Sometimes it’s not the pain you are experiencing that is so troubling, it’s not knowing what is causing the pain.
For two weeks now, my face has been red, peeling, and in extreme pain. On that stupid pain scale they show you at the Emergency Room, it would be a constant 9.
Being in relentless pain for two weeks has made me nauseous, lose my appetite, cranky, and depressed. I have been to my doctor three times and she keeps saying “it’s stress” or “you need to be patient, it’s probably just rosacea and stressing about it makes it worse.” She didn’t seem to think that there was a problem.
I wasn’t happy with that answer because the truth is- I’m not all that stressed. The only stress I currently have is stemming from the fact that my face is falling off and my doctor is saying “try to not think about it.”
So today I took matters into my own hands and saw a dermatologist/cosmetic surgery specialist. He walked into the room and immediately said “what did you put on your face?” I told him about the Vitamin E episode and he said “I hope you’ve stopped the vitamin E because your face is severely burnt.” My mouth fell open (I was halfway expecting him to say it was just rosacea and I needed to stop stressing about it) and he elaborated. He said that this is caused from a severe allergic reaction OR just a sensitivity to something applied to the skin. In my case, a severe reaction to the Vitamin E. I showed him the pictures of my swollen shut face from last week and he was in awe of how bad it had gotten. The reason my skin is still red, peeling, and in pain is because I fried off so many layers. He said he could see the exact markings from where I applied the vitamin E.
My favorite part about this quick doctor’s visit was when he was scrolling through my swollen face pictures on my phone. Apparently he had come to the end of the face pictures and moved into the “awkward images on my phone” section because suddenly this appeared on my phone screen:
I could feel my already red face deepen a few shades with embarrassment. The two PA’s present stifled their giggles and the doctor said “…and what is this?”
“Um…that is an angry otter eating watermelon.”
“Okay, interesting. I wonder why he is angry?”
“I’m not sure, I just like having it in my phone.”
The whole exchange has left me laughing the rest of the day, even as I’m typing this now.
So after the doctor, PA’s, and I stopped giggling about the angry watermelon-eating otter, he came up with a plan of action. He said that my immune system is currently in freak out mode because of the severity of the burn. That means that anything I put on my skin will make my immune system think it is being attacked. Yippee! He gave me a very low grade steroid to apply for the next week and I have to track its progress with pictures each day. In one week, I’ll go back for a checkup.
Leaving his office this morning, I couldn’t stop the tears of relief from falling down my raw, burnt face. It is hard, both emotionally and physically, to have a doctor repeatedly tell you that you are basically causing your own pain and misfortune, especially when you know in your heart that something else is going on. Now it makes sense. A burn! Of course! Have you ever burnt your hand on the stove or a hot dish before? Now imagine that on your face for two weeks. Then imagine someone telling you it only hurts because you aren’t doing enough deep breathing exercises. Argh, so aggravating. I’m trying to not be too disappointed with my regular doc though, after all she is only human. She may have the letters M and D after her name, but she is really just making educated guesses about what is going on.
I’m feeling optimistic about the steroid treatment (even though I’m not the world’s biggest fan of steroids) and am hoping that this time next week I’ll be a little less cherry-like and a little more peach-ish.
And the silver lining? At the ripe old age of 25 I treated myself to a full face chemical peel (maybe just a few layers too deep) without any supervision from medical personnel. Don’t middle-aged women pay big bucks for this type of service?!