the first time

The first time it happened, it was in May — it started with a mild swelling on my jaw that looked like a mosquito bite. The mild swelling got worse hour by hour, increasing in size and level of pain. By the end of the day my face looked like I had been in a fight or something. The swelling was so bad that my mouth looked deformed. And it hurt, a lot.

I hardly got any sleep that night… every time I turned around I hit my face, felt excruciating pain, woke up and stayed awake for another while. Then I fell asleep, turned around and… over and over.

I greeted the next day early at my doctor’s office. I’ve had the same doctor for more than five years and I think I’ve only been to his office a dozen times or so, including earlier this year when I went in for a physical. For me to go to the doctor’s office, it had to be serious. And if I hadn’t thought so before, the horrified expressions on the nurses’ faces would have convinced me of that.

Until I spoke to my doctor, however, I really thought that it was nothing big. A minor inconvenience, something that looked bad, but that’s all. He didn’t agree.

He gave me one antibiotic shot, one antibiotic prescription and a lecture about waiting so long to go in, none of which bothered me. And then he did the unthinkable — he told me I couldn’t go to work.

He was very amused by my reaction. I don’t think anyone had ever tried to argue him into allowing them to go to work when they were really sick and had sick leave to cover the absence. All I knew was that I was setting up a two-day photo shoot that began the next day. I absolutely could not afford to take time off. And I didn’t go back to work until Monday.

We still don’t know what started it, but it became an abscess infection. When I returned to my doctor’s office, two days later, he told me that if I hadn’t shown improvements he would have been forced to check me in to the hospital so they could hook me up to antibiotics via IV. It was that serious.

I won’t go into the pain and the medication and the oozing and the scars that made me sulk for days. It took a few weeks to recover completely — weeks I spent with a bandage on my face. And the stupid thing left a scar. But it went away. Eventually.

The one lingering thing that I really hated was that my business manager made me claim every single sick hour. If I had an 8 a.m. appointment with my doctor that made me get into work at 69 a.m., she made me claim an hour even though I was there until 7 or 7:30 that evening, the day before and the day after. Talk about upset! I don’t think the illness itself upset me that much.

Next comes the second time.

Author: Paloma Cruz

Find out more about Paloma Cruz through the About page. Connect with her on Twitter ( and (Facebook).

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