Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Acne: The Perpetual Bane of My Life

Now, acne is something I happen to have lots of experience with and I have tried a lot to combat it.  I have big zits, little zits, black heads, white heads, milias, deep painful zits, hormonal zits... and I have tried lots of stuff to get rid of them. I will describe some of my experiences briefly... 

Accutane - Didn't do anything postive for me, did hurt me some.  I had no fewer pimples while I was on it and my skin was a oily as ever.  I did have some side effects from it- skin tearing issues (and the scars to match) and night blindness. I still have some night blindness issues.  Please don't take this drug, there are just too many side effects and not enough benefits (even if it does clear your acne) to justify taking it. I wish I never had.

Proactiv - We've all seen the informercial (except this one dermatologist I had).  It can help and it's a good first step.  I hate how expensive it is and they have terrible customer service. What's more it didn't really work for me. That said, I do really like the 2.5% repairing lotion. I still use that stuff daily. 

Murad - Gave it a good shot. Initally some some clearing up, but my skin seemed to get used to it and it quit working pretty quickly.

Bioelements - I used the "Great skin in a box" system. I like the mositurizer (gel stuff) but it just didn't work to well

Biodroga Puran - No real help from the cleanser/toner. However I did have a puran facial once that did wonders for me. I had one again a year or two later and it did do much. I think it might have had to do with technique. Regular facials are too expensive and time consuming for me anyhow.

Antibiotics - They are the cheapest and most effective thing I have ever used. On the downside you are not suppose to use them all the time.  Full strength amoxacylin works well form me. These days they have "micro dosing" which I have not tried, but it seems like a good idea if that's the only way you get relief. 

Zeno - That stupid thing was way too expensive and didn't do squat. I don't really get the type of zits it is suppose to help, but I tried it anyhow (I'm desperate). Now the head needs replacing and I'm not wasting my money again replacing it.

Benzamycin (benzoyl/erythromycin cream) - nothing and is messy

Erythromycin cream - not helpful and messy.  Would dry on my face really badly, looked terrible, couldn't cover with makeup

Tazorac (retinoid cream) - only made things worse. And believe me. I gave the tazorac a good long try and finally couldn't take it anymore. I kept thinking "I'm breaking out, but it will stop and get better, it's darkest before the dawn" I couldn't take it anymore after about 6 months. I was getting married in a couple of months and couldn't risk it.  I also gave a sample of Differin a try. I wasn't impressed enough with the sample to waste my time with it. 

Spironolactone - This stuff may have helped my acne some, I could never really tell, but if it did it wasn't much. However, it did wonders for my oily hair. I could go days without washing it and it never looked oily. That was awesome. Since going off the the spironolactone, my hair is visibly oily in 8 hours, also I have more dandruff. It should also be noted that this stuff can cause birth defects. I stopped taking it when I got married just incase. Clear skin is not worth the risk (same thing with accutane).  

Clearsil/Neutragena/Clean and Clear/Almost everything else you can get a Wal-Mart - Nothing good useful, however I do really like the Olay daily facials. They are pretty good, but not a cure. I like them when I'm traveling since they are dry and won't spill out all over evertyhing.  

Birth Control Pills - I have taken both Ortho Tri Cyclen and Yasmin and both are suppose to help with acne and I don't really think either did much if anything for me.  

Regular Facials - Yes, I think this helps, especially if you've never had them. But they can be expensive and time consuming. To save money I would go to the local esthetician school and get them for like $12.  

Glycolic Acid treatments - I did 6 week series of these and don't think it did much. 

So what worked for me... as mentioned above some benefits from facils, antibiotics, and proactive benzol peroxide lotion. Additionally, I found the cleanser for my skin: Philosophy's Purity Made Simple Cleanser.  I started using this stuff about a year and a half ago and in a week I saw a big turn around. I really can't say enough good things about this cleanser. And surprising it has plently of stuff in it a dermatologist would disapprove of (fragrances, dyes, potent herbal ingredients). But as anyone that has stuggled with acne knows, dermatologists don't know everything.

The only things I don't like about Purity is the price (slightly on the expensive side) and I have to order it off the internet because there aren't any stores around here that sell it.

In addition to the Purity Cleanser I use the Proactiv Reparing Lotion and Olay Regenerist Daily UV Defense moisturizer (and their under eye moisturizer).  I only wash my skin once a day or the dry parts get too dry and the oily parts just produce more oil to make up for it.  I also use the Olay Regenerist Microdermabraision kit weekly or every couple weeks for extra exfoliation.  

I like the Olay Regenerist stuff a lot. I seem to do better on it than any other moisturizers I have tried. I tried the Philosophy Hope in a Jar moisturizer (hoping to repeat the success I had with their cleanser), but it left my skin too dry. 

In the winter my skin gets drier and I sometimes moisturize at night with the Olay Regenerist Night Cream.  It keeps my skin from flaking off.  

Oh, and always use sunscreen.  

Monday, September 29, 2008

Finding out I had PCOS

It's hard hearing from all your friends that they were now "women" because they had all had their periods. Dear God, It's me Margret has nothing on me. I had looked womanly for a lot longer than they all had.  And I had acne from hell (I'll do an acne post some day). I had been shaving my armpits and they never had... yet they were all having their periods and I wasn't. 

Then one day, some thing happend. I there was "stuff" down there... ruining my underware.  But it wasn't blood... was it? It was all brown and not liquid at all. No chunks.  Honestly, it looked like a big skid mark kind of in the wrong place. Embarrassed, I kept it to myself for a few days but then asked my mom. This couldn't have been what they were talking about in all of those stupid puberty videos. My mom confirmed for me that it was spotting, but even she thought it looked weird. It lasted a couple of weeks. Today, after a 10 years of BCP induced periods, I think I can confrim, that first period was weird.     

Infact, it makes me wonder, can I technically consider that a period. There wasn't any bright red blood.  You usually start counting your cycle on the first day of red blood. For my own sainity, I called it a period so that I could be like the other girls and say I had one too... but today I'm not so sure.  Well, I suppose it's all moot now.

After the spotting stopped I got out my calendar like all the puberty videos said to do and counted forward to my next period. And when it didn't come when I thought it should have, I didn't worry right away.  It's kinda normal to have irregular periods the puberty video said so. But then months went by. The 9th month of not having one was really ridiculous. Me and my friends joked about the 2nd coming of the Lord in me. Then a year. Then a year and a half and I had enough. I wanted to be normal. I went to the gynecologist.

So there I was, the first of my friends to end up at the gynecologist's. I had a quick examination and the Dr. said I had PCOS.  He said that he would spare me the ultrasound to confirm it (Why? Ultrasounds looked like fun... they put gel on your belly and you get to watch the monitor... oh not that kind of ultrasound explained my mother). But basically the Dr. said more or less that I was pretty classic PCOS:

 - Tall
- Fat
- Deep voice
- Acne
 - Irregular peroids

Thankfully I didn't have any of the excess hair issues to deal with.

Then the Dr. gave me a script of Provera to induce a period.  I asked "What happens if this doesn't work?" To which he said "It will." And I asked again, "Yeah, but what if?"  And he, "It will, it always does. It will."  

Yeah, well guess what, it didn't. So my mom got me another round from him and the same thing. So he just started me on BCP and like clockwork, blood. I was on Ortho Tri Cyclen. It was the latest and greatest at the time and was suppose to help me with my acne (it didn't). 

So then I was the first of my friends to get on the pill and ended up being one of the last to have sex (waited until marriage and don't regret that one bit).

Side rant: One of the dumbest things I have ever heard, I knew a lot of girls getting on the pill to regulate their periods, only they would get told that they weren't on the "Real" pill... just a pill to help with their periods.  I would say to these naive girls, "Did you read the instructions and did it say stuff about getting pregnant if you missed pills... then yes, they are real." I think it's ridiculous that parents (and drs.) try to trick girls into thinking they have "special pills" cause they are worried if they know the truth they will have sex. How can we expect teens to make good choices if we treat them like stupid children? There's a time to lie to kids (Santa), but not when it comes to real issues that they will really have to face.

So back to my story... the most distressing part of this Dr. visit and diagnosis is that it became the first time I had ever thought about whether I would be able to have kids or not.  I asked the doc and he basically said that I didn't need to worry about that yet. He was right, but he still answered wrong. That would have been a good time to be honest to me and say 'maybe, but many women are able to get pregnant on their own or with the help of their drs...'. A short, but honest answer really could have helped me relax over the next couple years, but I didn't get that... instead I started worring right then and there about my fertility. Thanks asshole.  

Sunday, September 28, 2008

First Post: About me

I have decided to start a blog. I don't care if other people read this or not, but my hope is that maybe someone out there has a problem similar to mine and is helped by my journey. 

I am 25 and have had PCOS since I was a teen. I knew something was wrong after I got my first period and never got another one. After more than a year of wondering when it would come, I went to the gynecologist and got a Provera perscription. I took it and nothing. Then I got another Provera script.  Nothing again.  This is apparently unusual. Then I got my first perscription of Birth Control Pills. And then about 10 years went by with perfect, medically induced bleeding.  

During those 10 years I finished high school, college, grad school, got married and bought a house. Ok so there were a couple of important events along the way which I shall add in the next couple of posts. But for now, that is the gist of my life up until this year.

This year me and my DH decided we wanted to start trying. Selfishly, I don't really want a baby right now... I like my freedom. But, selfishly, I fell in love with the dream of my own baby a while ago. Once you fall in love with something like that you want to make it happen. No matter how much you try to put it out of your mind, it is always there, breaking you heart because your worried it won't ever happen.  

So currently, I am just starting down the infertility road, but really I've been on it since I was 14. I have my first appointment with a Reporductive Endocrinologist in a week or so and I want to chronicle this journey.  

The next couple of entries will be about my key events in my life that, I think, help tell my infertility story.