How many years has it been? friends ask. Some add, "You still look good." Others keep their opinions to themselves.
The answer is that on Tuesday it will be three years since I had face reconstructive surgery, which is a delicate way to say "face-lift." Am I glad I did it? Would I do it again? If a celebration is in order, how should it be done? With a cake with three candles, with a new jar of protective sunscreen, or a close-up portrait?
Any of the above would be appropriate, but instead I prefer to report my feelings and thoughts. When I wrote about it in 2001, interest from readers was keen to the point that two found their way to my Posey Lake home, which is not easy, for a face-to-face inspection. Two organizations invited me to speak on the subject. I also remember the woman who was the highest bidder on a dinner offered at Mobile Meals Wine Gala silent auction that year. At the dinner, for which I was the host, she admitted she was more interested in "talking face" than she was in studying the menu in the upscale Toledo restaurant. She did later have some facial procedures done.
In honesty, I feel pretty good about myself; first for fulfilling a dream to have the surgery done, and second for the new appearance. I don't know how many wrinkles I would have if I had not had the aesthetic surgery, but I certainly am smoother than many of my contemporaries. That poses a question. Can we feel comfortable with people in our age group who would rather fly to the moon than spend the money and have the pain for what I did?
Once it's over, memory of the excruciating pain and all that goes with it, including bruises and swelling, moves to the back of the mind. The memory quickly fades, especially when a compliment comes your way.
This doesn't mean that everything is perfect, by any means. If I had it to do over again I would ask if the eyes could be done separately because they are the biggest problem. No, my sight was not impaired, but somehow, in some way, I have developed extremely dry eyes; it makes wearing contact lenses uncomfortable after a few hours. When I mentioned it to the surgeon I recall him saying, "You have big eyes." So what difference did that make? I have had one eye repaired to tighten the lower lid since the big surgery; still, the eyes are a problem.
As for the deep creases that run from the corners of the mouth downward, much as a drain trough is constructed on a house, they are still there. The creases were the main reason I considered the surgery in the first place and the first thing I said I wanted corrected. But, I was told the surgeon worked on them for a long time, to no avail.
As it was explained to me, you can't pick and choose specific areas of your face to be adjusted. It all works together, in Mother Nature's blueprint, and that's the way it has as to be fixed, as a package.
Perhaps it's because I am more aware, but it does seem that facial fixes are more in the news than ever, and there's an increasing number of products to temper aging. Maybe there is something painless to fill in chin creases.
My favorite thing is not even on my face, but the neck. I am crazy about the new neck that seems to be holding its own for three years. In the beginning I wasn't too sure. The neck was pulled so tight I could not turn my head while driving to see if a car was coming. Even now it is a little tight, but that's OK. The turkey gobbler wrinkles never came back.
I can never review the face surgery without remembering tenderly my dearest best friend, the late Nancy Packo Horvath, who took me into her home from the hospital. Yes, I was admitted to a hospital after the surgery as an emergency patient, but like the pain and swelling, I don't like to remember the scary parts. But I do remember Nancy as the friend who was at my hospital bedside hourly and who took care of me until I was ready to return to my own home.
To answer the question, would I do it all over again? Yes, I would. If you have a friend who has aesthetic surgery on her, or his, calendar, remember they will need you to hold their hand, make a pot of oatmeal, and dish out ice cream on sleepless nights.