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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

My face hurts

       I know I said that I was going to continue in the direction of my hobbies, but a few things have been on my mind today so I'm going there instead.
     Last week I mentioned that I was nervous about Thursday. To be really personal, last spring, I was diagnosed with squamous cell skin cancer. I have always had extremely sensitive to the sun. Despite the fact that I wear sunscreen every day and avoid the sun like it's the plague, I still burn very badly. I even burn inside my classroom at school since I have a large window that the sun is directly in line with. (I'm not kidding. It's bad.) I had surgery to get rid of it in June. During a follow up appointment in August, I pointed out a spot of concern on my face. It turned out to be a freckle kind of mixed with melanoma. Well, this made me quite nervous. I kept it to myself for a while. (Sorry if you're a family member hearing this through my blog.)
       Thursday I had the spot on my face removed. I wasn't quite sure what it would look like and I found myself worrying about what my return to school the next day would look like. The dr. told me that bandaging would be "less than subtle." Fortunately, what I imagined in my head was way worse than what it actually looked like. It was, however, really noticeable. Oh, did I mention this week was school picture week too? After a quick discussion with my principal, I decided that I would just be upfront with the kids. I know that some people would answer "It's personal" or "None of your business" to the kids but, frankly, they know I care about them and I know that many of them care about me too. So, I just told them what had happened and that I was going to be just fine once it was all gone. Then we could look past the gigantic bandage on my face and get on with life.
       Fortunately, my surgeon is wonderful and he got all the cancer on the first go. Today I went in to get the wound stitches up. It was... painful and uncomfortable. I saw the wound before they closed it and it was basically a hole the size of the pad of my thumb. It was bigger than I expected but a scar scares me less than dying from cancer so I'm good. The surgeon came in and explained everything that would happen. I was really aware of how carefully he spoke about how he was going to sew everything up, the scar, etc. Maybe it's because I'm not super beautiful or because I don't usually care about how someone looks, but I wondered how many people would be devastated by having a scar across their face. Mine seems like it's going to be about the length of my pinky, maybe even my index finger. He tried to make it follow my smile lines,
       I thought about how much my face hurts and how my new black eye and bruised cheek is going to look in a few days. (Luckily I wanted the students that it might look like this this week.) I got another giant bandage running down my cheek. I thought about how nice some of the people who know what's going on have been treating me- and even of how the students who have the potential to be snarky and unkind went easy on me this week.
      My mind couldn't help wandering though to people who might have problems that aren't visible. What about people who are struggling with a medical issue that you can't see or mental issues?  What about people whose issues are visible that I might be able to deal with, but are hard for them? I am usually pretty intuitive about noticing people, but I wonder if lately I've been too consumed in my own medical fog to notice all of them.I don't know why, but all this weighed heavily upon me today. Maybe it just goes along with the "be kind" post from the other day.

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