The process was less painful and difficult than anticipated. Here's my journal from that day.
1:45: Face gently washed with Dial soap, then alcohol, then acetone. The nurse explained each step (“this is Dial…the alcohol smells strong…it’s getting close to your nose…the acetone will feel very cold…”). The Levulon didn’t smell or feel like anything in particular. It stayed on for an hour, during which I lounged on the table in the office and read a good homicide thriller by Crais. (Many thanks to those who reminded me to bring a book). I had worn a sundress because I was afraid of being hot during the baking portion. I hadn’t thought about this hour, during which I was quite chilly.
3:00 The Levulon was wiped off and I went to the bathroom (I was a little nervous about the upcoming light therapy). The nurse put cotton pads and goggles on me and told me that she would come to check on me. I could let her know if it became intolerable. (This comment did not comfort me.) After I asked several more questions about escaping if it was too “uncomfortable,” she assured me that I could slide out from under the machine that was placed just over my face if I needed to. That helped the claustrophobia.
3:30 p.m. It actually wasn’t so bad. It did feel a little like rubber bands snapping, and like roasting flesh, but it didn’t hurt all that much. Music helped to distract (bring ipod!). It lasted 16 minutes, the light went off, and I was done. It never was even painful, much less intolerable.
4 p.m. The nurse put powerful sunscreen on me. I asked repeatedly if it was OK for me to be outside; she said that as long as I had sunscreen on, and kept reapplying every 45 minutes or so, I was fine. That didn’t sound like anything I’d read, but I stopped asking, figuring that I could just stay inside with sunscreen on. No sense taking chances.
9 p.m. I’d asked my daughters to “babysit” me, so they expected me to look and feel terrible. I really looked fine and just felt slightly hot.
All but one daughter abandoned me because clearly I was not in need.
I put Aquaphor on because I read that I should. My skin stung as though I’d had a bad sunburn during the day, and I’m tired. It’s just like a sunburn, actually. This is a familiar feeling for me.
I stayed inside for the next few days. I'll post some photos to show how lovely I looked. It could be covered with makeup pretty easily. No one really commented when I emerged from my house on the third day.
(I'm trying to figure out a simple way to add a black bar to the photo. I feel silly for not knowing. I'll post this anyway, and add photos later. Better something than nothing, right?)