Mr. Nipples

I mentioned to my husband last night I was going to write a blog about him. He responded by saying, 'There's nothing to say about me that could help your practice.' I could not disagree more.

The purpose of this blog is to introduce myself, my practice, to a community of individuals with an interest in plastic surgery, Fort Worth, female concerns, perhaps even me. In the first several months of this blog adventure, I feel the ongoing introduction of those most important in my life are essential to explaining who I am. There are not too many people in this world as important to me as Jeff Knipper, or as he has become known around these parts, Mr. Nipples. I'll explain that later.

Jeff and I have been married for seven and a half years. That I need to claim credit to the half year is testimony to my love for this man. We were introduced by mutual friends at a party...his birthday party...on a Saturday night, we had our second meeting the following Tuesday night and we have been together ever since.

Jeff is that guy that everyone has in their life...the guy that no one can find real fault with. The guy that people look off fondly into the distance and smile when mentioning. His travel buddies from years in the BVI, his guy friends from years on South Padre island. I know two of his former girlfriends and even they only ever had kind things to speak of this man. I think that is extraordinary. Is he perfect? No. I am not delusional. No one is perfect. But he's pretty close.

My husband grew up in Waco, went to Baylor then to dental school in Houston. He moved to South Texas (McAllen) and practiced dentistry for a number of years, but was not fulfilled. He struggled with his decision to walk away from his career for almost three years, largely because of the sacrifices his parents had made for his education. He wrote a letter to them explaining his thoughts and they gave their blessing for him to pursue whatever might help him find happiness. Shortly after he made this decision, word of his redirection from life as a professional to essentially unemployed made its way to the Wall Street Journal and he was subsequently part of a feature article about other individuals who made such a decision with their lives.

Jeff either gave away or sold all he owned with the exception of a bag of T shirts and shorts and a ten speed bike. He moved to Cozumel where he found work as he could to exist. He led a simple, easy life and was very happy....but again not completely fulfilled. He returned to Fort Worth after reconnecting with David Lewis, a long time friend from his South Padre years. Jeff worked many different jobs before becoming established as a personal trainer and ultimately found his satisfaction in construction safety. He has been with Manhattan Construction for almost 10 years now. He has worked on many huge projects including the Ritz Carlton in Dallas, the George W Bush Presidential Library, Rangers ballpark and Cowboy stadium, now AT&T Stadium.

When I was growing up, as many girls might do, I had an idea of what the perfect guy for me might be. He would be smart, kind, funny. I have never been drawn to a physical type but I guess Mr. Wonderful would be handsome and fit. That magical list is a dream and that person could never exist. I certainly did not set out to find Mr. Wonderful and did not let that check list define my relationships. I was married before Jeff. I married my medical school boyfriend right after we graduated and before we started our surgical residencies. As is the reality of so many relationships, we divorced after seven years. It was then that I left Augusta, Georgia, where I had lived for eight years and moved to Texas.

That was the beginning of the best thing that ever happened to me.

Jeff and I met as I described above on a Saturday night. We talked, texted and emailed from that night but had made no plans to get together. My fairy godparents, Toni and David Lewis, had known Jeff for almost 25 years. They were certainly glad I was interested in their long time friend but no one imagined what was to be. The Tuesday night after our first meeting, after I had told them we were talking, Toni suggested I ask Jeff to join us for a Dallas Stars' hockey game that night. She told me later it was a bit of a joke because everyone (but me) knew that Jeff NEVER made plans on a weeknight because he awoke every morning to workout at 3 am then go to the construction site. He quickly accepted the invite for that night. I recall the look on Toni's face when I told her that he was indeed joining us. As they say, the rest is history...

We were married in Belize in April 2008. We chose Belize because Jeff is an accomplished scuba diver, as are the Lewises and many other friends and family that attended our wedding. The migration of the whale sharks, a tremendous sighting for all scuba divers, coincided with that time. Desperate not to be the girl left alone on the boat while the others dove, I certified to join them. I had no preexisting desire to scuba dive prior to that time. I am a hideous, awful scuba diver...anyone can attest to that. We did not see a whale shark on that adventure, probably because I secretly prayed we would not...out of sheer terror at the idea. I'm sorry, friends, that I potentially screwed that experience up for you all (audible sigh of relief).

So why is my husband relevant to my practice? Because I am happy. My personality changed significantly after I met and married Jeff. Surgeons are hot heads, brats, ego maniacs. I am not an ego maniac, I do think I am a brat. I do know that as a young surgeon without the years of experience I have since gained, I was prone to angst and irritation. That can make for a long day in the operating room for your team. I was divorced, lonely and frustrated that in my late 30s I did not have a companion. I have never defined myself by the need to be married or in a relationship. I do think it is human nature to seek companionship. After my divorce, I did declare that I had no intention to remarry because my faith in the institution of marriage was so shaken. I had boyfriends, I had dates. It was not until I met Jeff that I felt the need to be aligned with someone. I hesitate to say 'belong' to someone because I do not feel that a person can have ownership of another. But I do 'belong' to every way that matters to me.

We went to Dallas this weekend for an event. As we were driving down I-30 in the convertible, talking about everything and nothing at the same time, I asked him if he remembered taking his wedding ring off after his first divorce. Jeff was married for about a year and a half maybe 30 years ago. Many in his social circle were sure he never had plans to marry again. He told me, and I was unaware, that he had not worn a wedding ring ever before. Should that make me smile? Maybe not. Did it? Yes.

It is truly a blessing when your personalities, likes, dislikes are so ridiculously well aligned you could not possibly imagine any other option for your life. We laugh at the same things, we very often speak the same word at the same time. Yes, millions of others in this world have the same story so I do not think we're special. But we are special...because we had the dumb luck to find each other. Thank God for dumb luck.

He is legitimally the smartest man I know. Despite what he might tell you, I have beaten him at Scrabble at least twice in our lives together. I have occasionally introduced him to a word that he might not have been familiar with. That is VERY unusual, but it has happened. I can hold my own on my Harley alongside him and know that he digs that since he was the one that encouraged me to get my own bike and I subsequently embraced it. I had never fired a gun before Jeff but we got our concealed carry permits together and I have learned enough to keep up with him on the range. We are kindred spirits.

Regarding why he is known as Mr. Nipples: I was at a meeting at a restaurant in downtown Fort Worth one night without Jeff. I left my car at the valet and when I started to tell them my name, they declared no need...they knew. OK. After the dinner meeting, which was a physician event and I'm introduced as Dr. McLaughlin, we leave to go home. The valet says, 'I'll have your car right around, Mrs. Nipples.' My instinct was to look down and double check that a cold wind had not created a situation prompting the valet to misspeak. Clearly through the many visits to that restaurant over the years, they had heard his name and did not think it might be 'Knipper'. When I got in the car I called Jeff. 'I've got good news and bad news...the good news is the valet knows who we are. The bad news is we are Mr. and Mrs. Nipples.' I think it is hysterical.

So what is his relevance to my practice, my life, this blog you might ask? I think it's obvious. I somehow found my Mr. Wonderful and he happens to be Mr. Nipples. As a female plastic surgeon, I could not have designed it better.

I love you, Jeff Knipper.

Here's up to it!