Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pills, No Thrills

I stopped taking the Valtrex a long time ago. I've been meaning to write about it for ages, but with one thing and another, just haven't.

The main reason I was taking them is because the cold sores were fucking up my kissing. But then I wasn't kissing. I thought about going off them, and decided that I enjoyed the comfort of not worrying about cold sores too much.

And then Shelley went to the doctor, and though Shelley is on a different kind of antiviral than I was, her doctor reeled off a list of reasons that one shouldn't stay on antivirals unless one has to. And Shelley reeled them off to me.

Liver damage is not something you want to fuck with. I mean, obviously I'll fuck with it if it's getting in the way of my kissing, but I will not fuck with it for general peace of mind. So I stopped.

Seems I missed taking pills that are going to do me low level damage. And got burned for my trouble today.

I've probably mentioned that I have a skin condition called rosacea. It's a vascular thingy. Something will happen - a trigger, in rosacea-speak - and my face will react by getting red. And staying red. And, if the triggers are strong enough or prolonged enough, like, say weeks of crying jags and emotional stress and beer drinking and not eating as much good stuff as is normal, my face will also develop areas of red bumps called pastules that look kind of like zits but aren't.

Those patches feel like the desert, hot and dry and grainy and tight. Well, I don't know if the desert feels tight, but I figure that it must, since we have so much else in common.

By early February, my skin was awful. Awful enough that my co-workers commented on it - though they just said things like "You're looking tired." "You're looking a little flushed." etc. etc. And my face ached all the time. This is a strange feeling.

I turned to the internet, which is full of helpful advice like "don't exercise! take cold showers! don't eat tomatoes or spinach or strawberries or cheese or chocolate! no hot (temperature) food! no hot (spicy) food! don't put anything on your face! but don't go out in the sun without a high SPF sunblock on! take vitamin b! don't take vitamin b! take fish oil! no, take evening primrose oil!" etc. etc. It's incredibly confusing.

Looking for the quick fix, I went to my doctor. Fuck the vitamins, fuck the no cheese, no wheat, no booze no fun delicate flower diet, and fuck $25 cleansers. I wanted laser therapy. Six or so treatments has cleared a lot of people up.

Just not the people who's main problem is pastules. No laser therapy for me. Instead, she suggested tetracycline, an antibiotic that has anti-inflammatory properties at very low doses and has been a successful treatment for rosacea and acne for years. Decades.

I didn't want to take them. Yeast infections, I said. Three months of pills, I said. Then thought of how uncomfortable my face had been, how frustrated I was with not being able to figure out what worked and what didn't. Okay, I said.

It's been about a month now. I've seen a huge difference - my face doesn't burn all the time, and the desert dry patches of pastules are mainly gone - but I think that's more to so with less crying and switching cleansers and switching my topical medication from MetroGel (very drying) to MetroLotion (not so drying).

One of the side effects my doctor told me about that tetracycline can make you photosensitive. When she said this, it was early February. I wasn't entirely convinced the sun was ever again going to shine brightly enough for photosensitivity to be an issue. So I went out and bought 45 SPF sunblock and promptly forgot about using it.

Today I had a lovely jaunt out to Hintonburg. The sky was high, late winter blue, people were chopping runnels in the ice to guide the water to the sewer grates, the sun was shining.

When I got home and felt the familiar burn, I felt let down and frustrated, as I
always do. I went into the bathroom to look at my face and moan, as I always do.

The first thing I noticed when I walked into the bathroom was the sunscreen. Which I had not put on before the 25 minute walk to Holland and back in the early afternoon winter-blaze of a sun. Taking stock of my face once more, I realized I was not feeling the dry burn of rosacea, but the tingly burn of too much light.

I was relieved. One, at least I know they're working on some level. And two, by a much better mechanism than an overgrowth of yeast .

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