Back in early November, I got my nose pierced. I’d thought about doing it for a while but suddenly found the motivation to try it. My body had never adapted well to piercings, but research indicated that might be a slight allergy to certain metals and a titanium stud could circumvent problems. I found a reputable piercer and got it done one afternoon with minimal fanfare.
When I called my mother and mentioned it, there was a long pause followed by, “Please tell me you are kidding.” I knew she wouldn’t be thrilled but her level of horror surpassed my wildest expectations; I’ve told her about multiple tattoos and several divorces and gotten warmer responses from those announcements. Her barely-concealed disgust as she said, “I thought we felt the same way about facial piercings and besides, aren’t those out of style?” nearly made me weep. THANKS, MOM. (She is reading this now. If I wasn’t already written out of the will, she’s sharpening her pencil.)
We agreed to disagree on the matter and my nose piercing lived happily ever after for two months. The healing process was relatively painless and most people didn’t even notice the tiny stud (or did but were too polite to ask or point out that I might have something stuck to my face). There came a point, however, where I started to realize training and a fresh nose piercing were not working out. The site was regularly red from the irritation of sweat and snot rockets and life as a passenger on my face. While I liked the look of the tiny fake diamond, I did not like the red halo that perpetually surrounded it. I could baby the area and reduce the redness, but that started to feel like an unnecessary inconvenience: life is complicated enough so why spend time each day addressing my nose?
The final straw came here in Tucson, when I started getting sunburned around the site because I was wary of getting sunscreen in the somewhat unhealed piercing. It had to go.
The stud was a press-fit piercing, which meant the straight pin of the actual jewelry was slightly bent to create resistance inside the backing that sat in my nose. Removing it required holding the backing in place and then pulling on the stud until it popped free. Easy!
I started with tweezers and my fingers but couldn’t get a good enough grip on either side. Then I added miniature scissors, using them to hold the backing while adding a fun element of WILL I STAB MY INNER NOSE?? The more I yanked and readjusted and yanked, the more red and swollen my nose became while the stud refused to budge. There came a point – several, in fact – where I thought I should really just go see a piercer to get professional help, but instead stubbornly kept trying.
By that time, I was sweating and shaking and dizzy, because something about fidgeting with piercings makes me want to pass out or vomit.
[Jesus, as I type this there is NOTHING rational about this entire story and I want to retroactively slap myself. But alas, the tale continues.]
I decided to give one more attempt, this time with two fingers gripping the backing and two fingers pulling on the stud. Do you know how hard it is to fit two fingers in one nostril? (I hope the answer is no.) Then there was a something – pain? a popping? the ripping of the universe? – and I glanced at my nose to see the stud was no longer visible. For a queasy, spinning, hopeful moment, I searched the bathroom floor for the fallen jewelry, but it was not there.
That’s when the internal shrieking started. I realized the backing was still in place and the actual stud was lodged inside my nostril. Are you uncomfortable reading this? TRY LIVING IT.
I wanted to die. I wanted to climb into the toilet and flush myself to death, I wanted to vomit and weep and wail, such was my shock and horror. Instead I hyperventilated and tried to imagine a world ten minutes earlier in which I was smarter and more patient and still had a nose piercing located appropriately.
There are no instructions in life for what to do when you get yourself in such a pickle; I didn’t know whether I should go to the hospital or a piercing studio or just leap off the roof of my apartment building. It was after 9pm and I didn’t know what would even be open, so I started calling around to tattoo places asking if they did piercings and explaining what had happened. There is nothing so poetic as trying to accurately describe what you mean when you say your nose piercing is IN your nostril, like literally imbedded, yes, you are an idiot, please please please help.
While I did a fair bit of crying before making it to the kind piercer that ultimately bailed me out, I managed to keep it together (and only lightly kick him once reflexively from the pain) while in the parlor. Five minutes after walking in the door, I walked out with my nose stud in a tiny baggie.
Ironically, my nose has never been as red as it is today.