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Jess's Journey - 37 F


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#1 PersnickityChick

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 12:46 PM

Hello Everyone.  I am Jess, a 37 yr old female from the US.  

 

I've been struggling with cystic acne since I was 11. It began with a huge cyst, right in the middle of my forehead.  It looked like a horn was trying to erupt, or  maybe I was trying to sprout a 3rd eye in the middle of my head.... truly devastating to a child whose self-esteem was already fragile.  The issues continued through high school, with cysts showing up every few months, and hanging around for a very long time. Some were larger than others, some became terribly infected, which made them even larger. Hind sight being 20/20, I should have been taken to a dermatologist a long time ago. 

 

The problem finally came to a head (pardon the pun) a couple of months ago.  I developed a large, and very painful cyst on my cheek.  Normally they've shown up on bony areas, but this one was on soft tissue that moved with every motion of my lips.  I went to my doctor, who prescribed Bactrim.  It was completely ineffective.  So after 10 days of that it was back to the doctor and I was put on minocycline, which not only failed to help, it also made me extremely nauseated. Finally I decided that I had to get to a dermatologist. 

 

My derm immediately recommended that I go on accutane.  I'd already tried the topical things, and antibiotics, without success. She immediately started the enrollment process, and I am due to start Accutane on Friday. I am extremely nervous (especially about the IB), and desperately hoping for some relief. 

 

I will try to post pictures as I go. 



#2 Kim28

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 09:32 PM

Glad you are joining our crazy roller coaster ride!

I also find it a bit tricky around here sometimes being as old as I am (35) with a bunch of people in their twenties. Accutane fixed me right up in my twenties, but my issues are hormonal and came back after I went off the pill. I feel like such a downer: 'guess what - even if you are clear for nine years it can come back!' I guess there always has to be that one person that has something odd happen. Unfortunately I am that person!

Nonetheless I still think Accutane is great, and if I get the same results I will be a happy camper because it gave me my life back the first time. I also had no IB the first time, so you never know with that, and you may avoid it. I think I am having such a hard time now because I had a weird reaction to a topical right before starting the Accutane and there is just a crazy amount of gross that had to come out.

 

I get cysts too. Everything else I can handle, but I HATE OUCHY CYSTS. You are lucky to normally get them in bony places - I always get them on my chin and sometimes they drift up to my cheeks. The 'hurts to smile' kind. I even have one right now.

 

BUT we will get through this. Even though I am still breaking out, I have noticed a bit of improvement lately, so I am getting a little hope back. Thanks for your support on my log. I am looking forward to following yours too!

When I last saw my derm, she encouraged me to look at the bright side of being old - Accutane got me through the last 9 years okay, so if I can get another 9 maybe that will take me right up to menopause! She seemed to think this was good news. I'm still not totally sure.



#3 ciaraki13

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:12 AM

Hey Jess! Welcome aboard the TANE TRAIN. Next stop: clear skin!!! Just wanted to wish you all the very best for starting your course of Accutane today!!!!!!  I really hope it works for you!!!! This is an AMAAAZZZING online community that you have joined. You will get so much invaluable support and help that can't be found elsewhere!!! I look forward to following your progress and good luck. Ciara


Edited by ciaraki13, 20 December 2013 - 09:13 AM.


#4 PersnickityChick

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:24 PM

First, Thank you to Kim and Ciara for your support and encouragement. I admit that when I sat in the car, and took my first pill, I was a bit shaky.  It is good to know that I have the support of those who have gone through it, or are going through it with me. 

 

So, on that note.... 

 

Day One:  i went to the derm today, and sat in the waiting room for an hour. I was supposed to take a pregnancy test (of course), and finally I had to go SO bad that I went up to the window, and told them I was going to bust, and I wasn't sure I'd be able to go again when it was time... so they took care of that. And I went back to waiting.  After another... 1/2 hour, or so, they finally called me back, went through the remainder of the set up stuff, and then the derm came in.  At this point it was 2 hours from my appointment time, but the derm explained that one of her patients was an older woman who has no family, and is going to be completely alone for Christmas, so she spent a bit of extra time with her.  Anyway... back to the story at hand. The derm explained to me the dosages and stuff, and told me that I can adjust it a little, as needed.  She wanted me to try 80mg, but it comes in 2 - 40mg pills, one morning, one evening. She did say that if I can take it down to 40mg, so that the side effects aren't so bad. 

 

I answered the questions right there in the office, they did their thing, gave me a coupon for Absorica (for some reason everyone calls it absorBica), and called it in over at the pharmacy.  I get over there, and after about 20 minutes of fooling around, they told me they didn't have it.  The pharmacist was wonderful, though, and offered to call around to other pharmacies in the area to see if they had it.  When she found one, she told them all of my information, so that they could be working on it while I was going there. 

 

I went to that pharmacy, and they had it ready, but it took them about 20 minutes, and 3 techs to figure out how to enter the coupon, so I would pay only $10 for the scrip, instead of $48.  It was definitely worth the wait. 

 

I got to the car, spent a minute or three trying to figure out how to get the pill out of the packaging, noting all of the warnings not to get pregnant, and then I went to Mc D's, and got an egg nog shake to celebrate the beginning of a new journey, and to give me the little bit of fat that i needed (not that 680 calories is a little... in my defense I only got about 1/3 of the shake).  

 

As I was headed home, I noticed that I have 2 new cysts coming.  At least, they feel like what beginning cysts feel like.  One is at my hair line, one is in my scalp. I am curious to find out what will happen with them, now that I am taking accutane. :) 

 

I took a couple of pictures... and was shocked that my skin looked half way decent. I promise, it does not look this good in real life. Normally I look like Mrs. Claus, with extra lumps. When I figure out how to upload photos, I will certainly share. 



#5 Kim28

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 12:40 AM

Lol, on the hairline and scalp are places I barely think about! I do sometimes get cysts there, but anything that can be easily covered with hair or clothes is much less stressful to me than the one in the center of my cheek. Oy.

But I have learned a lot from these logs about how unique everyone's acne experience is, and how you can't judge the way this stuff makes people feel. I used to be jealous of people who just got blackheads until I met some compulsive pickers on this board and realized how awful it can be.

 

We are all going to get cleared up and that is so exciting! Yay for us. I'm seriously feeling good about this, ladies. The most epic battle is about to play out on our faces, but we are going to WIN!!!!



#6 PersnickityChick

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 05:26 AM

Wow... so it is 6:24 on a Saturday morning, and I've been awake since 4:30 (What is wrong with me?!).  I was sitting here reading, and reached up to discover that the lump at my hairline is now quite a bit SMALLER! I'm quite shocked, to be honest, and I"m not sure if it was going to do that anyway, or if maybe the first dose of absorica had something to do with it?  In any case, I am SO happy that it didn't turn into a raging monster.  I'll be taking my second dose this morning, so I'll report more later, I'm sure.



#7 PersnickityChick

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 10:13 AM

Day 3... well, so far nothing terrible as far as side effects go, but nothing else happening much either.  I did have a lump at my hair line, which has shrunk down to a tiny spot that is a bit painful. 

 

I have done some reading about the dosages and how it is all calculated, and discovered that I really do need to take the 80mg every day that i can, in order to get the cumulative dose within the 5 month term.  I am nervous about the 80mg... and the derm even said that I could stagger the dose if it got to be too much.  



#8 Kim28

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 01:38 PM

Is there a specific reason you need to have it done in 5 months, or is that just a goal? I had to do a longer course last time because my body could not handle the 80 mg. I am an avid reader of medical journals, and have found no evidence that doing it faster is better (except for the 'get it over with' factor). There is some research on low-dose regimes that found relapse is higher, but these are studies where the cumulative dose was much lower at the end of the treatment than a standard course.

So, I say, don't stress and take whatever time it needs. If it's 6 months instead of 5, your body will not know the difference. As long as you hit your cumulative goal you will be fine.

It took about a week for me before I could 'feel it' in my system and started to get the chapped lips and dry skin. So, don't worry about nothing happening yet either. It will soon. Enjoy how smooth your lips feel while you can - they are about to be seriously messed up!



#9 PersnickityChick

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 08:40 PM

5 months is just the length of time that my derm mentioned. She did mention the possibility of a long-term low dose treatment for maintenance, once the original course is finished.  

 

My lips have been chapped for a couple of weeks, so I've been using Aquaphor (sp?).  I will probably keep using it when the actual effects start.  I was realizing today as I was headed to be with family at Christmas that it has only been a couple of days. It feels like it has been a week already.  :P I guess that is what happens when someone who is used to a schedule is suddenly without one (Christmas Break). 

 

I really am looking forward to seeing a difference in my skin. I managed to get some pictures a couple of days ago that are somewhat representative, and if I can figure out how to upload them, I will.



#10 PersnickityChick

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 06:21 AM

Merry Christmas! Day 5.5

 

I woke up this morning with a dry patch on my cheek, just below my left eye.  Moisturizer should take care of it, I would think.  I also have a spot somewhere in or near the crease of my nose.  It is one of those that you feel when you rub your nose, but when you go looking, you can't find it... maybe it is inside. My sister took accutane about 11 years ago now.  I am looking for an opportunity to ask her some questions about her experience. 



#11 PersnickityChick

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 06:13 AM

Tomorrow makes 1 week since I started Absorica.  Last night I went into the bathroom, and noticed more dry skin on the top of my nose, and on my other cheek.  This morning I had a whole bunch of little flakes (that's about the only word I can think of to describe them).  The corners of my mouth are extremely dry, and one was starting to crack (aquaphor helped that).  and the corner of my nose also had some peeling.  I've noticed that the peeling is worse where I've had breakouts before.  I have been taking 80mg/day, and I am going to skip one pill, for a couple of days. That will bring my dosage down to 40mg/day.  I know that the dryness is inevitable, but with vacation coming up, I don't want to make it any worse than strictly necessary. 



#12 ciaraki13

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 05:41 PM

Hey Jess! Happy Christmas! Hope you are getting on ok with your dosage. At least the dryness is showing that's it's working, although it in itself can be such a nightmare!!!! My face was like filo pastry the last time I was on Accutane. Keep slathering on the moisturiser, even though it may feel inherently wrong to do so (moisturiser freaks a greaser like me OUT). This is for the greater good. We will have skin like normal people soon!!! I still don't dare to think that too often, but I believe we are in with a chance!!!



#13 PersnickityChick

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 01:47 PM

I am getting more and more dry now. The flakes are still very tiny, and there are more of them over areas where I had previously broken out.  My lips are quite dry, though Aquaphore, and Blistex (some kind of stuff with menthol in it) are really helping with that.  I've developed cracks in the corners of my mouth too, which I am also putting stuff on.  It kind of looks like I am drooling if I am not careful... but I almost always am. 

 

I am wondering if the dryness comes first, and then the break out, or if the break out is supposed to come first.  



#14 Kim28

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 08:29 PM

Lol to the drooling. When the skin around my mouth started getting dry, it always felt like I was drooling and I was really concerned that maybe I was. I don't think so. Also you mentioned something about your nose hurting. Maybe it's not the same, but the first week of my course my nose hurt for no reason. It wasn't dry, no zit there, it just hurt. Then it suddenly stopped and hasn't returned. Maybe it wasn't Accutane related, but it seemed like it was. Did you ever figure out why your nose hurt? Sheesh, the strange questions you end up asking on this medication!

Glad to hear things are going well.



#15 PersnickityChick

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 09:19 PM

Kim: I had a tiny (at the time) black head that was right at the corner of my nose.  It was so tiny that I couldn't see it, but boy could I feel it.  Then it kind of.... exploded, and became a pretty big black head, which ended up coming out with a huge "core", and now it is completely fine. SO glad it is gone, because it did start itching like mad there for a while. And I know what you mean about questions. 

 

I have discovered that my scalp is very itchy, my forehead is oily, and the rest of my skin is flaky.  Maybe one of these days it will balance out. Also I've noticed that my skin is becoming more sensitive.



#16 PersnickityChick

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 05:32 AM

Woke up this morning, went into the bathroom, and discovered that sometime during the night I'd had a very small bloody nose.  My skin doesn't feel as dry, or itchy right now, but I only took 40mg yesterday, and will do the same today.  There is still no progress on the one cyst that brought me to accutane in the first place, but I am sure that it will go eventually. 

 

Anyone have hints on how to upload pictures? Do I need to put them on some other site first, and then load them here?



#17 PersnickityChick

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 07:25 AM

Yesterday was a very big (and slightly weird) day.  My Love commented that the cyst on my cheek was starting to look like it was healing!! It had started out as a purple blob about the size of my fingertip, and once I really looked, I realized that it is definitely shrinking! Hooray!!! So, that was the GOOD news for the day.

 

I got ready to go on a shopping trip (pre-vacation shopping), and did the moisturizer thing, and then did my make up. We headed out, and about 2 hours later, my skin felt really tight, and uncomfortable.  I just KNEW that my skin had dried out, and slurped up my make up.  Boy, was I right.  I looked ridiculous, with red patches in some areas that looked like I'd been sun burnt, and areas where my make up was still somewhat in tact looking kind of ghostly by comparison.  Ugh. 

 

I watched a basketball game yesterday, and was surprised my team won! That caused some excitement, and I'm pretty sure that just made my face even more red. 

 

Then we went to Ulta, and I talked to a Clinique consultant who was very helpful, and not at all pushy (which is important).  I explained the issues that I was having, and she helped me find some moisturizer, and a foundation that should stay where it is put.  She asked if I'd tried proactive before Accutane, and I explained that Accutane is a "last resort" for people who have already tried everything. She didn't push it after that.

 

All in all, a day with its ups and downs, and today is a new day!!!



#18 Alien1

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 10:29 AM

You have awesome posts!!!  I can't wait to read and hopefully see your improvements!  



#19 PersnickityChick

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 10:58 PM

Day 9 (though it feels like it ought to be day 39)! This morning I woke up to a very dry face, so I put lotion on right away, and went about my morning stuff before I hit the shower.  After the shower I decided to try the moisturizer that the Clinique lady gave me.  It felt SO nice going on, and it didn't take a whole lot. 

 

I did discover something new trying to surface just below my lips on the left side.  I've had a few problems in that area before, so I am really hoping this doesn't become something monstrous.  Maybe it will whimper its way into oblivion before long, instead.  

 

I went to the store to grab a couple of things, and found Nivea lip balm with jojoba oil, and shea butter... so I figured I would give it a try.  It was miserable.  It has a very waxy consistency, so it felt like my lips were stiff.  Oh well, lesson learned.  I was kind of disappointed, because I usually like Nivea. 

 

We had family over for dinner tonight, and about an hour before they were to arrive I put on more moisturizer, and did my make up.  I was thrilled when I went to look in the mirror after they left, and my make up was right where I put it.  And I didn't feel super dry, or super oily.  So far that is a huge thumbs up on the clinique stuff, though I am all for multiple trials. 

 

I am officially up WAY past my bed time, so I am going to let myself drift off.  Night night.



#20 PersnickityChick

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 08:06 PM

This is the third time I've attempted to write this post.  Both of the previous times I got part way done, and my window got closed.  Oh well. 

 

Nothing really major to report... Except for one thing: I had a little itch right at the crease of my nose.  So I scratched. And it felt like my nose was on fire!! It was like some delicate little nerve ending had been exposed, and every tiny bit of salt on my skin was being poured onto it.  I tried desperately not to touch.  I sneezed, my nose ran, my eyes watered with the burn, and... well, it was a horrible experience.  I'll be very careful what I scratch from now on.  On a very short side note, putting a tiny bit of vaseline on the spot did help a little. 






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