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  • Surgery day arrived sooner than I anticipated. I had my first consultation with the plastic surgeon this Monday and by the end of the visit, he'd confirmed a spot for me in theatre the next day. I'm infinitely grateful it all played out so quickly; it meant I had less time to sit around, anxiously, contemplating the procedure.

    My husband, Ben, and I had hours to wait, being last on the list. At Ben's wise insistence, we ditched the waiting room for a hospital bed so I could lie around, read my book (comedienne Jennifer Saunders' VERY funny memoir, "Bonkers"), and take it easy till they called my name. I was so nervous, for a few reasons. Firstly, I didn't know what I was going to feel or not feel during my operation, how much of it I'd be awake for (I was getting a 'twilight' anesthetic, meaning I'd be totally asleep for some of it, groggy for the rest of it), how I'd feel about people cutting/sewing my face as I awoke.

    But I was also nervous about how this would change my appearance. I'd reflected just a few days earlier that I was glad this was all happening now, in my 30s rather than my 20s, being less attached to my looks now. But who am I kidding? I like being pretty. I like how I look most days (despite the ravaging effects of Motherhood and Sleep Deprivation) and this was all about to change. The plastic surgeon said I'd end up with a fairly large L-shaped scar down the side of my face, one that would hopefully fade with time. So I was nervous I wouldn't like how I look anymore, after the surgery.

    To counteract all of these stressful thoughts, Ben had me laughing pretty much non-stop, even moments before they wheeled me into theatre. He is calm, steady and funny, to my slightly-highly-strung.

    Then it was time. I lay down on the operating table, they put the anesthetic in my canula, and I was off. When I woke, some time later, I came to slowly and gently, aware first of light, then people, then snippets of conversation. Some mention of Star Wars, or did I imagine it? Then the gentle pulling of my skin - no pain - as they sewed me up. When I was finally, properly awake, I was being wheeled into recovery and the whole thing was over.

    After fasting for hours and hours, that first drink of water and first mouthful of yogurt were heavenly. I felt good, groggy but happy it was all done. After taking my obs, I was free to get up and get dressed, meet my husband and go home. I pulled my clothes on, all too aware of the mirror in the corner of the room. I knew the first glimpse of my face was going to be scary so I held off as long as I could. When I was finally ready to leave, I turned to the mirror and took it all in. And burst into tears.

    My face, my face, my face, my face.

    I tried to remember it would never look this bad again. That it would heal, the swelling and bruising would go away, the scar itself would go red, then pink, then hopefully white. I felt grateful that I cut my long, long hair into a shaggy, short do; the hair covered most of the wound. When I met Ben, I didn't see disgust or horror in his eyes, and that gave me great relief.

    Today, a day later, I feel pretty sore. My face feels tight and swollen, and it was hard to sleep last night. But I am now melanoma-free. The operation is behind me and I can get on with healing and moving forward. I'm grieving for my un-scarred face, but I have hope that in time, I'll settle into my new face.
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