Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Dr. Frankenstein's monster

Yesterday I went back to the hospital to have my stitches removed. After looking at my nose for a few seconds with a somewhat perplexed expression on her face, the nurse declared that it was slightly infected. I was kind of expecting this. A couple of white spots had appeared on the surface of the graft over the weekend, and I noticed first thing in the morning when I checked it out in the mirror that one of these was looking a bit pussy.

Another nurse (a specialist in cleaning wounds of this kind) was called in to spruce up my nose and take out the stitches there and in my neck. This took the best part of an hour. During this time one of the surgeons who did the graft (the blonde, whom I now know is called Emily) wandered in and had a look. Apart from the infection, she was pretty happy with the results. The name Brad Pitt was even mentioned.

The nurse removing the stitches had a bit of trouble with the last one or two in my nose. By this time Emily had gone into surgery, so another surgeon (a young man called David) was called in. He had on what looked like a pair of night vision goggles, but which I suppose were fancy glasses. He managed to untangle the last stitches. He also showed me how to "roll" the graft using cotton buds to remove any puss and help the skin heal. I'm supposed to do this three times a day.

Before leaving I was given a prescription for some antibiotics, which I have to take four times a day, and some more of the goopy ointment I was given last week, which I have to apply to my nose and neck three times a day. Before I left the hospital I had a look in a mirror. My nose looked a lot better. However, the wound on my neck where they removed the skin for the graft (and which had been bandaged since the operation) looked a bit gory. I looked a bit like Dr. Frankentstein's monster*. The good news is that there shouldn’t be a permanently visible scar there, as it will disappear into the folds of my double chin.

One of the nurses told me a funny story about a patient who came in to have some stitches removed from his neck. The nurse couldn't see any stitches, and thinking they may have been special ones, she asked the surgeon about it. But the surgeon said they were just normal stitches. It turned out the patient had had a shave, neatly removing all traces of the stitches above the surface of the skin.

*A popular misconception is that the monster in Mary Shelley's classic novel (written when she was just 19) is called Frankenstein. In fact Frankenstein is the name of the scientist who created the monster, who is nameless.

Distance walked today: 3km
Total distance walked since Tokaido training began: 173km
Days left until departure: 32

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