Saving Face

Phil Mickelson had a treatment on his face to prevent skin cancer. That led to him wearing his cool new reflective sunglasses. I was told, I didn’t hear it for myself. If golf is being televised somewhere in the world, tournaments for women or men, it’s appearing on a TV in the house. I don’t turn it on. Sometimes I walk by and watch for a while. I’ve played golf. I’m not great. But I think golf is the most boring sport that you can watch on TV. OK – except for Morikawa’s drive on 16 out at Harding. Usually, I’d rather find something else to do. So MA told me about Phil because  I was scheduled for a photodynamic treatment on my face. I’m one of those fair skinned types who is prone to skin cancer. I’d read a few things about the treatment and one of them said it is “painful.” That stuck in my head. I was glad to hear that Phil looked the same as ever except for those sunglasses. Later I found out his treatment was different than mine.

The nurse roughed up my skin using a hand held device, applied a substance, and left me to sit in an examining room for an hour while it soaked in. I pulled out my book and picked up reading where I’d left off.

It seemed like 15 minutes passed but the hour was up and I was led into a room and took a seat in from of a stand with an array of curved light bulbs. The nurse covered my eyes with some kind of patches, flicked the switch and left me alone to endure the light treatment for 15 minutes. I felt no pain – thought it must come later. When she returned, I asked her if it was true that the treatment left people looking 10 years younger.

“Girl, if that was the case, there’d be a line out  the door.”

That was clearly a no answer.

Back at home, I followed instructions. don’t go outside or sit near the windows and ice my face for 15-20 minutes every hour for two days. I assumed I didn’t have to wake during the night for the ice pack. The ice packs had no holes for eyes, so each ice treatment, I closed my eyes. The first one or two were no problem. I must have daydreamed and waited for pain. There was no pain.

Then it got in my head, that I had another 18-20 more ice treatments to go.

I’ve been taking virtual intro to yoga classes since March where we’re often told to find our stillness. I decided I needed to try and find my stillness while doing the ice treatments. The yoga teacher has said more than once to imagine ourselves on a highway overpass just watching our thoughts come and go. Next icing, I imagined myself on an overpass but when I looked down, all I saw were cars and streaks of colors – reds, blues, greens, white and black. I started silently reprimanding myself for not having any imagination. Why couldn’t I turn those cars into thoughts? I realized that was a thought in itself so I let it go.Then it came to me that I don’t see a lot of my thoughts, I hear them. Maybe if I imagine jazz through my ears, the thoughts will move through or be drowned out.

Day two, I looked in the mirror and my face was the brightest red it has ever been. It was hot to the touch. I couldn’t wait to put the ice pack on to cool off and try and find stillness. I continued to cool off in 15 minute segments. As the day progressed, my face started tingling and itching – I wouldn’t call it pain. I imagined it was what it might feel like if I had poison ivy all over my face. A good thing I’ve had some practice not touching my face due to Covid. The itching and stinging got worse. I started having chills. MA, concerned, took my temperature. 98.6 – no problem. I took one extra strong Tylenol and never had any chills again. Three times a day I rubbed Cortisone (1%) on my face.  I kept up with the icing and kept waiting for the pain. There was no pain.

The next day or two, my face transitioned from bright red to tan. MA said I started to look native American. I don’t know about that. It seemed like freckles were emerging in some areas. I had a face of many colors. My skin started peeling in places, like it would if I did have a bad sunburn. I applied lotion over and over again. We already had a supply of Cetaphil, a recommended brand. I ordered sunblock with zinc. I was to apply it at least twice a day from now until eternity. The sunblock I applied once a day in the past didn’t contain zinc so I had to go with a different brand. I was told to stay out of direct sun for at least two weeks. I always try to stay out of direct sun. I own a lot of hats and several sunblock shirts. I have an spf unbrella too.

There are still some days left until the molting ends but I think I have saved face. There was no pain.

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