"Where do you get your ideas?"
Writers write what we know, teasing out bits of truth to flavor our fiction. Here is one such truth. Somewhat squicky pictures below. You've been warned.
It's all started here.
A small sore on the side of my nose turned out to be a schlerocizing basal cell rodent tumor with an aggressive hysology (i.e., it grew fast and ate away at the flesh.) In March of 2016 I had MOHS surgery to remove the cancer entirely.
The procedure was performed under local anesthetic, and the staff was wonderful. That does not mean it was pleasant. I'd had facial surgery once before and had recognized in myself a fear of facial mutilation, of being seen as even more different.
The afternoon after the surgery, I walked into the office of a local plastic surgeon who specialized in reconstructive plastic surgery of the face. He was concerned that I had "great skin" (meaning still tight and not loose enough to take a flap from the cheek area), but he was confident he could manage everything. I was scheduled for surgery the next day. He would take a flap of skin from my forehead and bring it down to cover the removal site on the side of my nose. An artery in the flap would provide a healthy blood supply, improving the flap's chances of healing.
After 4 hours in patient care, I headed home to rest. Ha!
The doctor assured me there would be residual bleeding and nothing more. Two hours later I was soaking through a gauze pad every 15 minutes. We went back to the doctor's office where he repacked the wound with a coagulant gauze and sent me home. Three hours later I was soaking through a gauze pad every 5 minutes, and he had me go to the emergency room where he cauterized smaller "bleeder" arteries. The artery supplying blood to the flap was fine.
In the coming weeks, lurking phobias crept out of my subconscious to play. I could not bear to look at myself in the mirror. In my mind, I was hideously deformed, abhorent, a thing to be shut away. Worse, I felt even guiltier about my so-called "over reaction" when I considered there were people out there with truly dire medical conditions.
I could either hide in my room or get on with my life. Life won. Two weeks after surgery, I went to Norwescon and even pulled off a couple of costume ideas.
One customer at my husband's store booth offered a spoon in support of my condition. She didn't appreciate my response.
There were down moments, too. The time I was turned away from a favorite local restaurant because of my appearance (not that they said as much, they insisted it was because of the service wait...when no one else was turned away). The parents who flinched and pulled their children away from me in stores. My oldest son's admission that he couldn't look at my face. The woman who tried to touch the skin flap out of sympathy because it looked so "different".
The forehead stitches were removed first, turning me into an alien ala STAR TREK.
The flap became infected, causing a delay in the final surgery. A week later, everything was go.
Soon (not soon enough), the stitches came out.
And today. . .
Why is she telling us all this?
Because body horror is easy to write; living it, not so much. Write what you know. Put the demons to work, exorcise them on the page. Those same demons may seem insignificant to someone else, yet to me. . .yeah. I survived, I'm fine, and this demon has found a home in a story. That's where fear belongs.