Tuesday, 13 December 2011

How to be invisible

Take a look at this innocuous looking spot on the nose. Doesn't look much does it? Perhaps you've got one just like it?

Well it might not look much, but this is a skin cancer. If you have something that looks like this, then go to your doctor. Better safe than sorry.

If you're lucky, they may be able to freeze it with liquid nitrogen and get rid of it. If not then they will need to cut it out. Depending on where it is and how big it is, you may need a skin graft. And if you get through all that and you get even luckier, it might not be malignant.

Mrs D had one pretty much where the one is in the above picture. They cut a hole about the size of a 1p piece in her nose and put in a full thickness graft taken from behind her ear to plug the hole. For a week she had a humungous dressing stitched onto her nose. This is known by the nursing staff as a 'bee' because it's black and yellow from a mixture of ointment and dried blood. It was a great relief when it was removed.

The resulting wound is healing, but initially could be accurately described as a bloody mess. We smeared it with greasy antibacterial ointment twice a day for ten days or so and are now slowly backing this off.

How well all this turns out is mainly up to a mixture of luck and the skill of your plastic surgeon. I'd advise you to get the best you can. It's very upsetting. I would hazard a guess that it's even more upsetting for a woman than a man because of the cosmetic implications. It's really not nice at all.

But the most interesting thing about this whole experience is that after hiding away for a couple of weeks, Mrs D plucked up the courage to go out in public and face people she knows. I admire her greatly for this as however we dress it up, it's a large, unsightly open wound right in the middle of her face. It can't have been easy.

But what really upset her was that in a room full of people the majority of whom we are on at least speaking terms with, not one of them could see the wound or had the decency to ask her what had happened or how she was. One woman whom we know very well even did a double take when she saw her, and still the wound was invisible...

...and we both think that's appalling!


  1. Whilst I entirely take your point Dio and also wish Mrs Dio a full recovery ..

    I wasn't there & so am unable to judge the atmosphere .. but perhaps there is another way of looking at this ? ..

    I recall reading Simon Weston's comments after the Falklands War, when he said (and I'm paraphrasing now) that he just wanted people to accept him for who he was, rather than focus on his facial injuries ..

    It may have been that the people whom you mention were trying not to make your wife feel any more conspicuous than she must have already felt ?

  2. Blimey. I hope Mrs. D. is back in full husband-battering form soon!

    Captain Haddock could be right. I once had a bad burn on the back of my hand which looked utterly vile for a long time. All the dead tissue went black and flaky and although it finally healed up I have a permanent albino patch where it was.

    In all the weeks I had it, the only person who mentioned it and asked if it was painful (it wasn't by that stage) was a visiting Jehovah's Witness.

    I think everyone else was embarrassed on my behalf. I just kept calling myself a dick for forgetting the grill was on.

  3. I agree. I think people will avoid the subject for fear of embarrassing you, waiting for you to make the first move.

    All my best to Mrs D

  4. My commiserations to Mrs D.

    Speaking as someone who has spent the past five months bearing a startling resemblance to ET, only my husband has ever mentioned it.

    I have walked the length of my local high street in my pyjamas, bald as a coot, pushing an IV drip in front of me - and no one said a bloody word!(It's a long story!)

    Never again shall I spend hours powdering and painting before 'meeting my public' - they obviously couldn't care less, so why should I?

    Perhaps the lesson is that other people care less about our appearance than we do.

    Tell Mrs D not to look in the mirror and not to give a fig about other people.

    Kind regards,


  5. Thank you all for your kind comments. I just wanted to raise awareness. If this means one person gets treatment when they otherwise might have ignored it then it will have been worthwhile.

    I also wanted to express my admiration for the way my wife handled it. It was awkward to say the least and on occasions downright painful - physically and emotionally.

    Some of our so called friends have been really disappointing whereas others have surprised us very pleasantly. Could have done with a few more of the latter, tho!


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