“I could never do cosmetic surgery. It’s just so vain. It’s bad karma to want to change what you are. I mean, unless you’re in a disfiguring car wreck or something.”
–Me, like 5 years ago.
I have had a port wine “stain” birthmark on my neck since…well, birth. Growing up, I wasn’t too self-conscious about it. Either everyone ignored it or it was relatively hidden by my hair, my collar, etc. Then again, on the spectrum of port wine stains, it was lighter colored. Really more of a white zinfandel splash, fortunately.
One of the first times I really thought, with concern, about ZinSplash was when I was in labor with Girlchild. In the hospital I heard the anesthetist say, “Oh wait, she’s having a reaction…..might want to pull the epidural…” Wait, WHAT? What? Do not speak of me in the third person while threatening to cause me pain!
“Oh no!” I said, realizing what was happening, “Please don’t take away the epidural, that’s just my birthmark!”
Rest assured when I checked in to deliver Boychild a couple of years later, I made all hospital employees write down on all forms that ZinSplash existed. I wanted to make certain the splotch would not be misconstrued as an allergic reaction to medicines that would ease pain or relax me.
I couldn’t understand why ZinSplash was suddenly visible to others, but then, over the last few years, I’ve noticed I’m having to use concealer, and an increasing amount of it, to cover this thing. It’s become kind of a beast. I saw a photo of me in a ponytail and I noticed it behind my ear. I confronted Mr. Banks, who responded, “Well, of course it’s behind your ear! You didn’t know?”
No, because I don’t normally maneuver a mirror to examine the area behind my ears.
A couple of years ago my dermatologist pointed out ZinSplash and told me their office has an expert on staff who could remove it. But since I was still pretending it was invisible, I felt sensitive and embarrassed. I tossed away the brochures she gave me.
Recently I removed my make-up and confronted ZinSplash head on. Wow, this thing HAS to have grown, I thought. It just never took up this much space before, I’m sure of it. Do these stupid things spread?
“Actually, since you asked–they do spread, “ said The Google.
Why did no one tell me this before?!
“Yes, “ continued The Google, “It will most likely continue to spread and take on a raised, marble-like appearance. In fact, should it spread near your eyes, it can be associated with glaucoma. And it can become disfiguring in old age, left unchecked.”
Great! What a nice surprise “birthday” gift to open in my 30’s. Does insurance cover it? I wondered. “Sometimes, “ responded The Google. “More often in infancy.”
Um, right, because you know how, with adulthood comes that deep maturity that involves acceptance of possible disfigurement.
After procrastinating a bit, I made another appointment at the dermatologist, with Dr. Laser All the Bad Away. While I waited to meet him, I perused the tall wall of brochures in the exam room.
You know the line in The Graduate when Mr. McGuire says “just one word” to Benjamin and it’s “plastics”? Totally should have been “lasers.” On this wall of brochures, I learned that lasers can zap the following problems: acne, wrinkles, age spots, freckles, birthmarks, scars, spider veins, tattoos for which you no longer have love, rosacea, and varicose veins. Lasers can even transform you into a creepy hairless cat. Beat that, stupid plastic.
So, yes, said Dr. Laser All the Bad Away, he could help me with this. We could also submit to my health insurance and see what happens.
And then he went there. He said, “I note you have some redness in your cheeks, some spider veins, and we use the same laser to take care of those issues as we do for the port wine stains, so I could take care of it at the same time. For extra cost. Not covered by insurance. Only if you’re interested.”
Why, yes. Yes, I am.
I interrupted—the eye veins, right? The same ones I saw Kristin Chenoweth discuss with Conan O’Brien on his show, the ones he fears removing because they are close to his eyes.
Yes, those veins. Dr. Laser All the Bad Away could remove those veins safely. It involves some eye numbing solution and some kind of shiv inserted to protect my eye, but yes, those.
Normally someone who takes notes at doctors’ appointments, I began to behave as though I were in the office for a lobotomy follow-up. My eyes just began to spin. The part about the numbing, the shiv, the concerns about my vision…all these things faded into black. I was transported to that scene from The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy has finally made it to Oz and she’s in the ridiculous beauty salon getting all gussied up and exclaims with delight, “Can you EVEN dye my eyes to match my GOWN?”
Their answer was yes too. I used to wonder as a kid how she signed up for that procedure so easily. It worried me. What did Dorothy even know firsthand about Oz, a solid green city run by an invisible mayor? A road named after an Elton John song? Were these beauticians licensed, even?? Now all of that didn’t matter. I was ready to see a Wizard too.
Thankfully, our insurance will cover the removal of the birthmark. And how could I say no to using the same laser to rid myself of reddened cheeks? And, well, once I’m there, why not use the different laser to take care of those hideous blue veins? I mean, to do otherwise would be stupid, right?
I feel like I’m on a slippery slope to hypocrisy, but I gotta say, it’s a fun slide down. Why did I fight this so hard? If this all goes well I’m going to go ahead and get my legs lasered smooth, my wrinkles lasered off, my hand freckles zapped away…..
I’ll just stand in the middle of the room like a piece of high-priced art or giant diamond, surrounded by lasers, and then just rotate around on a pedestal, letting them hit me everywhere. Fix everything! Make me shiny!