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The agony of the beautiful life

I have been on prednisone for five days. Yes, the pneumonia, she looms once again, but this time, I think we nipped it in the bud. Or in the balls. There was some nipping. I seem to have found a magic antibiotic this time, one that does not make me throw up and one that will tackle both a sinus infection and its respiratory cousin, which makes me hopeful. In four weeks, I really hope that I will not learn that I have yet again thinned the herd of germs in some kind of Darwinist germ experiment and become Patient #001 of a new mega superstrain. I hope they name it the Weetabix Pandemic.

In other news, because I am stupid, we realized last night at a really inconvenient moment that oh yeah, birth control pills do not like antibiotics. Oh, whoops, stupid married people. Luckily we both remember some tricks from high school. However, the very next day, Esteban and I went out for dinner and I ordered raw oysters, as I am wont to do, (as I love them very much, and even though Esteban isn’t all that impressed with the oyster place, he tolerates it once a month or so). The stupid part is coming up, by the way, don’t think I forgot. Midway through my dozen meaty briny Hillborroughs, I suddenly got one oyster that tasted hot. Nay, sulfuric. I was going to spit it out, but the napkin was cloth and I didn’t want to make a scene, so I swallowed it. Because that’s what good girls do apparently. And fat girls? I don’t know, the “spit out” reaction just doesn’t seem to be engaged. And then I realized that I’m probably going to die of something very horrible that you get from eating bad raw oysters. On the drive home, Esteban suggested that maybe I should try to throw up, except that no, I don’t throw up. I never ever just “throw up”, as though it were some casual thing like brushing one’s hair or paying a bill. If I throw up? I probably need to see a doctor.

I did try, however. Hell, teenage girls do it every day, why not me this once? It didn’t work and I gave up before I burst all the blood vessels in my face. That’s the other thing that happens with me. I end up looking leprous for days, like I’ve been punched in the face for two weeks later, and my face finally calmed down after last week’s ordeal*, so I didn’t want to push it.

Then I went to Dr. Google and searched for “sulfur” and “oyster”. I learned that you should not eat oysters that smell like sulfur. Oh, ok. I guess I just won’t do that again. Probably because I’ll be dead, but whatever. Also, and here’s why I hate myself: if you are on antibiotics, you have a compromised immune system in this case, because you killed off the bugs in your gut that would fight the toxins. So it’s a lock. Death is coming soon. Pray for me.

You know what you do when you’ve got a gigantic science fiction book to read and another gigantic bunch of critical theory to finish and a paper to write by Monday and a bunch of freelance to do and it’s 10:17 on a Saturday night? Yeah, that’s what I do too.

I have mentioned before that I have a rosacea, which is a skin condition that makes you look like a gigantic red pustule instead of a pretty pretty princess. The whole thing sucks, because really, my natural tone is that of copy paper so any bit of redness shows up like the Japanese flag on my cheeks. Also, while I’ve done a fairly good job of keeping it at bay in the six or so years since I was diagnosed, it has slowly slid into the third stage, what I think of as “larval”. I had some of the telltale “orange peel skin” thickening of the worst areas, the dreaded pustules were starting to pop up, and I was starting to get spider veins on my cheeks and nose. It is a very glamorous condition and I can tell that you are very jealous.

The only fix to this is… well, death (by OYSTER!). But you can sort of stop it by avoiding warm food, extreme temperatures (hello, I live in Wisconsin, which has at least 120 degree temperature shifts through the course of a year), wine (like that’s going to happen), spices, heat, exercise, and probably shopping and sex and anything else that I really enjoy doing with my life. The other option involved lasers.

So bring on the mofo lasers.

I’ve been under the laser before. I got my upper lip zapped a few years ago. It hurt like a bitch, quite honestly, and I was glad when three treatments mostly did the trick. However, this treatment would be targeting a deeper layer of the skin and also, would cover my entire fucking face, so unlike the upper lip trick, which was over in 90 seconds, I wouldn’t be able to hold my breath until this was over.

Luckily, my guy, the laser guy, he deals with wusses all the time and offered some numbing stuff. Just the same, I was fine until the moment I had the metal eye protectors on (by which I mean that I was completely blind) and then through sense memory, my body immediately went spazzoid and I was jumping and shallow breathing and everything. Which is just goofy, because I know that it really doesn’t hurt all that much. It’s hot and sort of ouchy, but no big. The subconscious mind, however, was having none of that logic shit.

I asked him to tell me when he was about to start, so he did, but then nothing happened. He said that he would be starting with my chin. I felt him place the laser guiding cage on my face and then move it up and down a few times. After the third pass, I realized that he was zapping me, but the sensation had just made its way slowly into my brain. Weird. I could feel where the laser was, and could acknowledge that it wasn’t exactly pleasant, but other than that, it was fine. The only parts that really hurt were my upper lip and oddly enough, the tip of my nose, which felt like he was sticking me with a red hot needle. I suspect that he didn’t put enough topical anesthetic there, but he said that there were more nerve endings there than any area on the face, so whatever.

I left the office looking like a second-degree burn victim, which sucked. On the way home, I had to shut the sunroof, because I had to shield my face from UV for a day. By the time I got home, I felt like I had sunburn, so I took an Advil and held an ice pack to my face for awhile. My face swelled up quite a bit, but nothing horrible and I didn’t even think about taking another Advil before I went to bed.

However, when I woke up the next morning, I was surprised that I couldn’t actually see the time on the alarm clock. It was like my eyes couldn’t open all the way. I made a blurry walk to the bathroom and when I got to the mirror, I almost said “I am not an animal!” My face was a Strawberry Moon Pie and my eyes were mostly swollen shut, completely with giant pillows of fluid beneath each like a bulldog or something. Great. I took a shower and then sat on the couch with cold eye compresses for half an hour.
Progress, but nothing great. I just settled with the idea of O.Henry rigging my vanity against me and got dressed to go to work. After I had been upright for a few hours, the swelling under my eyes had decreased by about half and if I kept my reading glasses on while at work, it wasn’t very noticeable. I avoided looking in a mirror all day because I didn’t want to see the poochy eye bags nor the weird furrowing that was going on with the swelling, as though I had fallen asleep against a cold Panini press. My cheeks looked like some kind of Zen garden.

It took four days for the swelling to subside but now I am much less moon-faced and amazingly enough, also much less red. While the spider veins are still there, they are smaller and I’d have to say that 50% of the redness is gone on my cheeks. My nose and chin still have problems, but wow! Go science! This just might be worth it.

I have another treatment in four weeks. Two days before a wedding. I may have to find a bag for my head that coordinates with my wedding ensemble.

People have no appreciation for how hard it is to be this cool.

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