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On Puffy Faces

All this hubub about Ashley Judd's puffy steroid face brought out a little "bitch, please" in me. It surprised me when I felt a twinge of competition over her steroid-induced moon face, but I did. So I present to you:

Before prednisone...

                                                               ...and after.

I'm probably about 6 in the before photo, and about 13 after, so there's admittedly a big gap there. But the before face was basically the same structure until I hit 12 and wound up on 60mg of prednisone for four years.

Besides the obvious detrimental effects of living with a visible deformity, there were unseen physical effects as well. At one point my forehead was as engorged as my cheeks and it was actually painful to keep my eyes open. My weight ballooned to 160lbs (I was and am 5'2) and opted to have a breast reduction when I hit an "e" cup (it was a decision two-years in the making).  Oh, and I had four kidney stones when I was 14. On the plus side, I didn't have my period for about a year and a half.

I was sixteen when I finally came off of the steroids, after a long process of weaning, but I was around 20 by the time I felt the majority of the side-effects finally wore off. However, to this day I am covered with striations across my lower back and around my arm pits, something that I could try to tackle with laser treatments but probably won't. I like to think of them as my tiger stripes. Most people confuse them for tattoos, though I'm not sure how.

I was relatively lucky in terms of how my peers responded to me when I returned to middle school after a two month absence. The closest thing to ridicule I experienced was being called "Marty", in reference to this awful 90's movie in which Martin Short's face swells after being stung by a bee. But that moniker was given to me by a guy who was one of my best friends, and even "went out" with me for a spell, moon face and all. In some ways the moon face was a hugely positive influence on me. It made me a stronger kid who couldn't be bothered with what other people might think. I was too busy enjoying the privilege of eating solid food again to care about my looks, or anyone beyond my family for that matter.

I'm not about to blow smoke and pretend I'm not relieved to have my normal face back, nor can I deny having grown into a vain asshole that my childhood self would be ashamed of; but when I think back to that time of my life I still value the experience and try to remind my jaded, cranky adult self of the lessons learned by my adolescent self. 

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