The 5 minute nosejob – or – Why I chose paraffin wax

There was a point in the sixties where criminals in particular took joyfully to the appearance-changing properties of paraffin wax (the hard form of Vaseline) – injecting it under the skin at specific points could change the shape of your face. The effects, depending on how much you used, lasted weeks or months. No big surprise that there was a belated after-effect but then nearly everything injected into the human body carries a price. Paraffin wax was replaced with silicone. Whoops. More after-effects.

Right now the popular non-surgical rhinoplasty – changing the shape of your nose by injection, for an effect lasting several months – is done, according to the ever-useful source Wikipedia, using options like calcium hydroxyapatite, hyaluronic acid, liquid silicone, polyacrylamide gel, or packing the target area with microscopic plastic beads in bovine collagen – polymethylmethacrylate. Well those certainly sound healthier. However, they are relatively modern and the aftereffects of paraffin wax and silicone gel had sometimes taken 15 years and more to appear. Who knows.

The popular target areas are nose, chin and breasts – even a small correction can make an astonishing difference in appearance but oh my anyone who ever researched cosmetic surgery knows the prices are way, way out of line with any other surgery. Men and women alike will beg borrow or steal to look better. Anyone offering a quicker cheaper option to do just that has our undivided attention. (BTW, some surgeons will inject saline water as a preview:  the effects only last a few minutes but you get to see what difference the stuff with the unpronounceable name would make.)

So – what actually happens when you take the quick option? What happened to those who did? I had to do the research because I wanted to change a character’s appearance in a hurry in my Do-Over book. I eventually went with the formerly popular, no-real-skill-required, paraffin wax injection of the past. The effects would last for the few months required by the story, the character was in immediate deadly peril if he didn’t change his appearance, and the long-term risk was relatively small. The human body is never happy with foreign substances suddenly introduced and will protect itself by containing them as far as possible in the injection site. Over time, a granuloma forms, specifically called a paraffinoma when triggered by paraffin injection (so a siliconoma when triggered by silicone). The hard mass of the granuloma has to be removed surgically. A tragedy when we are talking cosmetic corrections now worse than the defect they corrected: but I stand by my choice for my story.

In terms of perfect proportions my nose is short for my face. Packing and extending the soft tip could balance my entire appearance. Would I go for non-surgical rhinoplasty? After looking this lot up? Hell no. Anyway I had dermal fillers several years ago for my daughter’s wedding and the memory of those gazillion tiny stinging injections still lingers. I’ll work on my lovely personality instead. Wouldn’t it be interesting if there were personality injections available . . .

Ever researching on your behalf

Elegsabiff

Agatha Christie was NOT dyslexic – who on earth benefits from this fabrication? No-one dyslexic!

A (rumour) can circle the earth before Truth can get its boots on – variations of that have been attributed to Winston Churchill and Mark Twain, among others, and Terry Pratchett quoted it several times in a Discworld book so I’m sure some think Pratchett was the source. How very appropriate that a quote regarding fabrications is probably wrongly attributed most of the time.

I saw a blog written by a dyslexic saying he was in good company and quoting a long list of famous dyslexics including, to my surprise, Agatha Christie. Lots of general comments, none protesting her inclusion in the list. I was even more surprised when I looked it up, the internet agreed: oh yes she was, she had to dictate all her books, even the very first Poirot.

Oh no she wasn’t. Oh no she didn’t. Not according to her, anyway, and you’d think she’d know. Yes as her books started selling she had secretaries but not because she had dysgraphia (inability to tell a coherent story) (seriously???) or dyslexia. She may not have liked typing but she wrote a fair bit in longhand even when she had a dictaphone or secretary, while she was plotting.

Put it this way, in her autobiography she talked about the writing of one of her best books, Absent In The Spring. It’s a Mary Westmacott book, not a whodunit, and it is absolutely seamless, a book that flows without a check. She said the idea had been quietly in the back of her head for a long time and when the time came she wrote it in one sitting, 70-something hours without stopping: slept for 24 hours, read it back, and barely had to change a single word. That is quite possibly as far from dyslexia as you can get, and something that turns other writers green. It is something we all dream of. Check the autobiography.

She’s been added to a very specific list and I don’t think that’s fair. A young relative of mine had partial word-blindness, not full-blown dyslexia, and that was still a battle that was hard fought. Overcoming dyslexia, or working around it, is such a struggle and takes such perseverance that it builds formidable character. No wonder there are positive role models and success stories! Winning against a disadvantage, especially fairly early on, shapes your life.

It helps with every challenge we ever face if we know others have fought and won, that it can be done. But – how valid is the list? What possible benefit is there in adding a commercially successful writer who taught herself to read at the age of 5? Where is the role model, the success story? She apparently had a poem published when she was 11. What are we to say to our dyslexic 11 year-old who, flushed with success, has achieved a short slightly lopsided barely-rhyming poem – that’s nice, pet, but we’re not Agatha Christie yet, are we? No-one’s going to publish that, are they? Go back and try again.

Whatever we struggle with in life is tough enough without setting fake goals. Just saying.

https://www.agathachristie.com/stories/absent-in-the-spring

Getting a whinge off my chest. Do you have a friend or relative who writes?

Nope, not bestsellers. Neither did I run the last company I worked for. Oh, you didn’t expect me to become MD of an international company – yet you do expect me to have a number one bestseller? You’re disappointed in me? Back OFF.

Family and friends are uncomfortable and embarrassed for our sake when they realize our books aren’t, and will never be, in the top 1%. Reality check. We KNOW that.

When I started work as an office junior my modest future plans included becoming competent, maybe a few promotions and Bob’s yer uncle, hasn’t she done well, she’s a manager now. Look around your family – of how many relatives can you say proudly, he/she is a billionaire running an international corporation? Logistically we can’t all be tycoons of commerce and we all know that.

And yet, somehow, with writing, that changes. Tell a relative or friend you’re writing a book, or your tenth book, or your twentieth, and they are very nearly resentful. What name do you write under? Have I heard of you? Why haven’t I heard of you? What sort of books do you write? Why do you bother if you’re not good enough at it to sell a million copies a day? Or that patronising give me a copy and I’ll see if I can find the time to read it. Gee, pass. You’ll either never read it, or you’ll say in surprise that it wasn’t that bad, or you’ll never, ever, mention the subject again. When you do, try to remember you just met your friend or relative’s (brain) child and you ignored it.  Got any kids yourself? That ever happened? Bet it felt great.

There are over 32 million books available in a market place like Amazon. Some are – well, there’s a review ascribed to Dorothy Parker. “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”  If you think that about your connection’s book, eek, dilemma. But if you are just disappointed that the book you’ve read isn’t the best you ever read – it would have been miraculous if it was. Your other relatives and friends probably aren’t the acknowledged leaders of their professions. Hell, they’re doing well if they’re middle management and turning in an acceptable performance. Will you attack them? What do you do? Are you the best in your company? Why bother doing it if you aren’t? Give me a freebie. And when you meet their children, be sure to check they are brilliant, accomplished and famous before you deign to acknowledge them.

Huh.

Chest whinge-free, feels great. Upward and onward to 2020.