July 29, 2011

A Secret Bursting to Escape

Today was my day off, so I was up early this morning, volunteering with some girls from church.  Five of us, varying in age from 14 to 30, found ourselves waiting in a van and making small talk.  And it was girl talk.  Breast self-exams, when we got our first period, the craziest thing we ever did with our friends.  In fact, I don't think I've ever had such a quintessentially female conversation in my life.

The subject swerved towards beards.  The younger girls voiced no opinion about the degree of facial hair they preferred on men, but some of the older ones knew what they liked and weren't afraid to share.  Goatees, soul patches, mustaches... and then one of them said, "Do you think it's hard for guys to shave their beard every day?  I can't imagine what it's like, it must be such a pain."

Another gal said, "I think they should wax, so it grows back slower.  Can you wax your face?"

"I don't think so, the skin is different on your face than your body.  But can you imagine?  I hate shaving my legs--I'll only shave my legs once a week!  And armpits?  My husband gets so irritated, he hates doing it everyday.  He wants to save up for laser hair removal."

This goes on for several minutes, while I sit in the back, biting my tongue.  Yes, I can imagine, very well.  Yes, you can wax your face.  And no, being hairy like me is the worst.

It felt like a safe place to say so, which made it more difficult.  I trusted most of these girls.  But I can't get past the idea that every time I'm in the same room with them, they'll be looking at me and thinking about me having a gorilla hide under my clothes.

"Guys have it so easy," one lamented.  "They can get away with hair all over.  But being dark-haired and fair-skinned like me is the worst, the hair is so dark on your arms and legs...  The only time off we get is camping."  She looked right at me, as if expecting me to agree.

"How do you mean?" I asked cautiously.

"Well, you have no choice but let it grow, right?  No baths or showers..."

I shrugged weakly, turning it into a joke.  "That's probably why I don't go camping!"

I really do wonder how they would have reacted if I'd told them.  It would certainly be sensational for a few moments.  (This girl has a beard!  A beard!)  They might be a bit curious, ask some questions.  But after that... I'd never know when they'd be thinking about it, what their opinion of me would now be.  Because they'd probably be too polite to say.

We expend so much effort worrying about what other people think.  It makes me tired sometimes!   Especially when I can feel the words building up in my throat, wanting to come out, as if it would relieve some huge burden on my shoulders.  I can actually taste the admission sometimes, thick and hard to swallow back down again.  The thoughts are so loud I wonder if anyone heard them.  And then I try to relax, assuring myself my secret is still safe, and I have total control over who knows, and who will remain blissfully ignorant of what's under my make-up and my clothes.

...Speaking of what's under one's make-up and clothes, I found this to be wonderfully honest:  http://amarilloo.tumblr.com/post/8151302946/appearance

July 20, 2011

What's Happening to My Beard?

I've come down with a flu (again!) so I haven't been at work.  In fact, I haven't been out at all, except into the yard to soak up a little sunshine and supervise the dog as he explores.  So that means that I haven't been shaving my face.

Well, I say I haven't been shaving, but what I mean is that usually around dinnertime when the family gets together, I'll quickly scrape in the direction of the hair growth with my razor.  This basically only "trims" my stubble, but it causes less stress on the skin.  You can still see the dark shadow, and if you came close enough you'd be able to see those pesky individual prickles.  However, it makes it a little less obvious than having one or two day's growth of beard.  I still haven't talked about my hirsutism with my step-family, and am still not really comfortable having that conversation.  Even if they have already figured it out, I'd still prefer to keep it out of sight and therefore out of their minds, lest it appears in their own conversations with others one day.  (I know I ought to get over this.  Getting people to talk about it would be a good thing.  Even if it's ignorant and judgmental speech, at least it would make people more aware that it's not something unique to a few Victorian-era unfortunates and Hollywood.)

Anyway, before my not-shave yesterday I was stretching my skin and looking for any ingrown hairs, which I'll usually nip in the bud by plucking and then dotting on a bit of Polysporin.  And I turned my face to examine my left cheek and jaw, I thought I noticed something, and leaned in close to the mirror, nearly squashing my nose against the glass.  No, I wasn't going crazy, there really was less dark stubble there.  In fact, there was a spot about an inch to an inch-and-a-half across that had very few dark hairs at all.

When did that happen?  I ran my finger up my cheek, against the direction of the hair growth.  It still felt like the same amount of hair there, but very little of it was dark in that spot.  Had the coarse hairs just lost some of their pigment?  Was this a sign of things to come?  Now don't get excited, I thought, and turned to my right cheek and found everything was still the same as ever.  Am I going nuts?  Was the left side of my face always like that and I've forgotten?  Or are androgens affecting my face less and less?  I have read that the face is usually the last to be affected.

Maybe things are about to get better.  We can only wait and see.

And hey, I've seen a few people have already seen and voted on the 4th Anniversary poll.  Thank you!  I'm really going to be taking to heart your opinions.

July 14, 2011


As any hirsute woman can attest to--heck, any woman with any insecurities about her body can attest to this--the way we shop for clothes is a little different.  How low will that neckline be?  How high that hem?  What does it cover?  How well does it cover?

And that constantly wars with our desire to look nice.  To wear beautiful things.  For instance, I love peasant tops, with the lace and the crochet and the smocking, but try finding one of those that covers up to the collarbone!  I'll be instantly drawn to one in the store, rub the fabric between my fingers, eventually realize that I would be spending money for something I would only wear on an exceptionally "good" day, and then regretfully move on.  Even jewelry can sometimes seem pointless.  Why buy a pair of beautiful earrings when you're just going to pull your hair self-consciously around your face?

Sometimes I get so sick of my wardrobe full of cotton crewnecks and boatnecks.  I feel like I've been wearing the same clothes since high school.  At my age I'd like to look a little more adult and a little more feminine.  (Fun fact about your friend Al, she looks like she's twelve.)

Being on Spiro hasn't really changed this, exactly.  I don't expect to be taking this medication forever, and there are still some parts of me the Spiro does not effect very much.  But simply having it work on my chest is surprisingly freeing.  I can pluck the hair there and forget about it for a week, which means I don't have to plan so far ahead about which shirt I'll be able to wear to work or which dress I can wear for a night out.  I don't have to worry about acne as much, either.

So the last time I went shopping, pretty tops suddenly seemed like a worthwhile investment.  I might be wearing them more than once or twice a year.  And I could pick based on color alone if I wanted to!  Or pattern!  Or embellishment!  I could make choices based purely on how I felt, not on whether or not I'd get my money's worth.  I hadn't really realized how much I missed that.  I haven't really shopped that way since I started earning my own money to spend on my own wardrobe!  It was a beautiful feeling.

Of course, I'd trade that all in an instant if the pills would work on my face instead.  I'd wear jeans and t-shirts my whole life through if it meant I could get up in the morning and not have to shave my face.  But for now, I'll enjoy what I can get!

July 6, 2011

Back to the Endo

Okay, so the week before last was my latest visit to the endocrinologist. Got a little more lost than usual finding my way through that maze of corridors, but it was the least anxious I've felt going to see her. I told her I was finding myself happy with the results of the Spiro, though she was disappointed to hear it still was making no difference to the hair on my face, either in quantity, coarseness or speed of growth. She brought up laser hair removal again, and I'm finally game to try that a second time. But I'd like to see how this next step in the treatment goes, and I'd also like to time it so that I can enjoy a summer without shaving my face. Maybe I can go camping then, or travel with other people...

I told her what I really wanted at this point was to find a better birth control pill that would regulate my cycles and eliminate the spotting, so she suggested Diane-35 and I said okay. Diane-35 has a small amount of cyproterone acetate right in it, and though it's generally not used for birth control alone, it is often prescribed to acne sufferers as it has the androgen blocker right in. It is our hope that maybe the combination of Spiro and Diane will make the results even better.

I see a lot of distaste for Diane-35 on the web, and yes, I am a little nervous about it. Not only is it a new pill and I am never confident in my body's tolerance, but it has been reported in certain studies to have a higher-than-normal risk of blood clots. However, that higher-than-normal risk is still a rare one. The endo only offered it, she didn't say: "This is what we're doing next." She would have allowed me to say no if I wanted to. But from my readings about the type of male and female hormones it contains, it's on the right track. Moreso than Alesse. And I have heard some very happy reports from some ladies who have used it long-term. It's different for everyone.

There's a little more hormone in this one, which is why I think it will help with the mid-cycle spotting that Spiro seems determined to cause. So I am on the lookout for severe mood swings and breast lumps and things like that. I assure you all I'm being cautious. Longtime readers know what a fearful creature I am.

Unrelated to hirsutism, the cyst on my ovary came up in conversation when I was telling the endo that my family doctor had moved off to the other end of the city, leaving my file behind. When I said that I still wished to see a gynecologist to talk more about the cyst, she said she would be happy to refer me herself. First, though, she wants me to have another ultrasound, because I haven't had that severe pain in six months and it may be that the cyst was reabsorbed. I have read that bcp's can sometimes help with cysts. Could it be that being on Alesse has helped in that way?

I've been on Diane for a week now and have nothing to report. Possibly some mild nausea in the mornings, but I'm known for stomach trouble anyway so it might not be the pill at all. And in the meantime, the Spiro continues to do it's job and I continue to enjoy the reduced hair everywhere else. Can you believe that? I'm enjoying the results of the medication.