I’ve been thinking about vanity a lot lately. I seem to have a lot of it. To me it settles out into some different realms:
Vanity about body appearance: from taking steroids for so long, I have chubby cheeks and a more rectangular face without noticeable cheekbones. My face really looks different from before. I was kind of dreading the steroid face all along, and here it is. No pictures of me look nice to me. It took me a month or so to stop not-recognizing my face in the mirror. This chubby-face thing really bums me out. I liked my old face and this is yet another sign of the mandatory ongoing negotiations with cancer.
I’ve also gained weight elsewhere on the steroids–that and a lack of ability to exercise much lately–and steroid weight goes to the midsection so I’ve got more of a belly than usual and my pants are tight around the waist. I was really feeling good about myself when I weighed 142 pounds and exercised every day; now I weigh 152 pounds instead and feel like there’s little I can do about it.
The combination of steroids and edema from my left arm means I have a double chin and maybe even a triple chin if I try, on the left side anyway. Who said that was allowed?
My hair is really thin; in August and September about half of it fell out slowly, and I don’t know why. Chemo? Steroids (possible)? Anyway I now have curly, more-gray-than-before, sparse hair. My scalp shines through. On first glance it might not look weird but I am definitely sporting the “chemo victim” look all the time now, like it or not. The curls that want to go straight up are not really what I wished for all those times I wished for curly instead of stick-straight hair.
On the other hand, this summer sometime my eyebrows grew back. For a while I had basically half an eyebrow on one side and 2/3 an eyebrow on the other side, and I had an eyebrow pencil and eyebrow mascara to make them look normal. Now I don’t need to bother, so that’s nice!
But the way I look now overall gives the game away: I am an ill person, not a healthy person. I am far more self-conscious now when I go places, like the chiropractor or even my oncologist’s offfice. In the waiting room, I’m one of the obviously in-treatment And when I dig into how I feel about this transformation, I find a lot of vanity about my previous appearance–which I was very happy with–and grief that I have lost that, and with it my own feeling of being attractive. I really liked my cheekbones.