August 27, 2010

It's Not Your Fault

One thing that particularly saddens me when reading things posted by other girls with hirsutism is the question, "What did I do to deserve this?"

I've asked it. Why me? I have enough troubles already. I've never had remarkable self esteem, or enough emotional armor to protect me from the way hirsutism makes me feel. But I ask the question a lot less than I used to, so I hate to see others asking it.

The reason this question worries me is because at its core, it suggests that we are responsible for our own bodily quirks. And unless you've been feeding yourself testosterone, that's totally not how it works. Not with hirsutism. There's nothing a woman can foresee to do differently to, for instance, stop her ovaries from developing cysts that release more testosterone than normal. There's nothing about a woman's character that would make her hair follicles extra sensitive to normal levels of testosterone.

We're all looking for the cause of our hirsutism. It's different in each woman, not always easy to pinpoint. It may be genetic. It's completely beyond our control. Life is unfair. Bad things can happen to good people. There's no rhyme or reason to a lot of things. No one is completely safe from misfortune.

If you (and I'm addressing anyone, including myself) can't find a reason and end up blaming yourself, does it make you feel any better? It find that instead, it puts you down by suggesting there's something inherently wrong with you that has brought this on you. Does it not simply emphasize your perceived flaws in your mind? Don't we all have more value than that?

Some people do prefer to think of themselves as a victim. It's a way of coping, and a contradictory one at that, as it only leads to depression and hopelessness. Little bodily aberrations like this don't have to make us feel worthless. Once we take that first step to think it through and realize we're not to blame for this, we can start to think about the wonderful things we can be blamed for, like a loving home, or a job well done, or the smile of a stranger. These things have nothing to do with how we look.

Some of my posts have touched on the ways I deal (or don't deal) with my hirsutism. But I think perhaps making more posts about coping methods might be in order. After all, it wouldn't do for me to bash self-blame without bringing up alternatives, would it?

August 18, 2010


Ha! That was sooner than I thought. I have cute little animation video for you.

Attraction (2008) from Rachinta Platts on Vimeo.

This is why I love the I Made You a Beard blog. She finds so many neat furry things, and not all of them belong to men! ;)

Hope this makes your day a little better.

August 17, 2010

Gory Pain Story

Ah, it was so nice to have a little break. But it's also so nice to be home.

The day I got back, though, I had a pretty rough night. A lot of it was melodrama from my head, but it's spurred me to do some more research into PCOS and other problems related to my wonderful reproductive organs. This post may be a little "TMI" for some as it deals with such organs and their workings. But come on, what do you expect from a bearded lady's blog?

Every now and then, from two weeks to a day or two before my period, I get a severe, sharp pain in my lower abdomen, around where my ovaries sit, that makes me feel like I've torn some intimate muscle--or something's going to burst. I'm doubled over, and pain killers don't help. It only lasts for about an hour while I lie in bed shaking uncontrollably, a hot water bottle on the offended region, and when I wake up I feel a little tender and achy from all that tension, but not sore to the touch.

This happens maybe only twice a year, for probably as long as I've had a regular cycle. When I asked my previous doctor about it (the one who sent me to the dermatologist for my hirsutism and I didn't know any better than to listen to him) he shrugged and called it an "ism" that involved my ovaries, and I can't for the life of me recall the word now. It was well implied that he just intended me to live with it. And so I've gotten used to it. I still get nervous, but I know it'll pass if I just ride it out. Except that this year alone it's happened four times already.

The night I came home, I woke up to the pain building swiftly, and lay in bed with the hot water bottle as per usual. But when I fell asleep again, I had a nightmare that the mattress was soaked in blood and I was dying, and I woke up having an anxiety attack. My muscles were so sore from clenching and shaking that I felt like I had one of those fevers that makes your joints ache and your skin sensitive, and I thought something inside me had burst and I was going to septic shock. Taking my temperature assured me I was fine, just scared out of my wits into hot flashes and chills. Hypochondria makes life interesting, that's for sure.

Rest assured I'm feeling totally fine now, but the experience shook me up a lot.

Because I somehow have always assumed the pain is to do with my ovaries, I've started to wonder if the Spiro and fooling around with my hormones has exacerbated the problem. I know it's not ovulation pain, as about 95% of the time it happens after that. From my recent readings I've looked at everything from luteal phase defects to endometriosis to things not even involving the organs, like muscle and spinal cord issues, which can actually make you feel like the pain is emanating from somewhere deeper. The confusing thing about PCOS is that while quite a few cysters have severe, acute pain similar to that, there are so many different kinds of ovarian cysts, and not all usually cause pain--though some can twist, and burst.

So there's going to be a lot to investigate, but I think it's time I do so. I've joined a fertility charting site just so I can keep track of any specific correlations between my cycle and the pain (I'm a nerd, I like my graphs). And on my next visit with the endo, I'm going to start with a request for an ultrasound. The endo has said the most accurate way to tell what's going on would be to go for an ultrasound while I'm in pain, but I'd only have a one hour window and I can barely stand, never mind walk, when I'm in the midst of it. Perhaps they may be able to see some scarring, or at least be able to see if I have any kind of cysts at all. That'd be nice to know. It's not a required symptom of PCOS, but it might help me to know if i fall under that fairly expansive label.

So, I hope I haven't freaked anyone out. I really do feel 100% better now. I usually don't talk about this kind of thing, but while I've been surfing the net to get an idea of what I should be looking at, I have really appreciated every single gory pain story a gal has posted online. You feel so much less afraid when someone else has expressed exactly what you're going through--or worse.

I'll try to find something more light-hearted to post later this week.

August 7, 2010


All right, I'm off on holidays, so no update next week. I am so ready for this break; mentally, anyway. Bodily, I just haven't had time to "take care of" everything yet. You should see the size of the toiletries bag I have to pack when I travel. It's embarrassing. :)

See you folks when I get back!


August 3, 2010

My Morning Routine

I noticed it's been a while since my last "Products I'm Currently Using" post: September 2008. My general routine has remained similar throughout the last two years, but I thought I should update again, and provide a more specific step-by-step walk through of how I do things. Not that I expect anyone to do it the same way I do, but when I first started shaving I often wondered, "Is this right? Is this normal? Do other hirsute women do it this way?" Without an answer, I just tried things until I fell into a rhythm which now makes me feel reasonably confident I'm doing the best I can for my skin.

Step 1 - Prep: I soak my face in a warm washcloth for a minute or so, to open up the pores and soften the hair. Sometimes I'll scrub a bit to lift the hairs from the skin. Then I wash my face with gentle soap-free Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser or a store-name imitation that works just as well.

Step 2 - Shave: I massage in some shaving gel or oil. You can browse the products tag on the blog to find shaving mediums and razors I have used--some worked better than others. Right now I'm trying out some gels and using Schick's Slim Triple razors. I find small strokes distribute the pressure on the razor more evenly and allow you to be more precise. Because I would rather have the closest possible shave and be a little irritated, I shave against the direction of the hair growth when shaving across it doesn't work. If I don't get it all the first time, I reapply the gel or oil and go again. Depending on the shaving medium I use, I usually rinse it off, and splash a little cold water on my face to close up the pores and calm my sometimes stinging skin, then pat dry.

Step 3 - Moisturize: I'll apply some jojoba oil to the shaved spots--sometimes before my regular moisturizer, sometimes after. It really depends on how my skin is feeling that day and how much time I have. Applying it before ensures it will be absorbed faster, and applying it after means it will sit for a while on the surface of my skin. Last time I did an entry like this, Lubriderm was my favorite lotion. Since that post, they've changed their look and formula and I've found it was no longer as helpful for my skin, so I've been trying to find something new to stick with. Right now I'm using a store-brand imitation of Aveeno's daily moisturizing lotion with natural colloidal oatmeal, which does a great job of moisturizing while staying light and non-greasy.

Step 4 - Make-up!: I recently posted my opinion on a new concealer I tried which applies easily and hides spots and shadows fairly well, and conditions the skin while you wear it. Most other concealers I used made dry flaky skin from shaving worse, not better. I used to have to rub it off and reapply so many times before I would dare go out of the house, but it happens very rarely now with CG Smoothers concealer. Once it goes on successfully, I finish by patting CG Fresh Complexion Pocket Powder all over. It's a very fine power foundation so I find it doesn't catch on dry skin as much either.

Step 5 - At night: I'll soak my face again with warm water and wash it with the gentle face soap. Once or twice a week I'll use Vichy Normaderm Purifying Cleansing Gel, which is a little astringent but I like having that boost to keep blemishes at bay. If my skin has been really dry, I won't use Persa-Gel that night--you can have too much of a good thing. I might moisturize instead at night if that's the case. And on top of it all I'll usually apply pure vitamin e oil to moisturize and speed the healing of shaved areas overnight. If my skin has been having an especially tough time and I have some open nicks or cuts, I'll use Polysporin instead to prevent infection and promote healing, as vitamin E oil can sometimes cause spots and is best used when "wounds" are no longer open.

That's what is working for me right now, and my skin is the best it's ever been--though that could also be partially attributed to age and the androgen blockers I'm taking. It's taken years to shape my routine and parts of it are still undergoing constant reevaluation. It's all about getting to know your skin through research and trying different products. Don't be afraid to experiment! You won't know until you try.