Taking Off the Hood
December. You meet with the plastic surgeon in Charleston. He seems amiable and knowledgeable. You ask if you can have the surgery but keep your hooded eyelids.
He says he can be conservative. Not take out too much. But when he shows you his before and after photos, you don’t see one person with hooded eyelids.
The Doctor says, “You might as well do under the eye as well. Otherwise, it will look aged once you do the uppers.”
He has a point you think, looking at your under-eye puffiness and wrinkles magnified on the computer screen on his desk.
“Ok, add that too,” you say.
You go to the front desk and pay the deposit, because even if it feels risky, it’s time.
A dermatologist once told you to do it in your forties. That way no one would notice. But you weren’t ready. You liked your hooded eyes. You still like them. But those top lids are creeping down over your irises, and they make you look tired.
In ten years, like your mother, they’ll become so heavy that they’ll decide to close on their own while you’re trying to read at night, the reason she went ahead with the same surgery.
Covid-19 arrived. Should you go ahead with cosmetic surgery with daily reports of loss and sadness everywhere? It seems kind of self-absorbed but it was scheduled and who knows how far out rescheduling would be.
You call the office. Your surgeon has his own self-contained building. Lots of protocol in place. You change your thinking. Maybe it’s the perfect time. No events. No parties. You’re at home anyway.
But you occasionally worry. Will you look freakish? Probably not. Obviously different? Yes, of course, you’ll look different. People will squint, trying to figure out what you did. The same way you stare at other women knowing they’ve done something, but you can’t quite put your finger on it.
The day before surgery, a sadness overtakes you. You feel a recurring lump in your throat. You’ve had these eyes for fifty-five years. They are a part of your identity, and the next day, they’ll be permanently altered.
You are in the operating room. Your hair is in a cap. Your gown is on. You wait for the Doctor. He sits down. You remind him that you’re the patient who likes her hooded eyelids. You ask if he has a choice can he cut less than more. He says the cut is determined by where he can hide the stitches.
Uummmm. Oh well, too late to turn back now. They sedate you. They wake you. They give you saltines. You clumsily eat them feeling crumbs drop down your gown but you’re too drugged to be self-conscious.
Your sister drives you home. On the way, you pull up the eyepatch filled with frozen peas and you peek at your eye in the side-view mirror. An uncovered lid stares back. The hood is most definitely gone, but you’re too loopy to worry about it.
The next day, you’re red, and blue and different. Your eyes have new slivers of space. You’re altered, but still you. It’s all going to be ok, Caroline. You have your sight. You have a vision. You’re a woman looking forward to the future.