Circus Freak

I am growing out my bangs, so I expect to look like a dork for a year or so.
Ah, who am I kidding? I've got a life sentence.

I went to a new dermatologist yesterday. I'm afflicted with several auto-immune disorders (what can I say, I'm a lucky goil) that require the intervention of a dermatologist from time to time. The last physician I tried was . . . well, I had a few names for him, including an implication that his parents were not married when he was born. Me no like. So, I selected a new doctor and made an appointment. Lo and behold, he was downright nice and spent more than .000023 seconds with me.

I was diagnosed with vitiligo when I was seven years old or so. When I was fourteen, my parents took me to a renowned dermatologist in DC. Together we decided that my condition was so advanced that depigmentation was the best option (and Dr. Stolar had helped to pioneer this treatment, so were fortunate to have the go-to guy so near to where we lived). It took about two years for me to become completely depigmented, using a topical cream. When it was all over, I truly felt at peace. The stares became less numerous (or at least less overt) and the unwelcome comments declined dramatically as well.

When I met my new dermatologist yesterday (I was there to discuss one of my other maladies, but we chatted about my vitiligo anyway), he told me that he had only met two or three other people who had been depigmented. For some reason, this little factoid has been stuck in my head ever since. I mean, this doctor is a little long in the tooth so it's not like he just went into practice. I am sure he has been in business since the Vietnam War. While I have never run into another like me (I don't need to ask the mirror - I already know that I'm the fairest one of all), I guess I just assumed that there were more out there. But maybe not too many after all. It's just a little jarring to come to the realization that you really are an oddity. I'm like one step above the six-legged calf I saw in the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum when I was a kid.

Most people who have vitiligo fight tooth and nail to retain their pigment. I can't say that I blame them, only that it just didn't work out that way for me. And really, being fair doesn't bother me. I do have to be careful in the sun, obviously. When I was a senior in high school, I actually managed to get a sunburn in December, helping the Lion's Club sell Christmas trees. I think it helps that I am now living in the upper Midwest, where winter lasts around eight months. Nobody expects you to be tan when there is snow as high as your hip. Not that anyone would exactly want to trade places with me, though. The only section of the population that seems to appreciate my appearance is: little old ladies. They stop me in the street and compliment me on my complexion. And that's about it for my fan club.

My daughter has not yet noticed that there is something different about me. She also doesn't notice that a fellow student at her school has Down Syndrome. And things like race and ethnicity have no meaning for her. I wish that children could hold onto that innocence a whole lot longer than they do. Schoolyard bullies would then be obsolete, don't you think? One day last week I was picking A up from school and when I walked in, the kids were seated at the table, having a snack. I knelt down next to the cutest kid (mine, you know) and waited for her to finish. There was a new boy in the class, clearly the chatty type, who was sitting across from her. "You're pretty. I like you," he said to me. I wondered momentarily if I could adopt him as well. My appearance might not be the norm, but at least a three-year-old thinks I'm a dish.

Alabaster Mom out.


Anonymous said…
I would have never guessed you were anything but fair-skinned. Maybe because I grew up in the MW I just assume everyone is just pale all the time! I know I am! I often get asked, "Do you get enough sun?"

Anyway, I have always thought you had beautiful skin, so I'll join the little old ladies in your fan club! : )
Susie said…
Hey, I just had a birthday, but I'm no little old lady and I think you have a beautiful complexion! I'm pasty white with a pink tinge, sometimes blotchy even, so at least you don't have that to deal with. And hey, if you really think you're a circus freak, which clearly you're not, you could sell yourself to a circus and see what kind of crowds come to see you. It would be ultimate people watching!

I do love the innocence and color blindness of little ones. I, too, wish it could last forever, but I'm afraid that's not likely to happen! I totally get the alabaster thing now. Who knew?
Jen J said…
Aren't kids the BEST? They tell it like it is and they're not afraid to give a compliment! I love their innocence as well. If only that could last forever.

Thanks for sharing the story - although you didn't have to. As an autoimmune person I somewhat know the journey you're on.

BTW~ I did a post tonight about our Garage Sale on Saturday! I'm sure that you'll be able to relate! LOL!
Anonymous said…
I would have never thought you were anything but fair skinned, heck I'm whiter than white as well. Don't be so hard on yourself, that little boy is right you are beautiful!!!
Mary said…
Oh girl you are beautiful, I never heard of what you have till you mentioned it some other time nor did I think you were anything but the same nationality of my son in law (which I forgot what it is!:)who is light skinned and has black hair. Your story about the boys comment reminded me also of how cruel kids can be too!! Sarah teaches exceptional education and one of her kids wanted to high 5 another student from the regular school and she backed off and said "ewwwwwwwwwwww" among many other cruel things that other students do to her students. A couple days ago she was crying her head of because of the cruelty her kids face on a daily basis.;(
Anonymous said…
Just wanted you to know that I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now and I really enjoy it!
PS-you are not a circus freak!!! :)
Anonymous said…
I,too always thought you had a beautiful complextion.

Your writing is amazing and your little girl is adorable.

I would like to request that you write more often.... do you take requests? Laurie
Sam said…
You really do have beautiful skin. I had no idea you had a "condition".

Kids tell it like it is. Sometimes.

The other day I put on a plain white shirt and my three-year old nephew told me I looked beautiful. What a sweetie!

However, a four-year old told me not too long ago that my butt had gotten bigger. What a jerk!

By the way, I just got through the awful part of growing out bangs. It's worth it! Hang in there! Headbands are your best friend!
Unknown said…
By your face it is not seem that you are suffering from skin condition vitiligo. Normally people suffering from this skin condition have to suffer from great stress due their physical appearance. Although there are many other pigmentation disorder but no one is as serious as skin this. Because the treatment of vitiligo is very time taking process.
Alabaster Mom said…
Trust me, no one would claim to have this condition if they didn't have it. My childhood was essentially ruined, thanks to vitiligo.

But thanks, Mister M.D. :-)

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