The Nose Have It!

In today’s Genforward free online genealogy blog I’ll be talking about my recent absence from the blog and posting, and the life lessons that come with this story that has affected about ¾ of my life.

No, I haven’t been upsetting the wrong people in bars, I went in to have a “nose job”. This was not however the typical vanity number that is so popular these days, I’m just not that type really. No, this one was a total nasal reconstruction to actually allow me to breathe through my nose properly for pretty much the first time in over 30 years.

Let me share with you a bit of a “before” image to give you an idea of how bad we’re talking here. Essentially the cartilage was jammed up through my nasal opening and the bones up there were just in chunks.

So, how did we come to be the owner of such a spectacular nasal appendage? Well, let’s begin at the beginning…….

As you may have already gathered from some of my previous writing, when I was young I was very typical of the breed. What I mainly mean by this is stupid. Old enough to think I know everything, young enough to know nothing.

I made many mistakes that have potentially cost me dearly in later life, took many wrong turns, got into far too many scrapes and considered myself far too indestructible. With all that going on it was only a matter of time before my luck ran out and something caught up with me properly. This was one of those things, and of course it was spawned in the area in which teenage boys are the most ridiculous of all, that of teenage girls.

We weren’t talking first true love, first infatuation, or first anything really. Just another brief encounter in the long and often arduous journey to finding “The One” that you finally settle down with.  On this subject, “The One” had never actually been part of the plan for me and I managed to remain free, single and happy into my 40’s. Then I met my wife who apparently didn’t know that I wasn’t getting married and now she tells me I’m happier than ever….which is good I suppose.

Anyway, back to the early days of oat sowing, wild or otherwise. I really can’t remember how the initial hook up happened now, although I do remember the girl in question. Very tall and slim with the nickname “bendy” (from gymnastics, before you start making up your own stories!), it all seemed like a great idea to a young hormonal teen boy. Certainly she had all the right bits in all the right places and was friendly enough to share.The only fly in the ointment was an “Ex” that had been recently dumped. As far as I know, this was prior to my arrival on the scene but of course one can never be 100% certain, and I’m not sure it would have made much difference to me at the time either way.

 

We lived in a small town and in those days. Nobody had a car yet and everyone walked absolutely everywhere. We’d trail for miles without even thinking twice about it. I’m trying to recall exactly where I lived at the time as we’d moved about a fair bit during that period. I’m fairly sure that it was a decent hike from my house to hers.

Anyway, I’d heard via the local jungle drums that the ”ex” was gunning for me as the only possible reason that he’d been dumped. This didn’t really worry me in and of itself. Plenty of empty threats got thrown about in those days and regardless, despite not having any kind of claim to being the second coming of Bruce Lee, I was big enough and ugly enough to look after myself (as my mother used to say) if push came to shove.

On the fateful night, I was walking the young lady in question home, after a night doing whatever we’d been up to, wherever we’d been up to it. She was fairly insistent that there was no need for me to walk her back in case there was trouble. This was of course guaranteed to provoke the opposite response in a bull headed, out to impress, teenage Casanova.

As we got close to her home we saw them at the end of the street. There was the Ex, but of course he hadn’t wanted to risk turning up on his own, so had brought along a couple of his henchmen for safety.

Again, at this point I could have backed out of things but being 90% hormones at the time, it just wasn’t going to happen. Despite the pleas of the girl we carried on up the street toward the trio of goons.

Nothing was said as we came together. The ex simply attempted to unload a massive leaping haymaker in my general direction. I moved forward and ducked under the swing, leaving me easily able to use my back to roll him onto the floor face up. Clearly this wasn’t part of his original plan, and he did look a bit surprised when he then ended up with me sat across his chest and shoulders, free to pummel away happily at the gurning face before men (clearly her taste in men had improved immeasurably!).

I’m really not sure how long this bit went on for but it didn’t last. Henchman 1 had kind of sloped off into a nearby hedge and wasn’t an issue as he was clearly quite happy to see Ex take a beating. Henchman 2 however had calculated that this scenario which was unfolding was not in line with the intricately laid out master plan that had been devised earlier. His solution was both radical and effective.

He started a long curving run towards where we were on the floor. Apparently the head of someone kneeling down and leaning forwards provides an excellent approximation to a football in the mind of a Doctor Marten clan goon, and to be fair, I think this one might have had a future as a place kicker. If my head had not been attached I’m sure it would have been a 60 yard field goal. My nose WAS attached and that went about 40 yards.

Obviously at the time I was kind of busy so totally unaware of any of this occurring until I saw stars. There was no pain, just a thud and stars and the overriding need to cover stop pummeling my previous target and to cover up. The plan had worked I guess.

Spurred on by his opponent lying semi conscious in the road holding his face, “Ex” could now safely leap into action and start trying for some payback of what he’d been getting. It didn’t matter, the damage was done.

Anyway, the whole thing came to a messy halt when the police turned up. We were all hauled off, parents dragged in, and eventually sent home to clear up the mess that now lived where my nose used to be.

We were told we had to wait a week before we should go back to the hospital to get something done about putting my nose back on my face. Really, if it was handled right, this should have been the end of my problems. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case as this was 1980’s NHS.

I have since seen x-rays of what’s going on up my nose and it’s literally just chunks of floating bone. Given this fact, I’m kind of amazed that the proposed solution to the problem was an implement somewhat resembling an undersized tire iron. I can only assume that we took a wrong turn in the hospital and ended up in some kind of experimentation lab staffed by an ex Nazi doctor, if indeed he was a doctor at all.

Anyway, the procedure kicked off with the anesthetic. Dr. Doom or whatever his name was, proceeded first to wet the end of an oversized cotton bud with what I am assuming (possibly incorrectly given it’s lack of potency) was the anesthetic fluid, and the attempt to jam one up each of my nostrils.

His attempt was hampered by the fact that he was trying to push them straight in when in fact the innards of my nose were at a 45 degree angle (the cartilage bit from the end that was jammed up inside the mass of shattered bone). I tried to point out the fact that all he was doing was inflicting pain on me, however he seemed totally disinterested and clearly knew better than his patient.

I then informed him that following his first procedure I could now feel (not a good thing post anesthetic) my nose starting to bleed. I was curtly informed that I was talking nonsense and that it was just the anesthetic I could feel, confirmed moments later as the blood started gushing from my nose.

Not to be deterred, the tire iron was next produced and rammed up one of my nostrils. Given the complete non effect of the anesthetic procedure, it’s fair to say that this action did produce a modicum of discomfort in the patient. Swear words might have been uttered. Clearly this was not a good thing to do as it simply induced the aggressive waggling about of the lever. A combination of the crunching noise deep inside my head and the shooting pain it produced was more than enough to shock me into silence.

Not satisfied with putting his patient into shock, the second nostril then became the target of assault. I was fairly certain by this point that the anesthetic hadn’t got anywhere near where it was supposed to be, and also that I had woken up in Hell.

The attacks stopped at this point. I really didn’t know what to think. I was just traumatised. What I didn’t know was that the best was still to come.

Clearly confused by the fact that him stirring the mashed up bones in my nose with his tire lever hadn’t caused my nose to magically reconstruct itself, Dr. Doom left the room and I was left alone to try to decide if I should continue trying to tough this out or just descend into a blubbering mess and start crying for my mummy.

Before I had a chance to go for option B, Doom returned. He had obviously decided that he was simply not strong enough to apply sufficient leverage and unfortunately for me, he was now not alone. He had clearly been down to the darkest recesses of his underground lab and dredged up some kind of sub human colossus that had clearly been part of a previous failed experiment. Doom gesticulated towards the tire iron and Igor lumbered over and grasped it in his mighty paw.

If I had had my wits about me I’d have run, or at the very least, cacked my pants in protest. As it was it was just rabbit in the headlights territory. Nothing in my short and soon to be ended painfully life had prepared me for I could see was about to happen. It was like being in some sort of nightmarish cartoon.

Another 5 minutes of crunching and grunting and screaming and tears later and Igor stood back so that his handiwork could be examined. My nose was still a ridiculous mess as you can surely see from the “before” picture I posted at the start of this. Add in some blood and guts and tears and you’ll have a fair impression of what I was shown in the mirror when I was asked the most ridiculous question I have ever heard before or since (and that says a lot given some of the questions my son comes out with!):

“Would you like us to have another go at it or will that be fine as it is now?”

Despite the fact that saying it would be fine as it was now would mean my nose living under my left eye and a total inability to breathe, it seemed like a good trade off just to make all this stop, so that’s what happened. Off I went into the world with my nose pointing in another direction, unable to breathe and totally traumatised about the whole event.

After the first few years of PTSD I returned to some kind of normality. By now I was working full time and even if the thought of exposing myself to the NHS again to get my nose straightened out did ever occur to me, taking a couple of weeks off work just wasn’t an option given the fact I’d moved out of home and bought my first house.

And so it went on for years. Me just living with it, getting used to being a bit of a mouth breather. I could breathe through it a bit at times, but even the slightest congestion and it was just a total non starter.

Many years later, I moved over to the USA and everyone and his brother seemed to be having nose jobs. I actually started to think a bit about getting it done but was worried about the cost, and again the time off work wasn’t likely to happen.

Eventually, the stars aligned. I was working more from home so spending some time looking like an extra from a Rocky movie wasn’t such an issue. Also we were on a very good health plan that meant I could get the job done for literally a couple of hundred bucks.

The die was cast…….

I have now had the surgery, but I won’t get to see nose 2 until tomorrow afternoon so I have no idea what I’m going to be left looking at in the mirror.

Still doesn’t look totally straight but I think on poking around it’s more that he made it straight inside but there’s 30 years of it growing wonky to overcome. I will however pick the story again where I left off later in the week and share what impact it’s having on life.

 

tom@genforward.org

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