I thought my mother was dead.  But recently I’ve been seeing her around.  Just the other day she was in the bathroom mirror and she definitely took my place in the last family Christmas photo.  I am not saying that my mother was not a beautiful, vivacious woman late into her eighties, it’s just that…

Several months ago I decided it was time to do something about this threatening situation, and made an appointment with a well-known cosmetic surgeon in the area.  I have no intention of ever going under the knife, but thought there might be a simpler solution to eternal youth, or at least the appearance of such a state.

What the skilled doctor recommended for me was a non-invasive procedure called Broad Band Light or “BBL”.  The glossy brochure he handed me described this phototherapy treatment as follows:

“For treatment of sun spots, active acne, acne scars, redness, rosacea, unwanted hair, and vascular lesions.  This unique technology has NO DOWNTIME and results are typically seen after several treatments.”

When I gently suggested to the doctor, whom I will call “Dr. B,” that I had none of these concerns, he dismissed me.   “You have good skin now, for your age, (ouch) and all this will do is make you more radiant and slowly encourage collagen growth beneath the surface.  After a series of treatments on your face and décolletage I would expect you to be very pleased with your smoother, firmer complexion.”

He had me at radiant and before I knew it had purchased not eight or even ten but a dozen BBL sessions, as I was offered half- price treatments by purchasing the series.

How utterly stupid of me to assume beauty can be had at discount prices.  Right?

My first treatment went well, at least there was little pain, minimal swelling and/or bruising and I found Dr. B had a good sense of humor.  And maybe my skin had a hint of that radiance he spoke of but no one seemed to notice except my housekeeper.   Spotting the new VITAMIX on our kitchen counter just after Christmas, she remarked as I revved up a healthy smoothie.  “Oh, so this is how you make your skin look so pretty.”

I just let her run with that theory, having hidden all the brochures on silly, expensive procedures offered by the famous Cosmetic Surgery Institute, the name of which I shall not mention.

It was a few months later, during the third round that I smelled trouble-literally–like burning flesh. Things got off to a shaky start as I was the last appointment of the day, and Doctor B looked fairly bushed and definitely ready to head home.  Placing the protective little goggles over my eyes he was not as chatty as I had known him to be earlier.  So I remained quiet, clenching the little rubber stress ball with my fist as he apparently turned up the juice on his laser.  I was close to screaming   “ENOUGH!” when he finished zapping the wand over my neck, clicked off the power, removed my goggles, and gushed “Nan, you did great today”.

I think I was in shock and don’t remember if I could even respond.  I do recall staggering to my car and cranking my head up to the mirror to look at my tingling face and burning, scarlet neck.  Driving home with one hand I fanned my poor throat with the other in an attempt to cool the flaming skin.

By the next morning no one would notice my face, rather, it was my festering, oozing, crimson neck, apparently scorched with what looked to be second degree burns.  I will never know what prompted Dr. B to blast my neck and his only explanation to date has been, “Well, Nan, you just had a bad reaction.  Medicine is not perfect and you had some bad luck.  But I have an idea you are going to be very pleased with the results once your neck has healed.  And no worries, even if you do have some scarring we have remedies for that!”

For two months (remember the brochure that promised NO DOWNTIME?) I walked around with a bandana hiding my revolting, inflamed neck, looking like some aging cowgirl, maybe Annie Oakley.  And I permanently stained the neckline of several nice shirts with fancy ointments and creams Dr.B. kindly provided to treat my angry, raw skin.  He seemed to have little to offer my wounded psyche.

Worse than the painful burns, ground beef-looking neck and messy potions, I suffered the agony of accepting my wrongdoing.  After all, the bible says “Vanity is Satan’s favorite sin because it lies at the root and foundation of every other sin.”

I can only assume God was punishing me for committing one of the seven deadly sins.  And that I am doomed to a guilty life of wrinkles, sagging and horrid age spots.

I asked for it…