September 27, 2010

Endo Visit No. 3

Hello and welcome to the new, more sexy blog! New look, and a new drug.

That's right, I'm done with Spironolactone. It helped with the acne and lightened up the male pattern hair growth on my body somewhat, but not my face. It still required daily shaving to hide. Not enough of an effect to want to stay on the medication. I'm ready to move on.

I always get so nervous when I go to the endocrinologist, more than any other doctor. And I know it's only going to be a chat to revise our strategy, so to speak, with some lab requisitions, which I'm getting used to now. As a bonus, I really like my endo, and I'm never worried about leaving with concerns unaddressed. Yet waiting in that room had me so wound up I could barely hold the book steady to read. Realized I've been reading the same book for a year now. In my defense, it's an enormous book.

And once again I was in that little room with the poster of the thyroid, and I told the endo how I was finding the doubled dose of Spiro, and again she seemed surprised and disappointed that I was not seeing a worthwhile effect. She gave me a req for an ultrasound for that pain I mentioned, and offered a stronger painkiller for it, but I really am not comfortable going on more medications than I have to. Then she mentioned a couple of other medications I could try (Cyproterone was a new one mentioned, I'll have to read about it a little as she said I would have to go on birth control with it), but recommended Finasteride again as it is so well tolerated, if less commonly prescribed to women, so I decided to give it a try. I'll do a post soon about what it is and what it does, for those who are curious. And from there we'll see what it really does.

Also of interest, I inquired about the possible increased effectiveness in laser therapy while on an androgen blocker, as I contemplated staying on Spiro a bit longer. She said my problem really doesn't seem to be high testosterone as much as increased sensitivity to it. She thinks I have idiopathic hirsutism, and I think it fits my situation best as well. I wasn't the least bit shocked. In any case, the answer to my question was just what I had experienced with laser in the past; though it might kill off the current hair follicles, even the most normal levels of testosterone will keep stimulating my skin to produce dark, terminal hair.

So on my to-do list in the next month or so are an ultrasound and a blood test to see if the new pills cause any liver toxicity. And in three months, a follow-up to see if the new direction is beginning to take effect. Finasteride apparently has a similar success rate to Spiro, so, no outlandish hopes. Let's just see what happens.

September 21, 2010

I'll Run Away and Join the Circus!

So here I was a few days ago, watching the National Geographic Channel with my puppy (or puppies this week, as I am also puppy-sitting and in absolute heaven) and caught a little section, completely unrelated to the show itself, about one of the last existing "Freak Shows" in North America. I assumed a few still existed, but it was the first time I'd ever been confronted with the reality of one. It spurred me to wonder, with complete sobriety, what if I grew out my beard and did join a circus?

Let's leave the connotations behind the word "Freak" aside. I'd be around people with genetic quirks that made them totally unique and intriguing. I wouldn't have to shave my face at all, or worry about feeling ashamed because I'd be in a context where I would be expected to be exactly the way I was born. Would I feel different? So vacated from my normal life that it would feel like a vacation? Would it in any way help me accept the way I am? I think the most attractive part of the idea is that I'd be opening peoples' eyes and showing them that we bearded ladies do exist, and aren't too hard to find, and are real, living, breathing, feeling human beings.

But there's where the fantasy falters. They'd be meeting a bearded lady in a fantastic, theatrical setting. Would that seem really human at all? Or would it just perpetuate the myth? Some people are truly fascinated by unusual animals, people, and talents, and find them wonderful and magical. But some go to be creeped out.

Let's bring the word "Freak" back into the equation. I hate hearing that word used in connection with a person. I wrote a very emotional blog post about the use of that word once, but found it just too upsetting to post. As I did a little research into some of these sideshows, I saw a lot of promotional material using words like "monstrous" and "horrifying." I don't think I'd want to stand beside a banner like that.

But maybe it depends on how you look at it. The people who join sideshows must find it rewarding, must enjoy the camaraderie with others with appearances or talents that set them apart. And I think therein lies the mystique. It's always portrayed as a close-knit fraternity of amazing people.

Maybe I just don't have the personality for it. Maybe I'm the kind of person who will always feel better just fitting in.

September 14, 2010

Happy (Belated) Two Years!

I was going through the blog's statistics and was surprised to find the number of visits has just about tripled in recent months. I was pee-my-pants excited!

When I started this blog I really wasn't sure who would even want to read a blog about a girl with a beard who shaves and complains, and complains and shaves, still lives at home and doesn't know why she's hirsute. I was hoping other girls who were just developing facial hair and searching for the Why and What-to-do might find me typing away here and take something useful away from my experiences. And back then, I certainly didn't expect to be going through so many diagnostic tests!

About a month after I started the blog, I was already asking myself if it was going to benefit anyone. Would people who are having different cosmetic troubles find it helpful? Or people who enjoy a chuckle about the imperfections of our bodies in general? Would people like that find it at all?

To my surprise, it was the women who'd already been through what I was going through who came and read and commented. I hadn't anticipated that. I'm sure they weren't the only ones who visited, but they were the ones who usually said a word or two, so they were the ones I was aware of. A simple "I know how you feel" was so encouraging. I might not be helping those new to hirsutism, or educating those who found it flatly repulsive, but I felt honored to be talking about what so many others were experiencing.

And discovered I was also helping myself. Talking about living with hirsutism helps me to come to terms with it. Now, though I've certainly got my mental blocks, I feel much better about it than I ever did before.

I'm grateful to anyone who has ever offered feedback, and to visitors who don't feel comfortable leaving a comment but constitute just one more encouraging number on the charts that assure me people are reading my blather. I feel privileged to have come into contact with people who have struggles similar to mine, and even more challenges besides. A big thank you to everyone.

In retrospect, that sounds almost like a take-leave, when it's not. I'm just having one of those Taking Stock moments. I'm looking forward to many, many blog entries to come!

September 10, 2010

Comedian on Shaving

A relative of mine is in the hospital to remove a tumor the size of a softball, so I've been all over the place this week. Can't believe I missed the two-year anniversary of this blog. I had all these ideas for marking the occasion but I just wasn't in a celebratory state of mind.

Last night we were watching the Gameshow network to distract us from the anxiety of waiting to hear how the operation went (would have been at the hospital but... you know me and anything remotely cringe-worthy) and an episode of Last Comic Standing Season 4 came on. I laughed so hard at Josh Blue's shaving bit. If you haven't seen it, take a look, it starts at 4:37.

Wish I could be that funny about shaving. :)

The operation went well, by the way. We're just waiting for his recovery and to hear the results of the tests of the lymph nodes.

September 1, 2010

Product: Dove Visibly Smooth Deodorant

A friend in Europe mentioned this deodorant to me quite some time ago (hi Soph!) and I was very curious. I have to say, I like Dove; their Campaign for Real Beauty always gets me. So when I saw a commercial announcing its release in Canada, I got a little excited. The next time I was in a drugstore, you bet I picked some up.

Dove Visibly Smooth Deodorant - 45g

  • Active ingredient: Aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex GLY (14.8%) Other ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, stearyl alcohol, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, PPG-14 butyl ether, hydrogenated castor oil, PEG-8, fragrance (parfum), dimethicone, polyethylene, silica, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, steareth-100, nylon-12, sorbitan laurate, BHT, palmatine, red 40 lake (Cl 16035)

Things I liked:
  • The smell--I preferred the Nature Fresh scent, as it's much more subtle. Does everything a deodorant is supposed to do.
  • The moisturizers--it all but eradicated irritation from shaving my armpits. It softens the stubble to the point where it doesn't poke or itch, and I can shave comfortably much more often, rather than waiting for the skin to heal.

Things I didn't like:
  • Nothing!

Did it do what it promised?

The purpose of this product may come off as a little misleading. When I first heard of it, I expected it to slow down hair growth. If you investigate into their FAQ's, you can see that's not what it's designed for. When they say "feel stubble free for longer" they mean that the conditioning ingredients will make your underarms look and feel softer and smoother, so that you may feel like you have to shave less.

My armpits may not look any more stubble free, but they feel softer, and making shaving less of a torture. And that makes this my new favorite deodorant.

(Out of curiosity, when I shaved my legs, I applied it between my thighs as I will do now and then to prevent chafing. It made them prickle a little less, too!)

See what other people thought of Dove Visibly Smooth:
The Budget Fashionista (clinical strength product)
The Beauty Bunny
...There are a lot. You can Google reviews and find pages and pages. I just filtered out the reviews that were calling women with pit stubble "gross." I mean, come on. We all have it. Stop being a squeamish wuss.