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Podcast Episode 11 – Vaginal Health Part 1

Hi down there. How are you doing? I hope you’re alright. I’ve realized that I don’t know very much about you, and as I get older, I’m really paying for my ignorant behavior. Let’s try to change that shall we?

Indeed, although my vagina is SUCH AN IMPORTANT PART OF MY BODY yet I have neglected getting to know it on a close and loving basis. The result no doubt is a lot of pain and scary visits to the gynecologist. Not to mention expensive. In the journey of us trying to get to know our vaginas better, however, I realized that even health professionals are still culturally shy in educating women about our own organs.

Dr. Michelle Dawn Shen

So one of the steps I took to fix that is to have an open conversation with my dear friend Dr. Michelle Dawn Shen of Rajawali Hospital about vaginal health. The talk was amazing, and we went more in-depth than I expected, so I’ve divided it up to 2 parts.

In this first part, Dr Michelle shared some great insights on vaginal fungus (yeast infection), how NOT to get it, and also on cervical cancer. Her voice is brilliantly hilarious and satirically spot-on, and I hope you will learn some really important insights into vaginal health. I know I certainly did.

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My Acne Journey, part 1

May 2008, With dear friend Katie Velasco (now Katie Crosby).

I’ve had acne for as long as I can remember. Oops, scratch that – I’ve played piano longer (I started piano when I was 6 years old). What I mean is, it feels like I’ve had acne forever. If you see pictures of my skin looking alright now, it’s probably the Tiktok filter, or just the right light hitting at the perfect moment and I’m quickly pointing to my husband Cung saying “Hurry! Take a photo now!”

My acne journey has gotten better since the lockdown – interesting how the pandemic improved my skin quality. I think it’s a combination of not being out so much in the polluted air of Bandung and Jakarta, getting more sleep, drinking more water, eating great supplements, using aloe vera, and using all-natural skincare products.

Complicated eh? You bet. Way too many factors. That’s skincare for you, especially if you have sensitive or combination skin. It’s seriously way more complicated than relationships.

My skin is much more complicated than any relationship I’ve been in. And I’ve been in a lot.

The first outbreak of my acne journey started in junior high when I was about 14 or 15, and continued on until my mid-20s. I’ve tried everything under the sun, even – look don’t judge me here – even my own urine. I think it’s something called urine therapy. It’s far-out, I know. But I was desperate. I didn’t feel good, nor beautiful.

Drastic Actions

May 2011, in Texas. Taken by roommate Hye Young Lois Bang

When I finally got sick of my acne, I decided to try hormonal meds. The hormones were so strong the dermatologist said I have to stop eating this 1 year before I want to have kids. Well luckily, I didn’t plan to have kids soon. But I did plan to end my acne, whatever it demanded.

So I consumed the meds, and IT WORKED. However, when I was not taking it, my pimples would start to appear. That’s why I kept taking it for about 5 years until 2020.

To be honest, it was fine for those 5 years. My acne disappeared and I was happy. One day, all that hormonal build-up finally showed side effects.

In October 2020 I developed vaginal cysts.

To be continued to part 2.

Acne can be debilitating for self confidence. If you need a reminder of your beauty, read this poem.