Tuesday, April 9, 2013

As we approach summer ....

or at least we hope we're approaching spring and summer - it's been a looong winter....

Just a reminder to everyone out there to use sunscreen - everyday!

I've been experimenting with a few but don't want to advertise any of them here.

I seem to be hearing more and more in the media that, aside from concerns about skin cancer,  if you want to look younger longer, wear sunscreen everyday - even on days when it's cloudy.

I won't rant and rave about the poor choices we as Canadians have (loaded with oxybenzone) because the good stuff is very expensive and truth be told, I think that even a sunscreen with oxybenzone in it is better than nothing.

Over the past 9 months or so, I've had several more spots blasted with liquid nitrogen to remove them before they get a chance to turn cancerous. The good thing is that I can recognize some of them now and get on them right away.  This of course wasn't the best news, especially after going through the Efudex treatment but my Dr. said that because skin damage is cumulative, it can take months or years for existing damage to become noticeable to the naked eye.

I suspect another round of Efudex is in my future, but I'll deal with it when the time comes.

The good thing is that I was recently told by a Dr. who deals with skin everyday that she never would have guessed I was 50. Thanks Efudex! ;-)

Final note for today: if you have access to preventative health care and or insurance, especially if you are fair skinned or have plenty of moles - ask your Dr. to refer to you a Dermatologist that can do a skin map to keep an eye on areas of concern, and/or nip things in the bud. Skin cancer and pre-cancers are very treatable if caught early. The sooner the better, with less invasive methods of treatment involved.










Saturday, October 6, 2012

Shaving while using Efudex


Shaving

Several men have written and asked about shaving while undergoing treatment. 

I usually shave in the shower anyway as I find I get the closest shave that way and I use nothing less than a triple-headed disposable razor. 

I continued this during treatment and didn't have many issues other than my chin area as it was VERY sore. I found that the razor helped with exfoliation of dead skin cells. You may have to play around with different shave creams/gels as some of them can sting. Foam seemed to be less irritating than gels for me.

Not shaving was not an option, as I needed to get to the skin surface with the Efudex for it to work.

Forget about steamy, hot showers. At times, any water against your skin may hurt like crazy.

I found that Dove Body Moisture Wash (Body Shampoo) was mild enough and thick enough to use for shaving in the shower. 

Noxema, which I use occasionally - stung like crazy. I couldn't use it.

It may take a while, but it's possible, and if you're like me, feeling better about how you look really affects how you feel overall. 

The important factor with shaving is to TAKE YOUR TIME. Small strokes, lots of rinsing. 

This also has the plus factor of reducing the amount of peeling you do during the day, as you may be shaving off chunks of dried, but now waterlogged, dead skin.

You may reach a point during your treatment where you step out of the shower and be shocked at the visage staring you back in the mirror. Thick, grey, waterlogged, dead skin.

This is mentioned elsewhere here, but I would use the time in the shower to GENTLY pat and rub as much excess skin off as I could. I hate to use the word "rub" but using your fingertips in small, gentle, circular motions. Trust me, it'll hurt if you're being too aggressive!

If there was ANY resistance to the skin coming off, I let it be. You don't want to remove skin that isn't really ready to come off with a little bit of help. One day of overdoing it and you'll know what I mean.

The thickness of the skin that would come off was disturbing but exfoliating in the shower made me look better and gave the cream a new surface to work on, rather than sitting on top of already dead skin.

Alternatively, if you have an electric razor, you could go that route, but I'd definitely give the "pre-shave" lotion a miss. 

Be aware of this...
This will probably occur whether you're shaving or not, but -
You will probably notice that within a few minutes after getting out of the shower that your skin will become very tight, dry and painful. As I got further along in treatment, I couldn't wait to get something on my skin, even if it was Efudex...so I'd do the Efudex, which would "loosen" things up. I'd then wait 2 hours (or more if I could) and then lightly coat things with Aquaphor, which helped immensely.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

First time here?


You may find it easier reading about the treatment in chronological order from the beginning. There's a link to the right called "Treatment Journal from the Beginning".
(For some reason, I can't get Blogger to list entries in any order other than latest being first)


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Follow-up - 3 months after treatment finished

I went for my follow-up appointment with the dermatologist yesterday.

Every time I see him (his clinic is at a hospital) he's with an intern or Doctor in training as I see the other person first and rehash history AGAIN (which is all written in the file in front of them) and then He comes in. It's always been a different Intern/student.

I told the intern to please listen to something I had to say... and to remember it:

"If you ever have to prescribe this stuff to a patient, please, I beg you... listen to their concerns and prescribe them something for pain in case they need it, as well as something to help them sleep, I feel like I was left out there hanging and ended up taking drugs that weren't specifically prescribed to me for this condition".

"Like Tylenol 3?" He asked.

"No - like oxies left over from a back injury". He seemed surprised.

I showed him a photo taken during treatment and all he could say was "wow".

"Now you know why I was taking oxies".

So then the Dr. came in and said that I'd hit a "home run", that he couldn't see any spots that needed further attention at the moment, and to come back in 4 months.

The red patches that deepen every morning when I put sunscreen on my face will apparently fade over time. He didn't give a timeframe.... it's been 3.5 months now but I've discovered a tinted moisturizer with SPF20 in it that helps blend everything together on days when I don't want to look quite as patchy.

If you've been following from the beginning, you probably know I'm not particularly pleased with this Dr, so I have an appointment with another one in May, where I'm hoping I'm not just someone in and out of the office like a revolving door. Where you can ask questions without being given the impression that you are taking up their time, which is of course, MUCH more valuable than your time. Or if you're going through treatment you can actually speak to a human over the phone.

I've got 4 months before I see my guy again. Perhaps I'll write a letter and just give it to him and ask him to read it. That way I can make sure that he knows exactly how he could improve his practice. It's not like he's going to be less busy than he is already.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Week 7 - Week 3 of Healing

Sorry, I haven't forgotten to post. I've just been busy catching up with everything I never had the energy/inclination to do for the past 7 weeks. Okay I lie... it's mostly been trying to get technology to work. Phones/arguing with telecom companies/Internet connections, and computers.

My face is still pinkish in places, but it is fading. I occasionally get a twinge of itch but overall I'm looking much more presentable than I was during the thick of it. I'll try to get a photo out in the next day or so. I'm sleeping MUCH better, but I think that's partially because it gets dark at 4pm.

I've been searching for cannabis oil, but it's not as easy to find as you'd think. I keep getting numerous cannabis oil recommendations from people trying to be helpful. Lurking in the medical marijuana places "looking to score" has been unsuccessful. Talk about feeling out of your element! One place suggested I get my Dr. to sign a form that would allow me access to marijuana for medicinal purposes. There are several hiccups with that. My current GP wouldn't do it, my dermo certainly wouldn't, I'm trying to replace both of them and besides which, I want oil, nothing to smoke.

For other efudex users out there, it does get better and if there's one good thing I can say about the whole experience it's that by the time its over, you're so tired and worn down that the month or so that you used it will seem very foggy and you won't remember much. Of course, that could be just age creeping up on me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 39 - Healing Day 9

Okay, I'm not sure whether this is healing day 9 or 10. I seem to be a day off somewhere.

Either way, today is the first day where I'm not in any pain, though I was still flaking like a snowsquall this morning. The itching hasn't been too bad either. Mind you, as I've mentioned before, it seems to get worse in the evenings. Fingers crossed it doesn't tonight!

I didn't have to use any Aquaphor today, which is good because it really does block your pores. I used some calendula cream that I got from the homeopath. Today is the first day that I've been able to use it without it stinging.

Most of the feeling in my chin has come back and my forehead isn't feeling nearly as tight either. My face is still pretty light red/pink but it looks like I've just had a reaction to something or perhaps a bit too much sun (no comment). What a difference 6 days makes!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 37 - Healing Day 7

I woke up this morning with a forehead many Hollywood-types would be jealous of. Well, except for the red color and dry skin flaking off that is. There was not a wrinkle on it. It was very painful to move and my chin remains very tight unless lubricated with Aquaphor. So much that it's hard to move my mouth to even speak. The skin is not coming off in chunks anymore, but in annoyingly small pieces that are hard to get off. Very itchy too.

The center of my forehead and my chin are still somewhat numb, leading me to think that there is still considerable peeling to happen in those two particular spots.

Two different people this past weekend suggested Cannabis oil would have been a much better way to do this than the Efudex, making about 4 people this week that mentioned it. That video sure gets around. I first heard about cannabis oil about a week before starting treatment. I asked around and no one seemed able to get me any. At the time I chalked it up to some of the other alternative therapies everyone and their uncle seemed to be putting forward. Perhaps I'll put some feelers out again.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 35 - Healing Day 5

It's quite interesting so see how fast some of the red is fading. People are commenting that I look better than I did yesterday.

I suppose thats good. I don't necessarily see it, but showers are somewhat less painful, and sleep is becoming easier to get.

I'm still using the Aquaphor to not only combat dry skin, but to relieve the pain that comes with the extremely tight feeling I have across my forehead and chin.