Thursday, June 22, 2017

Why I Can't Have Nice Things and BTW, There's a Folktale on My Face

Yeah, I thought this blog had outlived its usefulness, too. But it turns out there ain't no pity party like the one I can throw myself here, so let's get to it. I'm rapidly approaching 50 and my skin shows it. A few years ago when I pointed out various white spots (basal cell cancer!), dark spots (melanoma!), blotchiness and wrinkles, to my dermatologist she gamely described them as "signs of maturity." She also noted that I probably had a lot of fun in the sun when I was younger. You know, back in the olden days when tanning oil was in vogue and the term SPF hadn't been invented.

Anyhoo, I was overdue for a skin check. And now my skin is more. More freckly, more wrinkly, more discolored and as blotchy as ever.

But I recently learned a secret that apparently most women my age and older already know: getting work done. Work as in facial peels, laser treatments, chemical fills, Botox! Apparently, I missed this stop on the crazy train of life, the one that helps older women look younger and fresher.

So I was excited to see the dermatologist and learn about my treatment options.

Introducing the new Kim Moldofsky!

via GIPHY

I was eager to clear up my skin. You know, make my outside reflect my inside and all that. In theory, at least. The truth is my inside is kind of a mess right now.

Which is essentially what the doctor told me. No fancy facial treatments for you, missy! He pointed out that my arthritis is flaring, my medication is still in flux, and anyway many immunosuppressants make the skin super sensitive to sunlight...and things like lasers. You're a candidate for complications, things going wrong. It could lead to trouble.

I look fine for a woman my age, he reassuredOr maybe he called my skin appropriate. He might have thrown me a bone and tossed out the word good-looking, but I think I'm making that up. Perhaps he used that most passive-aggressive of medical terms, unremarkable.

At any rate, either I have to apply a shit ton of makeup (and manage not to have it drip down my face during a sweaty hot flash) (aso, I'd have to buy the makeup and learn to use it) or I just have to deal.

But then, as my appointment was ending, I called his attention to a small red spot on the side of my nose. It kinda looks like a small sore, but it's not. Every now and again, it gets a small scab. It's been like that for years.

Suddenly, his eyes lit up*. He grabbed his liquid nitrogen and froze that motherf--ker into oblivion leaving me with dime-sized blister on the side of my nose. Not just a mark, but a thing with a bubbly three dimensions. Think about it. A dime is not small unless you compare it to, say, a silver dollar.

A week later the wound has flattened out but looks like a ginormous zit that has been obsessively picked over to the point of major skin damage. A bandage over the conspicuous area calls attention to it as much as the uncovered version does, though the bandage adds a sense of intrigue, I suppose.

Any day now it will turn into a more typical scab. Probably.

Because I hang out with a lot of middle-aged folks, they understand that it's an ugly dermatological intervention and not a disgustingly gross overpicked zit, but still. I feel worse than ever.

And then last night I recalled an old Yiddish folk tale.

A poor shtetl couple lives in a cramped, noisy, overcrowded house with their six children. The parents are at their wits' end. They consult the rebbe, who advises them to bring their dog into the house. They are confused, but do what the rebbe says.


via GIPHY

The situation gets worse, so they consult him again. This time he advises them to bring in their goat. So they do. The unceasing bleating adds to the chaos.

Back to the rebbe they go.

This time he advises them to bring their cow into the house.

More mooing, more mess.

Back again to the rebbe, who suggests they bring in the sheep as well.

Finally, they can't stand the noisy, crowded messy hovel anymore. "Rebbe, help us! The situation is intolerable!"

This time he advises them to remove all the animals. They do. And it turns out that having only the noise and the mess of their children is not so bad after all.

So it is with my skin. Or put in modern terms:

Me: Doctor, my skin is a mess. Help me face the world with confidence.
Doctor: Hold my beer.

Once this festering very visible wound is gone (God willing, in a week or two assuming it heals normally and there is no potentially cancerous sign in its wake, which is the presumed outcome), I'll look at my uneven, blotchy face in the mirror and remind myself that it could be worse.

*I jest