There is a lovely lady whose blog I read, who recently posted about having Botox. It made me laugh. Really laugh. And got me thinking.
I’m at that age, right? You know. I’ve had a couple of kids, a painful divorce, and I’m just not so young as I used to be..!
I wouldn’t say I look quite like a crumpled paper bag, but there are definitely a few lines showing. So, would I consider having a spot of Botox? Injecting myself with toxins to paralyze my face and smooth them out? Or perhaps go a step further? Surgery…?
As it happens, I find these questions very easy to answer. It is something I have been clear about for virtually my whole adult life.
I do not relish the thought of getting old and wrinkly. I caught sight of my reflection the other day, and admit I was a bit shocked at how old I looked. In my mind’s eye, I’m still about 25 – so this old woman staring back at me seemed like a stranger.
So would I / wouldn’t I have cosmetic surgery..?
Well, as it happens, I definitely wouldn’t. And no, I’m not talking about plastic surgery that is necessary for genuine medical reasons. I’m talking purely about surgery for solely cosmetic reasons.
And this is why:
When I was in my late teens, my parents decided to go away for the weekend. They had agreed that I could have a couple of friends over and as it was such a lovely weekend, I decided we’d have a barbecue.
And what could be better for a barbecue than delicious home made barbecue sauce. I dug out the recipe book. Measured out the ingredients, including the “killer” ingredient – sugar.
When I say that sugar was the killer ingredient, I’m not talking about the impact it has on my hips and thighs. I’m talking about the fact that it melts at 186˚ centigrade. By comparison to water, which boils at 100˚ centigrade – that’s pretty hot. And dangerous. No shit Sherlock?!
So, having boiled up the barbecue sauce I need to liquidize it. I half filled the liquidizer, switched it on, and then “bang”. The liquidizer exploded. One whole side of my face was covered with the boiling hot sauce. It had splashed across part of the other side, down my neck, my arm and my chest.
Burning hot and sticking to me. But that wasn’t the worst of it. I will never know whether it was shock, the heat of the sauce, or the chilies – but, I couldn’t see. I was hyperventilating with the shock and pain.
I thought I’d blinded myself, and I was on fire.
I knew I had to get cold water on my face as soon as possible, so I crawled up to my parents bathroom on my hands and knees, feeling my way along the walls.
The first thing I did was to hold my eyes open whilst I splashed them with cold water. After what seemed like an eternity, still hyperventilating, to my utmost relief my eyesight returned. My eyes were still on fire, but I could at least see.
After three failed attempts to phone our neighbours, I raced down into the garden, opened my mouth and screamed.
They told me some time later, that it was the most blood curdling scream they had ever heard.
An ambulance was called. The ambulance team were absolutely amazing. They got me to breath properly again, calmed me down, and before I knew it, I was sitting in a bed in A&E with a large washing up bowl on my lap.
The nurse in A&E told me it was my lucky day. They were defrosting the freezer that afternoon! I sat there for about five hours, shivering with cold as I swabbed my face with the ice cold water.
After a long discussion about whether I should be air-lifted to the nearest specialist burns unit, it was decided that I should be sent up to a ward. They applied the most amazing cream, which almost “switched-off” the burning sensation. I remember clearly that it lasted for about three hours, but could not be reapplied until four hours had passed. So that meant an hour of burning before I got my next “fix”.
Finally, they mummified my whole head and told me my parents were on their way to see me.
Next morning, a nurse came to take off the bandages. She sat on the edge of the bed and very kindly and gently told me that at some point, I had to go and look in a mirror.
It took me about two hours to summon the courage. All I had asked the doctors and nurses that morning, all I wanted to know was:
“Will I be permanently scarred?”
And of course, it was one question they simply couldn’t answer... only time was going to tell.
Finally I faced the mirror. I can’t describe what I saw. One whole side of my usually pale face was the colour of strong coffee. The other side had dark brown splodges, where the sauce had splashed across my face.
On the side of my nose there was a blister. It was desperately sore. And my arm and chest were very painful. They had received less cold water than my face, so the burns there were worse.
The following week was excruciating. I had to go to the hospital every day to have my face checked and the burns cleaned and dressed. A few of the burns on my arm and chest took a while to heal. But my face…? By the most extraordinary good fortune, I was left “perfect” – or at least, as “perfect” as I’ll ever be!
Two weeks later, I went back for a follow-up appointment at the hospital. The doctor was quite astonished that my face was scar-less. But he looked at my arm and in all seriousness, asked me whether I wanted to consider a skin graft.
I was speechless. I had my face in tact. Not a single scar, not even where it had blistered on my nose. Why? Why would I be worried about a little scar on my arm? I laughed. I thanked him for his kindness and concern, but said it would be a good reminder never to make barbecue sauce again.
And so, back to the subject of cosmetic surgery.
No one wants to feel that they look old, so I try and keep fit. I use moisturizer, not a lot of makeup, and try and eat a healthy balanced diet…
I would never look down on someone who felt so unhappy with their appearance that felt the need to do it… but…
I have had a life with my face intact. Not a burn scar in site. Why would I tempt fate with the risk of post-operative infection, the risks associated with general anesthesia and the possibility of looking like I got trapped in a wind tunnel?
I may be old and I may be wrinkly, but I’m all “me”!