Wednesday, December 2, 2009

a minor triumph

Efforts at rejuvenating poor Mom's lips are finally paying off: as of Tuesday night, Mom's lips looked a heck of a lot better than they've looked in almost two weeks. The live skin still needs to heal, but the dead skin is almost all gone. Repeated applications of a warm washcloth, followed by vitamin E or medicated lip balm, have done the trick. It may sound silly to make such a big deal about this, but Mom is extremely susceptible to infection in her current immunodepressed state. Any wound, however small, is cause for immediate concern.

It was Mom herself who helped with the exfoliation process. Earlier on Tuesday, her lips still looked extremely chapped, and this was because of the thick layer of dead skin still hanging on them-- especially on her lower lip. But at some point after I had given Mom her third washcloth/vitamin E treatment of the day, she must have decided to take matters into her own hands. After having stepped away for about twenty minutes, I came back to where she was on the living room couch and immediately noticed that her lips looked almost immaculate. Mom reacted to the delight on my face by smiling and even offering a hesitant chuckle: she could tell I was happy about something that had to do with her.

"Your lips look great!" I blurted. Mom smiled again. I could tell that she, too, was glad to have liberated herself from the oppression of chapped skin. This was one of those rare cases when her perseveration might actually have been a blessing. Normally, I'd worry about any sort of obsessive skin-picking behavior, but Mom obviously knew what she was doing this time around: she had successfully removed the large flakes of dry skin without further injuring her lips. For the past week, Dad and I had been using a warm, wet washcloth to soften the skin of her lips, and had been gingerly rubbing at them to scrape off modest bits and pieces. Afraid to cause bleeding, we hadn't been aggressive about removing the larger flakes, even when they had looked ready to come off. Last night, Mom took care of all that for us.

It's not over, of course: the condition of Mom's lips is now another item on an ever-growing checklist related to her health. As with the other items on the checklist, we'll be watching very closely for signs of any problem. And we'll be continuing the lip balm and vitamin E treatments as a preventative measure even after the last remaining lip wound has healed.


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