Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day thirty 

Day thirty, originally uploaded by DrRob.

Last one for this year!

I have learnt a few things during Movember ...

  • Firstly, that growing a moustache takes me about two to three weeks before it looks anything like I would like it to look. Seeing other men with decent looking moustaches has been a treat but has made me rather jealous.
  • Secondly, it is so grey! I look like someone's granddad. Well, I am 47 so I suppose it is possible. Despite that, I do actually like it. I may even keep it. I know I would keep it if I regrew the beard but part of me really likes this.
  • Thirdly, that taking a picture of myself every day is a pain and is the part of Movember I absolutely hated. I have to think of something funny or I look awful.
  • Fourthly, I need to lose some weight!
  • And fifthly, that wallpaper really has to go.
Many thanks to all who donated money. My team raised £307 of which £172 was via my MoSpace. There's still another couple of weeks before the account closes if you want to make a sudden final donation: http://mobro.co/DrRobWilliams

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Day twenty eight 

Day twenty eight, originally uploaded by DrRob.

Via Flickr:
I do need a haircut.


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Sunday, November 27, 2011


Oddly, although I don't mind inflicting this on the world through my blog, I am somewhat more reluctant to spill all on Facebook. Howver, now that the RSS feed for my blog is no longer picked up by Facebook, I feel safer blogging about my operation.

My reticence is partly down to embarrassment. This is a sensitive subject as you will find if you elect to read on. It is also partly due to avoiding the concerned messages I would receive from family and friends. While it is nice knowing that people are that concerned, my reason for writing this is not to garner sympathy.

Why I have decided to write this rather personal piece is purely in case someone else is in a similar position to me a few months before the op. It is possible they might get something from this.

There will be some reading this who do know me. You may have seen my other post about the op and probably my Facebook posts about it. You will therefore know a few odd things about the operation without knowing anything specific. You'll know it's delicate, personal, kind of sore in the shower and a bugger to change the dressing.

This is your last chance to turn away and read no more. What follows is going to be rather personal and you will know a little more about me than you possibly want. People who have asked me about my operation and have received an honest answer have replied "too much information".

There will be no pictures but where I need to describe things I will. Just so you know.

Ok, your choice ...

I was circumcised.

There, I've said it. I was wheeled into an operating theatre on Friday 18th November and half an hour later wheeled out again leaving my foreskin behind.

No doubt you have a mass of questions. I will try to answer what I think of as the main ones which are: why I had it done, did it hurt, and am I recovered?

So, why? Why does a 47-year-old man have a circumcision?

There are only three possible reasons that I can think of: religion, aesthetics or health.

My religious thoughts are still as nebulous as ever and I have not decided to align myself with a faith that requires this particular surgical procedure. So, it isn't that.

Is it aesthetics? You all know I am gay but I don't consider myself particularly vain. I haven't had this done because I think it will look nicer or the girls in Sex in the City say it's better. That may be the case but it wasn't a consideration.

That leaves health, the only reason I would entertain such an idea.

I have a skin condition on the head of my penis called lichen planus. It is largely controllable by steroid creams but they aren't recommended for long term use and cannot reverse the damage done by the condition over time. That damage, in my case, was the adhesion of my foreskin to the head.

To be honest, I could live with that. It wasn't covering a huge area and seemed to be under control. The problem was that the adhered skin wasn't that secure and would painfully rip at the edges at the slightest provocation. This has been going on for years but has been growing worse recently.

The only permanent solution was circumcision.

Getting the operation done took time. I had been seeing my GP for years about the lichen planus. It had had two flare-up episodes resulting in a biopsy and a course of visits to a dermatologist. The second flare-up seemed to leave the adhered foreskin in its delicate state and that led to the visit to the GP with the conclusion that circumcision was needed.

From that meeting with my GP, where we both agreed that it should be done, to seeing the consultant took 10 weeks. Then a further three or four weeks to my pre-op assessment and then another week for the operation itself.

The meeting with the consultant added little. He agreed that it should go ahead and that he would recommend that the registrars arrange the operation. He also said that for a while after the op, my penis would look like it had been "bitten by a shark" but once everything had settled down it would be "aesthetically pleasing". I put the quote marks in there because those were his exact words.

The operation itself seemed to go smoothly. I arrived at the hospital at 7:45 am and was waiting for my sister to pick me up at 11:15 am. In between, I met some lovely friendly doctors and nurses who introduced themselves to me by name (quite useless for me, I'm afraid), gave me drugs, explained what would happen. They also explained that I shouldn't drive, operate heavy machinery or sign any important documents.

There is a curious sense of security. Every time one of them came to talk to me they always and without exception checked my identity - name, date of birth and so on. Tedious in a way, but it ensured they don't operate on the wrong person, I suppose, which was all to the good.

Then they walked me off to the operating theatre. I had a cannula (one of those things they plug a drip into) put in my hand, then some sort of injection and I was asked to talk about my job. I got as far as "I program computers".

From my point of view, I had a lovely snooze and had a dream where I thought I was able to communicate directly with Facebook without the use of a computer or a phone. All that was interrupted by someone asking me to wake up. Very disorientating. It didn't occur to me until a few minutes later that the operation had finished.

After a very short while I was more or less completely awake and I was given tea and biscuits and lots of water. There was a bit of discomfort but no pain. I had visits from the nurses and from the surgeon who inspected my bright blue (why?) dressing and re-applied it. He also asked if I'd been to the loo, which I hadn't, and if I'd had a look yet. I was in the middle of a ward so the answer to that was also a no. Afterwards I heard him tell the nurse to make sure I went for a pee before I left.

Very soon I had to do that. It was all the tea and the water. It was then that I had my first look at what was left behind. I found that the surgeon had removed my foreskin ... and the bits of skin that had adhered to my glans. I wasn't expecting that. My GP had said, years before, that the skin would probably not be removed so I was pleasantly surprised to see it gone. It all looked very nice. Bloody but nice.

OK, so perhaps aesthetics did play a little part in this after all.

The trip to the loo made me lose the dressing. Well, not lose as such, but it did come off and was rather bloody. So I waddled out, trying not to get blood on my gown, and had to get the nurse to re-dress the wound. Again with the strange blue gauze.

Shortly afterwards, my sister arrived and I had to get dressed and leave.

So now what? It's been a little over a week since the op. Am I still at shark bite or have I moved on to beauty pageant?

I guess I am somewhere in between. There has been a great deal of swelling and I currently appear to have a second foreskin. That has only happened because the swollen skin has ballooned out and sort of fallen forward. The swollen skin is tender and it makes it difficult for me to keep the area hidden by it clean without causing further injury. Because of that it's possible I might have an infection and my GP has taken a swab and put me on antibiotics as a precaution.

On the whole, healing has been very slow and quite demoralising. Sleep is the worst. I usually sleep on my right side and roll on to my front. That has been out of the question, for understandable reasons, but sleeping on my back is alien to me and so I have found it difficult to sleep. That is getting better but my subconscious mind seems to like playing tricks on me while I am sleeping and I have been woken up in pain either because I have relocated myself or my penis in my sleep or it has got ideas of its own. I will say no more about that.

I am on pain medication: co-codamol four times a day and ibuprofen three. Co-codamol is apparently addictive but if it is I will have to deal with that a little later. For the moment, I need it.

I have the hang of timing the meds now. My phone's capacity for alarms has helped a great deal and I have arranged the timings so that I get six hours sleep without interruption for tablets between midnight and six in the morning. I am oddly proud of that.

That's about all I can tell you for now. As I said earlier, I have written this for anyone who is in a similar position. I don't know if it will be of any help or even if it is of interest to anyone except myself.

My final words here will be advice. If you've been told you need to do this, think about it carefully before agreeing. I don't think this is suggested lightly or often for adults so if it has been recommended then you probably do need it. If there are other options, however, then explore them. Don't take too long, though! One of my regrets is that I didn't get this done a lot earlier and I sometimes wonder if I should have insisted when the lichen planus first came to light and had it done then.

Allow for a long recovery period as well. I think the times I have been given are for a much younger man. That doesn't mean don't do it if you are my age or older - my sister-in-law's cousin had the same operation at 68! - but take the estimated times for recovery with a pinch of salt.

I will post updates later on, if and when things have settled.

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Movember days twenty five to twenty seven 

Here are the last three days...

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Movember days 21 to 24 

I’m off sick at the moment. More about that when I am sure that my blog is not echoed to Facebook any more!

Here are the last few days of Movembering …

Day 21


Day 22


Day 23


Day 24


Remember you can make a donation to Movember (a very worthwhile charity) via my Mospace page.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day twenty 

Day twenty, originally uploaded by DrRob.

Via Flickr:
And day two after operation. Just had a shower. Ouch.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day nineteen 

Day nineteen, originally uploaded by DrRob.

Via Flickr:
The day after I had an operation! Looking surprisingly chipper despite having not had much sleep.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Day eighteen 

Day eighteen, originally uploaded by DrRob.

Via Flickr:
A bit out of focus. I had to take this one in a bit of a hurry.

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Day seventeen 

Day seventeen, originally uploaded by DrRob.

Via Flickr:
There doesn't seem much difference now in the day to day shots. I think it'll need another week to make a difference to the way it looks.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day sixteen 

Day sixteen, originally uploaded by DrRob.

It's still a surprise when I look in the mirror.

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Day fifteen 

Day fifteen, originally uploaded by DrRob.


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Monday, November 14, 2011

Day fourteen 

Day fourteen, originally uploaded by DrRob.

Via Flickr:
Nearly halfway!


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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day thirteen 

Day thirteen, originally uploaded by DrRob.

Via Flickr:
This is definitely looking like a moustache now

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day twelve 

Day twelve, originally uploaded by DrRob.

Via Flickr:
Starting to look like a tache to me.

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Movember days 9 to 11 

I had forgotten how slowly my moustache takes to grow. If I hadn't been obliged to continue with growing it because of the donations I have received (thanks to everyone who has given the cause money!) and because I knew I can grow one I would have given up by now.

I've had, and have enjoyed having, facial hair for years so it's a bit odd when my favourite picture of me in November was the one on day one when I was completely clean-shaven. I will think long and hard at the end of the month as to whether I regrow the beard.

Anyway, here's days nine, ten and eleven.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Rubbish swearing 

Last night when I was cycling down St Martin's Lane to Charing Cross, a couple tried to cross the road ahead of me. They saw me and reacted in different ways.

She shrieked, laughed and tried to run across the road. He was rather more sensible and decided to hang back. Either action would have been fine apart from one thing: they were holding hands and between the pair of them they made a jolly good roadblock.

So, I rang my bell, slowed down (I wasn't going very fast anyway - I'm still fairly new) and then went around them but thought that a comment was called for. However, in the heat of the moment, my vocabulary deserted me and my brain decided on the limpest rubbish to shout:

"Daft cow!"

Daft cow? Who the hell says "daft cow"?

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Day eight 

Day eight, originally uploaded by DrRob.

Via Flickr:
Looking better.

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Day seven 

Day seven, originally uploaded by DrRob.

Via Flickr:
There's something there

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Sunday, November 06, 2011

Day six 

Day six, originally uploaded by DrRob.

Via Flickr:
Thought I'd smile for a change.

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Saturday, November 05, 2011

Day five - finally visible 

Day five - finally visible, originally uploaded by DrRob.

Via Flickr:
Hah! I have the distance, the skin-tones and ... a semi-visible moustache.

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Friday, November 04, 2011

Thank you for waiting 

"Thank you for waiting" is, I think, my current top phrase of annoyance when I am out shopping.

I encountered it once before in Uni Qlo (I think I blogged about it) when two old queens held up the one assistant by camply praising the tiles behind the till. The assistant, when he finally got to me, said "thank you for waiting" and really wasn't impressed with my response of "I didn't really have an alternative."

I popped into M&S in Oxford Street at lunchtime today to buy some emergency socks - I developed a hole in one and couldn't face the afternoon with a strangled toe. The two assistants were helping some belligerent customers and so another assistant came along and immediately said "thank you for waiting". I bit my tongue on the obvious response and did so again when I was paying for my lunch and the words drifted over to me.

Why does it annoy me?

The switch from "sorry to keep you waiting" to "thank you for waiting" is subtle but implies a rejection of any degree of ownership as to why I'm waiting. It sounds like something a management consultant has dreamed up to justify some hugely overinflated fee.

"Sorry to keep you waiting" says "we haven't enough people on the tills and we're sorry about that" whereas "thank you for waiting" says "we're doing our best but it really is your own fault for choosing this till. You saw those women. Did it look like they were going to be two minutes buying a shirt? No. You're stuck."

"Thank you for waiting" is yet another nail in the coffin of service and a refusal to accept responsibility for poor service.

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Day three - there's something 

Day three - there's something, originally uploaded by DrRob.

Via Flickr:
You'll need to look very closely but there is something there! And I don't mean the spot on my lower lip. My skin really does not like me shaving.

Such a gloomy morning. I had to use the flash on the camera. Goodness knows what the neighbours thought.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Day 2 of 30 - you will be sick of these by the end of the month 

Day 2 of 30 - you will be sick of these by the end of the month, originally uploaded by DrRob.

Via Flickr:
Well, not much different to yesterday. I don't look any happier and you can still see my warddrobe.

There is the tiniest glimmering ghost of a moustache if you know what you're looking for.

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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Day one 

Day one, originally uploaded by DrRob.

This is me on the first morning of Movember. According to the rules, I shaved the moustache area the night before. I have seven hours of moustache in this picture!

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