March 31, 2012

The C-Word

Holy hole-in-a-doughnut, guys, comment explosion on the blog this week!  I love it!

Visitors, if you're just reading my blog posts and not the comments, you're missing out on the expressions of other women like me.  Don't worry--I screen all the comments before they ever appear to the public, so there will never be anything hateful there.

I've known what I wanted to post all week this week; I don't know why it's taken me so long to post it.  A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with appendix cancer that has metastasized, claiming one ovary among other things.  This week, I simply want to boost the signal for the blog she's started to share her experiences.  It may not be relevant to any of you, but like this blog, it might be a relief for anyone going through it or something similar.

Cancer will touch us all eventually.  For me, it used to be something far away that claimed this person or that person so long ago that I could hardly remember it.  It's been touching my life quite a bit lately, to the point where it's sometimes all I can think about.  But when the strong reactionary emotions fade, you still have to face it and find a way to deal, like everything else that happens in life.  This is how she's dealing.  In that way, our blogs are quite similar indeed.

March 20, 2012


Girls, I am sick again.  Unexpected downside to working with kids, I guess.  Viruses come and go through that place like its a hotel.  So, as a combined break for my throbbing head and the granting of a request, I'm going to use this week's post to share some beardy pictures.  Of my beard.

The only successful photos I have are from before I started treatment and after I finally decided what treatment to go with, so I really don't think they're the best example of how the various meds have worked on me.  But if they're at all helpful to you, Anonymous, or any other readers who haven't asked, I will be happy. 

These are from November 2009, before my first visit to the endocrinologist.  I believe I had just been sick in bed for a week or so, so the hair on my face is quite a bit longer (and much of the acne and irritation caused by shaving is absent).  You may have seen the first one on tumblr.  Click for large size:

Below are the only other photos where you can actually see the facial hair, and they're from January 2012, just after my most recent endo appointment.  I'd been on Spiro since the first photos were taken (with a brief break on Finasteride), and on Spiro with Diane-35 for 6 months.  This is about two days growth, which I was able to cultivate thanks to a brief break before starting my new job:

You can see the beard has really thinned out, especially on the sides of the face and under the jaw.  I mean, look, the neck-beard is almost gone!  But there's still plenty on the chin which is why I still complain about shaving every day.  Your results might be different if you try this treatment--they could be disappointing, or they could be even more satisfying.  My endo says its rare for Spiro to completely clear up facial hair, especially if your hirsutism was as severe as mine (or worse), but you won't know for sure until you try, right?

For those of you just joining us, I usually post photos of how the different meds worked on my stomach hair.  If you want to see those, try any of the tags below, like "medical" or "spiro."

March 15, 2012

I'm Alive!

I promise I'm still here, I've just had a hectic and extremely distracting few weeks, and foolishly have not built up a buffer of easy topics to write about.  It's been mostly good things that have been running me ragged and letting me sleep after midnight every night.  ;)

For now, please keep enjoying my furry tumblr, but don't forget, nudity will pop up now and again!

March 2, 2012

Unrelated - Gynaecologist

Why are all my referrals to parts of the city I never drive in?  Stress upon stress!

But it feels so good when it’s over.  I didn’t know what to expect from this consultation, what they’d found on the latest ultrasound, and even if they’d be able to speak to my concerns about the severe pain I sometimes got in my lower abdomen.  I really hadn’t had any full-blown attacks since that one in August 2010, the one that spurred me to tell the endo that being on Spiro by itself might be making the attacks more frequent.  It had been a year and a half since the last bout.  Were they going to laugh at me for asking them to explain exactly what is on my ovary and what it means for me, and shoo me out of the office for wasting their time?  Was the pain going to be completely unrelated to the cyst they found in the ultrasound and I’d be back at square one?  Was I going to get intimidated and forget everything I wanted to say?  I’d gone so long without knowing, too scared to find out what it was.

I waited for half an hour in the examination room, the ominous bed with stirrups, two stainless steel kidney-shaped bowls and a tube of lubricant for company (none of them ended up applying to me, since being a virgin they can’t do the physical exam).  So I reviewed the list I’d spent the last couple of evenings compiling, with records of every episode of that particular abdominal pain, the ultrasounds, and medications I was on at the time, as well as compiling a list of questions to ask (for which the Mayo Clinic website was helpful). 

They’d told me a resident would be coming in first, and I liked her right away.  She was very sympathetic, paid close attention to what I told her and took lots of notes.  I was glad I had prepared so diligently the last few nights, because it made me more aware of the key things to tell her so I didn’t rely on her promptings to share all my observations.  She happily explained exactly what kind of cyst I had--which is a simple cyst caused by an egg-bearing follicle failing to reabsorb into the ovary.  It’s filled with fluid, which is a good sign its benign, and apparently this kind is very common in women; most don’t know they have them, as they do eventually reabsorb without pain.  Sometimes, as it seems to be in my case, they rupture, causing that severe but  fairly brief pain I have been experiencing at random.  My latest ultrasound showed that this one on my right ovary is still stable, and in fact possibly shrinking a little bit.  And the fact that I haven’t had any full-blown attacks of pain since starting birth control proves that the medications I’m on right now are controlling the problem, since my ovaries are not being told to release eggs.

The thought of cysts bursting and draining fluid into my abdominal cavity causing irritation and pain was not too encouraging, but I was told this is generally not a danger with small fluid-filled cysts.  The real danger is when the cysts get larger (2 or 3 times the size of mine) and can shift things around in your abdomen.  Really all that can be done for me is to wait and see--if I elected to have surgery to remove it, I could lose the ovary.  It is stable, and will likely reabsorb in six months to a year or so.  If this cyst bursts, all they can really do is give me a stronger pain killer to ride out the painful bit.  It was definitely reassuring to hear that other women have described this as some of the worst pain they’ve ever experienced.  And it’s gone pretty quickly.

She explained this all to me so clearly and patiently, I wanted to cry.  If only I could have had this answer years ago when I first told my family doctor.  After the resident made her diagnosis, she took it out to the gynaecologist, and who then came in to meet me and agreed with her conclusion.  She was just as sweet as the resident, and neither of them made me feel like my problem was trivial.  The OBGYN even gave me a lab requisition so that I could check the progress of the cyst in six months for my own peace of mind.  I felt grateful tears in my eyes.  A simple “thank you” was all I could give.  My second most troubling health concern (under hirsutism) has an explanation. 

Because the medications I’ve been taking for the hirsutism were relevant to the symptoms of pain I was experiencing, I did talk to the resident a bit about that part of my life.  I was impressed with how knowledgable she was about it.  Because hair growth is always a hormone problem and not always caused by the ovaries, I preferred going to an endocrinologist and never expected an OBGYN to be as familiar with all the tests and medications.  But I have to say I wouldn’t have had any qualms with that office treating my hirsutism if it had worked out that way.  I was just so pleased.  (She also said she could see no indications of hirsutism on me.  Thank you, Spiro and Cover Girl!)