I have had what are known as skin tags on my neck for the last year or so. They are, for those not in the know, horrible warty-looking flaps of skin that grow from the neck, groin or armpits and – according to the NHS website – ‘tend to occur in older people and those who are obese or have type 2 diabetes’.
As I don’t have diabetes and am barely nine stone on a good day, it’s clearly an age thing that has caused them.
And, boy, must I be getting on a bit because I have three of the blighters.
Anyway last weekend, a friend who I’d not seen in ages started peering at my neck, grimaced as if surveying the wreckage of a plane crash, and said with great tact, ‘What the hell are those? Boy, they’re ugly aren’t they’. (When he later went to the toilet, I tipped vinegar and a dash of arsenic into his pint).
Now I’m not a vain man – with a face like mine it’s pointless.
Some years ago, on a first date, my companion asked if I worked outside for a living because I had ‘very weather-beaten features’; we didn’t see each other again.
But I confess my friend’s remarks did affect me a little, so on returning home and staring forlornly for a while at the three little skins tags flapping gently from my neck, I googled how to remove them.
Other than going to a doctor, the best way is, apparently, to tie a small piece of cotton tightly around the base of the skin tag and then, after about 72 hours, it simply falls off.
Which is fair enough, but I didn’t fancy walking around for three days with several bits of cotton dangling from my neck (Can you imagine it in Sainsbury’s? ‘That’ll be £24.70 please – hey, I say, do you know you’ve got a load of string attached to your neck?’)
So instead, the next night, during the drive home from my weekly badminton session (I won three games out of four since you ask, including beating the best player at the club, big Dave, renowned for having a forehand that resembles a man clubbing a seal to death), I began to pick at the skin tags on my neck.
After several minutes of idly doing this, I got a firm grip of the biggest one, just to the left of my Adam’s apple, and gave it a proper good yank.
Lo and behold it came off in my hand, accompanied by a pain that couldn’t have been any worse had someone just violently jabbed me in the neck with an extra-sharp kitchen knife.
I let out a strangled cry and instinctively put both hands to my neck which, when you’re travelling along a main road at 47mph, isn’t generally to be recommended.
My car lurched to the left, directly towards the far kerb and a large privet hedge.
And it was only in the nick of time that I was able to get my right hand back on the wheel and prevent myself and my vehicle plunging into the undergrowth.
If there had been a car travelling towards me on the other side of the road, there’s no doubt I’d have hit it and would then have been faced with some awkward questioning by the police, not to mention a highly embarrassing court case. (‘I really am very sorry your honour, and I apologise to the other driver for his three broken ribs and the damage his vehicle sustained, but this skin tag really was a big one and the pain was quite overwhelming’).
Despite getting safely back to the correct side of the road, I was in such agony that I had to pull over and spend 10 minutes sitting motionless with both hands around my neck, attempting to stem the flow of blood.
The good news is that I no longer have the skin tag.
The bad is that in its place I now have a huge, red scar that looks several times worse than the original tag.
Swings and roundabouts.
Hospital served me very nicely
I had a little health scare this week and was admitted to Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
Now the NHS gets a bit of stick and the Vic has had its negative headlines.
But I’ve got to say that the treatment and care I have received over the last 48 hours has been second to none. I cannot praise the place enough.
I’ve been seen by consultants, doctors, and several nurses, and they have all been incredibly professional, dedicated and just plain wonderful.
After reading the recent stories about patients left on stretchers in corridors and hospitals throughout the country at breaking point, I’d expected a lengthy wait after reporting to A&E, but even that didn’t happen.
Everything about my experience was positive and that’s why I’m writing this – I want it publicly known what a fantastic job they do.
If I could choose the job my daughter Mary grows up to do, it would be a nurse. They are the most under-rated people in the country.
The highlight of my stay was when a lovely woman came round with a sandwich trolley. ‘Would you like one?’ she asked.
I asked if there were any tuna. After rummaging round for a good seven minutes, and getting increasingly exasperated, she held up a muffin and said, ‘we’ve got corned beef – it’s pretty much the same thing’.
I stared at her, looking for a hint that she was being funny. She wasn’t.
“Thanks, but I’ll give it a miss,” I replied.
I’m back home now and hopefully on the mend.
In the meantime, a big up – as the kids say – to Blackpool Vic and all who serve in her.