Sunday, May 8, 2011


I get that it is Mother's Day. And I get that I should probably be writing about how great a day it was and that my children were angels and how incredible every single second of motherhood is. I get that. But you know what, I hate to break it to anyone who isn't a mother yet (because if you are a mother, you already know this) ain't always rose petals and pretty background music and sunshine. Sometimes it is just hard and frustrating and thankless. So when Natalie huffed and slung my Mother's Day card at me, birds were not chirping. I was more 'angry bird' at that point and that is the truth of it all. Seriously, who SLINGS a Mother's Day card!? But I felt like writing tonight and wasn't going to let the fact that it was Mother's Day get in my way. I have had this subject on my mind lately, for whatever reason, so I am going to write about it.

Have you ever heard of Accutane? It's that medicine that is mostly used for very severe acne. It also became famous for suicidal side effects, mostly in teenagers, the target patient of Accutane, one would guess.

Well, I took it once, but not for acne. I had roseacea, which is when you have a very red face, mostly across your nose and cheeks. After a hundred, "Wow, you sure got sunburned!" comments I decided to find out what was really going on with my face. The dermatologist took one look at me and declared I has roseacea. We tried multiple rounds of tetracycline which didn't help and then we pulled out the big gun, Accutane! I didn't realize what I was in for. Accutane shuts down the oil production in your body. Now, on the surface, this sounds pretty harmless. Trust me, you don't have a clue what grease can do for you until you don't have any!

The first thing that started happening was my skin started to crack. Under each fingernail, I started getting cracks. Then my ears, where they attached to my head, started to crack. Then my lips started to peel. I mean PEEL, like...OFF. As in one huge piece. As in I could hand you my lips! I remember being on a business trip and standing in the bathroom at the hotel HOLDING MY LIPS IN MY HAND. And the lips still on my face were raw and burning like fire. And then this started happening every second day for a few weeks. It got intense, to say the least.

And then I got sticky. I couldn't pet the cats without yanking out handfuls of fur. And then I'd have to wash my hands to get it off. I couldn't put pieces of paper down. I simply couldn't turn them loose. I had to have someone take them from me. I couldn't cross my bare arms or legs without getting fused to myself. Oil is a lubricant, folks! When you don't have any you stick to everything, including yourself. I would have to slowly peel my arms and legs apart or my skin would rip. I still have scars from cat scratches during that time. I guess you don't heal well without oil.

But the strangest part of having no oil production is the way I perceived smells. Quite simply, humans stink. I never realized that until then. I don't guess you would ever know that sort of thing unless you were in my situation. People smell like grease balls, and it is not pleasant! Robbie made the bed up one night and unknowingly switched our pillows. I really insulted him when I gagged at the smell of his pillow. It was amazing the difference it made to not be amongst the greasy population. I had to leave a meeting once when a lady with greasy hair sat down next to me. I couldn't stand being near her! Even just entering a room full of people overwhelmed me.

Thankfully, I was only in the sticky, peely, stinky phase for a few weeks. Then I was able to slowly decrease my dose and return to the land of oily and self stinky. You would think you'd want to remain in the non-stinky category, but life would be very difficult that way. The old saying is true in this case, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em".

And the doctor was right about the Accutane. It cured my roseacea. And it gave me lasting insights into how important oil production by our bodies really is. Who'd of thunk it, eh?