Friday, September 28, 2007


I had an appointment with the doc on Tuesday morning but when I got out of bed my left leg was decidely uncooperative, about as supportive as a soggy salami. I limped onto a bus nonetheless and arrived on time at the designated waiting room, bothered and bewildered by this latest contretemps (stop showing off, Natalie: this thing?) Could it be DVT? You do know this stands for deep vein thrombosis? That which sometimes affects limbs which have been cramped/crammed during long flights? So I worried about it while waiting, long past my appointment time. If you want to get in touch with your inner fears and also wake up your compassion for the whole of frail humanity, all you have to do is spend a few hours in a hospital waiting room, especially an oncology unit. The less said the better about some of the faces you see there.

Finally I was called to my esteemed Mr. Surgeon's room and we had a pleasant chat but not really about the scan results because he was going to have a meeting the next day with his colleagues and they would all look at them together. So why did he want to see me today? Because he thought I wanted to see him, to talk about the operation. So he tells me about the risks, mainly age-related (oldishness) and (as we already knew) include emerging with "lopsided face" which would probably straighten out in three or four months but, occasionally, is permanent. What does "lopsided face" look like, I ask reasonably. He pulls his mouth to one side. Oh, I see; what else? Well, it's a three hour operation and anaesthesia for all that time can be hard on, er, oldishness but of course we would do an EEG beforehand etc. So I'm thinking: what if I said let's forget the whole thing? I ask him: what would you do if you were in my place? He says, that's a very personal question - I would bite the bullet because the risk of possible cancer is greater than the surgery risks. Reasonably, I have to agree with this. Gently he shows me the area around my ear where he would cut, going towards the back so as to avoid a scar down the neck. Are you concerned about aesthetics? he says. Of course, I reply, I'm an artist.


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