Nip/Tuck by: Henny Daniels
Sitting on the hospital bed dressed in a thin blue gown and matching hairnet, I scroll down my timeline once more before updating my status:
Going under any minute now; pray for me guys!
Once satisfied with my selfie selection, I add a few emojis to the caption and hit “post”. Even if they don’t hit “like”, I know they’ll see it! I think to myself knowing I purposely scheduled my surgery during peak-traffic hours for social media sites. In high school, I was never popular; in fact, I was often the victim of a cruel joke or random bully-attack. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been tall and lanky. Sure, many girls experience this early on in life—it seems as if the ones who don’t end up growing up too fast anyhow—but my social ineptness was a more severe case than most. At five-feet eleven inches, I have been the tallest girl around at every setting (dance, school, work, etc.) and have yet to embrace it.
Going on 27 years old, I’m unable to claim that I’ve graduated to any cup-size larger than A, and my butt—let’s just say most people don’t believe that I’m fully black. Basically, I have the body shape of a teenage boy, and I am ready to change that. My sisters tease me about how I view myself—which is odd to me because they are major contributing factors of my body-image issues. Out of the four girls in my family, I am the only one who puberty did not see worthy of blessing; the rest have curves for days. This was another topic that bullies incorporated in their stand-up embarrassment routines.
Upon completion of high school, I decided to move clear across the country; as far away from the haters as possible so when it’s time for my glow-up, I can smack them in the face with all five feet, eleven inches of pure sex appeal. For five years now—after graduating college and beginning my career as a Broadway actress in New York City—I have been saving money here and there for that specific purpose; I call it the “New Me Fund”. Now, the time is here; I am ready to finally be the person I always imagined!
As I’m being wheeled to the surgery room, a striking young nurse discusses the procedure with me, slipping in kind words of encouragement and hope. She tells me that it’s not too late to turn back if I choose, and with or without a new chest I’m still beautiful and I still matter. Tearing up a little, I thank her and ensure her this is what I truly want—for myself and no one else. These new boobs are going to change my life! I’ll get way more offers for high-profile roles, and the guys will be lining up the block and around the corner for a chance with me. The last image I remember after arriving to the room is the unfamiliar face of a middle-aged brown man counting down as I lay flat on the cold, silver table.
Blinking my eyes open, it feels as though only moments had passed since entering the deep slumber. My throat is sore from anesthesia tubes which were inserted with little caution. Bright lights blind me, but I hear someone ask if I’m OK and proceeds to tell me the breast augmentation was a success. As soon as I hear the word breast, I feel the equivalent of a twenty-pound bag of sand being dropped on my chest; I wince and close my eyes again—deciding I was not at all prepared to be awake right now.
“Any questions or concerns?”
Groaning, “Yeah, when does it stop hurting so bad?”
“Not for a while, but whenever the pain feels too intense, you can simply press this button,” she handed me a cord with a button on the end that extended from a box on wheels. “This is pain medication you can self-administer. Once you are discharged, the doctor will send you home with a new set of prescriptions.” I accepted the magic button and pressed it immediately. Soon after, I felt a slow surge of relief. Placing my chin down on my chest, I inspect the final product: they look huge right now under all the gauze and surgical bandage. I am enamored with the results, and I haven’t even really seen them yet!
Since I decided to go overseas for the surgery, my recovery period just so happens to be taking place in a tropical paradise—Salvador Bahia, Brazil. Here, the water looks as if it’s contrived from blue turquoise and clear crystals on top of white sand. My cozy rented house is yards away from the beach which blows a salty breeze my way that— I think— quickens the healing process. Each day the feat of safely exiting the bed eases in increment. Prior to this trip, a plane-ride of such a length would have been a comedic proposal in my eyes—flying is something I had to coach myself into. First, I did a few short flights: one to Boston, then down to Maryland twice. After that the real test was a flight home to California—by then I was confident enough to plan my retreat. One of the best decisions of my life; the place is simply breath-taking.
After one month, vacation time is over, and my body is permanently altered; as I gawk at the reflection before me, I feel slightly naughty as if I’m peeking in on someone else’s private moments; it’s an interesting sensation to say the least. At first, they were swollen and appeared to be two different sizes, so naturally, I had a panic attack. But as recovery-time progressed, and I iced them and did the daily recommended stretches and exercises, everything evened out perfectly. All in all, I feel they’re ready for action!
Upon arriving home to Manhattan, my entire weekend was already scheduled. During the journey, I invested in two highly recommended online dating sites—taking pictures and arranging meetings. If only my sisters could see me now; but, I delight in the anticipation of their groveling. The guy I meet up with is surprisingly represented accurately on his profile; the man is fine! Through our flirty chatting, we arrange an extravagant night on the town—gracing the most popular night clubs and events of the season— his treat. Three words: I. Wasn’t. Ready.
Our suite consists of the entire uppermost floor; before we arrived his assistant decorated with rose-pedals and scented candles throughout. I notice every detail and openly acknowledge appreciation of his efforts with my new twins. The night is fueled by liberation and thrill. But the next morning, I was relieved to wake up alone. Blind dating wasn’t a custom of mine, and I felt a little ashamed that I’d so easily granted access to my yoni. Taking the girls out on a test-drive was as important as the actual surgery; the seductive stranger had adequately stroked my ego.
Before leaving the king-sized bed, I glance around the 2,000 dollar-per-night room. Honestly, I feel it’s overpriced, but his freely indulgent manner is admirable. When I pull back the covers, I glance at my naked chest, expecting the usual satisfaction. Instead I find it in a state of emergency; my skin has turned unnatural tones—green, purple and blue. It looks as if the veins surrounding my areolas are engorged with dark blood ready to erupt. The sight is enough to send me into cardiac arrest.
For the next few months, my time becomes entangled in correcting what went wrong with the augmentation—basically, my body began rejecting the silicone causing an adverse reaction in the surrounding areas. Now, I’ll need to find a new doctor in the states because I am convinced my troubles are a result of faulty medical practices; you get what you pay for. Perhaps well-practiced surgeons don’t accept coupon codes.
Now that I know where I went wrong, I plan on embarking on yet another body-sculpting journey. This time, I will get implants to correct that horror story from before, also I’m going to throw in a Brazilian butt-lift as well which I will use the fat from a liposuction procedure—removing any access fat on my body and using it as the implant. Surely this time, I will be prefect!
I settle on a local flight to Doctor Miami—another pocket-friendly purchase. However, this time there’s no adverse reaction. My recovery time extends slightly longer than the first surgery—as expected. But the results are simply to die for! Nicki Minaj ain’t got nothin’ on me (in my Denzel voice)! My bust is now 38 inches, waist is at a slim 26, and drumroll please—my hips measure in at a whopping 44 inches! Megan Ford, one of the most poppin’ video vixens of all time, had only a hip-line of 43 (just for reference). I’m sure you know that means it’s time for test-run part two; hopefully this time I’ll wake with everything in-tact.
This is not my first go-round in Miami; I’ve visited a handful of times due to my best friend moving here years ago. I decide to go all out and call her up to celebrate my new body. We end up gracing the scene of King of Diamonds—one of the most popular strip clubs in the south. Many of the dancers have jealousy plastered on their faces as I walk by— tonight, all money and eyes follow me. But this time, I don’t plan on letting just anyone hold my attention; the winner will have to really earn it.
He stands at about six foot three with broad shoulders and no hair in sight (aside from eyebrows and lashes). My best-friend tells me he’s a well-established boxer from Michigan; I never heard of him, but I am glad to meet him. We ride in his party bus alone to his hotel where it goes down—the best night of my life from what I can remember.
His body guard wakes me in the wee hours of the morning and requests that I take the lyft outside; if I wasn’t privy to the boxer’s popularity, I would be offended. But I take the walk of shame with my head held high and return to my room on South Beach. Upon hitting the soft sheets, I doze off to dream-land, past-due for proper rest.
At the next awakening, I stand, stretch and yawn—clawing ravenously at my itchy scalp; it is time for a new weave. My eyes stick together from discharge and makeup—somehow, I went to sleep without cleaning my face first; that’s a rarity. If nothing else in my life is consistent, my skin routine usually is.
Bumping into hotel furniture as I blindly inch to the bathroom, I end up stubbing my pinky toe something serious! The pain is comparable to what I felt after waking up from plastic surgery both times. Somebody should really do something about this dangerously jagged interior design.
Water gently streams from the long-neck sink enabling me to clear the clutter from my lashes and continue-on with my regiment. Pulling a hand towel from a decorative ring on the wall, I dry my face and open my eyes—ready to get a good look at the masterpiece now known as me.
But my eyes must be trying to fool me; I spin around in disbelief of the disfigured mess my body morphed into without my knowledge. Fat bulges from my sides and foreign lumps trail both of my legs; my breasts are back to looking like those of an alien — random, nonhuman colors. The view of my backside is not entirely disappointing. It has actually swelled to Guiness-world-record-size—far beyond the inch measurement of my desire.
What a disaster this has turned out to be! All those years of busting my behind, grinding to save this ridiculous amount of money, and it all slowly and steadily swirls down the drain—with nothing to show for. On top of it all, my budget is now depleted, and I have to remain botched-barbie until I can afford amendments. When my sisters hear of all the nonsense and money I went through just to look like a circus attraction, they’ll never let me hear the end of it—and I can’t blame them; those winches win again!
Today, I am back at the office of Doctor Miami. I’ve spent another six months budgeting, saving and even picking up extra gigs whenever I could. On this day, I have finally done meticulous soul-searching and have grown to love and appreciate the way my body was before. Though it wasn’t the curviest or thickest frame, it was free of scarred tissue and silicone poison. My hips went inward, and my bottom resembled a pancake made from “just add water” mix—but they were of me, the way God intended. I think I’ve been ignoring God far too frequently when it comes to my self-image, and today that will change.
I’ve been waiting in the room now for over an hour; the staff is insistent on talking me out of this one—I keep trying to explain to them that this will be the very last procedure. They tell me that it doesn’t matter—the scar-tissue from the previous operations has made this potential surgery a life-threatening scenario with slim chances of success. Back and forth we go debating and negotiating until they eventually fold and allow me to sign the proper waivers and protections (in the event of tragedy).
I’m being told that I should be nervous due to the probability of error; but for some reason I feel at peace and prepared for whatever is ahead. I wish I didn’t have to go under again—that I could snap my fingers and return to the person I once was. How did I ever take her for granted? Now, in order to be myself again, I must risk my life and endure incisions, violent pulling and rearranging, staples and stitches too. Everything I lost is invaluable, but I gained something of worth as well—love for self.
As the countdown begins, I feel oddly different this time. Before, I received similar warnings and cautions, but today feels like there’s a change—as if everything is moving in slow motion and certain points are amplified and repeated. My surgeon looks like he is a veterinarian putting an animal to sleep; my heart becomes drenched in fear.
As sleep embraces my consciousness, I continue to focus on waking up; I hadn’t previously encountered this experience: waiting to wake up. Darkness remained my environment; it’s duty a stubborn simplicity. When will the nurse appear with her questions? Where are the bright lights and distinct smells? My throat doesn’t even hurt. Now that I think about it, I can’t feel a thing.
Just like that, the light comes on—more like every light in existence turns on at once. It was a brightness that I could not fully comprehend. I was unsure if my eyes were open or shut; all that I could see was pure, unadulterated light. Then I heard a voice:
“BRIELLE ELISE THOMPSON, LISTEN TO MY VOICE VERY INTENTLY. YOU ARE A SPECIAL GIFT THAT I HAVE CRAFTED WITH THE UTMOST CARE AND LOVE; YOU ARE MY CHILD—JUST AS STRIKING AND UNIQUE AS THE MOST RAVED ABOUT WOMAN KNOWN TO MAN. BUT YOU HAVE DISRESPECTED AND ABUSED MY VESSEL AND NOW YOU WILL NO LONGER WALK THE EARTH. YOUR VAIN OBSESSION WITH YOUR PHYSICAL APPEARANCE HAS COST YOU YOUR ENTIRE FLESHLY EXISTANCE. DO YOU CHOOSE JESUS CHRIST AS YOUR SAVIOR? WILL YOU JOIN ME IN MY KINGDOM?”
“I—y—yes lord. I believe that Jesus Christ is my savior and he died for my sins,” tears sprang from my eyes; it felt like there was a howling wind surrounding me that blew my body as paper would. The realization that I was extended into nothingness with no surfaces in reach emerged with a fearful blow. Suddenly, I felt the haunting sensation of free-fall; it seemed to last for minutes. Just when I began to call out for forgiveness, my eyes opened and began sharpening my awareness back to reality.
Looking to my left and right, then in front of me, I see rows of empty chairs and a front desk within view. Spit is sliding down my hand and arm, and a bit of crust is at the corner of my eye; I am sitting in a waiting room—waking up from a powerful nap while waiting for my scheduled consultation for breast augmentation surgery to begin.
“Ms. Thompson they’re ready for you, come on back.” The receptionist calls out to me.
Without hesitation, I stand to my feet with a slight stumble. “Oh, no ma’am! You can cancel that for me. I’m good with what I have—it’s not perfect, but it’s me.” Heading toward the door, I throw a dorky grin her way. I’m glad to be alive, and not green and blue or in pain—or deformed. “Have a nice day.” We both wave, and I rush out the door so fast that I run right into someone.
“Whoops! I’m so sorry; I almost knocked you down there. You alright?” The woman turns around wearing violet scrubs—it was the pretty nurse from my dream.
She said, “It’s ok hunny, no worries.” After she passes me a few yards away, she turns around and says, “God told me to tell you that you are beautiful, and you still matter!” Tears cloud my vision as I walk to my car. NO ONE CAN CONVICE ME THAT GOD ISN’T REAL!