Connecting the Dots


One morning I got up, looked in the mirror, and saw a constellation on my face.

There it was, the Big Dipper of zits:  one on my nose, two on my chin and two on my cheek. Connect the dots and you got a saucepan.

Augh! I groaned to my husband.  Look at my face.  I have pimples in the shape of the Big Dipper.

No, Honey, its more like Orions Belt.  See how it goes across here, he said, tracing the spots across my face.

I stood dumbfounded.  Then the kids walked in.

Whats up? asked my son.

Take a look at Mom, said my husband. Do you think the pimples on her face look more like the Big Dipper or Orions Belt?

It looks kind of like a peace sign to me, said my daughter.

I see an elephant, said my son.  See, theres the trunk.

Aaaaahhhh, I hate you all, I shrieked.  I was really annoyed.  Not so much at my family, but at the fact that here I was at 43, still getting pimples.  That at 43, I was still buying Clearasil.  And that at 43, the stupid Clearasil wasnt working.

My 13 year-old son snickered.  Laugh it up puberty boy, I warned him. Youre next on the pimple parade!

Unfortunately, my pimple crisis was not an isolated incident. Lately, Id had more breakouts than a minimum-security prison.  As I spackled cover-up across my cheeks, I thought I should go get some professional help before the entire galaxy could be mapped across my face.

But first I conferred with some friends.  They all empathized.  It seemed a bunch of us were trapped in the pimple/wrinkle zone.   We felt like we were leading some Freaky Friday double lives:  anti-aging moisturizer by day benzoyl peroxide by night.  I thought I should simultaneously get a subscription to More magazine and Tiger Beat.

Finally, I scrubbed off my makeup, put on a big hat, and went to the dermatologist.

Too much chocolate? I asked as she examined my constellation.

Too many hormones, she responded.  You have hormonal acne.  Its common in teenagers and peri-menopausal women.

Since Im not in that first category, I assume you think Im in the second, I said glumly.  I had always been pre-, during, or post-something in my cycle. Now I was peri.  Who knew?

She wrote me a prescription for some magic pills for the pimples, some more magic cream for the wrinkles, and told me to check back in a month.

For a few weeks, it was acne as usual.  But then, slowly, my complexion started to improve.  By week four, my face was blemish free.  I was overjoyed.

Then one morning I woke up, and a new constellation had appeared across my face.  I made an emergency appointment for the dermatologist and stormed into her office.

Look, I said pointing to my inflamed cheeks.  I thought the pills and cream would get rid of my pimples?  What is this?

She peered at my face.

Poison Ivy.

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