opened them, eager to “stick” one over my nipple-less breast and see how it looked through my clothes. Oh, my stars! I don’t think so! First of all, their idea of pink was a neon pink suitable for use as a ‘Flamingo Crossing’ sign. And second, it stuck way out, like a landing site on a hummingbird feeder. I threw the rubber nipples away and began what I called my ‘nipple collection.’

Desperate times call for desperate measures. One evening I really needed a nipple to wear with a certain outfit and pondered possible substitutes. The solution was found in an old box of raisins in the refrigerator. Don’t laugh. It was great. Even I couldn’t tell the difference. From there I moved on to dried cranberries and rocks. Yes, rocks.

One day I was halfway down the driveway when I realized I had forgotten my raisin, so I hopped out of the car and found a small piece of gravel. Looking at my reflection in the car window, I put the rock in place, adjusted it until it was even with my real nipple, then got in the car and drove away. Problem solved.

FYI, my plastic surgeon subsequently constructed a nipple from the surrounding breast skin and later tattooed it. What an amazing procedure. It looks so real. I have since discarded my nipple collection, except for the raisins. My dog, Goldie, ate them.