Born in Michigan to a blonde, blue-eyed father and an olive skinned brown haired, brown-eyed mother, I ended up with dirty blonde hair, green eyes and freckles. Three of my four grandparents were blue eyed. I'm not sure where the green came from, but they’re a point of vanity. They make me feel special even though most people think of me as having blue eyes. The freckles used to be kind of cute, too. Now they’re viewed with suspicion. We have no history of skin cancer in the family, but my dermatologist isn't taking any chances.
Raised in New York, we resided for a while by a lake and my father had a sailboat on Long Island for years. There were the catastrophic sunburns in Florida- second-degree burns that blistered and peeled. At seventeen I moved to Hollywood and spent my fair share of time by the pool. When I moved to Mill Valley there was a slab if concrete in the back yard that I dubbed the "sun pit". You get the drift. That was before all the years at the girls' swim meets followed by the tennis years. Suffice to say, if I never had another drop of sun on my shoulders it wouldn't be too soon.
At a recent visit to the skin doctor he looked at me and put it quite bluntly. He said he could zap my face thirty times or I could have the blue light treatment. No third option? I guess not. Eric has the same dermatologist and he prescribed the same treatment for him. Forty years on tennis courts and a South Florida childhood had come home to roost.
We decided to have it done together. Double date. The first question the doctor asked me was if I was ok with having a “vicious” reaction. Apparently, the longer the chemical is left on before the light treatment, the deeper it goes and the “better” the result. The medicine attaches to the pre-cancerous cells and then they peel off. He suggested I might peel for ten days. Eric had gone first so I said I’d do whatever he did. It was an hour and a half. In retrospect, it’s a decision I regret.
After Eric waited for his hour and a half, he spent seventeen minutes under the ultra-violet light. I could tell it hurt by looking at him when he returned to the waiting room. Then it was my turn. If you’ve ever had a lip wax you might be able to imagine the pain. It’s like the ripping part for seventeen minutes. Also like someone is stabbing your face continuously with tiny hot pokers. Ouch!
Afterwards, you scurry home under a hat and stay in the darkest room of your house for forty-eight hours. We have a very light house. With six skylights, it's even bright in the garage. Many of our windows are up high and have no shades. That ruled out the master bedroom, bathroom and living room. We draped the kitchen windows with towels and drop cloths. It was rainy when we went in for the treatment, but four hours later it started to clear up on the way home.
That was yesterday. I cannot express how miserable I am today. Red, itchy, blistery, scaly face with out of control swelling. Pain like the worst sunburn I’ve ever had, along with that chilled feeling. It’s a glorious spring day and miserable to have to stay inside the whole time, but it’s probably just as well. I could scare children if I’m seen in public now. Eric is having some itching but he looks practically normal.
Now that I’ve finished all 775 pages of Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch”, I’m at a loss. Agitated, bored and grumpy. As unpleasant (medical euphemism) as this is, I know it’s the right thing to do. I need to get the bad guys off my face. It will heal and I’ll forget about how awful it was until I go back for treatment number two. In five weeks.
|The kitchen looks like an encampment.|