The Price of my Vanity
I used to have these two moles on my face. One beside my mouth and another one under my chin. I’d have them ever since I could remember. They didn’t really bother me before. I liked them. They were my distinguishing marks. I sometimes even considered them as my beauty mark. He he he. You know, like Cindy Crawford’s is hers. And of course Ate Guy. (Nora Aunor who’s a famous Philippine actress.)
About five years ago, the one under my chin started to grow a hair. I once worked with this lady who had a hairy mole and I didn’t think it was a pretty sight. So when the hair on my mole got longer, I cut it. Then the hair grew back and I started cutting it every time it would grow. Then more hair grew, even gray hair. It has become my habit to cut it everytime I would go out of the house or if I would be around other people. Which isn’t a lot since I work at home.
One day, I cut too close. I accidentally cut the mole itself. I got nervous. What if it now became cancerous? I went to see a doctor and told him that I wanted to have it removed. He said that he could cauterize moles but since it was on my face, he didn’t want to touch it. He recommended me to a dermatologist who took a look at it with his magnifying glass. He also said that the one beside my mouth has tiny hairs. I told him that he might as well remove that one too. He set up an appointment for me to have the two removed.
So the day came and I lay there on the doctor’s table. First he gave me local anaesthesia. Oh, that stung like a bee. I thought that he was just going to zap the moles out with a laser. That’s what I heard people say. That doctors just use laser to remove moles. And that was my mistake. I thought. I usually ask doctors how and why. But it didn’t occur to me to ask any questions when he examined me before. I just assumed.
I was surprised when he snipped the first mole with scissors. But I dared not protest and move my mouth for fear of bigger damage. He also cut the second one with his scissors. Then he told me to close my eyes and he began stitching them up. When he was finished, he put band-aids on them. He told me not to make them wet. "But what if they get wet," I asked. Then he applied a set of clear bandages on the them. "But what if they still get wet?" I asked. "They’re water-proof now. They won’t get wet," he said.
He told me further not to move my mouth too much so there would be less scarring. I would heed that advise, I thought. I just won’t talk if not necessary. Easier said than done. The moment I got home that day, my two younger kids were bickering and I was alone in the house with them and I couldn’t help but yell. Ouch!
At supper, I made myself instant noodle soup. I needed something soft and easy to eat. The bandage was preventing me to open my mouth wide. "They won’t get wet," he said. They did when I ate my soup and had a drink and when I brushed my teeth. The next morning I tried to take a shower without getting them wet but they still did.
This is the good thing about having a brother-in-law who’s a nurse. I asked him to come over and change my wet bandages. Isn’t that nice? He told me to change them whenever they got wet to avoid infection.
I also refrained from carrying heavy stuff. I learned my lesson when I had my first C-section and carried a pail of diapers soaked in water. My stitches got infected. I won’t let that happen this time. I dragged my husband to the grocery store to carry the heavy grocery bags. And I told Ryland that I couldn’t carry him anymore in the morning when I bring him downstairs.
For ten days, I walked around with band-aids on my face. There was a point when I asked myself, what have I gotten myself into? My youngest son was going to be celebrating his First Communion and I might end up with these band-aids on my face on that special day. I wondered what people thought. But nobody asked what happened to my face except for Wanda, the catechism coordinator. I told her that I had my moles removed. “This is the price of my vanity,” I said. “No,” she said. “It could be malignant you know.”
But no, it wasn’t. I came back to the dermatologist’s office after ten days. He told me that the biopsy results were good. Then he removed my stitches. I thought it was going to hurt. But it didn’t.
On the bus on my way home that day, I sat behind this lady who had a hairy mole on her face. And her mole was even bigger than the one I had. I still thought it wasn’t a pretty sight. But some people may think otherwise. I was glad I got rid of mine.
My mother gave me a very good tip. She told me to ask the dermatologist to write me a short note, a proof that he removed my moles. It will be very helpful when the time comes that I need to show my passport or citizenship card. My mole was very noticeable on my pictures on both.
The price of my vanity? Cdn $100 (US$120) and two additional (small) scars on my face. Not bad.
Once in a while I’d glance in the mirror and look where my moles used to be. There’s just a tiny speck of pinkish area beside my mouth. And the one under my chin doesn’t look that bad either. They’ve healed pretty well. And yes, the bandages came off before Ryland’s First Communion.
Do I miss my moles? Maybe the one that was beside my mouth. Just a little bit. But I certainly don’t miss the hairy one.
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