Read my face

By Mir
April 13, 2010

So waayyyyyyyy back whenever it was that I figured out that actually, hey, I appear to have some sort of wheat allergy, I gave up wheat and my lifetime of acne cleared up and everybody cheered. (And here, by “everybody” I mostly mean “I.”)

Except that for the first few months, I would still cheat periodically. I’d reason that just one slice of pizza or one warm piece of bread right out of the oven certainly wasn’t going to KILL ME, or anything, so why not? I would savor whatever slice of wheaty, gluteny heaven I’d allowed myself, and the next day I would have a zit (or two or three) the size of a mini-marshmallow. ATTRACTIVE!

Eventually my need to NOT HATE MY FACE overrode my unquenchable desire for bread, and after a ceremonial outing to my favorite pizza place on New Year’s Eve (one last hurrah!), I have been wheat-free ever since.

And my skin has been amaaaaaaaazing, if I do say so myself. At least, it was right up until a few weeks ago.

A few weeks ago—without any change in my diet at all—my skin went haywire again. It’s been positively zit-tastic all up in here, and I’m not talking about a few itty bitty blemishes, either. I’m talking about monstrous lumps of painful red swelling. Gross. I started thinking a lot harder about what I’m eating; was I unwittingly eating wheat? Had I changed something else? I did sneak a few pieces of Easter candy, after all. Had that done it?

I was mystified.

I went back to consciously measuring my water intake. I don’t drink much but water, anyway, but I made sure I was getting at least eight glasses of it a day. I cut back on the coffee. I exfoliated more rigorously!

And my face continued to pop out misshapen lumps and generally make me wish I never had to leave the house.

The past few weeks have been stressful from multiple angles; Monkey continues to have some of his regular challenges at school, while Chickadee’s school suddenly seems completely overrun with little thugs. (Handy tip: When you are emailing the principal and able to say, “You know, lately it seems like I’m emailing the school every week to find out why my child is being shoved into the lockers, or why her property is being stolen, or to report that her belongings have been grabbed away from her on the bus. What’s wrong with this picture?”, CHANCES ARE that yes, Houston, we have a large problem here.) I think I spent upwards of six hours, all told, straightening out Chickie’s glasses, and I have FINALLY jumped through every hoop and gotten what we need to head to a specialist at Emory this month to deal with her skin issues, although the last few pieces of that puzzle were a little harrowing, as well.

[Digression: I bet you thought that the manager of the optical place lying about being the manager was the worst medically-related thing you’d heard recently from a real person. But it turns out—and I hope you’re sitting down for this one, because it’s a REAL laugh-riot—that the doc who argued with us about running blood tests last summer and finally ran them and told us “all her results were normal” was actually a bit of a truth-bender. And what a CO-WINKY-DINK that when the dermatologist requested those records, they were never sent. And another one, too, when the pediatrician requested those records, and AGAIN they were not sent. And finally when I threatened to stand in their waiting room until the records were given to me, they were FINALLY forwarded to the requesting doctors. (If I wanted a copy, myself, I would be charged. So I opted to get a copy from one of the NOT CRAZY, NOT PRETENTIOUS ASSHAT-ed doctors, instead. Which is when I discovered that, in fact, her bloodwork had yielded multiple abnormal results LAST SUMMER and that doctor just didn’t feel it was worth telling us. NOW we have all records and results for the specialist. But wouldn’t it have been nice if the doctor had, I don’t know, DONE HIS JOB and maybe saved my kid almost an entire ‘nother year of problems? Oh, me and my wacky dreams of doctors who give a damn!]

There was other stuff. There’s always other stuff; I believe some people refer to it as “life.” Stress happens. I know that.

And I’ve always disliked the implication that stress can cause acne, because for me it reminds me too much of the “Just relax and you’ll get pregnant” days of infertility, when well-meaning people wanted me to believe that a glass of wine could cure endometriosis if only I was willing to BELIEVE it could. (Note to said people: Yes, just relaxing fixed me right up. The multiple surgeries and the anti-clotting medications were just part of my Zen state!)

Anyway. My point? I think maybe stress causes acne.

Today we’re metaphorically poised on the edge of taking care of a bunch of these stressors in the immediate future, and although I’m finishing up ministering to one monster eruption that plans to first eat my chin and then conquer Atlanta, my skin has otherwise started to quiet down. I’m hopeful that in another week I’ll be back to my former blemish-free, pasty goodness.

And maybe I could just wear a mood ring in the future, instead of my body trying to signal to the world that I’m stressed out by turning me into some sort of leper. Yeesh.


  1. Half Assed Kitchen

    And you still have a sense of humor. I would have a hard time not getting in that incompetent doctor’s face with my own zitty one and ripping him a new one. Jerk.

  2. Katherine

    I had a difficulty one time, back in college, getting the school to send a “letter of good standing” so that I could take a summer school class elsewhere (which my college didn’t offer in the summer). Each time I went in, I was assured that it would be sent. But, of course, it wasn’t. Finally I went in and told them that I would be hanging out in their office, until I saw the letter in the envelope and in the mail bin. With me there, it only took them 10 or 15 minutes – amazing!

  3. Sheila

    You certainly deserve something large, round and shiny, but I was thinking it should be more like a medal and less like a zit.

    Good luck this week in all that you tackle.

  4. Kai

    Recently my ob/gyn called to tell me I had abnormal results from my last test and that I needed to come in for additional labs. After 2 weeks on Dr Google scaring myself silly, I showed up to my appt, only to be told it wasn’t that I had abnormal results, it was that the lab messed up and I had NO results from the prior test! Um gee thanks!

  5. Jean

    Soooo, does this mean maybe wheat is back on your meal plan??? Perhaps a trial of some sort is in order…

  6. Leandra

    I just said to my husband this morning as I looked at my face “I can’t figure out why my skin has decided all of a sudden that I’m 17 instead of 37.” I, too, have the zit that ate my chin (though it’s on it’s way out) as well as large unicorn horn sprouting from betwixt my eyebrows. I am a sight, I tell you.

    You know, if you ever decide you want to go all “angry mob” on your old doc, I’m pretty sure you could find your mob right here among your readers. You can count me in. Hope things start looking up!

  7. Tracy

    Stress is evil and controls alot with your body. I totally believe that your zit issues have to be caused by the stress in your life. It’s hormonal too. I’m just sayin’. ;)

  8. Brigitte

    Heh, Jean beat me to it, I also figured you may as well eat baked goods until the stress issues go down (come, join the dark side, mwahahaaa).

  9. Cindy

    I have adult onset acne and I seriously feel your pain. Mine seems to be hormonal and I’ve got some LOVELY hormone cream to take care of the problem for the most part. However, I still get some (possibly stress related) breakouts.

    I had a nasty staph infection a while back (From a zit! On my face! I can’t begin to describe the FUN.) and my doctor gave me this prescription stuff that is part antibotic and part zit killer. Maybe you have something like that already…I am no skin maintenae. I can’t get over how well it works. Doesn’t stop me from getting zits, mind you, but it does bring them down from freak-of-the-week status to just a zit.

  10. Chuck

    I kind of wish the grown-up me could go back in time and bust some heads of the kids who bothered me in middle school, but then I’d be just like they were. I think middle school just sucks in general, but good luck getting all of Chickadee’s problems sorted out, and tell her to hang in there, things will get better.

  11. Tracy

    Telling you that the results were normal, and they were clearly not normal? That’s incompetent at best, and probably malpractice. My blood is boiling for you and your daughter. And worried for any other patients of this quack.

  12. Megan

    What?? What what what?? Lying and withholding and… and… honestly and truly isn’t there some written-down legal thing that says justifiable homicide is, in some situations, not only justifiable but a bloody boon to society? I’m pretty sure…

  13. Karen

    I get really annoyed with my adult acne as well. It seems that I have wonky skin, because if I wash it it breaks out, but if I use the moisturizer after washing it still breaks out, so I have no idea what to do.

    And I would definitely be putting my writing skills to use and sending out lots of letters about that lying doctor.

  14. Carolie

    And doctors wonder why malpractice insurance is so freaking high!

    Holy crap — I would be FURIOUS in your shoes, and would be planning some sort of retaliatory gesture along the lines of “You Are Not God, And I’m Going To Make You Admit It In Front Of A Large Group Of People.” (And I am not a retaliatory sort of person!)

    Makes me think about how worried I was when I married a military man, and suddenly got the dubious pleasure of “free” military health care. The first time I saw my new primary care physician, I sheepishly showed her a funny mole I’d been showing to private doctors for five years, which they’d ignored for five years. She said “well, if it worries you, why don’t we just biopsy it?”

    Four days later, I was on a plane at the Navy’s expense to the big hospital for surgery for malignant cancer. Yep, that’s right…the mole that my highly paid “private” doctors had ignored for FIVE YEARS was the kind of cancer that could kill me.

    Now I’m that sort of pain-in-the-ass patient that will not move from in front of the door until things have been explained to my satisfaction, and I’ve had a chance to see my own damn test results and charts.

    Sucks that we have to be put in a position of being royal bitches to get decent care, doesn’t it?

  15. Abby

    I work in healthcare and I would report that Dr to the state medical board. It isn’t enough to get him disciplined probably but it could be added to other complaints. It is worth your time.

  16. elz

    Hope everything clears up soon-figuratively and literally. Also, (SOAPBOX warning). Please report the doctor to the state medical board and the payer (as well as any group practice he may be with). In my experience, if he failed to report results to you, there are likely a number of other more troubling tests, procedures, diagnoses that have been mishandled. This is a significant issue with all doctors, but especially a pediatrician. Children are a vulnerable population and are protected as such under a litany of special laws…better stop now, ranting likely…

  17. Melissa

    I hope things start shaping up soon! I agree with those who suggest reporting that doctor – that is more than just not-caring, that is malpractice.

  18. Scottsdale Girl

    Huh, weird. I have been getting big azz zits on my left cheek (face cheek thank you) ALL OF A SUDDEN. No clue. I rarely get zits and if I do it is one and it is on my chin (hello sweaty phone!)…my cheek? really? And the size of a pencil eraser? And painful? whhhhhhhhhy???

    I think a glass wine might fix it, don’t you?

  19. Karen

    Holy crap!? regarding the doctor who didn’t give you abnormal blood test results?!?!?!…. and stress totally causes acne, so CHILL, baby. ( I can say that because I live waaaaay over here).

  20. Jen

    Yes, cause meet effect. Sigh…I’ve been playing dot-to-dot over here from stress. Reeeaaallly hoping that some news we’re waiting on comes by the weekend ’cause I’d love to clear up again. It’s been too long.

  21. Amy

    A couple years ago my close friend was having severe abdominal pain. She was going to doctors, naturopaths, chiropractors, homeopaths, and whoever else would try to figure out what was wrong with her. The way the pain was presenting the most logical explanation anyone could come up with was ovarian cancer. Her next plan of action was an invasive surgical test–that she can’t afford because she doesn’t have health insurance–when things started to improve slightly.

    Around the same time, her son was in jail, her daughter was basically being a huge pill, her husband was not getting as much work as a contractor as expected, and she was up to her eyeballs preparing for a play that she was starring in and building the sets for. As soon as she realized there might be a connection between her life and her pain, she decided to confront these issues head on with the help of a therapist. And her pain went away and they all lived happily ever after.

  22. Jennifer

    My mother once told me, during the throes of my pimply adolescence, that all I had to do was wait until I grew out of puberty and my skin would clear up. I am still waiting for that magic to happen. Meanwhile I have zits AND wrinkles.


  23. Headless Mom

    Pre-menopausal hormones are doing it for me. Yea. Not.

  24. The Other Leanne

    Every morning for the last couple of weeks I’ve looked in the mirror and said “WTF is going on with my face?!” Today I saw someone at work who is clearly having similar issues, but worse.
    My amazing-home-remedy for this kind of thing is to dab a bit of Milk of Magnesia on my face before I go to bed, let it sit for 10 minutes and rinse it off. Of course, that means being brave enough to buy the stuff. I swear it works.

  25. Damsel

    My dad just told me that he’s had acne all over his back and chest ever since he was a teen, but that he recently started taking a multivitamin (I think it’s Centrum Silver) and it completely cleared up his skin! Wonder if that would help you?

  26. jodifur

    Your going to hate me for saying this, but if you can work facials into the budget, both time and money, they do wonders.

    I struggle with adult acne too, and it sucks.

  27. Heather

    Yeah my face hates me so much :( I hope your stressors tone way the heck down!

  28. BethR

    I’m honestly starting to wonder if the adult acne thing can be connected with the diets we have now as a culture. Every woman I know about our general age (Gen X’ers, etc.) is doing the “mother’s wrinkles, daughter’s zits” thing these days. Maybe we’re getting enough too rich/fatty/sugary/processed/what-have-you that it’s changed how our skin reacts as we age?

    As for stress? Yes, it has a direct impact on your skin. And your sleep. And your digestive tract. And your… fill in the blank. You’re not imagining it. I prescribe a massage!

  29. fp

    another flute player here…
    and what’s with the schools???

  30. Heather Cook

    Sorry you are so stressed, that sucks! Hey, I’m the weird person who gets funny zits in my EARS. Eww.

    I vote for the massage suggestion!

  31. mamaspeak

    I have nothing new to add, except maybe ::hugs:: to Chickie. Middle school blows.
    Report that doctor! Now! (See not new)
    It could be worse, you could have hyper-pigmentation, so that the zit-zillas leave lasting marks long after they’re gone. I have cream/meds to help get rid of said marks, but it takes time and I have to stay out of the sun. I live in CA. Hello? Cruel joke. I wear a hat, but you know, still lots of zits & now lasting marks, so I won’t forget them.

  32. kris

    Oh wow. I hope things get straightened out for Chickie with the specialist. I also hope it was the craptastic pediatrician who screwed up the blood test stuff and not the allergist that I see too… :)
    Also stress acne is the suck – so sorry.

  33. Kelly

    Since the stress made you break out anyway, did you at least get to enjoy a day of wheat?

    Can’t believe the lack of medical integrity you have experienced – especially because its about kids. Kids who are suffering. ugh.

  34. Katie in MA

    Oh my. How about cheese? You can still eat cheese right? Because while wine and cheese might not make everything (or anything) better…it might make you happy for a minute or two. And happy is worth it, in whatever dosage you can get. ESPECIALLY right now! Barring that – deep breaths.

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