Mauled : Part 2 - Ideal Image
I mentioned in my introductory article, "Hello, my face is MAULED", that Kory had made an appointment for me to have a laser hair removal consultation. Due to one of the symptoms of PCOS being excessive hair growth, I have had a really hard time in my later years. I have tried plucking, chemicals, and medications, but over the years the hair started growing so fast and was so coarse that shaving daily (sometimes twice daily) became my best option. The shaving really messed up my face due to ingrown hairs and my tendency towards dermatillomania and so the past couple of years I have really been depressed about the scars and razor bumps that now riddle my chin, neck, and cheeks.
When I first heard of laser hair removal it was just way out of my price range so I never considered it to be a viable option for my problem. Also, given the hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS, I figured that it wouldn't be a lasting solution for all the expense. And yeah, I heard it was also painful. Kory did some research for me because she had been, for months (along with the rest of the state), been hearing Cory Myers on Country 92.5 go on and on about Ideal Image and their free consultation and excellent services. Kory gave Ideal Image all of my details in an email - skin type, ethnicity, PCOS, etc - and she heard a reply back from them in about 48 hours with several different possible appointment times to choose from. From the beginning it was already a good experience!
There are times in my life when I feel strongly that the PTB (The Powers That Be) are really looking out for me. The day of my appointment was one of those days. I have a huge issue with anxiety as you all know. Getting out of the house - even before I decided to become a recluse - was a really difficult process due to my agoraphobia. Mundanes in general I am disgusted by, so going out among them is really bad for me. I am fine going to places I am familiar with but a completely new environment, store, location, etc - even if it's just right down the street - can cause major anxiety for me. Going to Ideal Image was both a new location, would probably be filled with people, plus it was medical, involved probably some lengthy discussions with strangers, and possibly pain. You can bet I was having some major problems.
Kory had made the consultation for 6pm so she would be out of work and could go with me, but I also figured that a lot of people would be going after work as well and that it might be even more crowded. I let some of the hair grow out on my face so the consultant could see it and get an idea of texture etc, so I was leaving the house with almost a full beard which was also insanely embarrassing. I know the PTB were really looking out for me though because when we got there the place was EMPTY (inside and outside) aside from three ridiculously kind and wildly awesome women who were working there.
Let's talk about what I mean by awesome ...
Can we just talk for a minute about Nathania? Make sure the pronunciation is correct when you say it because that's absolutely the best part of the irresistible awesomeness of who she is. Ready? Say it with me now ...
... sounds like NUH - THAH - NEE - UH ... Yeah that's right. Make sure you get that strong TH sound in there for max sexiness. It's all Puerto Rican and shit. "My husband is Consolini," she told us with a smile. "I'm a SANCHEZ."
It's a seriously delicious name for a wonderfully beautiful and energetic woman who is, not to my surprise at all, lead consultant at Ideal Image in South Windsor, Connecticut. In absolute honestly, if Nathania was not the woman who greeted me and walked me through this whole thing, I would not have done it. Her energy, her smile, her enthusiasm, and just real genuine honesty was my primary selling point. She was COOL. Plain and simple. A real person. Not a SALESPERSON, not STAFF, not some smug, South Windsor hairless beauty snob. Nathania was a REAL PERSON and she was damn sweet and down to earth. You could talk to her, joke around with her, talk the real deal and she was gonna give it right back to you clear and straight. No bullshit.
It wasn't embarrassing at all to talk with this beautiful woman who I am sure has seen worse faces than mine and as she talked to Kory and I about the lasers and told us some funny stories about her own life, I was becoming more and more at ease. I know the "Comfort The Customer" play and I can see through it most times. You know that "soften em up before you charge them a million dollars" kind of talking? That shit annoys me. Being spoken to like I'm a lamb being led to the slaughter house is not something I appreciate. Either Nathania is an expert manipulator of people or she is just a REAL PERSON and that's what I gravitate towards. Her energy was real and not that bounce of the wall "oh my god laser hair removal is like so awesome I have it done and oh my god it changed my life you know you want to try it too!" kind of crap. She was clear, realistic, understanding, and she gave the facts not in a boring way but in a way that I could relate to, and understand while enjoying her sense of humor and outstanding personality.
What was also really awesome was that everyone, including her, was familiar with PCOS and the medications associated with it and with diabetes. Nathania explained how sometimes with PCOS the hair can grow back with any hormonal changes and sometimes women with PCOS do come in for touch-ups even after all of their treatments are over. She explained to me, completely and in a unique way involving a very creative metaphor about a firecraker, about how hair grows and how the laser removal actually works. It cleared up a lot of misunderstandings I had that's for sure and helped me to understand what I was in for if I was able to afford it.
Yeah ... let's get to that ...
The Bottom Line
The costs are dependent upon what areas of the face and/or body you want to have lasered. Different areas are more expensive than others as you can imagine. Nathania went over how they determine what areas are which like where the chin begins and ends and where cheek ends and where sideburns begin etc. It made sense, after talking about all the different quadrants and prices, that for me I might as well do the whole face which would include most of the areas I had hair in.
The breakdown was:
- Whole face: $799 per session (of which there are 9)
- $799 x 9 = $7191.00
Yeah ... exactly.
Nathania then applied a 50% off discount because I ordered the whole face package - as opposed to individual sections ...
- $7191.00 / 2 = $3595.50
- $3595.50 + tax = $3823.81
Much better but still out of my current reach.
By now I'm frustrated but I went into this knowing that the main issue was going to be cost. Of course laser hair removal would help me - that was never the question - it was just about how MUCH it would really help given my constant hormonal issues with PCOS and whether or not I could realistically justify whatever the expense was. Nathania was all about reality and it wasn't about her being eager to make a sale. Honestly, I am sure they are not jonesing for business. Plenty of people get laser hair removal these days and there is no lack of clients for them even in this economy. Nathania wasn't about dragging me into something I couldn't afford but was more about how I could afford it so that I could get some relief for my face. That was something I appreciated greatly.
My credit is actually pretty good but it's not perfect. Applying for financing isn't something I generally do because I am OVERLY CONSCIOUS of my credit rating as most people should be but are not. EVERYTHING effects your credit score. Applications, inquiries, you name it. Points are taken off like you wouldn't believe. I ran into a lot of credit issues in college and I learned the whole industry inside and out. It's a big fucking fraud - don't get me started on it - it's just bullshit. |begin rant| This country is so messed up and so dishonest and runs on systems that are so corrupt that there are third world countries better off than us. The reality of the United States is bleak, depressing, and dishonest. Americans are so easily fooled and so naive about things and they have no idea how truly subversive all this credit stuff is. The short version: THE CREDIT SYSTEM IS A SHAM. I plan to go ALL CASH by next year. No more plastic of ANY KIND. In all honesty no one should ever do anything with credit period. Unfortunately, this whole country is controlled by the PRIVATELY OWNED credit system so once you're in, it's nearly impossible to get out. I don't mean debt - I mean just getting untied from your credit score in any way shape or form. |end rant|
Financing for Ideal Image is done through Chase Health Advantage. Chase is an ok bank and my history with them is actually pretty good. But applying for financing and getting it are two different things and even if I didn't get it, the inquiry would still take a significant amount of points off my credit score. That's not something I'm too keen on. The options for payment were not surprising and most of them were not doable like 20% down, half and half, etc. My best and most affordable option if I really wanted to do this was to get approved for financing and do a monthly payment. The 9 laser removal sessions are stretched out over a 2 year period (approximately every 9 weeks) and the financing option is a monthly payment for two years, no interest. Yeah, exactly, you can't beat that! So I opted to apply.
Poor Nathania! *grin* She was confused by my fraud protection. AHAHAHA! Normally she punches in a few numbers and gets a response back right away. "It's either yay or nay," she said looking confused at the monitor. "I wonder what's up." It was my fraud protection which I have setup on my credit report. For any inquiries or changes to my credit report I have to be called and my identity has to be checked and validated. I had totally forgotten I had that turned on so even I was wondering about the hold up given that determining credit worthiness is nothing but number crunching not even done by a human. Not soon after Nathania expressed confusion and was calling a rep at Chase, my phone was vibrating in my pocket and I suddenly remembered about the fraud protection. I picked up my phone and got ready to answer all kinds of proof of identity questions. My most favorite thing about that is when they ask:
Which of the companies have you ever been associated with? A. Some random thing, B. Some weird construction company, C. Team Heavy Cream ... I just love listening to someone say, "Team Heavy Cream", it always gives me a laugh.
I managed to prove I was who I said I was and the woman informed me very quickly that Chase approved me for $5000 worth of financing. Hell yeah!
- $3823.81 over a 24 month period - no interest
- $160.60 a month for 23 months and then a final payment of $130.01
Now that's way more manageable!
No sooner had I got off the phone, Nathania was giving me a big smile and said, "So, would you like to have your first session today?"
... um ...
When it comes to managing my anxiety it's all about preparation. It's all about preparing myself to deal with different scenarios and all the possibilities that could occur within those scenarios. I gave a good explanation of how my brain will spend hours going through variables in my post "Agoraphobic Afternoon" and that was just one situation that day. It took me several days to get prepared for the Ideal Image consultation.
Here's what I got my mind prepared for:
- I was prepared to be OUTSIDE
- I was prepared to go to a NEW LOCATION
- I was prepared to be out in PUBLIC WITH A BEARD
- I was prepared to meet SOMEONE NEW
- I was prepared to deal with A RUDE MUNDANE
- I was prepared to deal with AN INSENSATIVE MUNDANE
- I was prepared to talk about MONEY
- I was prepared for DISAPPOINTMENT based on COSTS
- I was prepared to CONSIDER APPLYING FOR FINANCING
- I was prepared to BE TURNED DOWN FOR FINANCING
I was mentally ready for any/all of those things to happen.
I was NOT prepared to have any actual laser removal done.
It occurred to me when Nathania asked that question, that all of my prep was generally based on NEGATIVE things happening - which is what a lot of general anxiety and paranoia is about. I didn't anticipate actually being able to have anything done because I figured the PCOS would be an issue, my skin sensitivity would be an issue, or that the cost would be too high. I didn't think at all to even consider preparing for an actual treatment on the day of my consultation.
So as soon as she said it, it was like the whole world started crumbling around me and things started going white ...
OH FUCK NO. PANIC ATTCK!
Kory took charge quite quickly when the attack started. She has known me for 18 years and she knew I wasn't ready. She knew I was going to start freaking out. She also knew that if I just made up my mind to do it, and looked at the logical aspects of things, that the panic would start to subside. She immediately started in with all the pluses to focus me: "We're already here, you can get an idea of what it will be like, I'm with you, there's no one else here, we have the whole place to ourselves, Nathania has been so awesome, you could get your first treatment done and start seeing results ..." etc, etc. Kory had already answered for me actually, I just hadn't heard her.
As soon as Nathalia had asked the question Kory was like, "Yes she does!" but I was already spinning into panic attack mode so I didn't hear anything after that but the screaming of my own brain. I knew that Kory had answered for me and I was glad of it but I still had to say it with my own voice. I still had to make the decision for myself and really solidify my determination to go forward. I started to try and calm down and focus on why I had started this whole thing in the first place ... my mauled face.
If I could really see results within the first week wouldn't that be amazing? If I could really have absolutely no hair growth for 4 or 5 weeks straight my face would get a break from shaving and I could start using the scar fading creams and maybe get my face somewhat normal again. I wanted to have a good face again. I wanted to be less ashamed, embarrassed, and angry. I wanted help and here it finally was. "Ok," I said. "I'll do it."