I could barely notice the tears. The scars on her eyebrows and upper lip were distractingly ugly. It was a difficult to balance sympathy and science. How do I answer her truthfully, tactfully and offer hopeful help.
“Doctor Johnson,” she asked, “will these wax scars stay on my face? I just wanted my eyebrows to look nicer. I am not a vain person! Just look at what they did to me.”
I did not need her to tell me to take a look. It was hard not to look. The scars were so obviously prominent, it was impossible not to look. I actually tried to look away, but that would not help me help her. I needed to see her as a whole person, not a scarred woman. The wax had its effect in removing the hair and to her disappointment a portion of skin with it. Hence these scars were on her face.
Her protest continued, ever more enhanced by her tears. It was obvious to me this was not truly a medical problem. I advised her that in my professional opinion her scars would heal and that she would with time have the face and the beauty that God had created and intended her to retain. There was nothing that she could or should do beyond allowing the natural healing that God had also intended.
It seemed to give little comfort or solace. She ran to the mirror in the examining room. She was as distraught as someone whose face is filled with a multiple malignant cancers. There was no way I could truly console her. Vanity’s vicious voice was telling her just how wretched she looked, and it continued to assure her, that ugliness was her destiny.
My challenge was to reassure her that she was beautiful, without seeming to imply any romantic inclinations and not appear to be grossly lying. I was grossly lying. I was very intent on making sure that she left the room with a lighter heart that when she arrived, and giving her what I knew as science would overcome the sadness.
“Your scars will heal” I assured her. She grimaced. No smile would cross her lips. It seemed that just the upward turn would pull at the scars and cause pain. A whimper, why even a whistle would cause pain. She left the office, downhearted and literally with a stiff upper lip. Vanity’s voice is vicious.