Dermatologist by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

My face smells like milk. By tomorrow, my cheeks will curdle. As it turns out, whole milk is the only remedy for a reaction my face is having to a medicine recommended by my dermatologist to destroy “potential” skin cancers (cancers hiding under the freckled, sun-damaged layer of epidermis which was caused 50 years ago when having a tan was my way to feel validated).

Those days are over. OVER!

I’d like to think that in my teens, had there been a warning on the Crisco or Iodine I used to lather my skin, or had I perhaps tanned on the ground and not on the roof, the sun-damage results might be less horrific Then again, being 19 years old and invincible, there is a very strong chance such warnings would have gone unheeded. So, here I am, paying a painful price for something that Crisco should be responsible for.

Three weeks ago, I began my treatment. Within a few weeks, I was told, those surfacing cancers would “scab and flake away.” That’s it. Scab and flake. No biggee.

So you can imagine (and I assure you this came as a great surprise to me) what it was like when it felt as if a porcupine were quilling me 24/7 while a bonfire torched my forehead, cheeks and chin, and a herd of mosquitoes targeted my face to itch like the dickens. Pricks. Burns. Itches. All at the same time.

Bottom line? I might have leprosy, and when I sent a picture to my dermatologist, expecting her to tell me to get to an E.R. “immediately” or I would lose my face, I was astonished when instead she said, “Yep. That’s what it’s supposed to look like,” a message that was reinforced today when I ran into a friend who had gone through the same treatment, sharing that I wouldn’t be successful until my facial sores left blood on my pillow.

Have there been no medical advancements since the 16th century?

Whatever. Today I hustled off to buy whole milk which, after splashing it on my face, gave me some relief. Thank you, Jesus. Of course, I still look like I have a dreaded disease, but at least the pain is gone…at least for now.

I wonder if my face before this treatment is what sin looks like to God. Hidden (denied is probably a better description), and if I don’t deal with it, easy to ignore. But then something happens to bring my sins to the surface (I’m caught in a lie with the I.R.S. or confronted about gossiping or brag about some recent success, for example), and I am forced to deal with the ugliness of how I have displeased my Heavenly Father. Oh, I might find temporary relief if I apply a few milky excuses or blame someone else for my actions, but a heart-glimpse in the mirror shows that the evil is still there, exposed and needing to scab and flake away.

Fortunately, like the cream I used to bring my underlying cancers to the surface, there is a way to expose and deal with my sin: I ask God to reveal areas in my life that are displeasing to Him; I read the Bible to understand what He expects from me; and I ask forgiveness. And how does God respond? According to Psalm 103:12, The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Get that? God’s removal is permanent. See you later, Aggravator. I could only wish to say the same for my skin.

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