Some of you who have known me for a while probably know I’ve been dealing with acne for most of my life. My face is usually OK, but I’ve had this nasty scalp acne since I was 16 years old and it’s been diagnosed as everything from rosacea to seborrhea dermatitis to (most recently) Gram-Negative Folliculitis. I’ll spare you from example photos of these from the internet, you may have just eaten. But back to me — who knows what the fuck it really is, it’s gross — that’s all we seem to know for sure.
I grew up without health insurance and never saw a doctor about it until I was 23 or so, when I was working full time in radio. The first doctor I saw made me constantly feel like I was overreacting. She gave me some prescriptions for various lotions and shampoos. I was told just “wash your hair more” and when that didn’t work, of course “wash your hair less.” The dermatological equivalent of saying “well don’t do that” when I say “it hurts when I do this.” Once, she told me “it’s a chronic condition, you’re just going to have to learn to live with it.” Bitch.
So I did.
It comes and goes, never completely going away. I get a break every 2 or 3 months for a couple weeks before it flairs up again. Even when it’s at its best I turn into a giant ball of stress if I start to sweat, since that seems to exacerbate the condition. In restaurants I’ve always rushed to the seat with its back against the wall. It’s probably at it’s worst for about 4 months out of the year. More than once during these times I’ve been asked to leave hair salons in the middle of haircuts because I was bleeding. (They’re aggressive with those fucking clippers.) It sucks. As any of the quadrillions of people with acne will tell you, it can really affect your self esteem. We live with it.
I had first heard of Accutane a few years before Katrina. Alberto had gone through a course and said it was the greatest thing he’s ever done. Many other people I’ve talked to have said the same. I asked a new doctor “if it was right for me.” He said it would work, but he wanted to try *fill in name of shampoo here* first. I explained to him that I’ve tried almost everything. Just doing a google search I easily remember the following medications being in my medicine cabinet at one time or another: Erythromycin, doxycycline, minocycline, Clindamycin, Adapalene and Tretinoin. I’ve used T-Gel, T-Sal, Skin Cap, nizoral, every variation of anti-dandriff shampoos out there. I’ve tried baby brands and other shampoos for ultra-sensitive skin. I’ve scrubbed with more Tea Tree Oil, Salytic Acid and Benzoil peroxide than you could imagine. I’ve rinsed my hair with cold water and rubbed ice cubes on my face.
Since I haven’t had insurance the last year and a half, it’s gotten really bad once again. I’m so used to feeling miserable about it that it doesn’t phase me anymore. It just can’t be mentally sound to be at peace with the fact that I feel like shit about myself, can it?
My insurance kicked in three weeks ago and I immediately got an appointment with a dermatologist (as I normally do when I first get new insurance.) This time, there was no way in hell that I was going to accept another prescription for some bullshit lotion or shampoo.
It’s 2009, damnit. People are getting botulism injected into their vaginas and shit, I want the real deal this time. I don’t care if the new sure-fire treatment for adult acne is to smear peanut butter over red hot pokers and jam them up my ass — call me Goatse.
Um, so anyway.
I had my appointment two days ago and when the doctor walked in, she asked me how long have I had acne like this. I said “it’s not always this bad, but I’ve been living with it since I was like 16 or 17.” Just as I was going to start stomping on the ground and launch into my chant of “no more shampoo!”, she said “that’s crazy, have you tried Accutane?”
And like that… I was filling out paperwork, getting an appointment for blood work and pledging that I would not get pregnant while on Isotretinoin. I really hope this helps. Like, really-really.
The blood work was done yesterday and if there’s no bun in the oven and my cholesterol isn’t crazy-high, I can fill my prescription on Monday. I only had to wait 19 years.
(No hot pokers necessary.)