At first there may be no change at all.
But maybe you touch your face and it hurts, but maybe only in one spot. You can tell it's a deep hematoma (bruise) by the feel, that sharp ping to the touch gives it away.
Immediately you hope there's no damage, no chips to the bone.
But the color's still good, so you think. . .well, maybe this won't be so bad.
But the next day there's a soft yellow pigmentation that's creeping across half of your face. And the day after that, it's turned to ochre.
And the day after the day after that, a horseradish mustard. It's so dark that make-up's not quite working the way it should. Then the mustard morphs to light olive, then olive.
You feel like a freaking painter's pallet.
Oh, and it hurts. Yes, it hurts. It hurts a lot while you apply make-up, and while it's healing it can itch, and you want to touch it but you don't want to destroy your make-up and you SURELY don't want anyone to see you or even to know or ask about this.
They'll think he hit you, of course. You can hear the jokes, too.
Ha, ha, what happened? Did you say No? Ha, ha, what happened? Did you say something about his uh, . . . mother? Ha, ha, what happened, take the remote control?
And 9 times out of 10, I would think that, too, that it's from a whack to the punim (yiddish for face) but I'd never say that or make fun. That kind of cringe "fun" makes me nauseous.
It's a pretty natural deduction in our violent world to think that a person with a facial injury might have been hit. But when you get one of those things and you weren't hit, well, you can get really confused and can go through a lot of strange vibrations all because, well,
You have a bruise on the face.
When I had that indomitable virus last week it sucked a lot of fluid out of me, that's the running theory and truth, I'm pretty sure. The cough, the mucous, the fever. I didn't keep up, although I had been trying to drink water, de-caf tea, lemonade, etc.
And my empathy level shot up for people I'd seen with these symptoms the week before, people who had cancelled appointments.
The addiction to caffeine was in high form, however, like every other blogger's is, natch, on any good day. But that's not a good thing when you're sick, even if it's only 3 or 4 cups a day (like mine) and half-caff at that . So I woke up one of those bleak febrile mornings and jumped into my usual drug-seeking a.m. routine.
See, routine is everything. My psychologist cousin, Peter Rosenzweig has a bunch of interesting platitudes, like certain people need a lot of oil, and 99% of what we do, we do unconsciously.
So the routine is the unconsciously thing.
I did my routine upon awakening, thanked the Old Mighty for bringing me to consciousness when I opened my eyes, then bolted out of bed to see if F.D. had made the caffeinated juice.
He hadn't and he was in the shower.
I got to the kitchen and felt light-headed. People do. I ignored it and started grinding the beans. Felt VERY light headed and within seconds, received "You are passing out you idiot" signals from the brain, but the wiring, the hard-wired program of routine wouldn't quit, the wanting to get the coffee started.
Didn't matter how high the fever. Had to get the coffee started, then sit down and rest, a task easily accomplished, thought I, before passing out was even possible. Who passes out?
Then the, "You idiot, you waited too long to sit down" message kicked in. Tried frantically to dive to the safety of my fave living room chair, only a seven-foot sprint away.
But I didn't make it. Woke up where?
Under the piano. Don' know how.
Where am I?
Right out of the movies. Terrified, weak, dizzy, confused. And a very loud message I HAVE TO MAKE THE COFFEE still buzzing. How strange is the brain on fever? PRETTY strange.
Since face didn't show any change in color I didn't ice it. Didn't even think of icing it (Chicago-in-the-winter blindness). Ice a potential bruise immediately, okay?
So I was stuck trying to hide this for over a week until the thing faded.
But it made me more more thoughtful, more aware that at this moment, as you read this, that there are dozens of women getting the blank kicked out of them. Below I threw together a bunch of statistics for your light reading pleasure.
The green in this doc's face is just about gone, cheek kind of looks like I've been drawing with charcoal and forgot to wash up. Only a few people have noticed it through my efforts with make-up and paint.
But I made a few changes, take it a little slower in the morning, think a little longer about what I'm saying when thanking the Old Mighty for having brought me back to consciousness.
And I've let F.D. make the coffee the last couple of days. He does a better job anyway. (as of this post this is no longer true, but it was true when I wrote it, natch, the homeostasis of behavior is one strong current, plus I'm up earlier, the real reason).
P. S. This was never a post I thought I'd write. Even after it happened, such a rich source of blogging material, rich potential for humor, pathos, color, I still had NO intention of writing about what happened.
But F.D. said, "Of course you should tell that story. It's all about the bruise on the face. How could a person in your profession just let that go?"
I think I felt some shame. In my head there was this Maybe People Will Think I Did Something Wrong to Deserve This message. That was a real gut reaction, one that made the experience all the more surreal, no matter the lack of reason or rationale.
And that IS what people really do think, at least at some point, when they've been victimized by something, someone more powerful than a virus.
But when I've seen people with obvious red flags, signals that something just might be seriously wrong with their lives, like black eyes, arms in slings, cut lips, I personally have never thought that way. I've assumed abuse, but not blame.
Who blames a victim anymore?
It's worth a discussion, right?
A few stats, either from the American Psychological Association's Intimate Partner Abuse and Relationship Violence Working Group or the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
28% of the violent crime against women is intimate partner violence,
perpetrated by a spouse or significant other, like a boyfriend or even a date.
Depending upon the survey, either 1 in 4, or 1 in 5 women have reported
being assaulted by an intimate partner at some time in her lifetime, versus
either 1 out of every 14 men.
Intimate partner homicides has accounted for about 32% of the murders of female,
4% of the murders of males in some studies.
Prevalence cuts across racial, economic, and sexual minority lines.
In the previous 12 months, 1.3 million women and 835,000 men had been
physically assaulted by an intimate partner. However, women were 7 to 14 times
more likely to experience serious acts of partner violence, and were
significantly more likely to sustain injuries than men who were victims of
And I haven't even discussed sexual abuse. We're mainly into battering, here.
Solutions? What can we do?
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence recommends that you
contact members of Congress to support additional funding for domestic violence
programs through the Violence Against Women Act, the Victims of Crime Act Fund,
or the Family Violence and Prevention Services Act.
You can also work with policy advocacy groups to influence your state
legislature to pass progressive domestic violence laws and ensure local programs
fund prevention and intervention.
Or you can work at a DV shelter as a volunteer, or translate for a
The APA working group wants professionals to get out there and teach these
That's what we're doing today. Learn ONE stat and mention it at the next cocktail party, wedding or Bar Mitzvah. That'd be doing something, believe it or not.
You'd be raising awareness, which is cool.
Copyright 2006, TherapyDoc