Saturday, July 18, 2015


 When I turned 13, I got acne.  I guess it is one of those rights of passage, but I had a particularly bad case.  That may be one of the reasons that I was bullied.  It is hard to say.  However, it was a bad time for me.  Girls don't want to go out with a pizza face.  So, my parents did what they could to lessen the disease.  They took me to a dermatologist.  He was one of the best in his field.  I became something of a guinea pig for treatment.  I had the sun lamp to peel the skin, and it was very strong.  I was given steroids and cortisone.  They gave me topical treatments.  The worst was something called Pernox.  It was a soap that had granules in it that was supposed to scrape the skin.  My father was the one who usually applied that on me.  One night, he was doing it, when we heard that Martin Luther King had been killed in Memphis.  Funny how you remember things with other things.  The doctor also sent me to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston for evaluation.  And then, he sent me to Duke University to see if they could "cure" me.  Nothing really worked too well.  I have no idea how much chemicals they pumped into me, and if there were any long-lasting effects.  I don't think anyone knows.  They did take some full-body pictures of me for a study.  Somewhere, there are nude pictures of me.  Clinical pictures.  Maybe DHEC has them.  When I graduated from high school, the doctor wanted to try something new called a dermabrasion.  Apparently, I was the first to have this procedure.  I had to stay in a hospital overnight.  They explained it to me that they would "sand down" my face in an operating room, and they would take off one or two layers of skin.  The result would be that my face would have a scab over it for a couple of weeks.  Then, when the scab came off, my face would be red for about six weeks and look like I had a sunburn.  Then, that redness would fade and the acne would be gone. 
 Upon leaving the hospital after the surgery, I remember my parents taking me home.  We got about a block, and I opened the car door and threw up.  A nurse ran out to see if I was okay, and my parents said I was.  I stayed at home for those two weeks, until the scab came off.  It was kind of gross looking into the mirror, but the surgery worked pretty well.  There was one side effect though that continues to this day.  I am unable to grow a full beard.  The hair follicles are gone.  I can grow a beard on my chin and neck, but just not around my cheeks.  I also have two small scars on my upper lip, so I have grown a mustache to cushion the area around the scars.  At least, that's my excuse.

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