Got you with that headline, didn’t I? Well, for whatever reason you decided to read this blog here’s a real fact – few people have ever seen me with my shirt or t-shirt off.
It wasn’t always so. Back in the days when my parents took us to the beach I wore swimming togs just like other boys. I was aware of the large scar on my stomach following a skin transplant, and the numerous skin grafts on the sides and backs of my thighs, but they didn’t bother me at the time.
Even when I married Trish I had no problem honeymooning in Tenerife and taking off my top. We grabbed another sun holiday months later before missing out for a while as the children arrived, but what made me suddenly feel different was an operation I had months before Alan was born.
The idea was to relieve some pressure I was feeling with the skin under my chin. That skin was very web like in appearance, and caused all sorts of problems: my collar cut the skin on my throat regularly so I stopped wearing ties; and I was finding it increasingly difficult to sleep. When I told this to a consultant he explained the procedure, but also seemed more interested in how he could improve my chin, which distracted me and I failed to absorb what he was saying. Or perhaps he didn’t explain himself properly.
I won’t go into the operation and what followed because that would take another blog, but the result was that I woke up to what looks like a second chin sitting between my real chin and my upper chest. I was absolutely devastated as I never realised quite how the surgery would look. To me this was a hideous outcome and totally unexpected. I was shocked and unable to cope with this monster. I sank into a depression without realising it. Going back to work several weeks later didn’t help because I couldn’t function properly. I didn’t recognise this new me and felt all the self confidence I had built up over the past few years since Trish had come into my life had drained away.
In the years that followed I had other concerns that pushed that particular problem to one side. I tended to button up my shirts to hide this new ‘chin’. Wearing ties became even more difficult since there was a bulge at the collar area. And also, as I put on weight, that large scar on my chest is now like a huge deep crater.
As the kids grew older we’d head off to Spain or the Canaries for the holidays, but I kept my shirt/t-shirt on all the time. I knew I had an issue with it because I was just so self-conscious, even though Trish and the kids were with me for support.
The kids may be away living their own lives now, but Trish and I have often taken sun holidays since and not once have I dared to show my chest. At this stage in my life it’s silly that I feel the way I do, so I have resolved the next time we go away I’m going to take the plunge and be more revealing about myself.
If I can bare all on a blog about my disfigurement then surely I can go a little bit further and not be afraid anymore. I’ll let you know how I get on.