Joanna hated doctors. Well, not really. She actually admired doctors and was quite fond of her own GP. What she hated was GOING to doctors.
It was the pushing, probing and often penetrating nature of the appointments that she particularly loathed. Her modus operandi when any health issue arose was to delay the doctor’s visit as long as possible, doing her own research until ultimately Dr Google had her convinced she had every disease on his database. When she eventually made the appointment, she would arrive sure that she was either dying or that her doctor would think she was a hypochondriac. Her nervous state would usually result in her blood pressure being abnormally high and her brain being foggy so that she would forget to list all her symptoms meaning that once she left, she remained concerned that both she and her doctor may have missed something.
So it really surprised her husband, Luke, when one day as they stood side by side at their ‘his-and- hers’ bathroom basins, she leaned into the mirror and pulled up the skin on either side of her face to reduce the jowls that had begun to appear under her slightly receding chin.
‘I think I will have a facelift’
‘ Really?’ said Luke ‘Why would you of all people do that?’
‘Well look at me. See this… and now this, if I had the lift’.
‘I doubt it is a simple as that my dear. You do realise that having such a thing done would mean many visits to doctors not to mention the painful surgery.’
‘ I think it would be worth it though? Don’t’ you?’
‘Honestly Joanna. I never thought of you as vain. We are all getting older. Look at my jowls. Do you want me to have mine done too?’
‘Stop making it about you, Luke. This is something I want for myself.’
“ Whatever.’ Luke frowned at her in the mirror and left her alone.
The seed was sown. The research was done and the appointment was made. The nerves before her first session with the plastic surgeon were tenfold to her normal GP visit but of course, the doctor and his staff were very experienced at handling patients just like her and their soft reassurances and absolute confidence of a successful outcome soon won her over.
On the second visit they created a computer enhanced image of how she would look when it was done which she excitedly took home to show Luke, but still he showed no enthusiasm.
The day of the surgery arrived and Luke dropped her to the hospital with the parting words that he would be there to pick her up when she was ready ‘if I recognize you, that is!’
Poking her tongue at his departing vehicle, she turned and defiantly strode through the hospital doors. After the procedure, her face was bandaged like an Egyptian mummy. As the painkillers wore off, it felt like someone had her in a headlock while digging their fingernails in beneath both her ears. After two days spent in hospital she was sent home, heavily bandaged with only over the counter meds to ease the endless throb from ear to ear. To top it off, when Luke arrived to pick her up, his only comment when seeing her swaddled face was, ‘My goodness, that IS an improvement!’
Returning five days later for the big reveal, what the mirror showed was a face that was black and blue from lobe to lobe, the swelling and bruising meaning there was still no defined chin and of course there were the red pinched areas where the incisions had been made.
Seeing her crestfallen look, the surgeon said ‘It’s early times yet Joanna. I am very pleased with the results.’
Joanna returned home, keeping the bandages on whenever Luke was about. A week later the bruising and redness had gone but the person who peered back at her from the bathroom mirror looked nothing like the one who had done the pretend facelift back when she first mooted the idea. This woman had a harsh chin and jaw line with prominent cheekbones, and her eyes seemed to be dragged down a little in the corners so that she wore a permanently sorrowful expression. The skin felt tight to touch and she wondered if Luke would ever again have the urge to gently trace the contours of her face with his fingers.
Arriving home from the doctor ,‘sans bandage’, she found her husband and eldest daughter sitting at the kitchen table chatting. They both looked up and Luke’s eye widened in shock but it was her daughter, known for having no filter, who said
“Cheez Mum. You look like you’ve had your head out the car window for too long!’