Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Back on Roaccutane


Back in 2009 I was prescribed Roaccutane (Isotretinoin) for a few months due to a diagnosis of cystic acne. I didn't complete the course (complete the course people!) but my skin was crystal clear, allowing me to go out without make up. I endured incredibly dry skin, my skin peeled pretty much everywhere including the palms of my hands, my lips were in an awful state from being so dry and somewhat scarily my cholesterol raised.

For those of you who haven't come across Roaccutane (I'm going to use the brand name rather than actual name throughout my blog as it's the one people recognise the most), it's used to treat cystic/nodular acne that won't respond to other treatment such as creams or antibiotics. It's a type of retinoid and works by lowering the amount of sebum you produce, if your body produces too much it can cause acne. Roaccutane isn't something to start using lightly, it's a pretty hard core medication. It will kick your arse while you're on it unless you're one of the incredibly lucky people who don't suffer from any side effects from it. 

Some of the most common side effects are joint pain, eye redness, nosebleeds, extremely dry lips and dry skin. One of the most well known, but rare, side effects of this drug is a change to mental health. It's safe to say that Roaccutane is a controversial drug due to the incidence of depression and suicide. 

I've been lucky to see a dermatologist privately after a proper beast of a cyst popped up on my face last September/October (I ended up naming him Mr Lumpy) following months of antibiotics - don't do it kids, GPs are great but for goodness sake see a dermatologist - and the cyst not shifting I went to an appointment where it was injected with steroids there and then. All was going well until December when my skin lost the plot, Christmas was a particular low point for me. I was at the start of a new relationship and already having to walk around the house with no make up on just to give my skin a break, I think it's fair to say I've found a goodun with the support he's given me. Last night I went for a second check up on the cyst but as soon as my dermatologist saw me he declared my skin "out of control" and immediately suggested steroids and Roaccutane. 

For the last week my skin had completely lost it, my chin and jaw have been completely covered in cysts with some coming out. It was a whole world of pain, to an extent that it has been waking me up at night and early in the morning, I've been popping painkillers at an alarming rate just to be able to eat and talk. 

With a private prescription in hand I was ordered to the local university hospital pharmacy to get the medication right away this morning. After an hour wait I came away with a month's worth of Roaccutane as well as steroids as my dermatologist had explained that if I went straight on the Roaccutane on it's own my skin would get worse as it's so active, so I have three weeks of a decreasing dose of steroids to take as well.

I have no doubt that the next six months are going to be difficult at times, especially when the side effects kick in, but I know I can get through it and in the end it'll be worth it. The last few weeks I've struggled to leave the house, I've not wanted to look at people in the eye and honestly, when it's painful to eat you know you've had enough.

My plan is to update this every month, I'm going to take a photo with no make up on once a week so I can document the progress I'm making. I've not decided if I'll share these photos yet but hopefully I'll be a place where I feel confident enough to do that at some point.

My next appointment is in a month, I'll be going to the hospital fasted in order to have the first lot of bloods taken so they can keep an eye on my liver function. After that I'm off to West Wales for the weekend so at least I'll have that to take my mind off the blood test (I'm pretty rubbish with them).

Hopefully 2016 will be the year I finally clear my skin.



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Wednesday, 6 January 2016

A new year


Top L-R 2010 - 2012
Bottom L-R 2013 - today

It was staff photo day today, the first time since I've been blonde that I've managed to have a new photo taken. Staff photo day always makes me look back at past photos of me, tonight I put together a collage of photos taken every year from 2010 until today.

This has made me realise how much I prefer how I look and feel as a person now. I don't know if it's the experiences I've been through or turning 30 last year but I'm finally comfortable in my own skin, I like who I am as a person and I'm ok with how I look. 

If the last year has taught me anything it's that you really do need to like yourself to get any sense of contentment with life. 2015 was a mixed bag, it started off ok, veered into pretty good during April, crashed around my ears between the end of May and pretty much all through the summer. To be honest most of the time after June (apart from my 30th birthday) is a bit of a blur, nothing particularly good or bad happened, life just continued. My best friend got married in July, I was bridesmaid and had a ball. I adopted a dog in August but was forced to re-home him in October due to issues at home. November and December were the stand out months for me. Awesome things (ok, one thing) happened in my personal life which made me very happy despite going through some fairly rubbish health issues that I'm still dealing with. 

I wasn't planning on doing a goal setting post, I don't make resolutions because I know I'd never keep them and I also don't buy into the whole changing who I am on the strike of midnight going into a new year, but I'm already making changes. I've entered two 10k runs later in the year, I'm signed up to an indoor climbing course and I know I'll be seeing more of the outdoors this year which I'm really excited about. In December I made the decision (which was helped by my father) to keep my house, it's not something I'll go into all that much here for the next few months, but knowing that I'll be here for maybe another two years feels like a weight off my shoulders. I've got an ever growing list of things that need doing around the house and in the garden, I'm very excited to get started.

I'm hoping to up my travel this year, with some ideas brewing already. Weekends in West Wales and London are booked and plans for later in the year hopefully will come off. 

All in all 2016 is looking promising.

Happy new year.

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