Disclaimer: Exercise Caution, Explicit Images Depicted; Reading this story and viewing these images may result in an upset stomach, feelings of empathy or sadness or just utter disgust. This story may alter your opinions on picking your face. Proceed at your own volition.
I have always been, as most would consider, good looking. Some would even go as far as to say, above average. (On a good day that is.) However, like others, I have a guilty pleasure, a vice, if you will. Sometimes, if my days been long, or I find myself with a little to much free time, I start really looking at those "giant pores" on my face, that seem to become exceptionally pronounced once I begin to notice them. So, on a night that is no different from any other work night weekday evening, I pull out my handheld mirror and start looking for any acne blemishes that will fall privy to my trap of misfortune, and of course, "picking." This night in particular, the pores in the area below my eyes, considerably, my inner cheekbones, looked unusually big to me. I didn't necessarily see my usual, whiteheads, blackheads, things of that nature, so I began the ritual, typically saved for my blemishes, on these extraordinarily large pores. I had no other choice. If I did not get out all the gunk that was undoubtedly clogging them, everyone at work would notice first thing when I showed up for work the next day. I was a recepetionist at a Dermatologists office for crying out loud, I had to look my best, this was necessary, I decided. Well, after an hour, and no success at removing ANYTHING from these little, but to me "ginormous" pores, I retired to my bed to watch a little reality T.V. until blissfully falling asleep. I had no idea the horror that awaited me that next day.
When I woke up the next morning, I noticed a little rash on my face in the general area that I had been excising my vice the night before. Nothing to serious, just a little redness, nothing a little foundation couldn't quickly take care of. I applied my make up, and to my satisfaction, the little red rash had all but disappeared. Although I did find it to be a strange happening, I had solved the issue. That rash would be gone by the time I got off work, and maybe I could even finish last nights goal and get that gunk out of my pores once in for all. I mean now it was causing an annoying, yet innocent rash. Yes, I'd take care of it when I got off. Or so I thought.
About halfway through my shift my co-worker turned to me with a look of disdain on her face. "You're getting a little rash on your face." She said, scrunching her nose. "Looks weird. How about you see one of the doctors during your lunch break, Ill throw you on the schedule."
I rolled my eyes. "It's nothing." I told her. My distaste and annoyance regarding her comment all but obvious in my tone of voice. I assumed my makeup had just faded with the stress of the day thus far and with my mid day touch up so close, I wasn't open to the thought of seeing a doctor for a little red rash. She didn't dare push the issue, that would be rude. Besides, if I had a little rash that would have affect on nobody but myself, as far as I was concerned, she could shove it. It wasn't until an hour later that I realized maybe the rash had gotten expeditionally worse than the last time I had seen it. My manager came strolling through the lobby to check on us and she took one look at my face and I saw her smile quickly fade. She of course questioned me on this mysterious rash and what could have caused it. I hung my head in embarrassment, it was one thing for my co-worker to mention in an all but catty tone that I was looking less than pristine. Now for my manager to bring it up, that meant it was definitely worsening. She sent me home for the day and told me I was probably working myself to hard. I agreed and went to wait for my ride in front of the clinic. At this point I pulled out my trusty compact mirror and took another look. It wasn't as bad as I expected. Definitely worse than this morning, but nothing to concerning. I figured my boss was probably right, I was just stressed. I tucked away my compact mirror and waited for my ride.
When I got in my best friend's car about 45 minutes later her face dropped. She looked utterly disgusted. "Oh My God." She threw her hand to her face to cover her mouth. "What is up with your face? You said it was a little rash, that thing looks bad...Is it contagious?" She asked coyly. I was beyond the point of irritation by her reaction and snapped at her, "It's just a little rash! Why is everyone making such a big deal?! I'll be sure to pick you apart next time I see you and call you out on every little flaw." She apologized. and explained she was simply worried about me. We agreed to disagree and came to the conclusion that we have VERY different opinions on what a little rash is opposed to a big one. Then I looked in the mirror...
The little rash that I had seen just earlier that day had gotten much worse. It had literally taken over the entire right side of my face and I was unrecognizable. This rash had turned me into a literal monster, maybe even worse. I apologized to my best friend and asked her to take me to the hospital. She readily agreed and commended my impromptu decision, speeding all the way there.
When I showed up at the hospital, I was HUMILIATED by how I looked. I had my hood pulled up and sunglasses that I was able to luckily find in Bree's car covering a large portion of the upper side of my face. "How do I look?" I asked. Turning to her with my new ensemble on. "GGGreat." She said wielding an encouraging smile and thumbs up. She asked if she should join me, as the wait would be undoubebly long. I told her I'd probably have to take care of this one on my own and confirmed that she'd pick me back up when I was done. As I strolled into the hospital check in area my usual through the roof self confidence, was at rockbottom. I sheepishly approached the counter and informed the woman that I was there to check in. She finally loooked up at me and frowned. " You can't wear those sunglasses in here and you'll need to take your hood off sweety." I started to protest and she interjected, "rules are rules, if you aren't willing to abide I'll have to ask you to leave the premises." I was taken aback. I'd never been ordered to leave anywhere, especially not a medical facility, this was my forte for crying out loud. "Okay, if you're sure." I warned. Pulling off my sunglasses and pulling back my hood, exposing my face completely to the woman for the first time. She gasped and stuttered. Eventually able to articulate that it was fine for me to go ahead and recover my face. "There are exceptions for every rule of course." She stammered. She took my insurance information and told me to have a seat and that they would be out shortly to get me. Now, I thought that was just a polite way of saying, "get cozy, you'll be here awhile monster face." But not as quickly as I'd sat down I heard my name being called. "Kayla? Lets get you back to triage." Clearly they had expidited the process due to my incredibly ugly appearance, and that blew my mind. To date I had only experienced life as a relatively good looking person. To say that I had advantages in front of me at certain points was an understatment. I had nothing to go off of in that moment as far as looks went. All I had was who I really was inside and my ability to communicate.
When the Doctor came in, I expected the same reaction that I had gotten from literally everybody I came in contact with that day, but surprisingly, his calm demeanor instantly put me ease, despite the tears that began to fall down my face. I thought for sure my face was going to be scarred permanently and I BEGGED him to cut into my face and get out whatever it was that was causing my disfigurement. He informed me that I had what he referred to as, cellulitis in my face, and that cutting into it would be fruitless, and only leave me with a nasty scar at no avail to my current situation. I just knew he was wrong. That surely, he could perform a minor surgery like procedure and get me out the door looking as good as the old me, well, close enough anyways. But of course, with my grim luck he reiterated, that unfortunately I would have to ride this one out with some IV antibiotics as well as a ten-day course to take home. I would not be getting out of this one. I of course had to inquire as to what exactly this cellulitis was that he spoke of. He informed me that cellulitis is considered the swelling of any area of the body, mine just happened to be, unfortunately my face. He admitted to me that he had never quite seen anything like it, and then came the question I had been dreading since sitting on the hospital bed... "Any idea how this happened kiddo?"
I hated having to admit to such an educated individual that I had literally picked my way into the situation that I was in. How do you even phrase that to a Provider? Would he even know what exactly "picking" was? He could clearly tell by shy demeanor that it was probably something that made me feel uncomfortable, and or, I wasn't proud of. He put his arm on my shoulder and reminded me he was just there to help and not to judge and that anything I tiold him would be soley for the benefit of my diagnosis and getting me on the face track to my face looking like it did on the other side.
"So..I had what I thought was a blackhead, which isn't uncommon for me, I have acne prone skin, and no matter how much I wash it I run into issues with blemishes and......"
He stopped me in my tracks, as he could tell I was rambling out of nervousness. To bring this painful moment to an end he asked me, "So, did you perhaps go a little overboard on your blemishes and possibly cause this to happen to your face?" I nodded. Still quite embaressed but glad that the portion of my visit that I had been dreading the most was finally over. " Well, your a good looking girl, I can tell from the other side of your face. We'll have you back to normal in no time. Just stay on top of those antibiotics, and you should make a full recovery with little to no scarring."
I was so relieved to hear those words. But I kept replaying what he said to me in my head over and over again, "Your a good looking girl, I can tell from the other side." How, even during a time like this was the way I looked, good or bad, relevant. I can't say I hadn't noticed before that looking nice was something that many people treated you differently for. I would be lying if I said I didn't care. I started getting botox at 20 years old. Most woman don't start until there 40's. So its safe to say that I've been known to have a vain moment or two. But this experience was so mind altering for me. I hadn't thought about how I looked at all. Other than the obvious thoughts of how terrible and monstorous I looked. Although I was beyond stressed about looking like a freak, it was nice to know that my conversations with people were authentic. Nobody was going to do anything for me due to some lame attraction that they had for me. I didn't realize yet that my breath of fresh air was going to turn into Nightmare On Acne Street. Because although its sad to admit, people treat you like shit when your ugly, and that's the cold hard truth that I was about to learn the hard way.
About three days had passed since my horrifying rash experience and my face had started to improve, slightly. I had to push all thoughts of discomfort regarding my appearance to the side because we had fallen on the day of my daughter's birthday party. Nine years old, and a party at the bowling alley, per her request. I was dreading making my debut because prior to her party I had seen nobody aside from my daughter, my fiance, and texted a couple of update pictures to my manager at work to let her know that unfortunately I would not be making it into work because my condition had certainly worsened. I got nothing but sympathy and support from my hire ups and coworkers that had been informed of my new condition. But I knew that seeing my family and friends was going to be a totally different ball park that I would never be ready for.
By the time the birthday bash was to insu I had been on a heavy course of antibiotics for a couple of days and my face was slowly but surely starting to show improvement. I still looked like shit and my face would definitely raise concerns for everyone, but I did look slightly better than I had on day one. My daughter, even at her young age, was embaressed by my new, temporary look. I have always been a big picture taker, ESPEICALLY of my daughter and ESPECIALLY when it came to her birthday parties. But this year my daughter quickly put me in check. "Mommy, are you sure you want to take a bunch of pictures while your face is still... Well you still have a pretty big owie. " This was a huge parenting moment for me. I realized that I had probably been a little to vain throughout her life. She had always only known me to be well put together and I prided myself in my appearance and that was no secret. For a tomboy, having a mother like that can be draining, and up until that moment I didn't realize how high on the totem poll I had put looks, and clothing, and things that I now realize, simply aren't that important.
"Jay, are you embaressed by the way my face looks?" I asked, dreading her response. " Because I don't have to go to the party. I've got it all set up and your dad will be there to chaperone, I don't have to go." She took me by total surprise with her response when she said, " Momma, you look beautiful, lets take a couple selfies." I realized at that moment that I had done an OK job raising this little girl so far. Unfortunately her party guests, our friends and family, weren't as understanding and supportive of my scary new appearance. But, I anticicpated that. What I didnt expect was how I was treated by the staff working at the b0wling alley during her party,
Just when I thought I had gotten through the worst of showing off my "new" face, a young girl working her party approached me. She asked if she could ask me a question, I thought for sure it was a question pertaining to the birthday party in progress and told her to shoot. "What happened to your face?" She asked, to my surprise. "I have a rash." I responded curtly. I had seen the looks on the staffs face when they noticed me and could tell that they were all but disgusted in my appearance. To my horror the rude young lady continued on, "Yeah, I can see that. But how did you get the rash, I've never seen anything like it. Everyone's just wondering what happened? Like is it permanent?" So as not to encourage this disrespectful conversation any further I informed her that I wouldn't be answering any further questions, unless, of course, it pertained to my daughters party. I could not believe how blatantly rude she was to me. She was not only rude, but completely inconsiderate of my feelings as well as the audience during her uninvited interview about my condition. Everyone that heard the conversation was floored and commended me for how I handled the "little shit". I concurred. I was proud of myself. Typically, I am very passive and will allow someone to disrespect me indirectly as the girl was that day. But not today. Not when the only dignity I had left was my integrity.
I learned a lot about myself throughout the long ten days my face took to heal and get back to normal. I did end up making a full recovery with literally zero scarring. That definitely shocked me, pleasantly, of course. I realized throughout that time how differently peopled treated me compared to the treatment I would usually get. It still blows my mind to this day. People were so rude to me, they acted as though I was literally not there. Doors didn't get held, everyone stared, and even just customer service in general was terrible. I never realized the advantage that the way a person looks can give them in life until it wasn't there. I never thought that not having a disfigurement gave me an advantage over others until I was disfigured for a short period, It actually makes me sad to think about our society today. Why should a good looking person have any advantage over someone that isn't as easy on the eyes? And if your throw in a little sex appeal that person really has life by the balls. (HaHa) But seriosuly.
I'm going to be honest, I never thought I would be brave enough to be this fully transparent and show the pictures from my experience on such a public platform. But, I was browsing and saw this challenge and this experience was literally what came to mind instantly. So here it is everyone. Now you all know about a time in my life when I had what me and my best friend Bree refer to as "monster face". It is so fitting I couldn't think of a better name for this piece. There is something to be said for being able to make light of a situation now, that at the time felt like such a tragedy. Well, that all I got for you guys, this story ends happily. My face made a full recovery, I did a little soul searching, AND.... I don't pick anymore...Well, not very often anyways :)