It's time. I can't believe it, but six months have passed since Oct. 5. That means, on my personal calendar, that it's time for a report on my facelift. Let me rephrase that - for an aesthetic cosmetic review. Doesn't that have a better ring to it? “Facelift” is so graphic.
When I return home next week, I expect to be on exhibit, and I suppose in some ways that if I am not, there will be some disappointment. If I do say so, I deserve it. The time since the surgeon marked my face like a road map and, I trust, skillfully followed the route, has been bumpy, with some deep ruts and some smooth spots.
During my three months' absence, e-mail questions and telephone conversations have eventually gotten to the point: How's your face? Would you do it again? Are you sorry?
So, for the first question, how's my face? I would say that it's half done. Think of it as a half-baked cake; you know, the kind that has baked for 55 minutes, and you think it should be done, but when you stick a toothpick in the center, the batter is still gooey?
It may seem that after six months the healing process should be over, but when I touch my lower cheeks, they are still puffy. Or at least I hope it's puffiness, not fat that will remain there forever. The good news is that the feeling in my cheeks is back. Hallelujah! The jaws have a way to go, though each month there is improvement.
Remember the new neck that, when driving, I couldn't turn to see if any cars were coming, so Digby was the lookout? It has regained natural movement, but there still is no feeling in the lower chin. When I bend my head down, I could swear I have a turtleneck sweater on, the tight cuff sensation is that similar. Maybe I don't need feeling in my lower chin and upper neck, but I had it all my life until six months ago, so I expect it. The upper-neck numbness continues to the ears and is worse on the right side, where a blood clot mishap occurred. I have the sense that the feeling there is forever gone, but time will tell.
In the case of facial surgeries, and perhaps other surgeries that involve cutting through muscle and nerve, I believe that time rules over professional advice because each person heals at his or her own pace, and probably is put together differently in the first place.
The top of my head and forehead have feeling, but must be still in the healing process because they itch a lot. The forehead is particularly tender, and has been since Day One. I attribute it to the chemical peel. The sensation is remindful of the feeling after a serious sunburn in my youth.
The harder the beauty shop shampoo girl scrubs in the incision area, the better I like it. Hair stylists with clients who have undergone similar cosmetic surgery say my incisions are barely noticeable compared to what most people end up with. When that compliment came last week from a Las Vegas stylist with 30 years' experience, I feel the need to pass it on to the Toledo surgeon. I imagine that Vegas show people set some kind of record for surgical nips and tucks, which gives her room to make accurate comparisons.
The eyes have been giving me fits for several weeks. They are sore and burn to a point that contact lenses have been impossible to wear. I attribute some of the problem to the Hawaiian sun, though I never went outside without dark glasses and heavy sunscreen.
Next question: Would I do it again? Right now, I can't answer that honestly. When I think back to the first two weeks of suffering and what I put my friends through, the answer is a big NO. When I remind myself that the cost of the New Face equates to a New Car, I question which is more important.
But when I see old pictures with the turkey gobbler neck and deep cheek wrinkles, I have to admit that I like the wrinkle-free skin, which I take better care of than I probably would a new car. Each day begins with a layer of protective face cream and sun block, even if I am not going outdoors. Just sunshine coming through the window can be damaging, experts warn.
Perhaps if 20-year-olds would protect their faces now, they could sail through life wrinkle-free and not be faced with the decision to correct aging signs in later life. But, then, 50 years from now, I am sure advanced technology will have replaced current procedures with something less invasive.
Last question: Am I sorry?
One thing that is puzzling is that I avoid all mirrors, except when I am doing the cream and makeup routine. Otherwise, I refuse to look at myself, and I don't know why.
I am writing this column in Seattle, where I am visiting a longtime friend who had not seen me since the big day. After saying I looked good, and that she was never convinced that I needed the surgery, she asked if I was sorry. When I said yes, she countered that she didn't believe me and that I would do it again.
She may be right, but in all honesty, at this point, I am not sure. I am patiently waiting to see and feel the results after a year. Tune in Oct. 5.
Mary Alice Powell is a former Blade food editor. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.