Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome


Or PCOS.

That's the diagnosis, probably. I am still waiting on results. For now, however, I am in hiding.

***

When I was in my early 20's, I started to break out in cystic acne. I rarely broke out as a teenager (lucky me!) so this came as a surprise to me as a young adult.

I started to feel so insecure about the inability to go make-up free and how my face looked that I fell into a deep depression. My husband talked me into going to a dermatologist for treatment. The dermatologist put me on a really harsh and powerful drug called Accutane.

I had to swear within an inch of my life and sign all sorts of documents promising that I would not get pregnant while taking Accutane. It causes fetal deformities. Yikes.

I also had to stay out of the sun all during that summer as I could easily fry to a crisp in moments.

But it worked and I was happy.

***

In the meanwhile, I was on the birth control pill for years, controlling hormones in my body.

I was already showing signs of PCOS while trying to get pregnant. It actually took a few years before it finally happened. I was thankful for that, at the time. I was definitely in no place to have a child.

***

Within a year of my separation and two years of giving birth to my youngest child, I began losing my hair.

I have very thick hair and it's always been that way. My hair normally falls out but suddenly, it was coming out in handfuls. Even my friends began asking, "Are you sick?" when they saw my quickly thinning hair.

The doctors could find nothing wrong with me and attributed it to stress. Thankfully, my homeopath was able to get on top of it with a remedy that stopped the thinning.

Hormonally, I was no longer on birth control pills but on an IUD. My estrogen/testosterone levels were not being regulated.

***

Six months later, in 2008, the cystic acne came back.

I was depressed, trying to get out on my own and seal the deal on my divorce. I was in love with a soldier who was actively deployed to Iraq. I was overwhelmed and it was taking a toll on my body.

I began seeing an aesthetician who treated me with microdermabrasion and harsh chemical peels. It was a slow and not-always pain free experience but it did work.

It's never been completely under control but it looked MUCH better than it did before.

***

Well... over time, it has gotten worse.

I'm falling into yet another depression and finding that I want to hide out at home. I don't want to wear make-up, my skin literally aches, I can barely look at myself in the mirror without crying...

Just writing this post feels like I'm going out in public for all to see the flaws. I'm tired of fighting it. I'm tired of denying it.

I've tried EVERYTHING. If it's out there, I've tried it. From natural to medical grade. Even my daughters, who catch a few shows on Teen Nick and see all of the acne commercials, ask me if I've tried this or that.

It hurts when your 5 year old says, "Mommy, why don't you try ProActiv?"

This time it was Gentleman Jack who asked that I take it a step further. He remembers the problems I had with the IUD I had previously and the one I tried and had removed. He knows how I get so down, so hormonal that I cannot get out of it. Yet, I'm fully aware that it's not how I'm feeling truthfully, I just can't seem to stop the downward spiral.

"Go get your hormones checked."

Between the PMS, acne, very high sex drive, depression and other less than fun hormonal side effects, I knew he had a point. But it was when my aesthetician pointed out to me that (1) I take really good care of myself, eat healthy, workout, etc. and (2) that I have the cleanest face on the planet with how well I take care of my skin... that I realized there must be another reason for it. She, too, recommended that I get my hormones checked.

***

I've now given at least 10 vials of blood.

Yes, the hormones are effed up. Yes, they point to PCOS. Thankfully, my doctor is now testing for issues with the organs and glands that are supposed to regulate these levels, instead of throwing fake hormones at the problem.

And thankfully, my doctor believes in diet, supplements and other natural ways of handling such issues.

I'm ready to fix this. Once and for all.

***

In the meanwhile, I'm hiding in my office hoping my co-workers will stay away. I've had yet another harsh treatment on my face and cannot put on make-up yet.

The skin on my face is numb from the treatment and I'm to expect more tenderness and pain this evening.

I can't talk to Gentleman Jack about it without crying. I can't even type this without crying.

I don't want anyone to see me. I find myself staring at everyone else's face and admiring blemish-free skin.

Call me vain but I want to feel beautiful again.

23 comments:

  1. :( I have endometriosis and horrible PMS. And, I too have dealt with horrible cystic acne. I started getting it really bad around my Sophomore year of college and had never really dealt with it up until then.

    When I got married, I started taking BC for the first time. It definitely helped my horrible symptoms and my horrible acne, but it has also left me with other symptoms (at least ones I can only think to attribute to the BC because I never dealt with them until I started taking it) like a stomach that hates me 90% of the time and horrible charlie horse cramps in every muscle in my body for absolutely no reason. I can just barely move wrong and cramp up for a solid 5 minutes. And twice those cramps caused me to faint (which I had never before done).

    So, I can somewhat relate to the feelings you are going through (though I'm sure I will never know exactly how you feel), but know that you aren't the only one with effed up hormones.... and you have lots of people who love you. Inner beauty means so much more than outer beauty (though I know the vain side of everyone would love to *always* be considered beautiful on the outside). And I can almost guarantee that Rascal still sees you as the most beautiful woman in the world! He's pretty special like that! :)

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  2. i'm sorry you are suffering.

    my ex was struck by cystic acne in his early 20's, too. it was years before he was finally prescribed accutane, the only thing that finally got rid of it, but not before he was left with pitting and scarring on his previously flawless skin. (he didn't even have the standard teenage breakouts.) it's been over 20 years since the breakouts have stopped, but he has struggled with the landscape of his face ever since.
    i hope you are able to find some relief soon.

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  3. *big kiss on your forehead*

    :)t

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  4. My heart goes out to you, these symptoms sound like a lot to handle. I thank you, though, for the reminder that it's important not to just let BC pills take care of things. I too have a lot of classic symptoms of PCOS and my Dr chose the BC route to alleviate the symptoms, but not address the problem. It's been the easy route, but this has been a reminder that I need to find a new doctor that will find a solution like it sounds your doctor plans to. Please keep us posted on what you learn?

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  5. Thankfully, and most ironically, I don't have the pitted skin. The aestheticians have both told me that I have great skin. I've always stayed out of the sun so no sun damage either. Just gotta get rid of the acne.

    And no, Rascal does not believe I'm the most beautiful woman in the world. He never has. I am FAR from his ideal beauty type.

    He loves me for my smile, my self confidence, my sexiness. Everything I'm not feeling right now.

    So, as you can imagine, this is killing him too.

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  6. I know it might not make you feel any better but I only see you through this blog and you come across as very beautiful.

    I sometimes think that women get dealt a difficult hand - my partner suffers from PMDD which, to my tiny mind at least, seems to be extreme PMS. She has been so bad with it that she seriously considered a hysterectomy.

    I hope things pick up soon.

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  7. Yeah - acne is a devastating blow to the self-confidence ...T, you ARE beautiful even if you don't feel it right now. And you will feel beautiful again and I hope that feeling comes real soon.

    *HUGS*

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  8. T- I have no wisdom! I am so sorry! I can imagine how hard it must be!! I hope you get answers and a solution!! and more then anything I hope you find your smile....!!

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  9. Wow, I had no idea. I am so sorry you have to deal with this, and potentially PCOS. One of my best friends has it and writes the Life by the Day blog (on my blogroll) as she struggled with infertility for YEARS and finally got pregnant just very very recently. So this topic is very close to my heart! You are beautiful, and I don't think it's vain whatsoever to want to feel beautiful.

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  10. It's never easy when we're not feeling well for any reason, and somehow those things that affect our reproductive system and our looks - both of which are inherently tied to how we feel as (sexual, powerful) women, it's even harder.

    Sending and empathetic hug. Feel better. Know that your man loves you, and will ride out the bumpy times with you. You'd do it for him, wouldn't you?

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  11. Your beautiful T, inside and out.

    That's all that matters to me.

    Hugs,
    KC

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  12. **hugs** to you, T. Acne can be rough to deal with, particularly as an adult. I hope you're back to feeling (and looking!) like your old self soon.

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  13. T, I know how much emphasis society places on outer beauty. Just know that beauty radiates from the inside out. And with that amazing loving, giving, empathetic heart of yours...you are gorgeous. No one can compare.

    And you are loved no matter what. Big hugs. I'm thinking of you. You can beat this.

    PS. Thank you, Rascal, for being such an amazing supportive man. You and T are lucky to have each other.

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  14. What KC said. And like, 100 times so.

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  15. You are one of the most beautiful women I know no matter what is happening to your face.
    I can imagine that it is hard, but know that you are so beautiful to all of us!
    *Big Hugs*

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  16. I've never seen your face, but I know you are beautiful.

    I'm sorry you don't feel it. I had some weird problems with acne last year and I totally understand how it affects your confidence. Just know that this is temporary and you will feel beautiful again.

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  17. Oh T, I feel your pain. I've been dealing with acne since I turned 30ish (and I had to deal with it while I was a teenager too. I had a nice 10 years of none. Oh it was wonderful). It's the most frustrating thing. I find something that works and then a couple months later, it just stops working. I have actually had someone say to me "well, maybe if you washed your face it wouldn't break out anymore." Uh no shit Sherlock. I wash my damn face twice a day every single damn day.

    I have found something that does help them go away a little faster. I put some tea tree oil on a Q-tip and dab it on the zit. By the next morning it will be a whitehead (gross, yes, but....) then I pop it. I know they say don't do this but who the hell wants to walk around with a giant white head on their face??? I continue to put the tea tree oil on at night and then in the mornings I put on a tiny dab of aloe vera gel to help it heal. I don't know about you but I've had zits hang around for weeks when I was in the "I'm just going to let it run its course" phase. I was very embarrassing phase for me. This method cuts it down to 3-5 days.
    I know that nothing anyone says will make you feel better about how you look while dealing with this. Just keep holding onto Rascal's words as much as you can. It's not vanity; it's called being human.

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  18. This is what I love about you: you put it all out there, every flaw, every fear.... And I love you even more. Having had the amazing fortune to know you in person, I also know how incredibly beautiful you are.

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  19. I'm struggling with skin issues as well, both past and current. I started getting acne when I was 9 or 10. I did two rounds of Accutane before I was 16 and still have skin issues.

    Over the last six months, the acne has gotten worse. Right now the trunk of my body is covered with marks that look like chicken pox and I can't stand to look at myself. The acne on my face is very obvious and in large patches and I've got zero self esteem left. Plus I'm covered in scars from previous outbreaks.

    I'm 31 and not about to do Accutane again. My doctor has prescribed an antibiotic that I'll have to take for 6 months and I'll have to go back on the pill. After six months, we'll see whether there's any improvement, but I'm not holding out hope, 3 weeks into the antibiotics.

    I hate having to explain to my 5-yr old why there is an 'owie' on my face, my back, my chest.

    T, I can relate and I'm so sorry we both struggle with this. I'm thinking of you.

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  20. And again, THIS is why I blog. Thank you all so much for sharing your stories...

    It always feels good to know that you're not alone and that you're seen beyond your skin.

    ((hugs)) all around!

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  21. this is such a hard topic, as much as we want to say looks don't matter - they do matter how we see ourselves (and unfortunately others) I keep waiting for the day acne is no longer an issue. I still get it, but not as extreme, I hope they get things squared away and you can come out of hiding. You are too beautiful to hide

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  22. I can understand the dismay about the acne. Thanks to procativ, Yaz and prescription grade retin-A I can keep mine under control.

    I hope that your doctor can get to the bottom of this and get you on the road to good health.

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