I’m turning 40 this year. I’m going to be honest with y’all, I’m not taking it well. But I have a goal of making this my #bestyearever. I’m going to work out, eat better, spend more time doing things I love, taking care of myself, kick some ass, take some names.
I’ve turned to Pilates and endless dog walks for exercise, super food salads with a bunch of stuff I can hardly pronounce in them (keeeen-Wa), indulging in flea market shopping whenever the mood strikes me (yes, I need another Mid-Century lamp, thanks), and pouring myself into my job.
But there’s one thing I really wanted to improve that was not as easy.
Between the decades of sun damage, the nose broken many years ago, the crow’s feet, the fissures across my forehead, it’s kind of a mess.
Now don’t get my wrong, I’m not hideous for Pete’s sake. I mean it’s not like the pack of coyotes that live in our backyard has taken me in as one of their own, but still I look…..tired, blah, weathered if you will. Or as my dermatologist says, “You look like you’ve enjoyed yourself!” Not entirely sure what that means, but sort of sounded like a really nice way to say “rode hard and put away wet.”
I want to look a little fresher, brighter, and if possible 35-er. That’s not too much to ask, right?
I went for a consultation at one of those professional med-spa gimmicks and decided to take a step to get my face looking closer to how I felt it should.
I opted for one of the many laser resurfacing options and I can tell you that I no longer fear hell. Because I have been there.
This procedure involves literally burning a layer of skin off your face. Surely, I thought, this would help!? If you ever do this, understand that when you’re told some minor swelling and mild redness may occur you are being lied to and will not leave your house for three days. I felt a sense of immediate regret when I could smell something on fire as the laser made its first pass. “Oh, it’s just the little hairs on your face searing off, Hon.” The nurse practitioner told me. Oh OK. Just those.
Immediately after the procedure, which really only took about 10 minutes after waiting for an hour with a thick layer of numbing cream on my face, I felt an intense burning. Something like a frying pan must feel when it’s heated up to cook your Sunday bacon. I drove home with ice packs on one side of my face while holding the other side as close as possible to the AC vent without crashing my car. My face was as red as tomato, almost purple is some spots like I had been tanning on the face of the sun.
But the worst part was yet to come.
About three hours later my face started to swell. Especially my left side. I looked like a cross between Quasimodo and Sloth from the Goonies except my face was hot pink and coated with Aquafor. I went to bed with a bag of frozen peas and propped up on six pillows. My husband came in and poked me every few hours to make sure I was still breathing.
The next morning, I laughed out loud when I looked in the mirror. And then nearly started to sob. The swelling was so bad, I could not see out of my left eye! I looked like I had swallowed a bee hive. Thank Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the Talking Walnut that I work from home because I would have had to quit my job.
I called my doctor who assured me that my Sumo wrestler face was “normal” but she could call in a prescription to help bring it down. I was relieved until I realized that meant I would have to leave the house and walk into a store where people may notice my cheek bones were practically touching my eyebrows.
I nearly called a friend to get the meds for me but instead I braved up, put on a hat, sunglasses, hoodie and tried to pull my hair around my face as much as possible. I was about as incognito as Marilyn Mason at a Mary Kay party. I picked up my kids from school later and the after-care teachers signaled to me from across the field that they would sign the boys out, no need for me to come to them. I’m assuming they were concerned the children would run screaming from fear if they saw me up close.
For three solid days my face was so swollen it felt like my cheeks would explode. I was melting ice cubes on my forehead while taking conference calls and trying to read through slits of eyes. The steroids I was given had me climbing the walls and if I didn’t apply lotion to my face 567 times a day, it would itch and burn like a mother. I made a joke to my husband if he still found me attractive and he just winced and changed the subject.
And then, on the fourth day, it all started to subside. The itching, flaking, redness, scabbing, puffy after effects slowly went away. And what was left was indeed a smoother, clearer, prettier face.
Do I look 35 now that’s it all said and done? Meh. But I do look fresh enough that someone who sees me at least once a week noticed right away. And I find that I need less makeup to not look like I have a role in Night of the Walking Dead.
But I’ve learned that if you want something bad enough there are ways to get it if you’re willing to suffer. I’ve also learned that some of those things might not be nearly as important as you think they are.