Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Read on an Empty Stomach.

Just when I think I've dealt with every annoying skin problem you can have, I acquire things that I've never even heard of.

Several weeks ago, I noticed that there was a bump on my eyelid. "Weird," I thought. I figured it would go away.

But there it stubbornly sat, a miniature eye-igloo camping out on my lid, ready for all weather. It wasn't going anywhere. In fact, it was getting bigger.

The bump looked suspiciously like that of a work colleague who had been complaining about a thing on his eye that looked... exactly the same, come to think of it. I mentally ran through his comments as I inspected mine in the mirror: "I've had it for MONTHS," he had said. "My doctor isn't doing anything for it... I just want it to go away... Nothing works!"

Later that week I saw him for a post-work event. I had already decided that I would pull him aside at some point and ask him more about his eye, but that tonight would not be the proper context. I carefully put neutral eyeshadow over the eyelid boil. "There," I thought. "I didn't make it disappear, but at least it's not immediately noticeable."

"YOU HAVE ONE TOO!" was the first thing he said when he got a good look at me. "Oh my God. I feel responsible. Did you get this from me?" I reassured him that I didn't think so. "We can start a band and call ourselves the Eyesores," I said with an effort at blitheness, as two other attendees of the event edged away from us and began their own conversation.

After forever, it was time to go to the doctor.

My advice to everyone with eyes would be, if someone offers you a chalazion, say no thank you. Do not get one. They are heinous-looking, uncomfortable and stubborn.

A chalazion, in case you aren't familiar, is a fancy word for what two health care professionals separately described to me as "an eye zit."

Hearing a chalazion likened to a zit made everything come together for me. My face has spent its entire lifespan in the service of whiteheads, blackheads, enlarged pores and mysterious rashes. Managing to get a disfiguring zit on my eye was a new milestone of acne achievement. I thought coldly of the days in my teens when I looked forward to being an adult, imagining then that emergence from puberty would mean freedom from skin problems. Oh how wrong I was.

"You have two choices," the doctor told me. "Usually these go away within a few months, so you can wait. Or, you can come back and have it lanced."

A few months? "Lance it," I said, trying not to think of knights' weapons and the dragon perched on my eyelid.

I don't know why I thought that the lancing would be an easy-peasy experience. It involves a blade and one's EYE. But I thought hey, they're just popping an eye zit. How bad can it be?

Bad enough that I got nauseous in the chair. Bad enough that I ended up in the lobby unable to do anything but cry on the phone to my mommy until I was in good enough shape to drive myself home. Bad enough that it didn't heal fully for another 10 days.

Now I am chalazion-free and my eyelid is enjoying a freedom that it never knew to appreciate before. Before the chalazion, I never thought to look in the mirror and say, "Boy, I sure am glad I don't have a boil on my eye." Now, I know better.

I don't know that I'd call this a cautionary tale, or a sob story, or really anything other than an opportunity to give anyone who reads this a laugh at my expense in a week that is drenched in inexplicable violence and sadness.


  1. Anonymous9:47 AM

    i'm gonna say this definitely qualifies as an uncomfortable moment

  2. Anonymous10:17 PM

    Hey, thanks for that.
    I too have had a chali...chalazo...eye zit for months now, and will be seeing the doctor next week.
    I've tried everything, including prayer...nothing works...what the hell is this thing and why are so many people suddenly getting them?
    I'm not necessarily religious, but now I'm wondering is this the "mark of the beast"?!
    Anyways, on a lighter note, I love what you said about "I never thought to look in the mirror and say, "Boy, I sure am glad I don't have a boil on my eye." Now, I know better."
    That's exactly it. We're supposed to count our blessings, but GEEZ c'mon, are we supposed to cover every damn thing we can think of?
    Wish me luck.

  3. Anonymous11:25 PM

    OMG. NOTHING WORKS. I wish I had a co-worker or a support group. I totally feel like the lead singer for the Eyesores.

    Great story!



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