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Day 144 - 60mgs

today is the start of a break for me. im not taking meds for a week or so while i go on vacation. i will be in mexico, blazing hot sun, and i dont want my poor skin to fry off. im really looking forward to it, and am hoping to get my lips back.

lips have been the worst the past 3 weeks since i started the course. peeling off in patches, and really rough, no matter how much stuff i put on them. also, the left side has been cracked constantly. and the peeling has spread from just my lips to the outlying skin on my face too. and if i peel it, it gets red and looks like i have some crazy disease.

i also finally got over the sinus infection or whatever was going on. that lasted about 2 months and it was horrible. pus and crusty gunk in my nose. but only on one side. that was weird.

cant wait to be laying on la playa drinking a cerveza... ahhhhh.

hopefully a week off the meds will give me my old self back!


Day 121 - 60 mg

I went to my derm appt last week and discovered she is keeping me on for a month longer than I thought. So this is not, in fact, my last month. So disappointed! I now have 60 days left.

Not much other news. My lips aren't cracked today. I have been getting tiny little dry patches around my mouth. Haven't had any new blemishes in several weeks now.

Yep, this post is totally boring.


Day 116.5 - 60 mgs

I'm a little bit behind schedule because I decided I should give my liver a break over the craziness of holidays - Christmas, birthday and New Years - so I skipped several days and drank a little too much wine at new years. Today I am back on track though.

Tomorrow should be the last time I need to do the stupid ipledge routine of the online questions and showing my card at the pharmacy. I'm really excited about that. So if all goes as planned, I should only have 33 and 1/2 days left to swallow these dumb pills.

My lips are still off again/on again cracking, no matter how much moisturizing i do. Overall though, my side effects have diminished greatly over time. I still tire more easily than usual, but nowhere near as bad as when I first started this stuff.

Nothing much else to report.


Day 111 - 60 mgs

I revised my count to reflect recent missed pills.

My cracked lips are healed! I am so effing happy about that. I can eat like a normal person again.

My nose is what is bothering me now - my sinuses are gross and super dry and gets like scabby or something. I won't go into the gory details, but yeah, its gross.

Also, I got a tiny whitehead under my nose today. First blemish in several weeks. I had a red mark on my nose 2 days ago, and some clear puss or something came out. it was totally weird because it wasnt a pimple, and i hadnt squeezed it or anything. i only noticed when i touched my face and felt something on my nose. okay, this post is grossing me out so ill stop.

Nothing much else to report. I have about 40 days left of this madness and I'm thrilled.


Day 109 - 60mgs

I have been really bad this week about keeping on dose schedule. I forgot to take my morning dose last Tuesday, and skipped Friday & Saturday altogether. So I guess my post should really be entitled "Day 106 1/2".

New side effects: With winter almost here, and colder temps, I've been using my heater regularly. That means the air in my apt is extra dry. This compounds my already dry skin, eyes & everything else, including my nasal passages. I think I've gotten a sinus infection because of it being so dry. Its uncomfortable and annoying, but at least its not nose bleeds. I really hope I don't get those!

Lips - the cracked skin on the left side healed, and I had two days of relief! And then the right side cracked. I've been dealing with the right side now for about a week. No amount of Aquaphor can keep it moisturized enough.

I went to a party last night and didn't feel self-conscious about my skin at all. I know my scarring is still really visible, even with makeup, but it's exponentially better than my worst days this past August. I'm starting to feel like a normal girl again!

A friend of mine sent a photo of me taken this past summer, and I felt revolted looking at myself. You could see how lumpy and gross my face was and it just reminded me of the worst time in my life. I'm so tempted to cut my head off that photo so I can enjoy the rest of it!

As bad as Accutane has been, it could never be as bad as what I was going through with acne. I sometimes see people on the street with bad skin, and I want to pull them aside and say "hey -- there are options for you!" and preach to them about this medicine. I don't wish the misery of acne on anyone. But people would probably think I'm weird if I did that.


Day 102 - 60mgs

Wow, I've passed the 100 day mark.

Nothing much to report. My lips have been somewhat better the past couple days - they are still dry and cracked in the corners, but not as bad as before. I can actually open my mouth without pain! I still live with Aquaphor in every single purse/pocket I have.

I haven't had any breakouts or blemishes in several weeks now. It is so great to wash my face at night and just feel smooth smoothness, no bumps or yuckiness at all! Still lots of red marks - not very noticeable when i wake up, but throughout the day, it gets more red.

I've learned to stay out of the sun completely - it hurts my eyes too much. If I walk around outside for even an hour, my eyes will burn and turn really red for the entire rest of the day.

I want my energy back. Can't wait for that.


Day 90

I'm going to complain about dry lips. Yes, again. I don't think that people who have never taken accutane understand what is meant by "dry lips". You think you have an idea, but it doesn't even come close.

My lips are so dry that I can't eat a sandwich. That is to say that I can't open my mouth wide enough to bite a deli sandwich without being afraid of my lips splitting open. I am not exaggerating here. And today, while eating lunch with a friend, I noticed myself doing strange maneuvers with the fork to get my salad in my mouth so I wouldn't have to open very wide. I also have to cut my food into tiny pieces and eat it with a fork - yes, i ate pizza this way yesterday.

There is also the application of aquaphor to the corners of my mouth in between each bite, so they don't split open. Makes me look neurotic.

Have you guys seen the jackass movie? Okay, remember the part where they are giving each other papercuts in the most cringe-worthy places? One of them was the corners of his lips. That is what it feels like every time I open my mouth; I can feel them splitting so I do it as little as possible.

And yawning. Dear god, yawning is the worst kind of torture -- tired and not thinking, stumble out of bed in the morning, walk towards the shower, yaw-- oh no! realize in the middle of a yawn that its about to rip your face in half! Then you try to stop but realize its nearly impossible.

I can't wait to have my lips back. I can't walk, my eyes hurt, I have rashes all over the place, and I'm tired all the time, but the thing I miss most is lips. I always took them for granted, but not anymore -- after this is all over I will totally appreciate them.

Of course, having said all of this, I do realize the suffering I'm enduring now is preferable to the suffering I endured during the worst acne breakout of my life. I can't even look at those pictures because they make me want to cry. I hope to never go back there again.

I haven't counted out the days I have left, but I think I will be done by the end of January or beg of Feb, so about two months to go. I can do this.


Day 87

its difficult to drink enough water on busy days full of social obligations. thursday and friday was a lot of cooking, eating, and socializing. therefore i wasnt drinking enough water as i should have been, and that resulted in the application of aquaphor to my lips approximately 25 million times!! goddamn, i think people thought i was neurotic. oh well.

my skin is improving a lot. ive noticed that when i look in the mirror now, im not completely horrified. i can tell that this is going to work. the red marks are fading. although i have noticed that i flush really easily now. so humiliating - i went on a kinda-sorta date the other week and he says to me - wow, your face is really red; did you get some sun? and i was like, um, no, i think im just really hot. and he kept pushing the point and wouldn't drop it - you look sunburned, are you sure you didn't go anywhere?

i wanted to die.

the rash on my hands came back. and its on my neck as well. and little patches on my arms. and my heels are still really really sore. its difficult and painful to walk sometimes, but im not sore anywhere else. still really tired, and don't have a lot of energy. i think i will be done with my course by the end of january so im really excited to have a light at the end of the tunnel.


Day 82 - 60 mgs

The months are seriously flying by. 3 months down. I had another appt today, but this time with a different dr in the office. He seemed very proactive about informing me of risks. He literally sat there and told me I could die as a result of taking Accutane. But then he tried to mitigate it by saying, "But I'm not trying to scare you." That is exactly what he said! But my labs are all really good so I'm going to stick through the course.

Side effects: my heels, tendon area are in pain. Changing shoes doesn't seem to help. Eyes and lips are still dry dry dry. I had a rash on my hands that was itchy and scaly. Finally I put some hydrocortisone creme on it, and it was gone in 2 days. I don't know why it took me two weeks to think of that!

Weekends are difficult for me to stay hydrated, so I feel like Mondays are makeup days for my water consumption. Today I had about 4 Liters.


Day 63

One more side effect I forgot to mention before - weight loss. Its totally weird, but I've lost close to 15 lbs. even though Ive been eating higher fat foods. I hope I don't keep losing though because my pants don't fit anymore. I wasn't a very big person to begin with so I cant really afford to lose more.

so. tired.


Day 61 - 60 mg/day

Just wanted to post an update on some new side-effects I've been experiencing.

Having a weird pain in my Achilles tendon area. Can't pinpoint the exact area of pain, but its somewhere around there. Its usually after I'm laying down for a while and then get up -- feels like its difficult to walk for a few minutes because something needs to stretch out, but I can tell its not muscle pain.

Also have been really really tired. Especially if I'm out in the sun for any amount of time. Yesterday I was out in 80 degree sun for an hour and it wiped me out for the rest of the day. I went to bed at 9:30 pm and slept for 11 hours!

Have a rash now on the backs of my hands. Its tiny bumps and itches. Still have a red patch on my neck that itches also. The one on my neck is not very bumpy though.

My nose has been constantly runny. Not a lot, just a tiny bit. But I always have to have kleenex on me now.

Today is my first day on the new dose. It is double what I was on last month so I'm sure to be experiencing lots of new things this month too. Maybe I'll even break out a lot, yeah!



Day 57 - 30 mg

A couple of days ago I noticed a small red patch on my neck. When I looked closer I noticed it was a rash, and now my neck is itchy and red. My doctor told me this is normal and not to worry.

I've also started noticing how badly my eyes hurt if I haven't had enough water. If I don't get at least 2 liters one day, they will hurt me the entire next day. And the ReFresh eye drops I paid $15 bucks for do not help.

And I'm still so tired at the end of each day. I've been watching massive amounts of tv because its the only thing I have the energy for when I get home from work. It sucks because when I look over my life the past several months, I feel like I haven't done very much at all.

Accutane is so much fun!


Day 48

my lips are starting to crack in the corners. i didn't think it would happen to me because i keep them soooooooo moisturized. sad.

For anyone who is interested in how I got to this point (this point meaning 'on Accutane'), here is a bit of history.

I've always had imperfect skin. I'd get a pimple here and there, sometimes two. This started in my teens, lasted through my 20's. I was on BCP's for a few years, during which my skin became nearly perfect. Once I got off them, I'd again get an occasional blemish. Then in my late 20's I started getting cystic-type lumps on my cheeks. I'd get one at a time, and it would last a while (a month or more) then go away. A few months later, another one would reappear on the same spot.

I sought treatment for this skin imperfection because I was afraid it would lead to permanent scarring.

The first time I was prescribed antibiotics (2004), I couldn't even swallow them before throwing up. It was tetracycline. I tried to take it for about a week, throwing up every time. I figured I was allergic so I quit trying and gave up.

A few years later, last January (2007) same cystic-type issues I described above so I went to the doctor (different dr. because of new insurance). This doctor spoke with me for a minute and a half, then prescribed me an antibiotic, erythromyacin. I was extrememly reluctant to take an AB, because of all the bad news surrounding long-term usage of them.

*** In fact, there was a poster in her examination room WARNING patients of the dangers of long-term antibiotic use! ***

I mentioned my reluctance and she assured me it was safe. Then I pointed to the poster and said, "Hey, what about that?" She told me that the dose she prescribed me was so low that it wouldn't make much of an impact. I said "Are you sure?" and she again assured me that it was perfectly safe.

I listened to her. I swallowed antibiotics for the next 3 1/2 months. Twice a day.

They didn't make me feel good. I didn't notice any improvement (she told me it would take 3 mo to see any effect). I had very mild diarrhea the entire time. In the 4th month, I started getting stomach aches. One night I laid awake in bed in extreme agonizing stomach pain. I had never experienced something like that before and knew it was from the AB's. (In case you don't know, your stomach contains naturally occurring bacteria. When you mess with your natural flora, your stomach isn't happy. This also happens when you travel and drink water with different bacterias. )

So the night of the extreme stomach pain, I decided to stop taking the AB's. The pain and side effects were not worth the barely existent benefits I was getting from them. This was April 2007.

In May 2007, I started noticing my skin breaking out more than normal. I thought I might be imagining that it was getting worse, so I took photos 3 or 4 times a week to document. It was getting worse. (See my Accutane gallery photos).

By July 2007, my skin was freaking insane. I was getting like 20 pimples all adjoining so it was just one massive sore. It hurt really really bad. I couldn't sleep some nights because of the pain. I couldn't smile or eat because the area around my mouth hurt so bad. If I smiled they would crack and puss and bleed. It was truly disgusting.

I again went to another doctor, a dermatologist this time, for treatment. She took one look at me and prescribed me the AB Minocycline, another topical AB, a topical BP creme, and a topical retinoid creme. I was desperate and didn't know what was happening to my face and willing to swallow or do anything to fix it.

Two weeks passed and my face was getting worse. It always gets worse before it gets better, right? I was hoping and praying this was true. I continued with the daily photographs of my condition. At this point, I had progressed into full-blown SEVERE acne.

I knew something was wrong though. What was occurring on my face was unlike any blemish I had ever had on my face, EVER. First of all, they were everywhere, whiteheads and lumps -- all over my face. Before, I would only break out in a few small areas.
Second, these would appear instantly. Before, I be able to feel it coming on a few days ahead of time.
Third, these would bleed if I touched or picked them. It was a lot of blood too. My blemishes before would just have pus or clear liquid. (yes, totally gross, i know).
Fourth, these were itchy. I didn't realize it at first, but I was scratching my face constantly, making it all worse! Acne doesn't itch.

However, I dutifully took my 30 day supply of AB's until my next appt. I mentioned my concerns to my doctor, and suggested that I might be having another type of skin problem -- something called gram-negative folliculitus. (I found this researching symptoms online.)

She thought that was a very likely possibility and took some cultures. They came back negative for that one test, but it still could have been something else we hadn't tested for. She gave me yet ANOTHER antibiotic to counter the damage that was obviously caused by the last AB. (Different AB's work against different classes of bacteria).

The 3rd AB I was on (this year) was ciproflaxin. I took it for two weeks and it actually started to work. In the meantime, I was being prepped for Accutane, as my skin had deteriorated to the point where it was my only treatment option left.

I am now left with massive scarring, and most of my year of 2007 has been spent swallowing pills, feeling like shit, and battling acne. I wouldn't wish this on anyone in the world, and just want to let people know that there are RISKS to taking Antibiotics long-term.

Since I joined this group, I have been contacted by a number of people telling me that the same thing happened to them. This troubles me deeply because its obvious that dermatologists do not know what is going on or why, and continue to assure patients that AB's are perfectly safe.

Day 39 - 30 mg

This week has been ok. I've seen a few new breakouts. They tend to be larger than I would normally get, but they go away and heal faster.

My skin hasn't been as dry as I was expecting. I moisturize in the morning and evening. My hands need more lotion throughout the day, but I would always use a lot anyway.

Drinking plenty of water is so critical. I've noticed that if I don't drink a minimum of 2 Liters per day, my eyes and lips will be so parched. But if I drink enough, the dryness is tolerable.

I would still say the biggest side-effect for me has been tiredness. I'm exhausted by the time I get home from work every day, and even something like going out to eat takes so much energy. I pulled weeds in my yard last week and the next day I felt like I had been hit by a truck. No kidding, it was nuts. I haven't gone to the gym since I started this drug, so now I know for sure to stay away until I'm done.


Day 32 - 30 mg/day

I've decided that one of the best things about being on Accutane is the reduction in time I spend on my beauty routine. I used to be in the bathroom for 30 mins or so, washing, toning, doing masks, applying this creme and that creme, moisturizing, sunblock, makeup, etc, etc.

Now its so simple. Wash with basis sensitive skin soap. Moisturize with Oil of Olay sensitive skin lotion. During the day I also apply Aveeno SPF and Bare Essentials Mineral Makeup. Thats it. No more harsh chemicals, or cremes, or other smelly weird crap. I can be in and out of the bathroom in under ten minutes. I feel liberated, in a way. And I am also not spending money on every possible new creme or lotion that promises beautiful skin. I was such a sucker, willing to try anything and everything, and I wasted a ton of money. No more.

So yesterday I decided to take my pill in the morning to see if it would change the sleeping problem I mentioned in the last post. I used to take it around 10 pm, and would wake up every night at 4 am. Yesterday I took the pill at 12 noon, and slept much better than the previous week. I still woke up, but fell back asleep right away. I am not claiming a cause-and-effect relationship yet, as its only been one day. I'll see how it goes the rest of the week and post my results.


Day 28

Last week my dosage was upped to 30mg, and I was told that next month I would graduate to 60. That sounds like a lot to me. I still have two days left on my 20 mg script so I haven't started the new does yet. I'm hoping the upped dose won't bring on the dreaded IB. I've had enough of this ish. Fingers crossed.

I've been having trouble sleeping lately, and not sure if its related to the medication. I'll fall asleep fine, but then wake up around 3 or 4 and be unable to fall back asleep. I don't usually have trouble sleeping, only when I'm stressed out about something. But I can't think of anything I would currently be stressed about. Weird. I guess I'll do a search on here and see if anyone else has experienced this.

Other than the dry everything and sleepiness, no other side-effects.

Truckin' along. . .


Day 21

I just swallowed my 21st pill.

I didn't drink as much water today as I usually do, so my eyes are killing me! I've used Refresh eye drops like, 4 times already so I'm not sure what else to do. Sleep?

Lips aren't as dry as they were the first two weeks. Not sure if my break has anything to do with that.

Derm appt is tomorrow afternoon. Don't know what to expect-- upped dose?

Skin is feeling fine. Not too dry at all. Some breakouts but they are short-lived. They come and go in a few short days.

My biggest complaint so far is being tired. I just feel exhausted at the end of the day and don't have the energy to go grocery shopping or cook, or any of that crap.


Day 15 - Take 2

Later in the day, last Thursday, I went to the ER.

I was feeling like I had run a marathon because I was super sick - I was running a fever, headache, sore neck, chills, and so so tired. I left work early, went home and called my derm to ask if this was normal. She told me to go see my primary care doctor immediately. Well, I don't have one (new insurance), so I called the 24-hour advice nurse to see what I should do.

She told me I needed to stop taking Accutane and go to the Emergency Room right away. I was so scared because they wouldn't say why. It was weird. So I went. I had a 103 fever and they gave me IV fluids and Tylenol and said I might have meningitis, but only a spinal tap could determine that. They also told me that Accutane can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections. I thought that was strange.

In any case, I went home that night and felt like crap and popped advils every 4 hours to keep fever down. I stayed in bed until the following Monday. Tuesday I went back to work, but still didn't take my dose.

I just took my Day 15 dose. It sure was nice to have my eyes and lips back again for a few days there. It felt wonderful. I have to get up early and do labs in the morning. I hope this lapse isn't going to affect that too much.


Day 15

I'm starting to experience a lot of fatigue and headaches. The past two or three days my muscles have felt like I've run a marathon. I just want to sleep. Not fun when you have to get up and go to work every day.

My skin is not experiencing dryness at all, but my eyes and lips are like the Sahara. I slather on Aquaphor at least five times per hour. My hands are very dry as well.

I think the initial breakout might be coming on. I've noticed the appearance of a few new blemishes today. Still, its nothing compared to what I experienced on anitbiotics. Or maybe I'm just getting used to having horrible skin. In any case, I'm learning to just deal with it. It still sucks (a lot!), but its truly not the end of the world.


Day 9

I don't think I've experienced an initial breakout yet. Or maybe I just haven't noticed since my skin was so effed to begin with. I just started on the generic version of accutane called Claravis, at 20 mg per day, August 23rd.

So far I've got dry lips and dry eyes. Skin is also dry, but nothing too bad yet. But I feel way better now than any day I was taking antibiotics, so I'm grateful for that. The antibiotics made me exhausted, foggy headed, confused, & gave me extreme stomach cramps. Accutane is a cakewalk in comparison. (So far, at least)

I am also extremely grateful for the support and encouragement of everyone on this website. It gets really difficult sometimes to hang out with my friends with their perfectly perfect porcelain complexions. I get so envious!! Of course my friends are wonderful and tell me I look fine, but it really helps to know there are others out there who really "get it". Thanks guys.

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