“That’s my pastor--whoa! What happened to your face?” Yes, what did happen to my face that would bring such a response? A very reasonable response, by the way, considering the circumstances.
By late weekend, I was in the throes of a huge allergic reaction and my face had swelled to the size of a basketball. Red, blotchy, very painful and getting worse. I had been in NYC for a son’s wedding (fortunately the worst of this happened after the wedding), and by the time I arrived in Dallas, it was looking, and I was feeling, really awful.
I should have just gone to the emergency room on the way home from the hospital . . . but I was just sure that some home remedies would work.
They didn’t. I headed out for help this morning.
I’m lucky as this kind of swelling can be life-threatening if it goes to my tongue and throat. For me, it is just making me look really, really weird, and giving me the opportunity to practice NOT scratching. When the itch becomes unbearable, I grab a bag of ice and hold it on the itchy spot. It provides some relief. It also means I don’t sleep much, as I’m constantly being awakened by the itching and reaching for the ice.
I’m also aware of how much of my identity--and pretty much everyone’s identity to some degree--is affected by my physicality. Most people respond to faces--we learn at early ages to read expressions and figure out what people are thinking by what their faces show. This is why those with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism have such trouble with social interactions: their particular brain structure does not give them the ability to read faces and to pick up social cues from them.
I look in the mirror and think, “That’s not MY face!” I know that when I venture out in public again (it will probably be several weeks before I’m back to normal), people are going to react to my appearance. Ihere will be questions and comments.I My husband, “Did you get stung by a bee?” My sister, “You were looking worse and worse, and I’ve been worried.” The pharmacist didn’t say anything but was clearly upset when the medications I needed were not in stock and wouldn’t be in for 24 hours. My malady shows itself immediately.
People who have been around me know I don’t particularly like the popular representation of Jesus that shows him as a blue-eyed, light skinned, long-faced, gentile. I’ve often wondered if God the Father said to God the Son, “My boy, we need to get you into the flesh before cameras, movable type, newspapers TV, the Internet and especially smart phones hit the market. Otherwise, we’ll have people worshipping your image in no time flat, and forgetting that image is nothing. The redeemed and sanctified soul is everything.”
Well, image is supposed to be nothing, but we humans do get caught up in ours. Since mine is WAY OUT OF WHACK right now, all I can ask is, “Be kind and try not to make too much fun of me.” I’ll do my best to find my sense of humor in this experience.