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Des complexes

before my climbing accident

before my climbing accident

When I was toddler in Ecuador, I tried to climb a wall shelving unit full of my dolls—and fell. The entire unit then fell on top of me. My mom tells me my face swelled up for days. I have no memory of the event, but it affected me for much of my life. And it wasn’t just the small scar on my nose that was left behind once the swelling went down.

I can’t remember when I first noticed my nose. I don’t know how old I was or what my initial thoughts about it were. What I do remember is that a few years later, my plastic surgeon uncle, during a short visit to the States for a medical conference, told me that once I was of age, he would fix it. Naturally, this caused me to pay an unusual amount of attention to my nose. I’d stare at it in the mirror from different angles. I’d pinch it and push it up, imagining what it would look if it were thinner, longer, less sloped and without the scar or the bump on the bridge. I became convinced  my childhood accident had ruined my nose, and that it was only a matter of time before my uncle would give me a new one.


one of the other 20%

At 18, I took a family trip back to the mother country, and as promised, my uncle was ready and willing to perform the long anticipated rhinoplasty for an insanely discounted price (about $120). I must be the only person who has turned down an almost-free nose job. And it’s not because I grew out of being  so self-conscious. Nope. I still think my nose looks awful in about 80% of photographs. I definitely considered the surgery, but in the end, I deemed it unnecessary. In my entire life, no one had ever cared about my nose as much as I’d had. In fact, most are unaware of the scar until I bring it to their attention, including boys I dated. Plus, the thought of waking up with a different face really freaked me out. And there was no guarantee that I’d not obsess over the new nose or find something else to obsess over. Thanks, but no thanks.

Recently, I suffered a bad fall that left me with a very swollen nose which I feared might be broken. It was probably the first time in my life that I longed to have my nose back to normal. Thankfully, it’s going to be just fine.

Do you have any facial features or body parts that you don’t love? How about scars or birthmarks? Would love to hear about your experiences dealing with them, and your journey toward acceptance.

F.Y.I.: “Des complexes” is a phrase I learned in my very first French class in college. It translates to “hangups” or, for those familiar with psychology, “complexes.”


Fun Fact: My Big Fat Family

My office puts out a monthly “Fun Facts” on the department website. Given that I work for a home health care agency, and that we deal with the  evaluation and analysis of patient data, these posts can be interesting, but I would hardly call them fun. So, I decided to put together fun facts about myself. Hopefully, they’re entertaining, and it can turn into a series of fun facts in the weeks to come. This is all in the spirit of keeping me writing, despite my suddenly very busy life.


When I tell people that I have five younger siblings, their eyes usually pop out of their heads. I suppose it’s impressive, but for me it’s just a fact of my life. The age differences between us is what I find more shocking. The youngest of my siblings, my little sister, is 19 years younger than I am. She just turned 13 a couple months ago, and a couple weeks after that, I turned 32. Needless to say, there was always a battle for my mom’s attention at home, one that I usually lost to my younger and more demanding siblings.

But, there were some benefits to being the eldest sibling, and I would say the most significant was being able to watch my younger siblings grow up. I have a ton of great memories of them doing and saying hilarious things. Like the time the youngest of my brothers got a battery stuck up his nose, and then expelled it by using what he called “the force.” Or the time the middle brother became so upset after getting a haircut which he felt made him “look ugly.” He must have been 3 or so years old, but even then he had a sense of style. And then there’s my little sister, who hasn’t stopped chatting since the moment she learned to talk, and somehow always manages to be hysterical.

One interesting fact is that they see me as an adult, and not just a big sister. When we were younger, this meant that they were fascinated by everything I did and were especially intrigued by my belongings. I once asked them in a rage why they insisted on sneaking into my room all the time and touching my stuff, and they told me: “It’s because you’re so cool!” and really meant it. It made me laugh, because I realized that I had never placed myself in their shoes and imagined what it would be like to have a much older sibling. It was a very strange setup indeed.

I lived at home until I was about 27. The lack of privacy and the incessant sound of children playing drove me bananas. Nowadays, I miss my siblings seeing me as a “super-sister,” (like a super-senior in high school) before they became teenagers way cooler than I am. Thankfully, I have a bunch of memories (and pictures) of their less cool days to deflate their big heads. Above is my youngest sister during her Hannah Montana phase, which she is now so over. The picture was taken on her 8th birthday.