The BIG event
Everything is white. Pure. Almost blinding. No texture. No shape.
“Walk towards the light,” a female voice calls out to me from the distance, her tone lyrical. Musical. Beckoning. Then I hear a delighted laugh, “Close you damn eyes, Wil. The light’s going to blind you.” It’s one of the nurses, teasing me.
My face is covered in a sterile field. A surgical drape with a small hole in it for the doctor to work. My eyes are coved by the soft textureless paper. My face is numb from the local anesthesia. I’m feeling very relaxed. This must be what it’s like to float in one of those sensory isolation tanks.
There’s a vague sense of pulling and tugging. But I have no real idea what’s happening. Is he just starting? Is he half way through? Is he almost done? I have no idea. But he’s sewing up my face before I was even 100% sure that he had cut it out yet.
Three stitches does it. Plus some very expensive medical-grade superglue called dermabond, to help hold my face together and keep the cut from bleeding.
And it’s over.
Just like that.
Well, fuck. That’s kinda anticlimactic.
Of course, if you think about it, in a perfect world, all medical procedures would be anticlimactic. Next, I’m sitting up on the gurney. Joking with the staff and feeling vaguely like my face must look like the Michelin Man’s. I don’t want to be overly vain, but I’m dying to see what I look like. Last night I trimmed my beard further down my jaw than ever before in my life, and tighter to the sides of my mouth to give the doctor the required quarter inch cutting room around it.
I ask Rio, Do I look more like a pirate or a highwayman? He turns his head to first one side, then to the other, considering carefully. “Highwayman,” he declares, definitively.
Oh. Don’t get me wrong.
I’ve seen the highwayman beard.
But I want to see my new highwayman scar. My face is so numb I have no idea if the cut is big or small, up or down, left or right. The doctor is very satisfied with his handiwork. “You can keep trimming your beard this way if you like,” he tells me. “There’ll be no trace of the job when it heals.”
Wil Dubois. Author. Educator. Highwayman.
Time to order new business cards.
But before I get to meet my new face, I get to meet it.
I roll the jar of clear fluid around and around, peering through the slightly milky plastic. It is also white. But not a clean white. It is an ugly white. Strange. Alien. About the size and shape of one of Rio’s baby teeth. Just-for-in-case; the whole thing is slated to go for a second biopsy. I don’t know if we’re being extra-careful, or if the doctor saw something he didn’t like when he took it out. This is not a man you’d want to play poker with. His face gives nothing away.
My face is feeling more and more like a balloon now, even though it is technically baby-tooth smaller, I bum a makeup mirror from a nurse. The incision is smallish. Clean. Simple. The stiches short and neat.
Very highwayman like.