Right away the assistants knew that something was horribly, terribly wrong with my skin.
The signs of sun damage, while not entirely visible, were manifesting in gross and disgusting ways. My skin was getting rough, and the spots that I thought were sties in my undereye area were, in fact, a manifestation of something more insidious.
I can't go into much detail here, because I know that there are medical terms here in the Philippines that are always questioned Stateside... but I do know that our family has a history of invisible, age-related benign growths that practically have to be burned and/or lasered off before they start spreading all over the body.
That's what prompted me to get an estimate for the procedure from the dermatologist herself, right before I was due to leave for New Zealand. She concluded that the growths have already started spreading around my face, especially in the under-eye area. It wasn't urgent - in fact, she wasn't taking any patients until June - but I knew that I had to have this done when I got back, just so I could get it out of the way.
Finally, I got the "procedure" done yesterday, and... well, details after the jump.
(Warning: The rest of this entry is not for the faint of heart. Proceed to read at your own risk. Also, we do not recommend reading the hot-guy sections of this blog after the jump, for the same about-to-be-obvious reasons.)
All's not entirely lost, to be honest: my face still needs to rest for the next 24 to 48, and after that I can wash it with some hyperallergenic soap. I still have to put on post-procedural cream twice a day, to speed up the healing. When I'm ready, I can also use makeup to cover it all up... although I'll have to resort to my stash of mineral makeup, for now, to cut down on the irritation. I'm also not due to see the dermatologist again for another three weeks, too, so there's still time to let the skin heal.
But really, this is why we have to go to the dermatologist.
Up until recently I thought I had a good skincare and makeup routine. I've never had acne, always recovered from sunburns, and - since I could practically pass for twelve (hahaha) - I thought I could also get away with keeping my face unprotected when I leave the house. How was I supposed to know that I had weird crap growing under my face all along? What if one of those growths turned out to be pre-cancerous, even if we didn't have cancer in our family medical history? What if I woke up one day and - instead of my usual face - ended up with all sorts of bumpy growths all over my mug? Maybe I'll end up with gigantic freckles for the next few days, or maybe it will all fall off and I'll get my face back again. Who knows?
This is what I do know, though: Just because Meimei don't crack doesn't mean Meimei can't afford to neglect herself this way. Especially if Meimei is way past thirty and therefore overdue for a visit to the dermatologist.
Regardless of what you've been told in your native culture, a visit to the dermatologist doesn't have to be a chore, nor does it have to be a super-expensive pampering experience. Yes, it sounds vain, but sometimes you do get to a point where throwing all sorts of OTC stuff at your face (or anywhere else on your body) will not cure what ails you. If you care about your skin enough - and you do have an inkling that something might be wrong with the whole picture - you can never, ever go wrong with taking your epidermis to a licensed professional. You probably won't end up with a brand-new face, but you will end up saving yourself a lot of trouble and heartache from your usual one.
Take it from me: You won't be sorry.