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The Hands of Others

FEBRUARy 25, 2020


Facials were once unthinkable. No one touched my face for months, other than my reconstructive surgeon. Initial appointments with osteopaths, acupuncturists, body workers and other doctors avoided the area entirely. Even my dentist steered clear of anything but the teeth, to the best of his ability. Bandages across my eye, brow and forehead were omnipresent. Even I was incredibly trepidatious in washing my own face, only doing so once a day with painstaking care.

But things shift, my face is healing, and I am now indeed getting facials — thanks to the ongoing encouragement and generosity of one friend in particular, as well as formal sign off from my surgeon. What has seemed utterly terrifying since my accident — the very idea of someone else touching, let alone focusing on my face for sixty minutes straight — is not only becoming comfortable, but also welcomed as beneficial for continued medical recovery, in addition to the simple gift of self-care.

As I lay down on the esthetician’s table for the first time, I felt my heart beating rapidly in my chest and limbs tensing. I’d actually called three times before making an appointment, and talked through my fears, qualms, injuries and needs with the receptionist in far greater detail than she ever could have desired. All practitioners are trained professionals, yet committing entailed entrusting my fragile face to another — which I did. And there I was. Present. Vulnerable. Ready.

This woman was heaven-sent. My nerves clearly spiked at the start, as I began babbling a mile a minute and fidgeting visibly, which she took note of and gently called my attention to in a kind, calming voice. “Realize your breath.” I inhaled deeply, slowly exhaled, repeated and centered myself. She then asked thoughtful questions, encouraging me to notice how I felt, if I wanted to retreat, the messages my brain was sending about the unfamiliar physical sensations. “Know this is all optional,” she reminded me. Her perceptive words made me feel seen, understood, safe.

I still tensed, especially when she touched the left side of my face, though pulled away less with each passing minute. That is the area in need of focus, as the layering of adhesive from the bandages over months has caused bumps and welts that are not disappearing across my forehead, eye and cheek. Blockages in my lymphatic system as a result of the accident and surgeries have also prevented healthy lymph flow and led to the build up of fluid in my tissues, swelling in my head and neck, and retention of toxins detrimental to a strong immune system.

She went to work on all, using only clean and organic products, nothing that would pose a risk to thin skin or sensitive scars, yet powerful enough to address concerns — and always checked in as to my comfort level both physically and psychologically. I am delighted to say that the experience was a wholly positive one, inspiring me to want to return and add this to my rotation of treatment options.

I will leave no stone unturned if something holds the potential to help — and I now know a facialist offers that, as does the osteopath who worked directly on my painful jaw last night, and the nurse who injected my face today for the second time in the past week.

I'm literally placing my face in the hands of others, in hands I have chosen, in hands in which I have faith.

Read more of my journey here
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