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Some Good News


Apr 2, 2024

The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease, Eventually

Hello, everyone. Time for me to use a much underutilized resource on my webpage: the news section. After nearly a year of going back and forth with the Department of Veteran's Affairs, I'm finally going to be seen by a dermatologist for an ongoing skin condition that has affected a significant proportion of my neck and beard area. Those of you with curly and/or course facial hair should know what I'm talking about when referring to pseudofolliculitis barbae or "razor bumps". A long time ago, when I originally enlisted in the Navy, and had to go through bootcamp, I found out that I had razor bumps after I had to start using manual razors (I was used to electric razors prior to joining the military), which eventually led me to the unfortunate discovery that my facial hair apparently has the physical characteristics that make me prone for developing ingrown hairs.

Those of my readers that are either in the military or veterans should know what I'm talking about when the military has a certain cultural climate that requires its servicemembers to have baby smooth faces, with few exceptions, with the justification being so that the individual can have a tight seal around their face when they are wearing a gas mask. This becomes problematic for certain individuals with curly or coarse hair, because unlike people with straighter, finer hairs, curly hair has a tendency to curve back under the surface of the skin, which then causes irritation, infections and other problems, resulting in a disgusting, pimple-like lesion around the area where the hair failed to exit the follicle. Anyone that has tried to search for solutions or cures for razor bumps will quickly find that there really aren't any, at least, not over the counter. Instead, they are offered common sense such as "don't pick at the bumps", or "avoid shaving hair in close proximity to the bump". Obviously, if the bump is already infected and swollen, it would make matters worse if the lesion were to receive several additional lacerations due to contact with a razor blade.

In any case, for more severe cases of razor bumps, there typically aren't too many over-the-counter options for people that are suffering from the condition, and generally, people are advised either to treat the bumps with anti-inflammatory steroids, like cortisol ointments, or use medication used for similar conditions, such as salicylic acid or facial scrubs.

My experience thus far is that none of these treatments actually caused the razor bumps to go away. The cortisol provides some relief, but ultimately, the bumps are still there. The salicylic acid has been largely ineffective, and some other products specifically geared toward treating razor bumps have proved largely ineffective in my case.

Long story short, this dermatology appointment is a major step in the right direction, and for the first time since this condition started, I am hopeful that it will soon come to an end, and I won't have to worry about unsightly bumps covering half of my neckline, and several random patches of missing hair near the boils, as well as skin discolorations and scars near the bumps. I am hoping that the doctors will find a permanent solution for this problem. Why have I put up with the VA for so long? Because medical care even with insurance in the United States is generally very expensive. My company does not have a great medical insurance policy, which means I need to meet a very high deductible before I can start having my medical expenses covered. The "benefit" of these cheap, crappy insurances is that the premium is generally smaller. In spite of that, I try to avoid using this insurance as much as humanly possible, because then I would end up having to pay several thousands of dollars a year in order to have my medical needs taken care of.

In theory, the idea of the Veteran's Administration healthcare system is to provide veterans that honorably served their country with free medical care, but in practice, anyone that actually has to rely on this healthcare system will constantly have issues either getting treatment at all, or getting treatment in a timely manner, which happened to be my particular case with the razor bumps.

I had to go back and forth with the VA, and even wrote a couple letters to my congressperson, before I finally started getting some results. The constant phone calls with hour-long wait times, the several follow-up messages I would have to send through and the constant going around in circles, long story short took nearly a year from when my symptoms first started to finally get to the point where I have a dermatologist within the VA medical system now, and I can get treatments for my skin with little to no cost. Again, provided everything goes well, this appointment should hopefully be the end of a year of misery. Fingers crossed.

Long story short, the reason why I posted this as a news article, as opposed to a regular blog post is because I tend to focus on writing advice articles within my blog. I have in the past had occasional "rant" posts, and I'm thinking in the future moving forward, posts about my personal life which I find to be relevant for discussing self-advocacy can be posted here. I'll play around with this idea for a little bit, and if it becomes too problematic, I will go back to using the main blog instead.

Now that I got that out of the way, it just so happens that there is a relevant update to the website, which most of you probably won't notice. For some reason, there was an indexing issue with the website, which was causing it to have visibility issues on the Google Search Console, which might explain why my website has been getting so little traffic. Hopefully the fixes I have made regarding this should make it easier for the website to be found in the future, once Google finishes indexing the website. I guess if my blog becomes an overnight sensation, it could have been largely due to the fact that it wasn't being found on Google by most people using Google, even if relevant queries were being entered into the search engine. I suppose only time will tell.

According to some estimates, sine this website is still relatively small, it may take as long as 3-4 weeks for all the webpages on the website to be fully indexed by Google. I will closely monitor Google's progress to ensure that there are no further hiccups where that was concerned.

That is not to say I never added my website to Google's Search Console, but that it apparently was very poorly and inefficiently done, so that much of the website remained hidden from search queries. Fingers crossed this fixes that problem, especially considering that Google is the most popular search engine for most people by far.

Anyway, I guess that's it for now. This update will be the "post" for today, in lieu of an actual blog post. Again, this blog will largely be going at "my pace", until I have supporters or fans to answer to, and my life settles down a bit. I will continue to add articles as time and energy allows. Thank you for bearing with me through all of this. Currently this website is maintained and managed entirely by me and me alone, so whenever unfortunate things like the indexing issue with Google happens, if I don't know it's an issue, I'll keep assuming everything is fine, even though it isn't.

And with that, I'm done with my rambling. If any of my readers like my website, I again encourage them to spread the news, so it gets a larger presence on social media and/or search engines. Thank you very much to any and all of my supporters.

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