A Happy Ending to My Own Horror Story

A Small Section of My Face: A Gruesome Reality

A Small Section of My Face: A Gruesome Reality

Happy Halloween everyone! I hope it’s a fun one for you and your loved ones.

I’ve been out of touch the past couple of weeks, since I’ve been dealing with my own ghoulish happenings. Truly ghastly and yes, I felt like I was wearing a mask of sorts for a whole week. I looked like a monster and it seemed like I was living a nightmare.

Unlike most Halloween doings, this wasn’t fun at all. The whole dreadful experience did, however, force me to step back and be even more thankful for what I have in my life—my own good health and the people that love and support me every day. It also reinforced my feelings of compassion. I’ve always considered myself a caring and compassionate person yet now I’m even more so because I had a good taste of what it’s like to look like a freak.

By now you might be wondering what happened to me. Well, I had a terrible reaction to some medication that literally fried my face off from the inside out. My whole visage burned and swelled and itched and cracked and peeled like a moist riverbed dried up beneath the mid-day Mojave Desert sun. It hurt like hell; only large and regular doses of self medicating could make me somewhat comfortable. It was so unsightly that it made a child gape at me wide-eyed at the Medical Center and my dermatologist exclaim, “Wow, I’ve never seen such a reaction.” I did, however, feel an overflowing of compassion from folks at the pharmacy and other doctors’ offices which I frequented a lot that week because there was no easy fix. I truly sensed that people poured there heart out to me whether they said anything or not. My attempts at hiding behind the disguise of a pink fleece hoodie proved futile and after my third visit to the pharmacy, I just let it all hang out like a terribly over ripe peach dangling from the limb of a tree. At one point, I had to pop into a market for cat food and perhaps in an effort to reach out to me, the cashier kindly complimented me on my scarf.

I just wanted to lie on my couch and retreat into my own world, generously applying cold compresses and oil to my face every half hour while listening to Mozart and sipping wine.

The Manicured Grounds of The Broadmoor in Fall:  Very Jardin du Luxembourg

The Manicured Grounds of The Broadmoor in Fall: Very Jardin du Luxembourg

More Loveliness

More Loveliness

Encore

Encore

But a delicious invitation awaited me, one which I wrote about in The Broadmoor:  My Favorite Fall Getaway. In that story, I expressed concern about what to wear, never imagining that I’d be hesitant to show my face. After much encouragement from my hunny and by week’s end of my frightfulness, I decided to set out with him on what I knew would be a healing journey.

By checkin, my skin looked passable—I suppose a lot like a lady that had just endured a chemical peel, perhaps a botched one. I skulked behind one of The Broadmoor’s gianormous flower bouquets while Steve obtained the keys and such. We spent the first night in, ordered room service and luxuriated in our beautiful room as we watched a classic movie on PBS. I breathed long and deep and was already grateful that I had escaped the sickbed surroundings of my apartment at home in Telluride.

Room Service at The Broadmoor:  A Real Pleasure

Room Service at The Broadmoor: A Real Pleasure

I woke up the next day feeling and looking better (although not as much as I first thought once the energy-efficient lighting in the bathroom illuminated completely). It was good that it was a grey, still day, since my pinky flesh stung in the cold and wind. Steve and I enjoyed a nice late brunch of sorts, consisting of pastries and juice, at the hotel’s Espresso News. I was finally beginning to relax. I nonetheless hoped I wouldn’t run into anyone from Steve’s Colorado Hotels & Lodging Association (CHLA) group because my face still looked liked hamburger and I had not yet fully recovered my self esteem.

Cheyenne Lake

Cheyenne Lake

Grande Vue

Grande Vue

Zee Bridge

Zee Bridge

After a leisurely stroll around Cheyenne Lake, the lovely body of water that serves as the focal point of this world-class, European-styled resort, I padded off to the Little Theater of The Broadmoor to watch the matinee showing of “Charlotte’s Web,” free to all resort guests. What could be more comforting than a children’s story where animals and one wise, old spider serve as the focal point?

By now I felt buoyed up and since Steve had suggested we dine at the Golden Bee, the classic English pub of The Broadmoor, I thought I was ready to give it a go.

The Little Theater of The Broadmoor

The Little Theater of The Broadmoor

“It looks like you have half of Macy’s cosmetic counter in here, Hun,” Steve called from the bathroom as he prepared for dinner.

“I know, I know,” I said. “I brought all my foundations, cover ups, creams and oils, since there’s so much fixing up to do.”

Steve was against me putting on makeup since he thought that would make my situation worse but I spackled and smoothed it on like an artist with a palette knife completing an Impressionist painting. The end result proved passable although I wondered how I was going to make it through the evening without smearing on a ton of moisturizer to my brittle skin. The already mask-like sensation of my skin hardened to the extent that I thought my face would fall off onto my plate by dinner’s end.

As we sat down, I noticed a terribly disfigured person in a wheelchair two tables over. “I’ve got a nerve, don’t I?” I said to Steve, realizing how inconsequential my situation seemed in comparison to that poor soul’s. “God works in mysterious ways,” I continued. Steve nodded. “I feel even more humbled,” I added.

The body is indeed incredibly tenacious and by the next day I was up and able to take a brisk walk outside beneath the autumn sun. A special dinner—where I knew there would be lots of hobnobbing with CHLA folks—was planned for that evening and after another lengthy makeup applying session, I emerged heavily made up but attractive nonetheless.

Lake Terrace Restaurant at The Broadmoor

Lake Terrace Restaurant at The Broadmoor

Eggs Benedict à la Lake Terrace

Eggs Benedict à la Lake Terrace

I felt fresh and revived the morning of our last day at The Broadmoor as though I had gone away to a European spa to be healed. The crescendo of our visit came when Steve and I enjoyed a late breakfast at the resort’s Lake Terrace restaurant, an elegant dining room that serves breakfast Monday through Saturday and a stupendous brunch on Sundays. In all the years I had visited The Broadmoor, I’d never experienced this lakeside establishment and this time I deemed it a must. After peering in the windows year after year, I realized I was drawn to this lovely space because it reminded me of La Maison Angelina, one of Paris’s most revered tea salons, affectionately known as Angelina’s. Yes, as Steve and I sat amid this stately decor of gilded trim, walls the color of butter and grand mirrors, I felt resurrected and like I had landed back in my beloved City of Light. The world fell away from me as I nibbled my pain au chocolat and sipped fresh-squeezed orange juice. It was oh-so splendid and civilized; we shared a moment that felt like we were toasting the end of a challenging chapter which we had endured together. Through pain comes transformation. And gratitude, whether you find yourself at The Broadmoor or some cozy inn.

Et Voilà

Et Voilà

Traveling While Under the Weather

Sure it’s nice to stay home when you don’t feel or look well. But sometimes going to a nurturing place is just what you need the most. Often, too, you don’t have a choice. It’s either stay home or forfeit a planned vacation. My only other experience with traveling when I was unwell came at the age of fifteen when I left on a trip to Florida with my family just as I was recovering from chicken pox. I still remember some of the stares but I got over it, and that trip has provided lifelong memories. My advice to you:  Think twice before canceling out on travels. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

2 Nov 2013, 1:50am
by Susan Stone


A very good post; thank you for sharing this experience.

So glad to hear you’re doing better. It must have been double hard since you have such a beautiful face.

I skimmed over your Ghost Story and can’t believe you got a severe sun burn. Did the medication have any warning labels? It sounds dreadful! I hope you’re feeling better and will see you Saturday at the ski swap! Love, Susan

I’m glad that you are okay. Severe reactions can be so harmful! I’m sorry you had to go through that, but what a trooper you are for finding the good lessons in a bad experience.

Thanks for sharing all the wonders of Colorado. I need to make a commitment to re-discovering my home state! I’m kind of hoping I might have visitors eventually as a good excuse — but also need to think about what I could do on my own, too.

Be well and happy Colorado Autumn to you! We are having a gorgeous one! Not often are we so lucky to have an actual fall. I’m enjoying it so much this year.
xx
Karin

8 Nov 2013, 7:25am
by Alison James


I love the Broadmoor! I was at a conference on city planning in Colorado Springs a few years ago and when it was over I asked my friends, “does anyone want to go to the Broadmoor, you know, Maxfield Parish painted a picture of it?” And none of them knew what I was talking about – shameful. I went there and had tea on the terrace and walked around. It was just like being in Europe, or the Plaza in NY, a sublime experience. I’m looking forward to taking my daughter there for tea one day.

See you around town Maribeth, hope the rash had the same effect as a chemical peel !

Maribeth,
Glad you had a somewhat speedy and inspired healing process.Now go bang some bumps!

 

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