Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Behind the mask...

I went to have my face moulded today. It was part of the cancer treatment rather than a sudden realisation on the part of society that the gently noble Smith brow should be cast in bronze. But still, I now have quite a natty little facemask sitting up at the Beatson.

Well, I say "little". I have a weirdly large head, to the extent that I have to ask for the special helmet at the go-carting and very short haircuts leave me looking like a Velcro football. It's going to look like a hippo's fencing mask. 

I'll know tomorrow, since I'm in for a scan and I gather they'll be using it then. It was whisked away today before I got the chance for a good look, so I'm sort of looking forward to that.

The orfit mask or shell is this winter's must-have facial accoutrement for the hip cancer combatant about town. If you have a lump this season and you haven't accessorised it with one of these, you're nobody.

Available in a fetching medical white, the orfit is a plastic mesh designed to clamp your head precisely in position during radiotherapy, within a two-to-five millimetre margin. Since radiotherapy involves firing tissue-frying x-rays into the living brain, this is A Good Thing: I'm keen that the only bits to be zapped are the genetically mangled; anything else I may have in my head I'm keen to keep there. Except maybe Bryan Adams' Everything I Do – they can burn that out if they like.

The fitting and making is reassuringly high-tech. The table is black and shiny and ruled with the ruby needles of laser-beams, which pleased my inner geek once I'd cleared the recurring phrase, "No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die". Once they have you on that and manoeuvred into position, a hard thermoplastic template is poached lightly in water until soft enough to be stretched over your face by two biggish blokes, who prod it and tweak it and bolt it down until it sets. The whole process takes about three minutes and entails no discomfort apart from mild heat and a brief sense of suffocation.

It also leaves your face feeling quite soft and exfoliated, although I expect it's quite an expensive way of getting rid of blackheads, even with a Groupon voucher.

For some reason, I also now have a dot of green ink on the tip of my nose. I'm not sure what that's for. I might ask tomorrow.

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