OK, what would you like to know about the facelift? I did it, as planned, on Oct. 5. I am sure that I look worse than I feel. In stores, children hide behind their mother's skirts and peer out at the strange lady with dark blue and red circles around her eyes and a bruised brow and chin. Add to that the brittle lips, the result of a chemical peel.
I hope the children believe I got a head start on Halloween makeup. You may ask, why don't I stay home behind closed doors until I am back to normal? One answer is that from the day I made the decision to face age with surgery, to turn a phrase, I decided also not to keep it a secret. My life has been an open book since the day I got off the bus to begin a newspaper career in Toledo. Why change now? Besides, I have lived with the policy that we should always make every effort to improve our appearance.
I admit that this was more drastic than the usual self-improvement program, but I didn't back down, despite the supply of anti-aging lotions and potions sent by friends hoping I would change my mind.
Though seeing is difficult and my forehead feels more like leather than something that is supposed to be attached to my body, I am not sorry for the experience and am confident in the final results, which are by no means just around the corner.
Did I think of canceling? When I was told the surgery would require 8 1/2 hours, it did cross my mind to put the designer nighties back in the dresser drawer where they have been stashed for several years in the event of a hospital stay, and spend the money set aside for the surgery for an 8 1/2-hour plane flight somewhere. Anywhere.
But Irish spunk and curiosity prevailed, backed by a high-scoring EKG report that indicated the old girl could handle being knocked out that many hours. As it turned out, the 11 procedures from brow to neck took 10 hours. I suggested that the surgeon take a lunch break, but I was kidding.
Though facelift is, I hope, an apt description of the results, the proper term is reconstructive surgery. An aging population and an economy that makes such elective surgery possible for more than only the wealthy class have increased interest in it. Women who have undergone the surgery talked freely to me about what to expect and were happy to give advice. Other women who are seeing wrinkles as something they would like to eliminate were anxious to discuss the pros and cons. I have been invited to present two talks to women's clubs. It is definitely a woman's thing. Certainly men of celebrity status have tucks taken here and there, but for the run-of-the-mill face improvement plan for a more youthful, less tarnished look, it's a surgery for women.
My new secret pal, who I do hope to meet face-to-face with our new faces shining brightly someday, confided that it was always something that she had wanted to do, so she spent her retirement mustering-out pay for the operation last summer.
She loves her new look. Her husband loves her new look, and her son couldn't believe how quickly she recovered.
My surgeon believes he has done a masterful job. He has the ability to see beyond the bruises and puffy cheeks to a sleek new model that he envisioned in our pre-operative consultations.
I can't see that far into the future right now, except that the one big wrinkle on my left cheek that was bugging me is no longer there.
The best advice I can give anyone who is either debating or has decided on reconstructive surgery is that once you have decided on who will do the surgery, stick with that person and his office team of nurses and assistants. Don't listen to anyone else and the horror stories they seem to enjoy relating. If I had heard one more warning that my hairline could end up in the middle of my head, and that some people never close their eyes again, I might have changed my mind.
When my best friend came to the hospital with bags of frozen peas to soothe my eyes, I thought, now, there's a pal. You know, this is elective surgery. You get what you ask for. Any crumb - or pea - of sympathy is gratefully appreciated.
Mary Alice Powell is a former Blade food editor. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.