I have never written from a point of fear, until now. You probably wouldn’t bother when a pale spot appears on your face, but for me, the pale spot meant a lot. It shook my world. When I recently spotted a patch on my nose, I panicked- thinking history was visiting. You see, when I was in primary school a friend during break time pointed out that something strange was happening to my face. Having not noticed, I visited the mirror once I reached home, and made a huge discovery. As if the mirror had reflected someone else in the morning, I scrutinized my face in the evening after dinner and I noticed something… different. At first, I wondered how I never noticed all the while and started backtracking and quizzing myself when the mysterious patches first had appeared, and why. When I failed to answer the questions, I decided to go with what I was seeing. My lips were patched. Some areas were more pink, like the inside of my lip. It was pronounced and uneven. I rushed to my family members and told them to have a look at my oddity. All they could do was acknowledge that it exists but no one knew what to make of it.
After making that discovery, I somehow forgot I had it. It wasn’t painful so I guessed I was fine and good to go. Besides, I was in primary school and more conscious about my books and football than my looks. My friends told me that it looked like natural lipstick and I believed them. As time passed by, the patch was spreading rapidly and people started asking what was happening to my lips. All I did was shrug, indicating that I also did not know what was happening to myself. This failure to know made me visit the doctor once and for all so that I could at least have an answer when people asked me that question. In addition, the patch was spreading and at that time, Google was not yet my uncle so I resulted to visit a dermatologist.
I sat opposite the doctor, my sister beside me. After asking me some questions and examining me and scribbling some notes, the doctor paused. I was now scared, thinking that I had the worst illness- whose name did not register in my innocent mind. While looking down, as if searching for courage on his desk, the dermatologist announced bluntly that, “You have… vitiligo.” I had no idea what it was and did not know what to make of the news. He finally looked up and elaborated that it was an autoimmune disease whereby the production of melanin was being hindered, with the cause unknown. This meant my skin was loosing its colour in blotches. He suggested that it could be genetic and added that I was lucky because my kind affected the mucous membrane and not the skin. Still, I did not know what he meant. Then when he mentioned that Michael Jackson had the same disease, then I exactly knew what he meant. I had read before that the pop singer who I listened to regularly and imitated his dance moves had to undergo plastic surgery because his skin had patches of white, which I was now suffering from. I somehow felt relieved, partly because someone famous had the disease and that I finally knew what I had.
When I left the doctor’s office, I did some research. I discovered what melanin was (that’s when I started becoming brainy). Though vitiligo had no cause or cure, it could be contained, so that the discoloration does not spread quickly. I was given an injection, some tablets and ointment to apply which I believe had steroids. When I completed my medication, I never went back to the doctor ever since. This was because the patches eventually stopped spreading. Now 8 years later, I have never bothered about my condition. The discolouration had spread evenly. Once in a while, fear strikes and I am reminded that I have the condition when l I encounter someone with the disease. Most often, I see people with the extreme vitiligo whereby their hands or faces are all white. Occasionally, my condition brush people in the wrong way. One day, an acquaintance out of the blue told me, “you have to stop taking that thing, it will kill you my dear.” He said it while staring at my lips. Hindsight whispered to me that he thought I was drowning my sorrows with spirits.
Sometimes, circumstances override choice. Things happen to us which we never anticipate. It is scary not to know what will happen to you. With vitiligo, you can never know when it will spread or how much it will spread. This is because the trait of this non-transmittable condition is that it may stop spreading for years and surge back unexpectedly or a spot appear and disappear for a time, then again appear full blown and spread rapidly. In my case, the spot on my nose disappeared weeks later but did not tag the fear along with it because sometimes I get terrified that one day my face will be patched or turn all white. I still cross my fingers, hoping and praying that I never spot a white spot, ever again.