Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Being Beautiful--My Many Nose Jobs

 It's funny to think about now, but when I was a little girl I always hoped to grow up and become this beautiful woman that just stopped people in their tracks. I think that's probably what most little girls hope for. I mean, I don't know many little girls who dream of growing up and becoming someone homely or anything, but for me, it was something I thought about a lot. Probably more than I should have. I never felt like I was a very cute little girl, so I think I sort of envisioned myself as a caterpillar in a cocoon that would someday blossom into a beautiful butterfly somehow. And I thought a lot about the word "beautiful." I didn't want to be cute or adorable or even gorgeous, as great as all those words sound. No, I was really hung over on that word beautiful. It just sounded so . . . well. . . beautiful! To me, it meant flawlessness, exquisiteness, poise and unmistakable appeal. It was pretty much the whole enchilada!

Now, being beautiful physically was something I hoped for, but I also was determined to be beautiful inside as well. That's right--I was going to be the whole package! Not only was I going to stun everyone with my ravishing looks, even more importantly, I was going to impress them with my humility and goodness and deep inner strength and integrity. Sounds like a brilliant life plan, doesn't it?

There are a few hitches in a plan such as this, however, one being that a person cannot really control what physical characteristics or natural beauty she is born with. Now, I am not complaining in any way--it's just that it didn't take me long to realize as I started getting older and a bit more mature that beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder and that working on that second part of my life plan was the part I really needed to focus on--and focus hard. But, even despite what life naturally deals you, there's still so much you can't control, like the aging process, for instance--ugh! My children remind me regularly that I am looking older and more wrinkled all the time. And why is it that every year on my birthday they keep assuming I am older than I really am???:)

Anyway. . .there are other factors out of our control as well. For instance, this is what my face looked like two-and-a-half years ago. It was only a week before I was to go into the dermatologist for a routine procedure to have a very small lump removed from beneath my nose. I decided we should get family pictures taken before I went in, just in case I had to get a stitch or two. That turned out to be a very good idea.

This is what I looked like a week later when I walked out of the dermatologist's office from that "routine" procedure (Sorry about the graphic picture. And I know I shared some of the following photos and a bit about this in a post a couple of years ago, but since I just finished the last of many procedures, I decided to post this again and show some of the different faces I've worn the past couple of years).

 Little did I know that the small little lump of cancer (basal-cell carcinoma) had spread clear to the corner of my eye and was to-the-bone deep. Nor did I know it had spread so far up my face and down my nose. I was supposed to walk right over to the next office over and have the plastic surgeon stitch me right up. He studied my face for a long while, then told me he would have to take pictures of my nose, study it that night and meet me at the surgery center the next day with a possible solution of how to fix the hole I now had in the middle of my face.

All hopes of being a beauty pageant contestant were now dashed. Ha! I'm telling you though, the little flaws I used to complain about seemed to inconsequential and stupid in that moment when I looked in the mirror and saw a good portion of my nose missing. It was definitely humbling.

I left the surgery center the next day looking like a prize fighter who had definitely not won the prize.

This was right after surgery. My eye was so swollen I could hardly see out of it. The worst part is that I had to teach my preschool class and I was so worried they would be scared of me.

A few days after surgery. I look like a ran into a barbed-wire fence.

I don't know why my eyes always look cross-eyes when I take these pictures, but thankfully they aren't in real-life:)

This is after the bandages had come off. I had that huge red square on my face for a long time where they grafted skin from my collar bone. 

A few months of healing had passed.

This is where they took a skin graft from. 

 Over the process of the next two years I went through a number of procedures to repair that nose. It was not fun. At times I looked like I had a run-in with a barbed-wire fence; other times I looked like I had been beaten in a dark alley. Each time it would take weeks to heal and everywhere I went people stared. I was pretty sure the stares were not from my ravishing beauty:). I remember one day when Regyn told me if she were me she wouldn't leave the house because she would be too embarrassed. I understood what she meant but was so glad I was over that stage of my life where being beautiful was so important to me because the truth is, even though I looked absolutely awful time and time again, it never phased me. My dreams of being beautiful had long since passed, and I was content simply being me. I had no idea what my nose would look like when it was all said and done, but I knew it didn't really matter. I was thankful to have caught the cancer before it had spread any further and very thankful that my day job wasn't modeling. Ha!

Don't you love that pocket of scar tissue that had built up on the bridge of my nose? There's also another pocket toward the bottom of my nose but this view doesn't show it well. Oh yes, I went around with my nose like this for months before they could inject something in there to fix it. 

This one was one of the worst ones. Half way through they decided to do a rhinoplasty (where they break your nose with a hammer and chisel) while I was awake! It was awful! So glad my nose isn't still that swollen.

After yet another surgery. The only thing that changes as often as my nose jobs are my hair styles. Ha!

I look like a battered wife here. I'm glad no one questioned my husband or anything--it does look pretty suspicious:)

In the end, here is what my nose looks like now:

That is one goofy picture, and here is a goofier one, but let's take a closer look:

It's pretty amazing when you consider the hole that used to be there, right? Well, I certainly can't take credit for it. I have had some great doctors who have worked to help make it look more like a nose again and then worked to get rid of that horrible-looking skin graft (their idea, btw, not mine, but I'm sure glad they had it).

The best part about the whole ordeal is that I realized something I think I already knew about being beautiful--it has nothing to do with my face. And boy, am I glad! Being beautiful is about loving and learning and teaching and laughing and enjoying and really living. It's about being the best that's within you. And it's not possible to be the best all the time, but it's about trying all the time, because you know it's worth it, and you know there's a whole lot of important people looking to you--hoping, watching, needing--you to be your kind of beautiful to them. Because you are so beautiful to them. And that's what really matters.

And so, although you will never see this mug on the front of a magazine or sweeping across a movie screen or entering any beauty contests, hopefully I'm working at being the right kind of beautiful to this family that depends on me so much.

And besides, I've decided that this face below--the one that laughs at my husband because he is so, so amazingly wonderful--the one that smiles from deep inside when my children surround me because I love them with every piece of my heart--that is my most beautiful face!


Glitzy Glass Stars said...

You, your life, your journey, beautiful. Has brought me strength watching you go through what you do. I love you Lori!

Indy said...

Do you have a picture of what the original lump looked like?

Cordell Legaspi said...

That is a really sobering take on a nose job, and the times and ways that it is a necessity, with neither 'ifs' nor 'buts' about it. Lots of folks tend to be derisive about plastic surgery, and sort of dismiss them as mere acts of vanity. However, like you've said, more than being beautiful, one must be allowed to feel whole and be afforded the means and tools with which to pull it off. You are so inspiring! All the best to you!

Cordell Legaspi @ Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery Center

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