I did not like what I saw in the bathroom mirror: slight swelling in my left cheek. I looked again, poked my finger into the spongy mass—the beginnings of moonface, no doubt about it, caused by prolonged steroid usage. I had seen this disfigurement in patients I used to work with. Other than teenage blemishes that were diet related, my oval face still appeared youthful. I worked hard to keep it that way.

Yet for decades, the leech of emotional pain had engorged my rheumatoid arthritis and split me from my body. Only approving smiles in mirrors or in reflecting doors verified my existence. Camera shots also affirmed this existence, enlivening my symmetrical body dressed to the nines. Others said “I was drop-dead gorgeous,” but I did not believe them.

Alarm led me, unawares, into the fix-it mode: I must preserve my face from further distortion. I went to work. Research showed that moonface could be reduced or eliminated if the dose were adjusted. Short of breath, my finger messed keying the number to the hospice nurse. “Yes, Liz, you can try the one-half of one milligram of the Dexamethasone. See if that makes a difference.”

It did not. Ever so slowly, I woke to the madness of preferring a comely face to breathing—all the more insane because of my homebound status. I was the only one who fretted, not my visitors. Such experience showed the entrenchment of my pride that had whipped me into days of unmanageability.

It was back to my CPA sponsor and Steps II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, and VIII. Again, the Flusher swirled out my crap and restored my breath for the essential, one day at a time.