First, a little back story that led up to this big decision:
Almost two years ago, my husband accompanied me to my bi-annual appointment at the Tuberous Sclerosis Clinic. Upon entering the waiting area and signing, we couldn't help but notice a woman sitting in one of the chairs. She was there alone. This isn't the type of clinic where I have seen patients there by themselves, so this woman and the absence of a friend or family member struck me. Not only was she at the clinic alone, but I also momentarily observed her complexion. If you're one who knows me well enough, you would see the large red areas on my jawline and cheek. It's an area that gets more puffy in the heat of summertime, and hurts considerably if I have even the slightest breakout on the skin there. Well...that red is what covered this woman's entire face. It made me sad to see her in the waiting room by herself...
In comparison to testimonies I have read and people whom I have met personally, I have it easy. Considering the common symptoms and how much more painful (emotionally and physically) things could be, I count myself fortunate to only have some of the more mild manifestations of TS. I go every five years to have an MRI of my brain, and a scan of my chest and kidneys to ensure that all is okay internally. Externally speaking, I have the primary skin manifestations which have gradually worsened over time. With each passing year, I notice the overall condition of my skin worsening ever so slightly, and the redness becomes more noticeable (and painful depending on where it's located).
While some claim to hardly notice the imperfections, I see my skin in the mirror every morning and night. Some days I would consider myself fairly content, but most days I look and wonder what if. What if I had a more smooth complexion, areas that weren't so sensitive to the slightest irritation...what if my face wasn't so red and textured...what if I had some guarantee that my skin would not continue to worsen over time? If I'm not hearing the Gospel, if I'm not hearing that I was beautifully and wonderfully created, I'm prone to the downward spiral of self-pity. And this is where my husband comes in - my nurturing, comforting, truth-speaking husband. My husband calls me beautiful not to merely make me feel better about myself, but because he believes it. He believes that beauty is more than skin-deep and that, even with imperfections I can do little to nothing about, I am lovely. I struggle to hear that on the days when I'm not clinging to the Truth that I am created in the image of God. My husband desires that I see myself as he sees me (and as HE sees me), and that my imperfections are not cause for me to think less of myself. With all of this at the foundation of his encouragement, he has continued to support any decision I make regarding treatment options. He knows that anything considered "cosmetic" would be a leap for me, a step of faith both physically and emotionally. After many months of thinking through my options (and often over-analyzing all that "cosmetic" means in my head), I decided to schedule a consultation with the plastic surgeon affiliated with my dermatologist's practice.