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Day 33

Hi! It's been a while since I've blogged, so sorry about that!I typically write when I'm sad or down, and I am extremely happy to say since my last post, I haven't had those feelings at all! I've only just started my second month of Accutane and I have seen great results! About 97% of my acne that I started this treatment with has went away! Although I still get new ones, to me they are not as bad as what I started with. It doesn't hurt to touch my face anymore! My forehead, which didn't have any blemishes to begin with, feels so soft and smooth like a baby's bottom! (Haha i just wanted to slip that in there, but for real, it feels better than it did before treatment) This also goes for around my nose and the small surrounding area. ,

As for my trouble zones, my skin no longer feels bumpy and coarse, but those areas are also smooth--just with acne here are there. At this point, I could probably count all of my pimples on my finger and toes, which is quite an accomplishment and I definitely could not say that when I first started. Maybe I could say that with 3 or 4 people's fingers and toes.

Now, while I have been feeling incredibly optimistic, there are still issues. For example, I am still dealing with the scarring. With every pimple that has came and gone, each has left me a little gift in the form of a scar, or "pit." LITERALLY, even the smallest ones that I couldn't feel have left a scar. While it is MUCH better than having the actual pimple there, its something to note. I have been using concealer which helps hide them, but I think I need to splurge for the higher quality makeup products.

Also, something else that has been bothering me, is that the large cysts that I had/have on my jawline, and I new one new my mouth following my cheekbones continue to live on my face. There has been two areas of cysts that have been there FOREVER, like can you please evaporate already??? While they do not hurt at all, the one on my cheek looks like this huge red mark, and its constantly drying and flaky and just unaesthetic.

In between my second and third post, I did have rather troubling issues with skin dryness. My lips are constantly dry, so that is nothing new, but my skin would burn super bad after applying moisturizer once I got out of the shower. That happened for a few days, and has since not been as extreme. I do have to moisturize my surrounding mouth area, sometimes there are white flakes, but its nothing I can't solve.

I would like to talk about a few circumstances that have come up in my life that have affected others on Accutane. I recently went to the eye doctor for a routine eye exam, hoping to get another pair of glasses. I wear my glasses daily and its super hard to keep them clean and in tip top shape, so I look forward to this, especially since I cannot wear my contacts anymore. Well, my eye doctor had suggested Lasik. Now, I have read up on that, and I knew the "rule of thumb" that you definitely should NOT get Lasik while on Accutane treatment, because of the dry eye issue and wound healing complexities. I brought up the fact that I was on this medication, and she told me that it shouldn't be an issue and to go ahead with a free Lasik consult. Let me tell you, I was dumbfounded, confused, and shocked. Even though the literature and testimonials said the COMPLETE OPPOSITE, my eye doctor told me to proceed. I went home that day skeptical, but deciding to go along with the consultation (with another eye doctor, mine does not specialize in Lasik). I contacted the coordinator, and before I scheduled my consult, I asked her, IN ADVANCE, thinking, "oh she works in this specialty, she may know or know how to find out for me." I am trying to study for the CPA exam and I am tired of medical professionals (from pharmacists to dermatolgists and MORE eye docs) wasting my time. Well, she did talk to the doctor, and told me he would discuss it with me at the appointment, but I should be okay as long as I am a Lasik candidate. Once again, my mind was blown. I had TWO PROFESSIONALS tell me I would be okay, so naturally I start to believe the idea, and I got my hopes up that I could get this procedure done. So I go to the consult, go through the numerous tests, including eye dilation which sucks and screwed me up for the rest of the day. The doctor deems me a candidate and we start talking about scheduling the surgery in April. At the end of the appointment he asks me if I have any questions. So, I brought up Accutane again, because I still did not 100% believe it was safe for me to get this. The eye doctor tells me that the literature is "conflicting", and if anything I would need to be off Accutane for a week before. Now, this guy was just the pre and post op doc, and not the surgeon, so he tells me that he will email me later in the day to get the absolute answer. I told him I wasn't going to schedule the surgery until he knew for sure. Well....

I get an email a few hours later, while my eyes are STILL DILATED.I lost an entire study day, which is not cool. The doctor I met with that day talked to the surgeon, and the surgeon told me exactly what I knew ALL ALONG. They said I had to wait 90 days (which is less that what I had previously read online) before I could get Lasik. So, of course, I was pretty bummed. I don't even want to type, "I knew I was right." I'm not usually that type of person, but come on...I was right. Also, if I had not brought up this issue, imagine what could have happened to my eyesight? I wasn't necessarily concerned about the dryness (my eyes aren't really abnormally dry from accutane), but the wound healing would have been an absolute nightmare!

Something less serious than the potential permanent loss of my eyesight, would be alcohol. I went away for St. Patty's Day, and ran a 5K with my friends. I had a personal best of avg. 9:39 mile, and am looking to improve. So naturally, after a job well done we go drinking that night. I have read blogs about Accutane users having god-awful hangovers the next few days after a night out. So I decided to not take my second dose to keep what little natural hydration levels my body has while on Accutane. And I am happy to say, I had no issues whatsoever. I drank the usual amount, and performed my anti-hangover rituals, and woke up feeling great the next day!!!

So the moral of this post is to be informed about Accutane! Some people in my life (various MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS and family members) do not truly understand how big of a role Accutane can play in your life, beyond the "DONT GET PREGNANT" warnings.

and one point of advice for those going through this process is that it gets better! Even though I just started month 2, I have seen great improvement and I just hope it keeps continuing!



Day 15

Hi guys! So today marks the halfway point of my first month! Time is flying by! (That is most definitely a joke, time is dragging)

At the time of my first post, I was so engulfed in my emotions of starting this process, so today I really want to get at the status of my skin. Although it has only been a little over two weeks, I can see differences from when I first started. Actually before I get into that, can we talk about these crazy side effects?

Holy cow I think I bathe my entire body in moisturizing lotion and cream multiple times a day. Sometimes there are areas, like around my nose, that gets so dry its painful to put on lotion. But you gotta do it because later it will be exponentially more painful when your skin is dry. Also, I don't think my lips will ever remember a time when they weren't coated in aquaphor. I won't enter a new room in my house without this stuff in my hand or pocket because, my God, I think I apply the stuff on my lips about ten times a day (I'll be sure to actually count the numbers of times and let everyone know, I know you all are super curious). I think those two are the most common side effects that EVERYONE gets, but onto the more individual specific (that may or may not be the cause of Accutane).

Whenever I'm on any kind of meds, I always try to pass my laziness as *insert specific medication* induced fatigue. These past four days I have been so tired! I didn't even want to go to my CPA review lecture, and I skipped the gym (whoops). So, not only am I starting to get tired and require more sleep, my muscles are starting to ache. I've been pretty consistent with the gym (except for today), and I am finding that I haven't had the will or means to push myself as hard as usual at the gym. Then, the next morning my muscles are uber sore.But then again, the fatigue could be from PMS (sorry if there are any guys reading this, but according to my pack, its gonna come soon.) That is a whole other topic in itself with me, periods and birth control---not really appropriate in this forum. But, it was necessary I disclose that piece of info, because what some don't realize is that these monthly cycles can really effect women beyond just being "emotional". In fact, I get severe insomnia right before it. In college I once went 36 hours without sleeping because of it. I pulled an all- nighter for my auditing exam, tried but failed miserably to take a nap afterwards, then went and partied to celebrate my graduation with friends. As I digress...

I am experiencing side effects I wasn't anticipating, and I really hope this tiredness goes away. I do speculate it may be due to Accutane because I've read other blogs where others have experienced it. If it doesn't go away, I will suck it up and deal with it--by doubling up on coffee. Also, its became obvious to me that your body on accutane requires more water then what you would normally need. I've come to realize that there is direct correlation to your actions and your health that you can observe. There are so many factors of life, its hard to attribute what is the cause of what. However, as I learn more, I find it fascinating to observe my body and its functions, and be able to pinpoint why it is the way it is. And you can manipulate it in your favor. The simplest example I can think of is, you can tell your body is dehydrated by the color of your pee. If you drink water, the next time you use the restroom-- depending on how much you drink, your new elevated hydration level is now clearly evident right before your eyes. Obviously, there are many more ways in which your actions control your body. This brings me up to a good point. I have been hyper-aware of the amount of dairy and refined sugar I have consumed ever since my dermatologist told me there is a connection between your consumption of the two and acne. Do I believe my acne was caused by my diet? No, because my diet has only gotten better since my acne journey. But, I am looking to find alternatives to these things. Any little bit helps, right? If I can avoid one pimple, I think it might be worth it. Its kinda hard though, not gonna lie, ahh food.

So to the main course, my skin. Redness and inflammation has significantly decreased, which makes me really happy. It is easier to conceal my acne because I don't have to deal with the redness. Also, do any other girls notice that when you are using foundation and concealer for inflamed pimples, it kind of makes that area look purple? <--annoying. That's just something I have noticed. I can also see a significant portion of my skin on my right cheek that is clear of acne, where there was once crop-like growing acne. This makes me happy because I feel like the Accutane is doing something. However, they did leave behind scars. But, I'll take that little personal win, and ask my dermatologist what I can do about scars later.

Unfortunately, I feel like I am in the midst of the "initial breakout." I am starting to get cysts in areas where I haven't previously. For example, I had a huge pimple right by my nose, that has since died down, but nonetheless for the days it was here, it made its presence known. Also, I have one right between my eyebrows---big, painful, and annoying. I am starting to get random ones on my forehead. These guys are tiny, but they sure do pack a punch. This is both comforting and frustrating. I'm happy in that because this is to be expected, in my eyes, Accutane is doing its job. On the other hand, why am I having issues where there was a smooth untouched canvas??? AHH! I have a pimple right above my lip, its kinda cute. If only it were a Marilyn-inspired beauty mark..

My jaw and cheek acne, as the old are leaving me, new crops are gravitating toward my chin and mouth. Fortunately, they have been less painful. Their appearance doesn't surprise me, I just hope they leave just as quick as they came. But, I doubt it because I still have any area on my left jawline that has been camping out since DECEMBER. They are leaving scars that look like purple dots. In the past, I don't remember ever having scars from acne, maybe redness that would eventually go away, so I think these spots are kinda cool to look through my magnified mirror, if I'm being honest. Don't get me wrong though, I would still rather not see them at all.

With all of this being said, I am finding it easier to go out in public without worrying about my face. If someone has a problem, they can get over it and not look at me. I am looking forward to a weekend trip for St. Patty's day with my two best friends from college. We are running a 5k, with free beer afterwards. This is the first time I've been in a bar setting since my acne journey began. It's going to be hard being away from home, my mom and my sister have gotten use to my face, but my friends haven't seen "the new me." They know I have issues going on with my skin, but not to the extent. I love my friends dearly, and I'm not worried about walking around the hotel without makeup (I lived with them through all of college, so they have seen me in more compromising is what it is) But, I hope they don't initially stare. Going to a bar is gonna suck when you aren't 100% at your game, but I'm gonna keep my head up.

Hopefully what little progress I have seen does not reverse by my next post! Until then, :)

Hi if you are reading this! If its not obvious already by my blog title, I am on Accutane. I am a little late to the blogging game in my Accutane journey, as today marks Day 11, and this will be my first entry. Before I update you on the current state of my skin, let me get you up to speed with my life.

I am a 22 year old female, just graduated from college in December 2013 with Bachelor's degrees in both Accounting and Finance. I have moved back home in order to take the certified public accounting exam, before my work start date in August. In addition to studying for the exam, I wanted to use this transition period to really work on myself. In college, I was going out three to four nights a week, making poor food choices and not exercising at all. It was time for me to take a step back and "settle down", if you will.

Up to about four-five months ago I had a little less than near perfect skin, if that makes sense. Nothing drastic through puberty, the occasional pimple here and there.* I should mention I have an anxiety disorder and am a constant picker (it wasn't diagnosed until junior year of college, but in hindsight, I can see the signs). The constant touching of my face, in my opinion, was the only reason blemishes occurred. I would really make a mountain out of a molehill. This caused me to try out Proactive off and on for years, which satisfied my skin. I was pretty clear up until my junior year of college. I started to accumulate a few pimples close to my chin and jaw. Me being the perfectionist that I am, I decided to go to the dermatologist. My doctor prescribed me the standard BP, but also Doxycycline. My stomach didn't take too well to the Doxycycline, and my skin showed improvement within the first month, so I ended up discontinuing my Doxy use. I credited my skin improvement with epiduo, so I was content with just using that. Little did I know....

I stopped any regular appointments with my Dermatologist, because my skin was back to how it was. If I did have a blemish, what left I had of topical creams I used. A year later, I ran out of these creams, and I was left with nothing to combat the occassional blemish. Well, they began to accumulate, so I decided to go back. My dermatologist prescribed more topicals, and I went on my merry way. I ended my senior year of college May 13' (I call my additional semester my "super senior" semester, as most of my friends graduated in may) with great skin, a good internship for the summer. Life was going great, that I stopped taking my anti-depressants, with the consent and supervision of my psychiatrist, I was on them for about a year, and had impeccable skin, which I could attribute to the SSRI use. Anyway, summer went great and I received a job offer from my internship, but towards the end, instead of having smooth and silky skin, I would have small bumps on my forehead, and a tiny amount of jaw/chin acne.I should also note during my internship, coffee was a necessity. Before I would drink MAYBE a cup a month? My heart would race, so I would try to stay away from the stuff. Only desperate times did I drink it (work, finals week), but by the end of the summer I was drinking about a cup a day.Back to my skin, I wasn't concerned with these new pimples, so I just used a little bit of makeup, and thought nothing of it. As my super senior semester began, I continued my coffee drinking, my skin didn't get worse or better, but in my opinion it became necessary for me to wear foundation, and I even switched to the heavier Bare Minerals to cover what little I had. You know the same story, a pimple here and there, but these took longer to go away. It wasn't until the end of the semester that I became worried. I was going out, eating bad, and not keeping up with exercising. I knew the end was soon approaching, and that I would be returning home to a social-free, drinking-free, and healthy living lifestyle, so I could suck it up until graduation. As I left college, I told many of my friends that I would be entering hibernation, because in reality I wanted to be fit and healthy, and just focus on myself. I wanted to spend my weekends at home with a good book, and not worry about who was going out with who that night. I even deleted my facebook, because I wanted to be off the map for a little while. I think I attribute this change in lifestyle to my anxiety. My social life has always been cyclical, where for six months at a time all want to do is go out and have a good time. But then the next sixth months I would rather stay in a watch say yes to the dress. So, this new need for hibernation did not surprise me, but it was necessary to rid the excess out of my life and I went in embracing it.

At the end of my college run, I was displeased with my skin. I thought that by cutting out drinking and fast food, and incorporating regular exercise into my daily routine my skin would clear up, so I was worried but I not too worried. I had made a dermatologist appointment, thinking I would get my typical topicals, and once again, be on my merry way. However, this acne was different. It was not responding to the topicals I had left, and I ran out, so I resorted to the various Proactive products I had left over from my teenage years. My skin was responding to that either. I started to get pimples first farther up my left jawline, which was an area clear of acne for 22 years. I had one cyst, and the picker that I am, tried to pop it before it was ready. Needless to say the cyst hurt, and made itself clear it was taking up residency, and invited some friends to hang out too. Then I started to get a couple pimples on my right cheek. Nothing major, but they weren't responding my any topicals. This when I started to get down about my skin. I was self conscious enough to have my mom pay for the touch ups on my COLLEGE graduation photos. The whole time I was thinking, I'm too old for these pimples.

So,I graduated college, moved back home for the holidays, then took a weeklong trip to visit my friend in Missouri. My dermatologist appointment was scheduled for the day after I arrived home. During the trip, my skin got progressively worse, and I would often steal my friends prescribed topicals. But each morning I woke up to four or five new blemishes. They were accumulating in the most distinct spots, on my left jawline and right cheek...wierd. By the end of the trip, I just wanted to be home to get to my dermatologist. Unfortunately, our flight ended up getting cancelled due to a huge snowstorm. I finally got in to my dermatologist a week later, and by that time I had 3 or 4 pustulating cysts on my jaw line, and crop-like acne on my right cheek. Both areas hurt. I was still popping, but each day more and more pimples were coming, spreading out to areas my fingers did not touch. My dermatologist within seconds decides that I was a candidate for Accutane, but due to the fact I am female and the need for blood work and a pregnancy test, my dermatologist started me on birth control (YAZ) and minocycline (Solodyn). I was new to both birth control and mino. If it were up to me, I would not have wanted to be on birth control, as during my time at home I wanted to lose the 20 lbs I gained in college, but I knew there was a chance for me to grow some boobs and it was necessary for my skin to get better, so I decided to move forward.

The silver lining in this process, up to then, so that I did get some boobs! I went from a 34B to a 36C (and still going I might add). However, my skin was getting worse at an exponential rate. At this point, I got a few cysts and pimples on my right jawline (not as serious as the cysts on my left, but they made their presence known) and then one smaller cyst on my left cheek. At this point I came up with a ton of jokes about my right cheek acne whenever I talked about it with my best friend and my sister, but deep inside this was heavily affecting my self-esteem. It started to look like a statistical regression, scatter plots with only a few outliers, and the acne really started to contour and highlight my high cheek bones. had been a month since I had been home, and my friends were starting to wonder what I was doing and wanted to hang out. At the time I didn't want to because I knew it would involve drinking/eating bad, and at I had lost about 8 pounds clean eating and exercising at home. I didn't want to ruin my progress, so I always got out of it.Finally, the day I had been waiting for finally came.

On Friday February 14, 2014, I went to get my lab work done for my Dermatologist appointment that Monday. On Monday I got the greenlight for Accutane, and due to Walgreens being "ratchet" (I have no other way to put my dislike for their pharmacy), I started my first dose on Friday February 21, 2014. This was a pivotal derm appointment though on my acne journey. It boggled my mind why this was happening to me, crops of acne and cysts, when only a few months ago my skin was normal. My doctor had told me that it was hormones, and that she didn't get her acne until she was 27. This was the day I decided to learn as much as I could about acne and the disease.

After receiving Accutane, I was fully prepared with Aquaphor and Cetaphil. I was ready to combat this, and 4-6 months would be here in a flash. I started reading various forums (thats how I found this), and watching youtube videos of accutane current users and survivors, I wanted to learn what I was up against, and to really see at what month/week I would find my light at the end of the tunnel and see skin improvement.

For the first week, there was no obvious improvement. In fact, the crops on my right cheek increased in number/size/ and pain, as well as what was on my left jawline. As the number of pimples increased, by self esteem and confidence decreased double time. I actively avoided speaking to my friends, in hopes they wouldn't ask me to do anything in public. I had one part of the CPA exam on February 26, and would avoid studying at local coffee shops because I didn't want even STRANGERS to look at me. Why should I care about strangers?? But I did, and still do.

It wasn't until the second week of Accutane (so like, a few days ago) that my family had started to notice how much my skin bothered me. I tried to keep my head held up high, and it helped that I had my exam on the 26th to keep my mind occupied. But once that was over, each night up until last night I had cried myself to sleep. I was/am discouraged by my skin.

Today marks my 11th day on Accutane. Looking back on my life, acne journal so far, I can honestly say I will never judge someone based upon looks again. I don't know their life, or what they are struggling with, and it is my biggest fear that people will judge me negatively based upon how I look. This has been a huge adjustment for me, and each day I am learning that beauty is not just on the surface, but of what is inside us. Today was a better day though. Even though I am learning to love myself no matter what I look like, it is also helpful I am starting to pick up on some tips and tricks to keep what confidence I have. Tip #1- Don't look in the mirror once you have gotten out of the shower, applied moisturizer, and BP---all of these three things, especially combined, makes everything redd and inflamed, and not pretty. Luckily, my dermatologist prescribed me Aczone, which helps with redness and inflamation. This makes me more comfortable looking in the mirror.

After reading the previous (or all) paragraph(s), you are probably thinking, wow, this girl is kinda vain. While I don't entirely disagree with you, you need to understand I am a young adult growing up in a society where looks matter, especially for a 22 year old female who is supposed to be "in her prime." I also got dealt some pretty sucky news, unrelated to my skin. Since I moved back home, during my self-improvement/hibernation period, I decided to make appointment for the specialist doctors I neglected to see when at college (eye doctor, ob-gyn, and dentist). About two weeks ago (when my quasi-depression started), my new eye doctor (I used to go to an optometrist, but now I see an opthamologist) told me a have a scratched cornea from contact wear, and that I will essentially be a glasses wearer for the rest of my life. I have had bad eyesight since 4th grade, and it wasn't until freshman year of college I was able to wear contacts. This was when I started to get attention from the opposite sex. I associate my glasses with my ugly middle/high school, pubescent tweenage self. Getting this news was another huge blow to my confidence. I have since then decided to take the high road with my glasses-- I'm just gonna have to rock it, its fine, I can do it. I still wear my contacts when I work out, but I will NOT be telling my doc that. Sue me.

So here I am, the girl who fights for her happiness, despite the setbacks each new day (and pimple) brings. I am going to try to keep up with this blog as much as I can, definitely once I week. Although, its kinda therapeutic, so I would expect at posts two or three times a week. If you are reading this, I appreciate it, feel free to comment/ share you experiences/ offer up advice to those of us still in the rough patches. If no one reads this, thats okay too. I will also keep my posts shorter than this, and maybe I'll post a few photos.

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