I mentioned in one of my early posts that there were unmistakable signs early on that I was in the wrong profession, or at least not happy and that I really would be better off in something more suited to my talents. And happiness. Something happened this weekend that, childishly, I assumed would never happen to me. I mean, inside I knew I was cruising for this bruising, but it’s difficult sometimes to avoid the dangers of your environment.

Gulf of Arabia, 20 minutes off Manama, Bahrain. Sandbar. Innocent looking, no? Even from my perch under the canopy.

Gulf of Arabia, 20 minutes off Manama, Bahrain. Sandbar. Innocent looking, no? Even from my perch under the canopy.

When I started Chiropractic college I weighed about 125 pounds.  Muscle, because I lifted weights, in addition to the basic conditioning the Marine Corps afforded me.  I worked out every day, carried my protein powder to school. Proud of myself.  Then our ridiculous accelerated curriculum pace started to kick in and affect me, with horrid flu’s during midterm and finals weeks (weak immune system) and a 40 pound weight gain over the first year.  40 pounds.  I started having hot flashes in class, and my periods became epic.

Last year of college, already disgusted with my weight. Ha! Girls can be so stupid.

Last year of college, already disgusted with my weight. Ha! Girls can be so stupid. I keep this license picture because for some reason the DMV is the only place where I photograph well. I sh*t you not.

I’ve always loved knowledge and learning, but at my pace and interest level.  I don’t regret what I learned but it definitely could have been offered more sanely, and handled better by me.  At the end of Chiro college I thought I was fat.  Ha! That was 40 pounds ago.  That second 40 pounds came thanks to 6 years of private practice.  Stress. Money stress, employee stress, personal stress because I wasn’t a perfect business owner.  And lots of New Mexican green chile burritos with bacon and cheese.  It was the best way to warm up in winter or clear my sinuses when I had the rare cold (and make myself feel better about life).  All of this happened in my thirties, so I didn’t lose weight or have the metabolism of my twenties.  Damn aging.

After 6 years of private practice/business ownership.

After 6 years of private practice/business ownership.

Here in Saudi it’s gotten much worse.  All of it. The weight, the stress.  Some things have gotten better, in terms of how I think and feel, but physically I’ve declined.  Especially my rosacea. I wrote a bit a few posts back about my amazing siblings, to which I also added pictures. In those pictures you can see my very Portuguese looking siblings, with their perfect teeth and olive skin. (I hate all of you) (not really) I wasn’t blessed with that.  Nor was I blessed with my mothers peaches and cream skin with a touch of rosacea.  I got (blessedly) her amazing hair and whatever horrid genes were lurking in her familial past that made me red. Always red.

After less than 6 months in Saudi. Hot, hot Saudi. That look on my face is "I'm smiling but secretly curse whoever is taking my picture."

After less than 6 months in Saudi. Hot, hot Saudi. That look on my face is “I’m smiling but secretly curse whoever is taking my picture.”

When I was a kid I used to HATE when people would come randomly up to me and ask me if I was okay.  Had I been skiing or did I have a sunburn.  I loathed (to this day) people who find it funny to tease me just to see me blush.  Hint, hint folks. People who blush easily don’t LIKE to, and the more we flush the worse it gets.  That’s why people with rosacea are warned against pretty much anything that is good to eat, or fun to do.  No extreme heat, or cold, or wind.  No aggressive face scrubs. Minimal stress.  No caffeine or chocolate, spicy food.  aka “life” So here I am, pudgy from all the cortisol that comes from chronic stress, first in college and private practice and now…oh God this job… And I live in a place that is 120 degrees at 5 am (I barely exaggerate), with intense sun, blowing wind that feels like opening your turkey oven on Thanksgiving and sticking your face in it, and the rest of the time I’m under florescent lights in front of a computer screen.  All the kiss of death for rosacea.

On the train to Riyadh 3 weeks ago...sometimes my skin is calmer.  Plus the train is air conditioned. Shoulda seen me 2 hours later. sigh

On the train to Riyadh 3 weeks ago…sometimes my skin is calmer. Plus the train is air conditioned. Shoulda seen me 2 hours later. sigh

How does all this relate to my creative career change (aside from the obvious…that I need to do it for my health)? Part of the application I want to submit for a job I’m interested in includes a small video resume of some of my personal projects to show my ideas and abilities.  The problem is, I avoid cameras like the plague… that is, unless you want to photograph any part of my body that is NOT my face.  I haven’t been avoiding this info video because of the content, I’ve been avoiding it because whenever I am on camera I show up BRIGHT RED especially compared to the skin of anybody near me. To willingly be in a photo or video I have to put on so much makeup (it’s actually not much, but I’m a nature girl so to me it feels like an inch of shellac) and as of today (you’ll see…) I literally cannot do even that.   So I spent the weekend in Bahrain with friends.  Remember that photo of the beautiful sunny, windy, hot sandbar off of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf?  Yeah, Andrea won’t be doing that again until the depths of Arab winter after sunset.  I woke up the next morning and looked in the mirror. Horror.  I’ll admit when I finally got home I had a messy self-pitying cry as I took these pictures, over the fact that my affliction isn’t an inexplicably baboon-red ass or deformity of my hands or feet. It’s my face.  Why? Why, Universe, does it have to be my face?!?  Aargh!  Diagnosis: acute rosacea flare up. No, it is not sunburn, it’s more like heat rash.  I’ve never had one, at least not like this. It’s horrifying. I’m not even going to work. My skin (again, face only) is burning and covered with whiteheads and pustules.  I’m going to have Carl Malden’s nose. Fantastic. IMG_7409IMG_7410IMG_7414An acute rosacea flare up. I've never had one, at least not like this.  It's horrifying. I'm not even going to work. My face is burning and covered with whiteheads and pustules.   It might seem like I only want to change careers for professional reasons, but it’s also deeply personal.  I want to be calm, and happy. Preferably someplace with no extremes of temperature, like on a mountain side in Hawaii. Misty rain, coolish nights and enough sunlight to maintain vitamin D and positivity. Somewhere where going outside isn’t harmful to my health.   And for the love of all things holy, please PLEASE in a job that isn’t 95% unrelenting aggravation and 5% fulfillment, like my current one.   I want to be me again.  :'(

God, I love polaroid... 15 years ago. Before I chose my current path.

God, I love polaroid… 15 years ago. Before I chose my current path.

Graduation year 2002.

Graduation year 2002.

Just as a little followup. I bought antibiotics while in Bahrain and have been taking two a day (doctors often tell us we must take them for up to 6 months). What helped best, though, was the kitchen concoction I made last night. Cold Yogurt, turmeric, oatmeal and olive oil. Painted all over my face with a brush I fished out of a drawer. 30 minutes later when I washed it off, my skin looked 50% better and the whiteheads were gone.  So was the burn, at least over night.  I cannot WAIT to get home from work tonight and do it again!  If you want more information, head over to Frugalista blog, I just noticed she’s posted about the curse from hell rosacea as well. 🙂

11 Responses to There’s more than one reason to skin a job…

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    There’s no doubt that when we’re unhappy in our work, we suffer physically. I remember when my workplace adopted electronic medical records. It had to be done, of course, and we were ahead of the pack, but I was already so busy in clinic, and the new system slowed us down terribly. I had to take Prilosec for the severe acid reflux pain I developed, something I’d never experienced before. It was so frustrating to know that the only reason I had to be on a medication was because of stress. I eventually got off it, but it wasn’t a fun year.

    Rosacea can be a terrible condition for those affected. So sorry you have to suffer it. I have a family member who battles it, and I know the frustration and discomfort it can cause, both physically and emotionally.

    • Carrie Rubin says:

      By the way, I put your blog on my rotating blogroll this month. I think it could be a good resource for those thinking of a career change. Of course, how many people actually look at blogrolls is another question…

      • andrea1 says:

        Thanks for the thoughts Carrie… I thought Dr Carrie might be interested in this one. 😉 It’s such a bummer of a condition, which I should have known about and been conditioned to care for decades ago. But I guess it just wasn’t well known when I was a kid and hey, it’s just so much more fun for others to make me blush than to see it as a problem. To be honest, it’s beyond my ken why there isn’t a cure yet. I can be quite hostile in my thoughts towards the industry when I ponder that. lol Stress and work stress are the worst. I’d bet there are billions of stories out there about complete physical breakdowns just as a result of emotional stress, with a surprising variety of symptoms.

        Thanks for adding my blog, and for considering me a good resource! 🙂 I tried 4 different blogrolls before I settled on this one. I like it because it constantly rotates and tells me who has posted and when. I like it better than the static one I had on wordpress.com. That was just a bunch of picture that don’t change. This one hopefully will catch the eye. Now all I have to do is remember to add every blog I find to my links page (harder than it sounds, remembering..). Like you, I wonder how many people realize all the info contained in the sidebars. I always scroll through them at least.

        How is your summer? 🙂

      • andrea1 says:

        oooh! Featured, even! Cool 🙂

  2. I’m sorry that happened to you! My mom has rosacea. I did not inherit that, but I can blush and I hate that. As soon as you are aware that you’re blushing, it gets hotter and hotter. Ugh. That seems to have kicked in in my 30s – never happened when I was younger. My mom used to put green makeup on her face to balance out the red. No she didn’t look like a praying mantis face, it actually worked! I think on camera we look better with more makeup, like so much makeup it looks weird in person.

    I’ve had horrible breakouts in India when it’s hot and humid. It was so bad, I refused to get my picture taken and the few pictures that were taken, I snuck into the cameras and deleted them! My father in law was mad, he said there’s no proof I was ever there! Well who wants to look at pimply proof? I went to a spa for acne treatment in India and it really worked, cleared up in a few days. My face looked like pizza sauce it was so pimply and within a day I looked somewhat normal. Whatever they did, it took many hours to do – lots of creams and picking at my skin and special lights. Maybe try looking for a spa?? I looked online for an acne treatment spa in Chennai and found a great one. Next time I go there, I’ll go during the first few days for pre-emptive treatment.

    I also gained weight when I was stressed at work. And it didn’t go away. Lately I’ve been doing the PALA+ – Michelle Obama’s Presidential Fitness thing, because our office signed up to do it as a team. I didn’t do it last year. But I saw my colleagues who won prizes for racking up the most points – well they lost a ton of weight and they have kept it off! All year. They still look much thinner this year. That was all the evidence I needed. Because, you know, I need the evidence. 🙂 I am really a scientific thinker despite all the designy stuff on my blog. My profession is scientific. I signed up for PALA+ – there’s a website where you choose weekly nutrition goals and you’re supposed to do 30 mins of activity 5 days/wk. Any moving around can count – even vigorous vacuuming! I’ve dropped some pounds already in 3 weeks, it’s noticeable. Something about it does change habits longer-term. I’ve also had great results with Weight Watchers but I need to stay on WW and keep going to meetings for it to work, it doesn’t work for me when I try to not pay for it and be self-sufficient. WW is the only program found by valid scientific evaluation to work. Don’t know if they have WW in Saudi Arabia, but you can do it online too. I’d like to argue that I gain weight because I like good food, but the honest truth is I eat a lot of trash. I guess it is emotional eating.

    • andrea1 says:

      Hi! 🙂 I also have green sunscreen and green mineral powder. Unfortunately the sunscreen immediately makes my whole face flush (it’s green-ness is zilch once it’s on). The powder is..*meh* so-so. What works best is being calm, cool and unharried. Basically never leaving my apartment. hahaha. I bought a great airbrush makeup machine from Sephora last time I was home and that thing works wonders. Unfortunately I can feel every molecule of anything I put on my face except mascara, am aware of it all day and tend to pick at my skin. So I save that for special occasions and, of course, cameras. 😉 I don’t really do spa facials, especially here since the qualifications of the person doing the service is sketchy at best. Nothing seems to be gentle or calming enough, and aestheticians always insist my skin can take more rough handling than I’ll allow. They invariable start to pick and squeeze and scrub even after I’ve made it clear not to. I’ll stick to yogurt and oatmeal for now. No more tumeric, after 3 times I now look jaundiced. hahaha

      I do decently well with my weight when I have the time to work out every day. Weights and running preferably. But again, I have to remain COOL. If it’s 120 degrees outside and someone (usually) has turned off the AC in the gym, I just don’t stay. It takes too long to cool off and I just become more and more flushed (with irritation) while I wait, so I leave and try to come back. Timing. Eating is the hardest. I would eat cardboard and apple juice or any restrictive diet, provided someone else was in charge of what I can and cannot eat. There are some things I just won’t buy and don’t have around because I will eat the whole box/jar etc, but my overall diet isn’t what it should be. Just no time, and when I get home flushed and irate from yet another hellish day at work I don’t have it in me to force myself to eat a carrot salad. It feels like punishment. It’s complicated. Were I to live somewhere where going outside was an option, I’d spend my time out moving and less avoiding the world because I’m still overwhelmed from work/life. Your system sounds great, what a good idea. I tried a weight loss system here where they deliver all your food. It was awful. Mostly bread/carbs and sugary fruit and juices. Terrible menu. I lost weight because the first thing I did in the morning was throw half of it in the trash. I’m sure WW has to be better!

      Going to look at UofM now! Thanks for the tip… 🙂

      • Well you do have really healthy solutions! But oh my, 120 – okay if it’s 80 it’s too hot for me. I’m a big complaining baby. So yes I do suffer when I go to India. My husband is there right now for a month. I have very weird eating habits when he’s gone. A boatload of strawberries for dinner one night. The next night half a bag of baby carrots! I’m not much of a cook. I love bean burritos with no-fat black beans. Hey I might go a bit overboard with one food during meals, but overall it’s healthier than other things we could eat! Oh boy the turmeric, I’ll have to see if I get jaundiced. So much turmeric in Indian food. Never thought of that. Of course after eating a bag of carrots in one sitting, should probably be orange!

  3. Also you are right about the big impact of stress. The U of Michigan School of Public Health does a lot of research into the health impacts of stress.

  4. jmmcdowell says:

    It’s not an exaggeration to say that stress can be deadly. There are times it has a place, but it’s become far too prevalent in our modern world. Prescriptions shouldn’t be the answer.

    My skin is somewhat sensitive, although nothing near what you have to deal with. But when it starts itching persistently, I know it’s time to slow down if I can. I really hope you can establish that new career in a friendlier-for-you-in-all-ways environment. Life is too short to spend it in the wrong place at the wrong job and with the wrong people.

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