Goop.

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For most of my adult life, I’ve had a serious problem with my face. No, I am not talking about finding it aesthetically unpleasing (obnoxiously, I have never thought of the structure of my face as ugly – haterz gonna…something), but my skin has always been a mess: blotchy, flaky (even in the sweaty days of summer), and irritated a lot of the time. I do not wear makeup on my face because a) I am lazy and b) I am not that interested in seeking out products that won’t irritate my face more.

There are moisturisers that help (Aveeno’s Eczema Care is my potion of choice lately), but not enough. I still look like I’ve dived into panko around midday, particularly around my mouth, and I’m breaking out with giant, Vesuvian-style zits far more frequently because heavy moisturisers clog my already-easily clogged pores terribly. (Light ones do fuck-all. I can literally feel them not working as I put them on. Also, I have milia around my eyes. Basically, if something can get into a hole in my face, it will. Oh, wait, no…)

Exfoliating with anything stronger than a facecloth is extremely unpleasant. I mean, sloughing dead skin can feel luxuriant (lava stone on heel blissssss), but this sure does not.

Sometimes I don’t drink enough non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages. I’ve been endeavouring to change that in the last few weeks, by switching to herbal teas and water for much of my work day, but it’s not enough. (Also, I pee more often than a neurotic (is there any other kind?) Pug at a Rottweiler convention.)

I failed at gluten-free Heathen Lent this year (the day of the flood, I said ‘fuck this shit, I’m having a bagel’ and haven’t looked back) and am not convinced of having a wheat problem, but, at the same time, I have to consider that at least some of my skin problems might be related to what I’m eating.

And I hate that. I really don’t want to monitor my eating, because, in the past, that has led to madness, but at the same time, I also don’t want my face to fall off, nor do I enjoy itching and burning. (Maybe I should Prep-H my face, eh?)

So, while I wait for a very long time for a referral appointment with a dermatologist (there is a dearth of them in this town, apparently), I am contemplating trying an elimination diet (agh, I hate that word) to try to pinpoint a culprit.

Why not just get an allergy test? Well, I did one, a few years ago, but I didn’t like the clinic, and the testing didn’t actually come up with much of anything (I was left for an hour, rather than 20-30 minutes, with the needle scratches before anyone tested them, so swelling had already gone down on a couple of spots), even though I know I get tiny, angry face welts from tomatoes, many berries, peppers, and, sniff, sometimes red wine.

Of course, like a fool, I consume these things anyway, because, duh, delicious. But maybe I shouldn’t do that for a while and see if I see overall improvement.

Which makes me sound like the much-maligned Gwyneth, doesn’t it? Dammit. Ah well, I’m not walking into quacky clinics to spend my entire life savingsremaining credit, so that’s something.

I’m not starting this imminently, or even definitely, but only potentially. I apologise in advance for any resultant crankiness. And if anyone in Ottawa can direct me to a non-crackpot medical person who can help me in this endeavour, that would be great.

Flood non-update:
Our upstairs sink is usable, our flooring is ordered, and I still have a shitload of stuff to do because I am too tired at the end of a work day to do much of anything. Also, I’m discouraged because the last few boxes are mostly made up of things that don’t have a home (our tea shelf hasn’t been picked back up), so we can’t do anything with them.

So, yeah, that.

2 thoughts on “Goop.

  1. Sara Patrin

    Oh, skin stuff, so maddening! I empathize with your plight–I too have the dry in some areas, breakouty in others skin. I can’t really see you in person to get a sense about what the rest of your picture is, but I will tell you what I have noticed with my own unhappy skin as of late:

    My skin has always been somewhat troubled–dry, oily, breakouty, eczema, worse in the winter, worse in the summer–the whole deal. I’ve often had bigger fish to fry with my health stuff so it’s taken a back seat but lately I’ve been thinking about really getting down to business and sorting it out. I also decided after some unfortunate lab results to spend a month doing some really serious eating well. So here’s what I ate: meats of all kinds, but not any cured with sugars; any kind of veggies except white potatoes; any fruit I wanted; cheeses and yogurts; and fermented foods like some raw sauerkraut or creme fraiche. For that time, I didn’t eat any flours, sugars, or grains. It was tough but I managed it by making the time period relatively short–almost a detox, rather than a long-term eating regimen (gods, I hate that word–diet!). I reckoned that this would allow me to clear out some of the sugary, carby habits I’d become almost addicted to and once that happened, I’d be able to make more sane, confident choices from a wider array of foods.

    The unexpected byproduct of that is that my skin started to clear up. I didn’t notice it at first but now, after eating some grains and sugars after a recent surgery and seeing the breakouts/dryness flare up again, I’m seeing that the grains/flours/sugars really weren’t doing my skin any favors.

    I go back on to a more clean (whatever that means) eating plan on Monday–it will be basically what I described above along with the addition of maple syrup and honey as sweeteners, very minimal grains like quinoa and farro, minimal white potatoes, and occasional properly fermented sourdough. I am interested to see what the result will be with my skin. Overall, I’m working toward being able to eat in a largely whole foods, body-supporting way without getting zapped by things like “good”/”bad” or feeling like I can’t partake of things I enjoy in social settings. I don’t know if that helps you at all but I’m happy to talk about it more if you want. I like food. I like eating. But I also like comfortable, happy skin.

    The other thing, of course, that I’m thinking is that it may help you to have the support of complementary medicine in clearing your skin–acupuncture, naturopathy, herbs, and homeopathy have all helped people in this area. I will say that finding the right practitioner for you is a lot like finding the right therapist or hair stylist–it can take time and several tries to find the right person so don’t give up or think that “all X” is some certain way just because some certain practitioner practices in a certain way that doesn’t match for you. I have a couple of Canadian contacts in acupuncture so if you’d like to go that way, ping me privately and I’ll reach out and see if we can’t find someone to suit you.

    I’d also recommend some reading about eating, etc. It’s totally a vile can of worms to sort through the stuff that works for you from the bullshit but it’s useful to have some sense of the running theories about what to eat, etc. You’ve got a lot on your plate at the moment so maybe stashing this part away until you’re feeling less occupied with the house stuff is a good idea. If you want book recs at some point, I can send you some of those–I have some favorites, but am happy to say which parts I find useful and which parts I find to be, well, less.

    Lastly, I wanted to say that when I read your post, it landed for me as a bit discouraged and like you’re kind of overwhelmed and I just wanted to say that you’re doing great–don’t beat yourself up too much about what you have and haven’t been able to do just yet. You’ll get there and it’s really enough to just do what you can do.

    • megan

      Thank you for all this!

      I have read a lot about food already (including some truly scammy ‘ultimate health’ books that were basically 300-page ads for supplements, actual dieting books, The China Study, and information and locavorism, whole foods, and all sorts), so I’m not going into this blind. But I also am very uncomfortable with nitpicking how anyone, including me, eats (unless they are doing something dangerous like Master Cleanse).

      I eat pretty well, not 100% ‘clean’, but varied, balanced, etc., and unrestricted. I’m not a big binger on sugary things, or even carby things, anymore – I just don’t have the taste for it, because I know eating a pile of cookies, drinking a giant sugary froufy coffee, etc. will lead to feeling terrible. Even in the ‘fuck it, I’m having a bagel’ scenario I mentioned, I had one, not three, and a big part of the motivation was that the toaster was one of the only food tools available to me while much of my kitchen was under water. That’s not to say I won’t have an extra glass of wine, or slice of pizza, from time to time, but it’s not a regular occurrence.

      And most of the time I feel great, or, at the very least, fine. Sometimes, I do not, and most of the time I can figure out why (for example, I am so olde that I know caffeine and sugar are not a good idea after 7pm, and I know that having an apple, a handful of almonds, and a cup of coffee is almost an ideal late afternoon worksnack). My skin, however, is still mysterious. I have suspicions (my angrier skin comes at a time of great stress and increased, but not crazy, cheese consumption), but I need a more organized, standardized way to assess what’s up. Once my finances recover, I might be able to afford professional assistance. In the meantime, I would welcome book and website recommendations. (Please and thank you!)

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