Monday, August 31, 2009


Waiting room. There are such things as "botox buddies," sitting kitty-corner from me, discussing the workout sessions they attended yesterday. The nurse calls them back together. An overweight, lopsided woman enters, her clothes hang carelessly, looks me straight in the face with an understanding smile, sits down. I'm thinking that I don't look so bad to be in this cosmetic procedure/eye surgeon office--perhaps that's magical or wishful thinking though. I could pretend that I'm just getting a little touch-up because my kids and nightshift schedule are causing my face to age, since I don't smoke and I avoid the sun like it's poison. A few minutes later the fat lady is called as well. Get the saran wrap ready, she cheerfully commands.

Now it's my turn. Follow me please, right here, yes--the first room here on the left, where is the restroom?, sign consent (risk of blindness? and millions of women have this done
electively??), aftercare instructions (no lying down for 4 hours, no exercise today--we don't want you to sweat), but could I go for a walk?, yes that's fine. Nurse draws up 3 TB syringes and leaves them on the counter. Wait in chair a long 60-minute version of 20 minutes, read book the same line and paragraph a couple of times over, think, think, read, stare at door, note noises in hall, unstick my elbow from armrest, adjust wedgie, look in mirror and smooth down flyaway hair wisps, apply lipstick (I might as well look good for this).

He enters wearing a suit, asks how I've been doing with this
blepharospasm thing I've got going on somewhere inside my face and brain. Fine, it comes and goes, worse when I'm tired. Terrified of this. Why? Let's see, it's my first time, I'm a botox virgin. Are you sure you want to proceed then? Yes, yes, I'm not tired now, it hasn't been so bad lately, but who knows the future? Driving is still difficult in the morning. Staring into my eyes, yes, I'm still blinking a lot, just not now when you're looking at me so much. Did my eye doctor send you the memo that I am pretty much the worst patient ever?

Holds syringes up to light, checks for air bubbles, says I'm going to start with a relatively low dose if that's okay with you. Uh, yeah, that's perfectly okay. I have to work the next three nights, I was hoping my eyelids wouldn't be hanging over my mouth.

The needle comes near. I instinctively close my eyes. I only know I'm supposed to because a friend told me that's how it's done. Quick, cautious, seemingly inadequate wipe across my brow with alcohol. Prick, bee-sting burn, prick prick prick prick, ouch (my eyelid!), jump, grab around for arm of chair, prick prick prick. How many of those do you need to put in each eye? I don't count, he mumbles. A quick blot of dry gauze to indicate that he's through with the right side.

Can you give me a moment to compose myself? I need to breathe. I can't believe women have this done because they
want it done. That's what they say, he says, the ones who need it don't like it and the ones who don't need it say it's not so bad.

Now to the left side with barely a warning. Close eyes, quick. Prick prick prick ouch, damn! the eyelid again. Will my aqueous humor (this is far from humorous) leak out from my eyeball after he accidentally punctures it? I remember that word from anatomy class--a distraction. Prick prick prick prick. We're done. Blot blot. Call me in 10 days. Come back in 3 months.

The skin around my eyes is red and white dappled with tiny blood spots at the injection sites. I'm
embarrassed to walk out into public like this. The receptionist says it will go down in an hour. Beeline for the bathroom to wipe the blood off. First I have to make my way through a waiting room full of old people staring at my face, probably wondering if I had collagen injections out of vanity while still in my relative youth.

There's a numb sensation all around my eyes. I count the hours at home--1,2,3,4--
naptime. I've been up half the night worrying about this. I really am tired. I lied earlier, I guess. Or it is that I live my life in a state of exhaustion, so I don't really notice it anymore.

When I wake-up, that little furrow by my right eyebrow is gone. I smile. No forehead wrinkles. I'm still blinking a lot though, the sun a bit irritating. 3 days to work medically, 4 hours to take 5 years off. Nice. My face feels pretty normal, but normal for me is always tense and tight around my eyes, with my eyebrows having a mind of their own. Wondering if I will wake up in the morning and its contrary personality will be muted, or if I will need to tape my eyelids shut for the next 3 months.

So my little curse may be a blessing--only time will tell.


troutbirder said...

I love it. And your encounter with the moonflower seeds was hilarious. If I had started gardening with anything that complex I would have given it up a long time ago. Anyway I think I'll go get some pop.

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