04 April 2013 Tattoos–GASP!

 

As I drove to San Francisco for the first time, my palms were sweaty, I felt jumpy, and the traffic bothered me more than usual. I was nervous. This wasn’t because of excitement about seeing San Fran for the very first time. Sight seeing is not one of my preferred activities, and that was not why we were there.

My nervousness was due to my plans while in San Fran that day: I was getting my first tattoos.

For those of you that know me, try not to die of shock. They are not cats, or flowers, or birds, or hearts, or butterflies. They were my last step in my breast cancer recovery. I tattooed my nipples back on. Boy, that sounds strange to say. So, let me clarify.

With the surgery, my nipples were removed. The scarred, but blank slate that was my chest has now been re-adorned!

I fought this step for the last three years because I felt that having the image of them, without them being real, seemed more upsetting than not having them at all. There is an in-between step, for those of you considering this but are also unsure, temporary tattoos can be bought and tried out. Hubby liked those so well they were the inspiration (size and color wise) for the tattoos.

Hours were spent looking at all the tattoo portfolios of artists who do these kinds of tattoos.  If an artist is associated with a cancer doctor, or plastic surgeon, insurance will cover it. However, I did not care for any of the work that those particular artists had. So, I widened my search beyond 50 miles. I found a fabulous gal by the name of Sasha Merritt, of Dragonfly Ink, whose work was phenomenal! Some of the before and after pictures were so similar, I had to look twice to see any differences (as in, I had to look for the scars to tell they were the tattoos…). Insurance would not cover work done by her. That being said, I was willing to pay out of pocket for something that I (Hubby) would like.

I still drug my feet, winched, and shirked the thought of having this done. So why did I? I did it for my wonderful Hubby, who has seen me at my worst as a wife, and as a human being, and steadfastly hung on to me anyhow. He has been nothing but supportive through the whole thing, and he expressed that he really wanted the tattoos. Not on him, but on me…

His Birthday is in April, so I decided to have this done as a Birthday present for him. I originally was going to surprise him, but that did not quite pan out. Instead he went with me, and I was glad he did. Having him with me really enhanced the experience by bringing us even closer to each other. I wanted to do this for Him, and he knew it.

Did it hurt? Well, yes and no. First off I was numb there….or so I thought. Touch and pressure receptors might have died off, but pain receptors will still alive and well.  I described the sensation as like getting scratched by little kitten claws over and over. But after a bit, she gave me some lidocaine topical gel to numb it up. After that, it was no sweat.

Sasha was an artist before she started tattooing. She specializes in these types of tattoos, and it shows. She is a master at blending, shading, and giving the appearance of 3-D. So much so that I have had friends ask to touch them as proof that they really were flat! The tattooing was done lying down and sitting up. Since your boobs look different between laying and standing, so the tattoos do as well. It amused me to see Sasha standing back, closing one eye, and putting her finger at arm’s length and look at her work, like you think of a stereotypical painter doing.

After we were done I was given after care instructions, and we went on our merry way. I was a little sore as the lidocaine wore off, but it hurt about as much as a skinned knee. Nothing more. We went out for lunch, walked around for about an hour and then drove home. It’s been about a week, and I will say that I am happy I got them, not only for Hubby, but for me. Now when I look at myself in the mirror, I see “normal” first, and scars second. It is a nicer feeling than I anticipated.

Everyone I have shown has been floored at how authentic and real they look. I will need a slight touch up probably, but that is normal.

This is a long road filled with lots of different choices. Take your time. Do what you want in your own time. It’s your body, and you have beaten cancer. Do what you need to do for you to find your new normal.

As for Hubby, it’s a Birthday present he gets to unwrap every day. It’s his best Birthday present ever

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