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Okay an admission now
My latest little absence has been due to a short excursion into the world of " Nip Tuck . "
I had to jam it into my schedule between our last return from France and our next departure , which gave me a 5 week window of opportunity during which I had to have my op and heal enough to be fit for public viewing before the next trip .
Frightening small children and hiding from our French friends and neighbours wasn't an option , so I needed to allow myself enough time for all scars to heal and begin to fade before the end of May .
So now . back to the official beginning of the story .
I've always been lucky enough to look ten to fifteen years younger than my age ( apart from when I was actually between 10 and 15 of course ) , and had never even considered the prospect of cosmetic surgery . Hell , I wouldn't need it . Nothing wrong with ageing gracefully ( or in my case DISgracefully . believe me I have big plans for being an outrageous old bugger ! ) .
But then , after a particularly heavy few months of Birthdays , Anniversaries and trips away I awoke one morning to a reflection in the mirror which I wasn't quite expecting . Yeah , I looked knackered . It was self inflicted and to be expected . No sympathy there then . BUT my left eyelid was swollen and almost closed . The right wasn't too bright either , but in comparison looked pretty okay-ish .
At breakfast ( well 11am is breakfast on those kind of morning-after-days ) even my usually-unobservant husband noticed and asked what I'd done to my eye . And believe me , that IS unusual . Especially as I once cut off my waist length dark hair and had the hairdresser style it short , spiky white blonde with electric pink tips , and it took him 2 days to comment ! And also especially as he was having trouble locating his bright red coffee mug through his own bleary slits this particular morning .
" Whatever " thought I . " It will have gone down in a couple of hours .. No problem . " I'll just have a day in , chill out , watch a DVD and be back on top form again tomorrow .
How wrong can you be ?
Three days later I was hiding behind dark sunglasses in Boots ( yes .. very inconspicuous I know , but no way was I being seen in public in that state ! ) buying up every designer eye cream , gel and potion that said " De-puffing " " Anti Inflammatory " or " Cooling " .
Another week later and I decided I must need something even stronger , swore off the drink FOREVER and headed back to Boots .
There a young assistant whispered to me that the best treatment for puffy eyes was
PREPARATION H !
Yes pile cream !!
Apparently super models swear by it , as it is a vaso-constrictor that shrinks the blood vessels and thereby takes down the swelling almost magically .
Okay , so I'm easily persuaded .
Off I went , back bottom bum cream concealed in a scrunched up paper bag , scuttled across the car park , dived into the car and headed home , then dashed upstairs to the bathroom to have my little haemorroid miracle worked for me .
Bum cream at the ready and wide open eyes , here I come !!
Half an hour
Twenty four hours
This magic potion is dragging it's arse somewhat .
A couple of days later I realised that nothing short of a real miracle ( one that didn't come in a tube ) was going to help .
So I phoned my GP and made an appointment , wondering if I had an eye infection of some sort . My eyes weren't painful or sticky . Not runny or red . But what other explanation could there be ?
Later that day I sat in the surgery complete with my now signature black sunglasses , waiting patiently for the prescription pad to be produced , ending all of my problems in a few deft sweeps of a well chewed pen .
But no .
Oh no no no no . it wasn't to be that easy after all .
It seems that while I've been so busy over these last few years , skipping blithely in and out of the country , running two houses , a business and a large family , I have been getting gradually older .
Sneaky thing that Mother Nature .
While your back's turned she starts changing things , just a little at a time , a crease here , a milimeter lower there knowing that you're too damned busy to notice just yet . Subtle but sure . And by the time you do notice BAM !! Its too bloody late to do anything about it .
And so it was with me . Well , except for the fact that my 12 day drinking - smoking - partying - and - staying - up - till - all - hours session ( during which I don't recall being sober for more than a few precious semi-lucid moments ) had enhanced the effect , making it look a lot worse than it actually was for a time . This was , if you like , a sneak preview of the future .
My GP's best advice was to save the wads of money I had been throwing around on lotions and potions they weren't going to make things any better . At this point I contemplated both suicide and the acquisition of the very latest wrap-around Gucci shades plus a small tube of superglue . Close call that one , but my love of spending money on designer trinkets may have just had the edge .
But then he continued . The worst of the swelling would go down on its own , but apparently in its own sweet time . PHEW ! Cancel the gin and tablets .
But the underlying problem was the loss of elasticity in the fine skin of the eyes . The effect I had seen would , scarily enough , be a permanent state of affairs in several years time . RE-ORDER and cancel the shades and superglue !!!
He asked if it could be genetic did anyone in the family have hooded eyes ? Erm yes . My Mum AND my Dad , ( and my hell-spawned sister is looking a little frayed round the edges lately too although it hadn't occurred to me until now .) In all honesty , I hadn't noticed at all until it begun to actually involve me personally
He frowned . " So , it's unlikely you will be any different then . "
DOUBLE THAT GIN ORDER AND MAKE IT QUICK !
Ten minutes later I left the surgery victorious rather than depressed and beaten . I had experienced one of my regular " alternative thought train " attacks , followed it through with my GP and emerged at the end of an intensive session of pros and cons determinedly clutching the telephone number of a good plastic surgeon's private secretary .
Well what's a girl to do ? Just give in ??
Twenty minutes later I was on the phone .
Four days later I had an appointment for my consultation . This was simple and straightforward . the surgeon inspected the problem and told me what he could do to rectify it . Then a nurse took some medical history , a urine sample , a blood sample , height , weight , and measured my calves for the pressure stockings which I would need to wear for the operation and afterwards until I got out of bed and begun to walk around again . Back to the surgeon , who checked his diary and offered me a date for the procedure which I accepted .
And ten days later , almost to the hour , I arrived back at our local private hospital for my all inclusive , fixed price surgery upper eyelid reduction , which covers everything from the theatre staff and surgeon to medication , dressings , meals and follow up appointments . Bargain !
No worries about being hit with a huge bill after the event simply because you had an unforeseen reaction to something and had to stay a little longer than you had thought . ( Unlike at the garage when they quote you £200 for a service and then bill you for £600 because the brakes needed doing as well ( allegedly ) . Or you had one meal more than they had budgeted for , and had to pay it as an exorbitant extra . That's it . One price no matter what . Paid , done , finished .
On arrival at 1.30 pm I gave the lady at the reception desk my name , then I was shown immediately by a uniformed and groomed young lady to my huge garden - view suite . She showed me around the room wardrobes , TV controls , call button , menus and internal phone numbers for housekeeping , catering etc . I needed to dial 9 from my bedside phone for an outside line if I wanted to call friends or family . The bathroom was immaculate , with miniature shampoos and bath products , soaps and fluffy towels .
After she left I sat myself in the large , comfortable chair by the big sash windows and waited patiently ( with the help of the television and a phone call from my daughter ) for the surgeon and the anaesthetist to visit before my scheduled operation at 3pm .
My designated nurse arrived , introduced herself , booked me in and laid out my theatre kit on the bottom of the bed the traditional tie-up-the-back-type gown ( although unlike the NHS variety this one actually had all of its ties ) , white anti - DVT pressure stockings which I had been measured for in advance ( hmm kinda porn-star-ish in a certain light . ) and . Oh horror !! Paper knickers ! Luckily I had been smart enough to nip into M&S and buy my own plain white cotton ones , which were scrutinised and then allowed .
Oh joy .
Those paper ones have horrible tight elastic which cuts of the blood supply to your legs . Which probably explains why you need the white stockings in the first place .
She said I didn't need to get changed yet no point in sitting around in that kit until I had to . She would pop in ten minutes before my op and give me a hand . Apparently the stockings are a two-man job .
Then the chef arrived .. immaculately white suited and brandishing a note pad . He asked if I would like to order a snack for later , and reeled off a huge selection of tempting nibbles . Then he asked if I would be staying for breakfast , and what I would like if I did . Full English ? Continental ? Or something of my own devising ? I said that given half a chance I was planning on escaping from here later tonight ( which was met with a stern glance from the nurse ) . She advised me to order something , as given that I would be having a general anaesthetic at 3pm , and unlikely to be even back on the ward before 4.30 / 5pm , she didn't think I would make it home before tomorrow no matter how insistent I was .
I begged to differ , but ordered anyway . ( However nice the hospital , I still wasn't counting on being here overnight. I like my own bed and home comforts thank you very much . )
Just as she left the surgeon arrived , had a quick chat , ran through what was to happen and what I could expect afterwards . He would cut along the socket line of my eyelids , remove the excess skin and then close the wounds with a very fine , single long stitch before covering the whole thing with tapes to protect the wounds and keep them dry . The stitches would be removed after 4 or 5 days , and the wounds left to heal . The initial red scars would eventually fade to a thin silver line which would be virtually unnoticeable and concealed in the natural fold of my eyelid .
I asked how long it would be before I could go out in public with any amount of confidence , and surprisingly enough the answer was " 2 weeks " The thin skin of the eye area heals quickly , and I would even be able to use a little make up again within a couple of days of the stitches being removed
He then drew on my eyelids with a felt pen , marking the areas he would be working on , said he would see me soon and vanished silently up the carpeted corridor . The anaesthetist arrived straight afterwards , a young , smiling chap with a wicked sense of humour . He bounded in like a Rottweiler pup on speed , cracked a few jokes , asked a few straightforward questions , then headed for the door . One hand on the doorknob , he spun around , grinned , and said " Kick-off's at 3 , and I've saved you a front row seat " . And with a Jim Carey style - fake-evil cackle he whisked himself off out of the door . Surreal .
2pm , and I was finally all set .
I rang my call bell for a nurse ( who appeared , smiling , within mili-seconds ) and asked her if it was okay for me to go sit in the garden and have a ciggie . She said yes that's fine . If anyone needed me in the meantime she would come and fetch me !
Bloody hell its good , this private hospital malarky ! If I'd known I might have made a couple of claims against the private insurance we've been paying through the business for the past 6 years !
It was a glorious day Thursday May 4th and I sat in landscaped gardens , puffing on my menthols , listening to the birds singing and the Cathedral bells ringing . Calm as you like not a tad nervous .. more excited than anything .
That's the joy of a cosmetic procedure .. you're not ill in the first place , not feeling rotten and depressed , and you know that afterwards you will have gained something rather than have lost anything ! You will come out better than you were , not minus an essential organ or a necessary body part .
Forty five minutes and two ciggies later the nurse popped her head out of the door and gave me a five minute warning . I wandered back to my room where she was busily unfolding my gown and unpacking the porn-star accessories .
We had , between us and with much hilarity , managed to heave the stockings on , and she had just finished fastening the back of the gown when there was a knock at the door and the porters arrived to take me to theatre . Timing ! Down the corridor , into the brass-embellished lift , up one floor and into the theatre suite .
In the ante-room the anaesthetist whistled while he prepared several large syringes , and the attending nurse went into raptures over my long , manicured nails . Despite the fact that they were devoid of their usual coat of polish I must admit they are awesome I'm very particular about my nails . And while she distracted me , he sneaked up and expertly slid the cannula needle into place in the back of my other hand . A big grin and a quick wink , and with a flourish he squirted the first of the loaded syringes into the opening . He's good . Didn't feel a thing .
Then I remember wondering how come I had got so drunk when I hadn't touched a drop for days a thought which I quickly discarded as unimportant as the light swam pleasantly before my eyes . And then I felt a cold sensation sweep up my arm .
Okay I know I'm awake because I can hear people talking . But I cant open my eyes . A female voice tells me not to bother .. just go back to sleep . It's 4.30 , the operation is over , and there's nothing to worry about . I can feel a mask over my face and its blowing cool air .
The next thing I know I am waking up again , without even knowing I had gone back to sleep . I'm in my sunny room , and one of the sash windows is slightly open . I can hear a blackbird singing .
Suddenly a band on my arm inflates . Its an automatic blood pressure monitor , set to take a reading every 15 minutes for the first hour , and then every 30 minutes after that . The nurse helps me to sit up a little and brings me iced water with a straw which I manage with her help .
Then I'm waking up again . How surreal .
I squint at the digital clock on the front of the TV , and it's 7.02 pm . My eyes feel heavy . Difficult to open . Then I feel the strips of tape which are covering the wounds above my eyelids , and remember that I have had an operation . No wonder I cant open them very far !
As I sit myself up , the nurse appears again out of nowhere and rearranges my pillows and call bell , which has a clip so it can be attached to the sheet to prevent it sliding away out of reach .
The surgeon arrives , black suited and smart , seats himself in the comfortable chair by my bedside and asks how I am . He explains what he has done , what he hopes to have achieved , the ins and outs of my recovery , and asks if I have any questions . Yes . I have . Can I go home now please ?
He seems a little surprised , but agrees that if the anaesthetist has no objections , and if I can manage to eat a little , drink a little , and pee a little , then he will authorise my discharge . But he adds that there is no rush the night staff will admit my husband to collect me at any time at all , whether it's 9pm or 4am , whenever I'm feeing comfortable enough to go .
The anaesthetist is summoned and agrees to the plan , despite the slightly disapproving clucky noises coming from the direction of my designated nurse . Ah well I happen to know that she is about to go off shift , and the night staff might be less protective .
The anaesthetist asks whether I need any anti-sickness medication or pain relief , and promises to send the house doctor in to see to it for me . And as they leave , she arrives with the aforementioned analgesics .
Once the hustle and bustle of arrivals and departures is over , I pick up the phone and order decaffeinated coffee and a couple of pieces of toast ( all I think I can actually stomach as I'm still a little queasy from the anaesthetic . a fact which I have chosen not to share with my lovely nurse )
It arrives neatly arranged on a white draped tray within five minutes , and I quickly drink the coffee ( and thoroughly enjoy it ) , but after a few nibbles of the toast leaves me retching , I hide it in my overnight bag like a naughty school girl . Then I pay a quick visit to my en suite bathroom and duly produce the required pee . Yay !! Victory !! Task completed . Home James , and don't spare the horses !
8.45 pm . I pick up my bedside phone , dial 9 for an outside line , and ask my husband to come and fetch me .
He is a little surprised , as apparently he phoned an hour ago and spoke to my nurse , who had told him I was still pretty sleepy and certainly wouldn't be home tonight ! Crafty little minx ! She never even told me he had rung ! Aw bless her . That's concern for you . And in case she's reading this . Rachel , you're a sweetheart , and it was nothing personal , but yes , I went home . Just like I said I would !
By 9.15 I was dressed and ready , sitting in the window chair and waiting
Okay , so the soreness was kicking in now it was a couple of hours since the in-house doctor had given me some painkillers , but she had prepared some for me to take home which I could take in another hour or so . And yes , when I stood up the room blurred a little , but the night exit to the car park was only around the corner from my room and I'm sure I would make it with some help . And yes .. I'm bloody minded , determined and stubborn !
Then I heard my other half's voice drifting down the corridor his usual cheeky brand of light hearted banter with the staff nurse covering a smattering of worry over how I would be . He walked in , stopped dead in his tracks , and said " Whoever you were fighting with , I take it you lost ? " Cheeky sod . I admit I wasn't a pretty sight swollen eyes , stitches and steri-strips , but hey .. it will be worth it !
For the next three days I had to sleep with the head of the bed raised to prevent any more swelling around the wounds , so my husband arranged a large , rolled up duvet under the top of the mattress which worked a treat . Better than being swamped with loads of pillows , and just enough of an incline to aid the healing without the worry of sliding down in the night and waking up finding myself at the bottom of the bed in the morning .
I took it easy for a couple of days . I couldn't watch TV or use the computer because the cream I had to put in and around my eyes blurred my vision , and keeping them open for too long made them sore . But by the third day things had improved hugely . I could read , watch DVD's and do most of the everyday things for myself
Day 5 , and my Dad drove me back to the hospital to have the dressings and stitches removed , a thing I had been secretly dreading . However , five days of applying the antibiotic cream had loosened the steri-strips , so to my surprise they lifted away virtually without a twinge .
Next , the stitches . I saw when the dressings were removed that there was a very fine blue tail at each corner of each eye . True to his word , the surgeon had used a single long stitch each side , and no knots . The nurse took hold of the outside corner tail , and in seconds it had slid easily and painlessly away , leaving just a neat red line in the socket fold none of the usual downward lines that are produced by traditional stitches . She stood back and looked at the result , and said approvingly " Oh , he's good . Very neat . "
She gave me a couple of pieces of sterile gauze , soaked in iced water , and I laid on the bed for a couple of minutes with them over my eyes . I could almost feel the swelling reducing .
I left 10 minutes later , with an appointment to return in a fortnight for my check up appointment with my surgeon , and over the next few days my eyes improved in leaps and bounds .
I cleaned them carefully a couple of times a day , easing the goo out from under the corners which were still a little swollen , and resisting the urge to have a good old rub every morning when I woke up .
Within three days all of the little scabs and bits of dry skin had come away , leaving fresh and surprisingly pale coloured skin behind . I had thought it would take much longer for the angry redness to go .
Now it wasn't at all painful to raise my eyebrows or look up or down , and the renewed mobility in the area helped drain the excess fluid and reduce the swelling even further .
In all honesty , the whole experience has been far less painful than I had imagined . Uncomfortable , yes , especially with the stitches in and the dressings on , but painful , no .
Today is Thursday exactly two weeks to the day since my operation , and I have been into town with my daughter . It isn't my first excursion , but by far my most public .
In Debenhams , I was looking for a powder bronzer for the Summer , and the assistant enthusiastically loaded up her brush and proceeded to sweep it all over my face . I said not to put it over my eye area as I had recently had an operation on them , but even after being told what to look for and peering very closely she said she wouldn't have known .
Unless I stood right in front of you and closed my eyes completely you wouldn't notice the scars even this early on .
Now I can get up in the morning and see the old bright eyed me in the mirror . I have eyelids again . I look wide awake instead of knackered . People I haven't seen since before the op say " Hey .. you're looking good . Been away again ? "
No one has actually realised that I've had anything done .. I just look brighter and well rested .
My aim was never to look younger . I'm not interested in turning back the clock . I told my surgeon on our first meeting that I'm quite happy and comfortable with my age , and the last thing I would want would be to look like one of these " lifted " women who appear to be standing permanently in a wind tunnel .
I look exactly as I did before , just more alert and refreshed . And that's exactly what I wanted .
I see my surgeon again in 2 days time , and I'm sure he will be delighted with the results , just as I am .
And the money I will save on expensive wonder-creams that could never have achieved this result means that the surgery will have paid for itself in a couple of years .
I have no regrets , and no guilt at having spent money in this way . The result I have achieved took literally a couple of weeks , and will last for many years
An excellent review. I was born with 'hanging' eyelids and would love to have this op. I can put on eye make-up beautifully but, when I open my eyes, it disappears under the lids. I relish the idea of having a socket line. Maybe one day, but I'll have to save up for years! You're review has encouraged my to live in hope. (Couldn't get it done on NHS - I tried!!)
jencrow 26.08.2006 13:32
Very thorough, informative and even entertaining to read. Useful to someone considering the operation.
psychstudent1 05.08.2006 15:45
Informative and entertaining too. Glad you're happy with the results, it's less expensive than I had imagined.