Reasons why there is less of Fran than there used to be

'I have this lump on my face,' I said to the GP on Monday.

She peered at me.

Do you ever wonder whether doctors have to bite back quips like, 'Yes, that's your nose' or 'Don't say it too loud or everyone will want one' or 'If we're playing Top Trumps, I have a bigger lump either side of my chest'.

After all, it was 5pm, the last appointment of her day, and by then she must have been gagging for some light relief.

If I were a GP, I'd struggle with this all the time. Which is probably why it's a good thing I'm not. I may not have had a long career.

She found a magnifying glass and put it near my cheek where the lump was. I was pleased it was dark outside because if the sun had been shining into the surgery and caught my cheek at the same time as the magnifying glass, it might have set the lump on fire. I've read my Enid Blyton and my Brownie Handbook, thank you.

'How long's it been there?' the doctor said.

I told her it had been growing for about a month, starting as a flat brown mole and then reproducing daily like a foetus does until it had ended up in its current state, like a pea with crocodile skin.

Except that even though it was only pea-sized, I felt so conscious of it that I was sure people in South America were already talking about it.

She liked my description.

'It's not cancer, anyway,' she said, 'if that's what you were thinking.'

'What is it, then?'

'It's a seborrhoeic keratosis. It's not serious.'

'So why do they give things that aren't serious names like that, as if they were death sentences?'

'It's nothing to worry about.'

I said, 'But I feel like a warty old witch.'

I thought she'd say something sympathetic and soothe my self-esteem at this, but she added, 'We used to call them Old Man's Barnacles.'

I told her that this had made me feel even more like a warty witch now and wanted her to amputate my head.

What the doctor saw 

'I'm afraid the NHS won't excise this for you,' she said. 'It's seen as a cosmetic procedure which is unnecessary.'

'But I want to die of shame. It feels pretty necessary to me.'

She told me to ring a local skin clinic and thought I'd probably have to pay a couple of hundred pounds for them to deal with it.

'Would you pay that price,' I said, 'if it were you?'

She told me I was still young and pretty (by which time I knew she wanted to clock off and go home for dinner) and that if it were her, she would definitely have it done. 'If it were on my back,' she said, 'I wouldn't bother.'

'But if it's on your face and nearly bigger than your face and you're tempted to name it?....'

At home, I rang the local private hospital, thinking that perhaps a proper dermatologist was a better route. A lady in out-patients told me I would pay up to £250 for the consultation and then extra for treatment.

'I don't really need a consultation,' I said. 'It's a sebor - seborrh - seborrho - it's an Old Man's Barnacle. The doctor told me. No diagnosis needed.'

But, apparently, a consultation was mandatory and the resulting treatment could cost anything up to £1500.

I want a lump taken off, not four limbs replacing and a heart transplant, I wanted to say, but instead rang off and emailed a local clinic.

In the clinic yesterday, the therapist explored my face and identified about thirteen different moles and bumps she'd like to laser off it, which wasn't encouraging, but I said just the barnacle would be fine for now, if she didn't mind.

Ten minutes later I was on my feet with a tiny red scar instead of a monstrosity and only £80 out of pocket.

The treatment involved having hot needles pushed into my face which wasn't pleasant, but by then I'd have had someone jump up and down on my head in stiletto heels if I thought it would have got rid of my crocodile pea.

So now I'm happy, knowing that there are only thirteen other abnormalities on my face that need removing, and I know where to go to have them taken away before they reproduce overnight and become living creatures of their own accord.

More hot needles, but, on the bright side, this could also be a great alternative weight-loss strategy, if I can't keep off the pies.

NB  If you're thinking, is the collective noun for 'rabbits' really a 'herd', I know, right?! Who'd have thunk it? But I promise I looked it up.


  1. I have one on my back, Fran, but had to have it checked at the hospital "just to be safe". Lucky me, it was the medical student's day at the skin clinic at the DRI, so I had lots of students looking at my back and correctly diagnosing a Sebhorroiec thingy. The worst thing was when the doctor told me it was part of getting old and the teenage students tried not to giggle when I said "But, I'm not old!!" Now I feel ancient. :(

    1. I am going to demand an ancient doctor the next time I go there about anything like this.

  2. Well, I don't know about South America, but here in North America, yes, everyone, simply everyone, was talking about your OMB.

  3. Well, at least it didn't cost quite as much as predicted, so think of the money you saved, and how you can spend it!

    And the other good thing to come of this is that you entertained us in a hilarious manner, so there's that.

    I have a bump on my cheekbone that just appeared about a month ago, too. Just as soon as I get my stomach problems dealt with, and my hoarseness dealt with, and and and . . . I'll go see about my barnacle. One problem per visit, here, and a three week waiting period to get an appointment . . . it doesn't encourage timely solving of medical issues. And we don't have private clinics. Everything is through the government health services. That adds to the wait times. Oh, now I'm being all serious and destroying your good work!!

    1. I am totally with you on this. Doctor: 'How can I help you today?' Patient: I have twenty-four issues I've been saving up. How long do you have?'

  4. My old man has a barnacle on his back. Still there, since the dermatologist is not concerned. But. It's a lump I can see and feel thru his shirt.

    On your face is much harder to ignore.

    1. Yes, they're alarmingly fast-growing and then just stick around without having been invited, which is just rude.

  5. I saw a barnacle on the wreck of the Mary Rose at Portsmouth yesterday but it looked quite different to yours. Great read Mrs F as always. It cheered me up after a long day. More, more...

    1. My maiden name was Rose. So I had a barnacle on the wreck of the Fran Rose.

  6. I'm rather glad my flat brown moles have stayed flat brown moles. I don't think I'd like barnacles growing on me, I'm a wreck, but not a shipwreck.

    1. That really made me smile! See Deborah's comment!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Reasons why Fran can now forgive the ironing board incident

Evidence that overflowing Tupperware cupboards aren't the only problem later life brings

Reasons why Fran is desperately in search of earbuds