26 June 2012

Adventures on Accutane (Isotretinoin)


Are you grossed out yet?

I have had problems with acne for a very long time. I have tried many different types of treatment: a rigorous skin care regimen, Proactiv, topical prescribed treatments, oral antibiotics, chemical skin peels. None of them were very effective because I have a stupid different type of acne called nodular acne. I think it's also sometimes referred to as cystic acne. This acne is stubborn and doesn't react as well to those aforementioned treatments. This acne also is very, very painful, under the skin (so you can't pop it like normal zits), and it just sucks. For something so hardcore, a hardcore treatment is needed.

Enter: Accutane.

Well, I'm not on Accutane. I'm on Amnesteem because it is the generic and waaaay more affordable.
Anywho, when I was a sophomore in high school, I was tired, fed-up, and embarrassed about my terrible skin condition (imagine have a huge pimple of the very end of your nose that could have a zip code of its own and hearing people call it Vesuvius. Seriously. It was huge). I asked my dermatologist about Accutane. He was rather reluctant and wanted to try every possible avenue before Accutane because the side-effects for Accutane are rather severe. So we tried another few treatments. They didn't work.

So I started.

Before you start taking Accutane, you must take a blood test to make sure your liver and lipid levels are okay (oh, a dislcaimer: I'm not a doctor so I don't speak medical. If you are smart in the area of medicine, please correct me so I can fix my mistakes). Blood tested. Begin treatment.

1 40mg pill/day for 30 days.

Before they upped the dose, they wanted to check my cholesterol.  It was off the charts. Oh well. I hope my liver doesn't die.

1 40mg pill/day alternating with two pills/day for 60 days.

Cholesterol check again. It had pretty much plateaued. Although the elevation of said plateau was very high.
2 40mg pills/day for 60 days.


The results were amazing. There were months that I didn't have one new blemish. It was a good confidence boost about my self image and I felt that the side effects were worth it.

Senior year, two years after Accutane:

Break out city on my face/shoulders. Nast-o.

Back to the dermatologist.

Accutane. Round two:

Same as above.

I go on a mission for two years. I get the occasional pimples, but I don't remember it being terrible.

I come home. Gradually, the nasty acne comes back in greater quantity.

Back to the dermatologist.

Accutane. Round three:

1 40mg pill/day for 30 days.

Blood test! Cholesterol is high again. Oh well. I'd better eat more Cheerios.

1 40mg pill/day alternating with two pills/day for... still on this one. We'll see where it goes.

Accutane for women is a bigger deal for men. Serious birth defects are one of the side effects so women need to use two types of birth control (the pill + contraceptive/abstinence/I'm not well versed in more than that) and do other rigorous follow up visits. So let's talk other side-effects.You know, ones that are effecting me.

Dry skin. To combat this, I started showering only every other day, using a moisturizing body wash, anti-dandruff shampoo, and intensive healing lotion. Everywhere. Especially around my mouth, forearms/elbows, and hands.

Dry lips. If I don't apply chapstick frequently, my lips will start peeling and crack.

Thin skin. I'm much more susceptible to cuts, scrapes, and sunburn. Not 10 minutes ago I got a small abrasion from rubbing my arm a little hard on the computer desk. I now apply sunscreen like a madman whenever I go out. To prevent major burnage on my torso, I wear a rash guard shirt when I go swimming.

Joint aches. There's nothing I can really do about that. I know that there are joint health supplements that are available, but I don't have any. Maybe that would be a good investment.

Nose bleeds. It just gets really dry, cracks, and bleeds. The dry, windy southern Utah weather doesn't help. I now have a cool moisture humidifier in my room. That 8 hours of sleep time with it really helps my nose. On days that my nostrils are are cracky and bleedy, I stick my finger in a tub of petroleum jelly and then in my nostrils. Sounds gross. But it's effective.

High cholesterol. It'll go down when I'm done with Accutane.

Another side-effect is depression. I don't think that I have been effected by that. Although, I have been super fatigued. Maybe that's how my body get's depressed.

So that's what's up with me and my skin (because I know how curious you all were to know about it). I'm in my third month and I've already received many compliments about how nice my skin looks. It's working.

This is the symbol found on every pill. It kind of makes me laugh.

23 June 2012

Things I Learned After Living in Salem, Utah

  • The Berrett family is one of the nicest families I know.
  • If I'm not driving in the car, I'm asleep (this was not something I learned. It was just reinforced). Thanks Mr. Ganowsky for driving pretty much the whole way while I slept. 
  • Cache Valley is the most beautiful valley in Utah. If you want to argue, bring it. 
  • Utah State University's campus is gorgeous! 
  • Networking is easier to do if you have business cards. I don't have a business so I probably would have had "social networking" cards. Maybe I'll do that next time. 
  • Sometimes friends get married while you're away (e.g. serving a mission for two years) and you may be a little weary to meet the new spouse. Such was the case with my friend Lauren. She married Tony. However, my weariness was in vain. He's great. I stayed at their apartment while I was in Logan. Great people. 
  • Take a camera on every trip that you go. I didn't take mine and I regret it. A lot. Here are some things that I would have taken a picture of: 
Old Main at USU. Photo source.
The Logan Temple (which was a short walk away from Tony and Lauren's) and the beautiful Cache Valley. Photo source.
Nicole G. She was a sister missionary from my mission. We had dinner and went to a concert. It was a lovely evening. Photo courtesy of Nicole's Facebook.
Tony and Lauren. Such great hosts. Photo courtesy of Lauren's Facebook.
  •  I love learning! Some things I learned about: music assessment, female voices, changing male voices, concert programming, selecting good repertoire, and that's all I can remember without pulling out my notes. 
  • Always have a sweater. Chances are I'll need it because I'm cold blooded, but if I don't need it, Rosalind Hall will. 
  • Naps in art galleries are divine. 
  • All music teachers are quirky. 
  • This was the best, most affordable conference I have attended. Registration was only $50 and we got tons of music, excellent workshops (one was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Mack Wilberg. So cool), food, fun, and inspiration. 
After the music conference concluded on Thursday the  14th of June (Flag Day!), Mark dropped me off at Nick's house in South Jordan. I spent Thursday vegging. Friday, Nick and I played tennis, went to the Oquirrh Mountain temple, and I hung out with him and his fianc√® , K-Leigh. 
We went to a wedding reception of K-Leigh's friends. I decided it would be fun to pretend to know the fellow. When I got up to him in the line, I embraced him and gave him a congratulations. The bride asked where we knew each other. I responded "Bingham High." The groom went along with it, not wanting to admit that he had know idea who I was. The bride then asked her husband, "So you know him?" And the groom admitted that he did not. I then busted up laughing and told the truth that I was Nick's younger brother. The bride and groom said that that made sense because they saw many physical similarities between the two of us which doesn't make sense to me. I don't think we look alike at all.
Me on the left and Nick on the right. Do you think we look alike?
That night I went dancing with my good friend from high school Cassie. We went to a recently re-opened club called The Bay. We were initially planning on going to Area 51 dance club/bar because it was 90's night. Well, when I looked again, they had changed it to SLUT Anthem. Umm. Yea--no. I didn't want to go to that. We arrived at the bay at 10:30-ish and... we were the only ones there. So what did we do? We danced. We danced on the whole floor! And because it was only us (for a long time, I might add) we were able to request tons of songs and the DJ did them all.
I love to dance.
Did I say I dance well?

Mom, Grandma, Gail and her two kids came up on Saturday morning for K-Leigh's bridal shower. After the shower, I went home with them. We stopped in Santaquin at a small restaurant called The Family Tree for lunch. They're famous for their huge scones. And they were huge. Like, 14" long huge. We all ordered off the petite menu, which was good because I cannot imagine how large the portions would have been had we ordered off of the regular menu.
If you're ever driving by Santaquin, Utah and you're hungry, I highly recommend you eat there. You won't regret it. Unless you do. And then it's your own fault. 

11 June 2012

Sometimes I Decide to Move to Salem, UT

Hey, all!

I am currently blogging to you from the booming metropolis of Salem, Utah, population 6.5k.

I have been residing here since this morning. I plan on leaving Salem tomorrow morning.

Short stay, I know. I'm living at my friends' house. Adventures in Salem have included: shaved ice, sandwiches, chicken teriyaki, and driving to Salt Lake to watch the shoe parade of the Miss Utah pageant. Probably the highlight. It is now FHE time and the members of the family are journaling about their recent family reunion in Blanding. So I'm doing my online private journal, aka: my blog.

I am on my way to an American Choral Directors' Association conference in Logan on the Utah State University. I'm traveling with my high school choral director, Mark G.

So, yeah.

That's pretty much it for now. Riding in a  car makes me so tired.

Miss Nebo throwing candy in the parade. I took this picture for my friend Sam who is from Mona, UT, home of Mt. Nebo. If I'm ever a pageant coach, I will teach my pageanteers a) how to throw candy and b) how to wave.
Random photo from the mission:

Oh wait. I don't have access to my mission photos. Use your imagination and imagine green, trees, and... people.

03 June 2012

We Are Not A Cult

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has found itself at the front of some stories as of late. This onslaught of attention is most attributed to republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's membership in the Church. There have been accusations (or even statements) made that the Church is a cult. I will not use my amazing wordsmithing abilities to combat or refute such claims. I will only offer the words that Jesus offered when questioned regarding the location of His dwelling in the New Testament in John: come and see. You, reader, must come and see for yourself if these claims of being a cult are true. Attend a Sunday service. Check out a visitors' center. Meet some Mormons. Visit Mormon.org. Read the Book of Mormon.

On that note...

The Church uses a very unique vernacular. I was born and raised in the Church and, as a young child, was sometimes very confused at what was being discussed.

For example, once a month congregations hold a fast and testimony meeting where members of the congregation are encouraged to share their testimonies, open mic style. Many individuals begin their testimonies with "I would like to bear my testimony...." As a young child, I would hear "I would like to bury my testimony..."

I know. It doesn't make sense. But I was young and, apparently, very ignorant.

Another one:

I am the youngest of five children. When members of the church are  high school aged, they are encouraged to attend a seminary class where one learns from the scriptures. As I listened to my older siblings tell about what they learned in seminary, I could only process it as the word cemetery.

And finally:

Fireside. A fireside is a meeting in which a speech (or speeches) is given to people. Simple. The term comes from the 1930's when FDR would broadcast addresses over the radio to the public. Word. To a young 'un not yet old enough to attend firesides and only hear the term only without experiential context: campfire. Yeah.

So, putting all those together, here's a lovely image of what a young Eric thought of an activity that went on:

"Today in seminary we're going to have a fireside and we are going to bear our testimonies."
Might I add that this is probably the best thing I've ever "painted?" Ever.

But seriously. We're not a cult.

Random photo from the mission:

Tape faces. Logan W. and myself. Snowmageddon 2010.

Eclipse In A Box

Greetings and warmest salutations, humans!

There was an annular on Sunday. The "sweet spot" of this celestial event was a mere 10.7 miles south of my house. We didn't have solar goggles or welding mask glass so Momma Linda made a "pinhole camera" to view the eclipse in. Here's a pic of the eclipse... in the box.
Neat, eh?
The eclipse also caused the leaves on the apple tree to cast weird shadows.
It's like lots of little eclipses being projected on the wall.

We didn't get a shot of the eclipse at its zenith. I guess we were too busy staring into the box admiring it.

Random photo from the mission:

It's amazing who you run into while in the nation's capital! This is Lisa Tanner. She was my very first private violin instructor. She plays with the Mormon Orchestra of Washington and I saw her at a concert at the temple visitors' center.