“It’s just a cold sore,” I muttered, and smiled at his concern for me. By the time the students found their seats, no fewer than ten students had informed me that my nose was bleeding or that I needed to blow my nose. Sigh.
While I loved the fact that my kids have my back (or, my nose, you could say), and I now knew that they would surely let me know if I happened to walk out of the bathroom with my pants unzipped or a banner of toilet paper trailed from my shoe, I wasn’t very happy about the whole cold sore business.
Every time I get a fever or a runny nose, out pops a cold sore. Sometimes, they appear on my lips, sometimes, they will erupt inside my nose, and sometimes—like this time, they form a perfect little line of blisters that runs from nostril to lip. Great.
What made this episode worse than others? Frist of all, I had an important trip in the works, and I knew I’d probably have my photo taken a few times. Second, the cold sore came on more suddenly than usual—I noticed a tale-tell bump on my lip as I drove home from a park. I knew I didn’t have a lot of my topical cold sore medicine at home, so I rushed to the only grocery store in town to buy a new tube of Abreva.
My small town Safeway didn’t seem to have any in stock in the usual place (the lip balm and cold medicine aisle), so I asked the pharmacist.
“It’s in the vending machine near the front of the store,” she informed me.
“You have a vending machine that sells cold sore medicine?” I exclaimed. “Where? I don’t remember seeing one.”
“It’s located by the liquor section check-out aisle,” she said, “where we sell condoms and things like that.”
I started to giggle. I couldn’t help it. The irony. On second thought, the marketing teams’ product placement psychology makes me a little sad. What does it say about the human race that condoms and liquor seem like logical neighbors in a grocery store?
With some embarrassment (speaking of ironies, the word for ‘pregnant’ in Spanish is ‘embarasada’), I wandered around the store until I found the liquor section, and then located THE VENDING MACHINE. I wasn’t counting on the bold letters emblazoned across the bottom of the machine declaring “FAMILY PLANNING”. Good grief. I had a cold sore! I’m sure my cheeks matched the red lettering on the giant, not very discreet machine.
My eyes skittered across the selections as if I someone had shoved a smutty novel into my hands and asked me to read a passage. Finally, at the bottom left corner of the page, um, machine, I saw what I needed—a small package of Abreva.
Did I mention that I live in a small town? Where everybody knows your name and where you work? Nestled in the corner next to jelly and below the condoms and pregnancy tests, I found what I desperately needed. The stress of the encounter had caused four more blisters to erupt. My window of quick-eradication-of-cold-sores had slammed shut (if I start taking L-Lysine pills and slap on some Abreva at the first sign of a sore, they usually stay small and not too painful).
Ack! Every single item in the vending machine lacked a visible price. I had to stand there and read the instructions on the machine to find the price. I looked around, than surreptitiously punched in the item number. $19.95! The price had gone up five dollars since the last time I had purchased it. Better to just go home and hope that my tube hadn’t expired.
And so I did. And it probably had, because by the next morning, I had a huge, painful cold sore—and to make it worse, my trip to Michigan to attend my Chinese daughter’s college graduation started that very day. Ok, so Wendy’s not really our daughter by adoption, but she’s family now because she lived with us her senior year and high school and visits at least once a year during her school breaks.
Meeting her real parents for the first time made me a little nervous—after all, I don’t speak any Chinese and they don’t speak English. I also stressed about my ugly cold sore. (I’m sure they wondered why I couldn’t seem to keep the snot off my face—for this is the second stage of cold sores—a clear bubble that resembles something you should keep wiped off).
Her gracious parents wanted to take hundreds of photos of Wendy and me. I swallowed my pride and let my happiness shine through (although secretly I could just imagine all of their friends in China looking at the photos and saying, “Who is this jolly American with snot coming out of her nose?”).
I had a lovely weekend, and I made it home about the time my cold sore entered stage three—the hamburger/bloody nose stage. I spent the entire week explaining to people (kids and adults alike), that I have a cold sore—not a bloody nose.
While I tired of the questions about my ‘bloody nose’, the cold sore incident also reminded me that pride has no place in relationships. (tweet this)
I know everyone has my best interest at heart. I know, deep down, that Wendy’s parents don’t care if I have a cold sore (they would treat me the same—with humble gratitude and gracious gifts—whether I had one leg or three) because they feel gratitude to our family because we love their daughter.
Pride has no place in our relationship with God, either. He loves us for who we he created us to be—not because of anything we do. He loves us whether we’re skinny, out of shape, muscle-bound or squishy. He loves us whether our sins appear as blaring blemishes or we hide them from the world. We can’t earn his love because he has already given it to us. End of story. Beginning of story. (tweet this) His love works better than Abreva on the cold sores of our lives.