Microneedling first-hand, first time

I’ve been on the Caci Reformaskin plan since May, I first wrote about it here in August.

Mostly, I’m trying to repair acne scarring, congestion around the nose and chin, and take better care of my face as it gets older.

I’m enjoying being on a “plan”, knowing that I have professionals taking care of my skin health regularly. I go in for a facial every couple of weeks and have a chance to talk through how things are going.

Last visit I had microdermabrasion for the first time, that’s where a tool blasts little crystals at your face and sucks them away to slough away dead skin. I thought I would come out beet-faced, but it was totally fine if a little sensitive.

Today was microneedling day though, and it was a bit more of an ordeal. I saw a nurse for this treatment, as it’s a touch more invasive because it’s basically stabbing your face with little needles repeatedly all over. I look like I have a terrible sunburn.

Immediately before and after microneedling. Yikes.

After a consultation with the nurse, she smeared a numbing goo all over my face and I relaxed listening to what sounded like the old Classic Hits playlist from about 2002. I was about ready to drift off when she returned to administer the treatment.

The goo was wiped off – the strangest feeling having a numb face, just like when the dentist numbs you for dental work, but all over my face. I couldn’t feel the coldness of the wipes she used to remove the numbing cream except when she went a little further on to un-numbed spots – the strangest feeling!

Section by section, starting with my right cheek and jaw, she worked through the treatment. Applying some serum to my face then going over that with a tool that sounded just like an electric toothbrush. I mostly could only feel pressure, but it was painful over the cheekbone and around the jawline where the bone is nearer the skin.

To finish, some healing balm all over. I found it interesting that through the whole process, I never smelled anything.

I was a bit woozy sitting up, and looked immediately like a tomato. Aftercare is to avoid the sun at all costs, don’t touch, clean pillowcase, and no hair wash tonight. I won’t be touching my face until a rinse in the morning followed by reapplying the healing balm – which feels just like Cerave healing Ointment to me. I’m not sure what it is exactly as I just have an unlabelled sample pot to use myself.

I’ll be back to my normal skincare routine on Thursday (treatment day is Tuesday), and am told to expect redness for two days followed by some dryness and peeling, THAT should be fun. But THEN I should start seeing fresh new skin coming through from underneath. Fingers crossed for some miracles.

As part of the Reformaskin plan I’ve also got an at-home microneedle roller so I can poke myself in the face after it’s recovered from this round. You cleanse your face, roll all over it with the tool, then apply specific serums and night moisturizers. I’m a bit chicken of this as I don’t really want the sharps! All in the name of taking care of oneself, right?

Skin dramas

I don’t know if anyone ever looks at my blog these days, I kind of hope not! It’s a good place to record things though, and I’m investing a lot of money in this.

My skin has always given me something to complain about, and lately I’m having more issues with breakouts and at 31 I feel a bit ridiculous about it.

I’ve signed up with Caci Clinic (Epsom) for their Reformaskin plan.

I’ve been keeping a record of my skin routine in a pretty journal, and am taking photos of my awful face as I go.

Journal listing skincare products on the left, and a chart of day and night time routine records.

Today I had my first consultation with a skin therapist, she asked me more in depth questions about my lifestyle habits and about the products that I use regularly on my skin.

The facial was focused on a little exfoliation then treatment for active acne, including a clay mask and witch hazel toner (this is about all I remember!) and my next sessions will be focused on getting my skin ready for micro-needling.

My aftercare instructions are to not exfoliate for 4 days, wear sunscreen, drink water. Cut the squalene and the niacinamide from my routine entirely.

I’m booked in again in two weeks.

Instagram Ad Fail

I really want a new dressing gown. My old dressing gown has stains on it and I feel rather frumpy in it.

Screenshot of an advertisement in "Instagram Stories" feature, ad shows a woman in a turquoise and pink patterned kimono reading a magazine. Ad has a discount code for 15% off "SUKI15"

Funnily enough, I’m scrolling Instagram and see an ad for a gorgeous looking kimono… I check out the company’s website. It’s a good price, with free shipping from Australia. I wasn’t sure what the currency was, but for $25 for a cotton kimono, I was interested.

There were some generic sounding reviews on the company website, so I thought I would check their social media to see if any of my friends followed them and what their following was like.

Their website didn’t link to their social media, but I had found them through Instagram, so I went back to the Instagram ad and checked the advertisers profile.

It “looks” good, there are 19.7k followers, 56 posts… It has a bio and emojis and a grid of beautiful pictures. I clicked one of the more recent posts.

Complaints. Lot of customer complaints. They were answered, and answered in a friendly way, but posts had few likes and many comments about support issues, looking for refunds etc.

Really really don’t advertise on Instagram if you aren’t ready to sell to people! This company really needs to walk before they try to run.

I wish them luck!

The last time I nearly died

Anyone else with a chronic illness will know what it’s like to ride the merry-go-round of medical professionals; and this year I was referred to a new neurologist, who sent me for updated head MRI scans. It’s been four years since I was initially diagnosed with IIH, so an updated image would help her to understand the current situation.

Having had an MRI before, I knew the drill – super attractive smock, lie in a noisy machine. But this time, the specialists chose to use gadolinium dye to improve the images to be taken. I had signed consent for this, having no known reasons that it could be a problem.

Most of the images of my head were taken before the technician advised me that they were administering the dye (via an IV lure that had been placed before I was put in the MRI machine). Within two minutes of the dye being dispatched, I started to feel hot – I can still recall the prickling heat across my chest as I said to the technician “ah, I think something’s up”.

I had an allergic reaction to the contrast dye, which was such a strange experience to me as someone who experiences a lot of pain. I didn’t feel pain, but a rush of other symptoms that the clinical team recognised – I had a shot of adrenaline at the MRI facility and another before the paramedics shuttled me off to the Emergency Department at Auckland Hospital. I really didn’t think things were that bad – I was shaking violently from the adrenaline but not really in pain – so it was a shock to get to the ED and hear “straight to resus” as if I was on Shortland Street!

After the doctors had done their thing and I was in observation recovering, one of the radiologists brought me my belongings and told me that they had managed to get a good range of images of my head prior to my reaction, and it did look like there had been some improvement in the areas of pressure in my brain (which had led to my IIH diagnosis last time).

When I next met with my neurologist, she explained that after analysis of the images, she was lifting my diagnosis of IIH. So I don’t have IIH anymore, just like that. But because I do still have headache constantly and sometimes to a debilitating degree, I got a new label. Chronic Daily Headache with Migrainous Features. Well, that’s a mouthful to say, but most people at least understand what it means – as opposed to my previous label.

Since I don’t have IIH anymore, I also don’t have to take Acetozolamide anymore. Acetozolamide is a diuretic, used to prevent altitude sickness as well as some types of seizures and also a form of glaucoma. The theory in it’s use for IIH as I understand it, is to help prevent the buildup of spinal fluid which was putting pressure on my brain. I don’t know if it ever helped in that way for me, but it definitely caused a litany of side effects especially when I first started taking it four years ago. Pins and needles in my hands and feet, and an increase in the frequency of heart palpitations I get sometimes with anxiety. Since coming off Acetozolomide though, I have also come out of the fog of severe lethargy that was often keeping me from being able to do much more than shower in a single day.

So, while my pain is still present and sometimes ridiculously high, I have more energy and have been able to actually DO THINGS again. Well, not everything, but a lot more than I was accomplishing while on Acetozolamide. I went on holiday with my parents to Fiji and wasn’t the one to bail out part way through our little rainforest hike; I snorkelled and could dive deep and stay down, and I met a manta ray and decided I could probably SCUBA dive again – so I’m looking forward to that.

I’m still not great, though, with daily pain and some annoying triggers (some sound, light, smell can all make things worse) so I’m on a new course of trials. I’m trialling Botox, due for my second administration next week. 31 tiny injections of botox in my scalp and forehead, which helps some people with headaches like mine but not all people. Apparently patients notice improvement within the period of two treatments, which happen three months apart. I don’t know yet if it’s helping, but it’s certainly meant my killer eyebrow raising skills are compromised… I have to try really hard to frown too but apparently people still know when I’m mad!

At the moment, I’m doing more. And perhaps leaning on my painkillers a little too often in order to achieve that. There are a raft of other drugs I can still try, even after six years of trying to sort this all out, but they still know so little about headaches in general.

Doing more does mean doing work too, and a dear friend has brought me into a project which doesn’t require a huge workload from me. For me, it’s a bit of a trial on whether I can cope – physically as well as mentally and I’m hopeful it will go well. I’ll probably have to report back on that one as it happens.

For now, I’m really grateful I had an MRI that apparently nearly killed me, because since, it feels a lot lot more like I’m actually living again.