After a frantic but fun entry to 2007, I got diagnosed with skin cancer – fantastic! But, no biggie. Minor op and all was declared clear.
This was followed by a year of horrid lingering bugs, as me and EaZyD were both very ill, a few times – shakes, shivers, lost voice, lingering coughs – yuk! Every virus causes some neurological relapse as my immune system attacks the virus and me …. love this, not.
Overall, though, my health held up well – a kind of long, slow relapse necessitating a brief Spring stay in the cold, dark place of self doubt, futility and hopelessness before my usual sunny self re-surfaced.
Over the summer, my neck and face had a bit of a weird thing happening but this sort of thing is no longer unusual to me so I hung on until October. By this time, I was in full relapse and couldn’t type even with one finger plus I went deaf in one ear – not sure if this was neurological or caused by the flu virus.
Hit the steroid drop in shop at the end of October and spent the rest of the month recovering from the spotty-swollen-feel-like-I’m-on-speed stage of steroid assimilation along with extreme, ‘normal for me’, double vision. The good news is that my hands, arms and face/eyes stuff are all recovering well, so back on track overall.
And then, at my skin cancer check up, oh dear, it’s back and worse than before. So, here I am, in December, swollen, paralysed, chronically ill and now, they have cut my face open. Should I blame myself for this? In January 2007, when the Derm Doc said it was minor skin cancer and I’d be fine, no worries, I relaxed. Monitoring another innocuous facial lesion through the year, I figured it could wait until the neuro relapse was dealt with. My bad, as it turns out.
When I went back to see Derm Doc at the end of November, on the spot, he called in a surgical consultant.
‘Oh yes, that’s a cancerous tumour. It must be removed immediately.’
She wanted me in that day. ‘You can’t afford to wait,’ she said.
Sadly, I was neither psychologically nor physically ready for this. However a week later, I was.
At the hospital, Doctor T said that although it looked small, ‘these things are often much bigger than you can see’.
No kidding! The MOHS surgery took all day.
Having local anaesthetic injected into my face was excruciatingly painful. Luckily this was the worst part. Oh no, hold on … sitting with a cloth in my mouth to soak up the pouring blood as my face was sliced apart was far from pleasant, and … the final sewing up was pretty grim too.
I had upwards of 50 stitches across the centre of my face. As I sat with big face bandages on, a fellow inmate/patient said, ‘so where exactly did they operate on you?’ I looked at him incredulously and we both fell about laughing … survivors humour, I think they call it.
As you might expect, my face looked horrendous. Thankfully, the mask of dressings covered the worst of it – plus my eyes were so swollen, I could barely see. And then, the mask came off.
Oh dear, it was not pretty. Things slowly improved but I had to go see Othello at The Donmar with Ewan MacGregor and Chewitel Ejiofor – tickets were reportedly selling for up to £2000 on Ebay – with my face mask on, and in full burqha … well, OK, a hat and scarf.
On my first return to the hospital, the stitches had not healed enough to be removed. Back at home, I got a cold. What is with this? 50 stitches in my nose and a cold. Very funny, again, not.
I spent Christmas confined, feeling ridiculously vulnerable with my vivid facial scars … no make up allowed yet as it is not quite healed. I really was not up to pulling on my big girl panties and breezing through conversations about it all. I have got to get out soon though. I cannot keep myself shut up forever but I am dreading it. What a wimp, huh.
But it’s not that funny really … in fact, not at all. The stitches finally came out just after Christmas. The Doctors were so pleased with the results. Doctor T stroked my cheek and said, ‘it heals well because you are so young – no wrinkles – scars will heal.’ Right on.
They were so disappointed that I was less than thrilled. All I could see was a mass of ugly red broken veins, discoloured lumpy skin, an uneven nose and misshapen eyes in the centre of my face. They assured me it would improve – three to six months apparently for the full healing process. Fantastic!
For a short time, I felt very down then my acupuncturist, who has had a tummy tuck, whipped her pants down to show me her lack of scars which she puts down to vitamin E oil. I will say that she was looking good down there! My hairdresser assured me that lots of her clients use the same oil to assist the repair of their plastic surgery. My facialist said the same. Good enough for me. With the oil and something Doctor T prescribed to help – I should be fine … soon.
I have already become a lot more blasé in public because you do get used to pretty much anything really, don’t you? And, it is looking just a teensy bit better. When people look at me, I start wondering why, then I think, ‘oh, yeah … it’ s the wheelchair, stupid.’
In February 2008, I returned to the hospital for a check up. Doctor T breezily said, ‘oh, in another six months it will look fine.’ Another six months! I can only speculate that if they tell the truth upfront, people get upset, so they don’t.
On the plus side, the chemotherapy session planned for my face has been postponed to later in the year. Small relief. I am so not looking forward to this.
I am now allowed to use ‘light’ makeup … like that’s going to solve all my problems!