I’ve lived with my face for over 70 years, almost 73 to be exact. Not the exact same face, if you consider the chicken pox marks as a child, acne as a teen ager and again as a young adult, sun burns from using baby oil to “bake” next to a lagoon along with all the other cancer-fearless, immortal young people from high schools around the Tri-Cities. During a deviated septum surgery, my nose shattered, and the plastic surgeon had to rebuild it. In the process, he decided to shorten the tip of my nose. I guess that was helpful considering the nose and ears continue to grow all your life.
With time, gravity and the aging process caused greater changes. The essence remained, of course, evidenced by my own baby picture: deep set eyes, cheek bones high, pointy chin, and there they are, my grandfather’s ears. (Grandpa, you didn’t do me any favors!)
A notable difference in the last twenty years has been the need for me to raise my eyebrows to see. I didn’t give it much thought unless it was one of those days I stood in front of the mirror analyzing every line, wrinkle and droop. On those days, I would also scrutinize the sagging jawline and pull up the sides of my cheeks to see what it would look like without my Bloodhound jowls.
I had thought about having “work” done, but never seriously. That was until I visited an ophthalmologist for an eye exam last fall. Previously, I had gone to an optometrist for eye exams and glasses. The ophthalmologist asked if I’d ever considered a lid lift. I replied, “No.” I had certainly wished for a magic potion to get rid of the sagging jowls but hadn’t really thought about my eyes. One of my daughters said she thought I always looked surprised or excited about something with my eyebrows raised. Maybe there’s something to be said for being in a constant state of amazement. Living with Scott Cameron Haverly for nearly 23 years may have contributed to the elevated brow and my state of amazement.
The more I thought about the doctor’s comments, the more my interest grew. I was surprised when I mentioned the possibility to others, how many people had already had a lid lift. I decided to go for it. During my first visit with Dr. Woodman in Tacoma last November, he told me that “at my age,” (how many times have I heard that!) Medicare would pay for both a lid lift and a brow lift, deeming them medically necessary. He felt I needed both, but promised I wouldn’t look even more amazed, than I already did.
While I was there, I mentioned the jowls and asked if that was something that could be done with the lid and brow lift or should be done later. He said it would be less expensive to do it all at the same time. The jowls were on me, however. Standing in front of the mirror for twenty years, pulling my cheeks back didn’t qualify as medically necessary. Medicare is not in the jowl lifting business.
I have been known to be impulsive. But, as I’ve grown older, I consider myself cautiously impulsive, if that’s even possible. I mulled over the idea of having a lid, brow and chin lift all at one time for an entire 30 seconds and said, “Let’s do it!” The doctor told me this was considered a mini-face lift because I wouldn’t need a chin implant. That’s for sure! I have plenty of chin and have passed it on to two daughters and almost all five grandchildren. Note: only one has my ears—so far.
I told my daughter, Courtney, about the decision right away because she’s a nurse and I wanted her to be with me for a few days around surgery time. She also knows once I’ve made up my mind about something, changing course is not usually an option.
I hesitated to tell Kendall, who is my researcher, science teacher, analytical wizard and I was concerned that she would either worry way too much or try to talk me out of it. (She says I don’t worry about anything. Not quite true, but close). Finally, in January when she and I were shopping at IKEA, I had the brilliant idea to bribe her into not saying a word about my decision. While in line, I said, “I have something to tell you, but you must promise not to try to talk me out of it. If you can agree to that, I’ll buy your stuff today.” She looked at me quizzically and asked if it was a matter of life and death. I laughed and said, “No,” so Kendall agreed to the plan.
Once I told her, the response was, “Mom, this is your life. You’ve wanted to do something about your jowls for years. If you want to do that, just do it!” So much for thinking I knew how my daughter would react. I could have saved myself some money… toward my face liftl! But a deal is a deal and I bought her stuff anyway.
The surgery on Thursday, February 22nd went well. However, Courtney was shocked at how horrible I looked coming out of the five-hour procedure and confided that to my friend, Janet. Meanwhile, as Courtney was loading me into the car to go home, Janet was assuring me how great I looked! The next day, my neighbor Janine came over, took one look at me and said, “You paid for that?” I laughed. What else do you do when you’ve decided to go ahead with something, not knowing the exact outcome.
Courtney sent photos to my doctor over that weekend. His response was, “She looks better than average.” Courtney also shared the photo with her husband, Ron, whose response was, “She paid to look better than average!” It all depends on your definition of “average,” Ron. And I haven’t asked the doc what that is.
It’s now three weeks and a few days since the surgery. I took Oxycodone the first few days along with antibiotics and medication to reduce swelling. I stopped the pain meds the Sunday after. I really didn’t have pain because the area around my ears was and still is numb and the meds upset my stomach.
In the last ten days, my eyes have been tearing a lot, making my vision blurry, but the doc indicated that’s not unusual. Because everything is tightened, it takes a while for the muscles to relax and for my eyes to be able to close completely. I have drops for my dry eyes and they are getting better. However, my cat Tobias, stole the eye drop bottle which went missing for a couple days. I found it with Jessica’s help and I’m now back on the regimen.
I have red areas on my face because I also opted for a laser skin treatment on my forehead, under my eyes and around my mouth to reduce wrinkles. The redness may last two to three months, but I’m heading to the “Med Spa” at my doctor’s office on Tuesday to be matched for makeup to camouflage what looks like a major sun burn. (Shades of my teenage years). Whenever I go out, I must wear a 44 spf sunblock. Sunglasses and a big hat are ready for when I get back to yard work. Maybe I’ll look like Audrey Hepburn, but I don’t remember any scenes in which she did yard work.
This is the longest period I can remember (over three weeks) that I’ve done so little. I’ve been sleeping on the couch in my TV room, so I can keep my head elevated to keep the swelling down. My ears feel very strange because of incisions around them. They are like rubber appendages stuck onto the sides of my head. Given that I’m a side-sleeper, I’m not yet ready to try lying on one of them. Who knows, they might squeak! It’s just a weird feeling and the nerves may not rewire for about six months. Oh, the things you learn after the fact!
The time has allowed me to listen to books on Audible, straighten every picture in the house, clean closets and today, I even repotted a plant on the front porch. I have ventured out and had lunch with Chris on Friday. She saw me looking even worse a couple weeks ago and said she’s still recovering from that. That’s what friends are for, right? Telling it like it is.
Would I do this again, knowing what I know now? Good question. Probably. Once I make up my mind, it’s difficult for me to turn back. I had the opportunity and decided to take it. Will I like the results? I hope so, but the true results won’t be known for another month or so. My brother, Jim, stayed with me last night since his wife, Cindy, is in the hospital in Seattle for tests. He told me I look different and when asked how so, he responded, “You look thinner.” He meant my face. It’s true. With the jowls gone, I’ve gone from having a rectangle to a triangle face.
Kendall on the other hand, since she didn’t try to talk me out of the surgery, has let it be known that my healing process is like a birth control pill: definitely a preventative measure for her ever having a facelift. I totally understand. I guess I’m just one of those people who needs to keep life’s pot stirred.
The next step is for me to visit Kendall and see what my grandchildren think. It should be interesting with questions galore. I’m not sure how I’ll respond to the question of “Why?” For now, it’s: “Because I could and while I’ve lived with one face for almost 73 years, I don’t identify myself by chronology. I feel younger than my years, so why not look it, if possible. The essence of who I am hasn’t changed even though the visual effects may have. Life is an adventure and I intend to make the most of it.”
But, when you see me, if you think I should ask for my Groupon money back, let me know.