Red in the face

Matthew Monahan: Untitled (Red Face), Saatchi Gallery

This morning I had photodynamic light therapy, a treatment dating back to the ancient Egyptians that has been evolving in modern times for about a hundred years, all of which makes it sound way more exciting than having a reagent painted onto my face and sitting under a blue light for 17 minutes to eliminate actinic keratoses. Do you like the way it sounds so simple and lovely? I do.

I had this done four or so years ago, but instead of a blue light, they put me under a red light, and I couldn’t tolerate the treatment for the full time. It felt like my skin was baking. I walked out with a swollen and red face, which slowly returned to its normal hue and size after a few days. Then the peeling started. Gah.

This morning I was filled with hope after the treatment because I didn’t look as freaky as I expected. Overconfident in my apparent normalcy, I went in to work, but by three or four o’clock, my face was getting redder and felt hot, as if I was developing a massive sunburn, which, in a manner of speaking, I am.

On one hand, I feel as if I have brought my current discomfort upon myself—I’m super sun-sensitive for the next 40 hours. I was wearing a hat, but I guess it wasn’t enough? Then again, I remember the last time, and this is about the same level of discomfort. So maybe this is the natural progression of the treatment.

It sucks in the moment, but it’s better than having to apply a chemo cream to the affected areas for like six weeks. I was hoping to go in to work again tomorrow, but between the discomfort and the increasing freakiness of my appearance, I am no longer optimistic.


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