I spent the entire day at work today willing all the fluids in my congested face not to leak out of my eyes and nose.  It is quite a feat to maintain a semi-dignified, professional-teacher facade when a parent asks you a serious question about their child and all you can think about is how desperately you want to sneeze cold germs everywhere while your left eye pours tears.  Needless to say, I should have stayed home today, but I didn’t, because I have poor judgment.

Anyway, I came home and sat down on the couch with some episodes of “Paranormal Witness” and a roll of toilet paper (as I ran out of real people tissues) and spent some quality time letting the congestion ooze its nasty way out of my body.  About an hour ago, I thought maybe a hot, hot shower would help.  It wasn’t until I looked down at my naked body in the shower that I realized my skin was rotting like I was suffering from a horror movie curse (read: I could see nearly all veins in my body and it freaked me out because that’s something called “marbling” that your veins do when you die and the blood inside them rots – thank you, forensic anthropology graduate program!).  Now, I realize I am notoriously transluscent.  However, I have never in all my life seen the veins in my arms like this:

How do I know I’m not hallucinating this?  1) I spend about 60 minutes total per day staring at that cyst on my forearm, daydreaming about cutting it out because it is super disgusting, and I have never seen those veins; 2) despite drinking gallons of water before every blood test I’ve ever had, my arms are always milky white and vein-free pre-needling, making it hugely unpleasant for me to get my blood drawn.  This is new and it is bizarre.  It is also all over my body.

My hip:

So flattering!

My upper arm:

I have one more ClearBlue Digital test and I think I’ll take it in the morning, because I’m a glutton for punishment and because this vein thing can be a pregnancy symptom.

In other skin issues news, here are my before/after Accutane photos.  These two “before” photos are legitimately the only photos of myself without makeup or creative lighting that exist from that time in my life.  Now that I’m on the other side, that makes me little disappointed, because I think it would have been really helpful for me to have taken photos throughout all the phases of this process, for comparison and also to use in helping other people understand that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  These two are fairly good representations of what my skin looked like from ages 14 to 20, though, so I suppose if I must only have two, they are the best two to have.  Also, I had acne on my back as well, but have zero photos of that, mostly because that would have required asking someone else to take them and allowing them to see me.  Suffice to say, it was essentially Chest Part Deux.

These photos were taken in August 2006, when I was 19.  I was on a family vacation to South Carolina (en route to Florida for a Caribbean cruise – word to the wise: an August tour of the South followed by a bikini cruise is probably the worst thing imaginable for a teenager with frizzy hair and terrible skin).  Annnnyway, South Carolina hotel room, 2006:

I almost feel like I’m looking at a stranger in these photos and not just because this isn’t my reality anymore.  There is such sadness in that girl’s face and it makes me so sad that I spent so much of my formative years feeling that way whenever I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror (or in a window or any other reflective surface).  I spent six years of my life completely divorced from my chest and back – those parts of my body could have not existed at all for all I cared.  I would have probably done the same thing with my face, had I been able to get away with just covering it with a T-shirt every day for all of high school.

I’m bringing this up here, on this blog about the insanity of me trying to conceive a child, because this past informs how I feel about myself now, no matter how far I think I’ve come from that 19-year-old in misery in a hotel bathroom.  I feel terrible about this,

Post-shower tonight, cystic pimple and stubborn nostril dry patch in full force.

as mild as it may seem to other people, because it makes me feel like August 2006 is right about the corner again.  I do not have a normal relationship with break outs/my skin and I probably never will.

For comparison, this is me, sans face makeup (which I refuse to wear at all these days – I am still haunted by slapping that crap on by the ton), this past July.

This is what I’ve looked like for the past six years, give or take some rough months due to birth control issues or you know, ovulation drugs.  As a teenager struggling with this beastly thing that was out of my control, I never could have imagined that I could wear backless dresses or V-necks or swear off concealer.  Ever.  I never thought I would be able to swim or run or even, God forbid, touch my face without feeling self-conscious and hyper aware.  Accutane was six months of really hellish experiences (facial skin peeling off in sheets and breaking out, eyes so dry I couldn’t wear contacts, eyes so sensitive I kept getting styes and was unable to wear eye makeup, lips so dry I would crack them open and cause them to bleed simply by smiling, etc.), but it absolutely changed my life.

My only regret is that I didn’t take it sooner.  Had I known I would still be working through the effects acne had on my psyche a full six years after I got rid of it, I probably would have fought harder to get rid of it (for good) sooner.