Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Temporary Vampire

As many of you know, I am a girl of German/Irish/English heritage, who spent several summers as a lifeguard and many more summers as a scoffer of 'suntan lotion,' preferring instead to get a 'deep base' burn before setting off to build upon that heritage of skin damage with daily applications of MOAR UV RAYS!!

This, in retrospect, was not a good idea.

Not only did those UV rays do me a decided disservice with generous popping-outs of freckles (or, you know, 'angels kisses' for the romantically inclined yet seriously deluded amongst us [Hi, LOML!]), and early face-crepiness, but also they resulted in the genesis of odd bouts of skin cancers, pre-skin cancers, and so much other odd dreck that my dermatologist, several months ago, suggested I get some sort of 'light treatment' to make the random bits of unknown dreadfulness just up and die.

(Hello, I am old enough to get full-facial treatments and have The Insurance pay for it as it is Medically Necessary. You don't get THIS kind of thing when you're in your 20's!)

So,' light treatment.' In the medical field it's known as ALA-PDT, or Levulan-photodynamic therapy. It involves getting tarted up in a no-doubt horrifically poisonous wash of goo that, once applied to every crevice of your ghastly aging face, begins to invade your skin, searching out nasty little wanna-be cancers. For an hour, the goo searches out crap and crud, investigating dark corners of your face for pre-bravado cancers, and making dates with them for mutual suicide.

Good news: there was minimal burning/itching/stinging (all of which I'd been warned about). I was feeling damned good about myself, with the pain/discomfort thing. Rather superior, in fact. Ultra-great, and very Teutonic in my stoicness.

Darkly awkward, and thrilling, no?

Then, the second part. The light.


After an hour I was called back into the treatment room, reclined on a table, fitted with METAL goggles, and told that I was in for 7 minutes of what could be hell. Therefore the little hand-held fan. Nice thought. I was ready for some truly awful moments. Pre-relishing them, even.

The light went on, my retinas, even with the metal dang goggles, began simmering nicely in a white-hot bath of photons, and I settled in to commence with further stinging/burning/itching.

Aaaaaand, NOTHING. No need for the fan, no panicked calls for help, no twitch of panic or whiff of cooking flesh, tough there was the moment when 'something' popped in the light assembly that made me think the maybe my hair might set on fire. Otherwise, nothing. No need for fan, no despearate waving of hands, no light sizzling or any overt notice that in fact anything was really happening.

Color me disappointed when the 7 minutes were over, the light was snapped off, I was once again able to see, and was ushered out of the room with a sheen of newly-applied moisturizer, admonitions to stay out of the sun for 48 hours (Team Edward!), and and appointment to see the doc in 6 weeks to ascertain if this was the only treatment I'd need for my 'issues.'

And still, nothing in the pain department.

Now, if you're like me, after a good medical treatment you'd like a bit of suffering to show for it. Something in the 'Oh, I'm fine, really (*wipes hand languidly across brow*)' variety, in which suffering in implied, but not overt. Sadly, in the case of the great face frying of 2012, it seems i was to be denied. Several hours at home, and nothing in the way of discomfort, at all. I was starting to think it was time to ask the office if the wand of Levulan was still good.

And then, 6 hours later, I didn't need to call any more.

That Levulan was good. The treatment worked. How did I know? Easy - My face started to sting like an asshole coated with hot sauce. Also, it began to swell. Also, to turn red in really unexpected places. Like, hey, I never would have expected to get a cancer in the crease of my NOSE, but dang if they're not lighting up like a baboon's butt in mating season. Also the chin. And my ENTIRE FREAKING FOREHEAD.

Gosh, this is going to be great. Swelling, peeling, itching, and scaling are projected to follow.

Just thought you should know what's happening with me, and that there will be many more self-indulgent posts about my stupid precanceroushead will be forthcoming. Some, perhaps, with pictures.

You have been warned.

With love, TIFF.

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