Tag Archives: skin

A Big Deal

Today I wore a short sleeve shirt for the first time in almost seven years.

Yes, you read that correctly: seven years. For a very, very long time, my arms have been either too sun sensitive and/or too rashy/beat up/bloody to wear anything other than full length sleeves out and about. Today, they are not perfect, but I wore a t-shirt to work without thinking much of it. This is a big deal to me.

(Actually, my outfit today was a t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops, with my hair up in a pony tail. I got multiple compliments on my appearance from my students, which made me laugh. I never dress this down for work, and apparently they think I should more often. ha!)

Thanks to phototherapy, my life is much easier right now. My legs and feet are practically PERFECT. I can’t stop touching and staring at them. The rest of me still isn’t all that great, but I accept small victories and am cherishing these better days.

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Ouch

Month 13 off the ‘roids (ha) hasn’t been too kind. My skin took a few steps back in recent weeks.

See my arms:

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Much worse than my last update, right? I KNOW.

These pictures show my arms recently “greased up” with all my moisturizers. Otherwise my skin is dry dry dry, even more so than usual (which hardly seems possible to me) . I don’t have pictures of the rest of my body, but you can get the idea.

Some people I’ve met on facebook and the ITSAN forum describe the withdrawal like a roller coaster, and I’ve heard others say that healing “takes us one step forward and two steps back.” Others are a bit more forthright: this itchy bastard fucking sucks. I’d agree with all those people.

When I regress like this, the first couple of weeks are the most difficult. This is because every single time I get even a tiny bit better I become used to it instantly. After the initial shock and discomfort, I start to grow accustomed to my new normal until it all clears up a little more again.

Despite how long this is taking and how frustrating the unpredictability of it is, I feel more and more confident that all this will end for me. Sometimes I think about the if onlys and feel mad at myself. For example: if only I’d started my withdrawal when all this started 4.5 years ago I’d be long done with this by now. Or if only I hadn’t taken x, y, and z drugs along the way, because who knows how messed up my body’s going to be when I’m fifty.

Oh well. Hindsight is always 20/20. At least I can say that I really didn’t know. I really, really had no idea.

 

 

Setbacks

My blog is boring these days because my skin is a mess again. This means that I haven’t been taking pictures, I haven’t been leaving the house much aside from going to work each day, and I haven’t much felt like writing. Ugh.

I am not as bad as I was last summer and fall, but after eight weeks of feeling decent (I still can’t use the word good, unfortunately), it really sucks going backward.

Thankfully, my face is nowhere near as bad as it was months ago. It’s less red, irritated, and dry, and is much smoother overall. This past week I’ve dealt with some additional dryness/flakiness around my mouth (my problem zone) and forehead, but that’s about it on my face. The bulk of my issue right now are my torso and arms. My back and shoulders, in particular. It’s a dry, bumpy, cut-up mess. I am slathering on so much oil each day that I’m afraid of ruining my clothes, which is why I’ve been wearing Chris’s white Hanes t-shirts every day. Yes, to work. Good thing it’s winter and I can wear cardigans to (sort-of) cover them up.

While I am severely frustrated and find myself on the verge of a mental breakdown every morning before work, the calm, rational side of me knows that this is all part of the arduous healing process. In fact, so many people I’ve “met” on the online forum speak of late-stage flares after periods of mild breaks. I’m about to enter my tenth month of withdrawal, so I suppose I should feel comfort knowing that my symptoms, though hellish, aren’t out of the ordinary. After feeling like the only person in the universe dealing with these complex symptoms for a few years, the idea of fitting into someone else’s mold does console me.

While this post probably makes me sound quite depressed, I really am trying to stay happier this time around. I’m trying not to imagine an entire month (or winter) with skin like this, but rather focusing just on this one day, or one hour. When I actually do this, it does help. Another thing: I’ve been thinking about my happiness transcending my skin – that is, being happy regardless of whether I get better or not. For too long, my happiness has been hinged on how my skin is feeling each day, and I really hate that. I want to be able to say yes this awful, but I am still a happy person. This is easier for me to do now than it was a year ago.

Anyway, I know posts like this are not why anyone stops by this blog, but I need to say some of these things now so I have something to look back on. Even though I’ve done a good job convincing myself that, once this is all over, I just want to forget every last one of these bad days, that would be stupid. Then I might not remember how lucky I am.

Eight Months

On October 20th, I took this picture:

On October 24th, I took this picture:

Whoa, Nellie! This is what we call “the ooze.” It feels even worse than it looks.

And here is a picture of my face on November 14th (which is about what it still looks like right now):

The past eight months have certainly been a roller coaster (and I’m certain the ride is nowhere near over), but I am currently having the longest period of “feeling decent” that I’ve had since before I started my withdrawal. The other day, I even put on my wedding ring for the first time since May. My fingers had been too swollen for it to fit. While it is still tighter that usual, at least I can get it on! And one more thing: I hardly even think about my sun sensitivity at all anymore. I was telling Chris last night that I’ve already gotten used to not worrying about walking from the house to the car unprotected with sunblock or a hat, or from the house to work, or in the car, or while out and about on overcast days. (I’m still hesitant to go out in full sun without a hat, but that should be possible when all this is over, too!). It’s amazing how much lighter my life feels not having to worry so much about that anymore. And to think my doctors thought this was an allergy I’d just have to deal with. Psshhaw!

I’ll have to remember these encouraging signs if/when things get tough again. More and more, I am so confident I am on the right path to getting better SOON!

Face It

Today my face is having the best day since probably February!

The rest of me is feeling decent, too, and I am celebrating by repeatedly hitting my computer’s refresh button to get election updates from CNN.com.

Probably tomorrow my skin will be back to this as I am so stressed out right now.

I hope everyone exercised your right to vote today. Speaking of, I vote to make Election Day a federal holiday. Doesn’t it only make total sense to allow the time for Americans to get out and cast their vote? Hours of waiting in pole lines do nothing to help encourage someone on the fence to take the time and make a choice. Just saying.

Here is the picture that “Charlotte” colored this morning. We proudly hung it in our window!

Thankful

Wow. Who would have thought that a close-up picture of my decrepit cheek would generate five times as many hits for the blog today than every other day for the past week? *So that’s how you generate blog traffic.*

No, I’m kidding. I had no idea so many people would read this post. THANK YOU, all, for the kind, encouraging, and supportive words. I didn’t think I needed that, which is part of the reason I’ve been so quiet about all this on the blog (and in real life), but as it turns out, maybe I did. The love and encouragement from your words today lifted me up and reminded me that I don’t have to let this be such a lonely thing.

Thank you. xoxo.

The Tough Stuff

My skin used to be one of my best physical attributes.

But now, this:

Ouch.  Going to work like this is so much fun, said no one ever.

Topical Steriod Addiction and Withdrawal is what I’m going through, and apparently, it’s normal that my skin is looking like this right now. (At least, I’m really hoping it is.) I’m six months into my withdrawal and am probably looking at another year at least until I’m significantly better. You’ve probably never heard of TSA/W….I never had until last February. You should check out the link, and if you are feeling generous, donate. This website (The International Topical Steriod Addiction Network) saved my life.

This is why the blog has been quiet for the past week or so. I’ve been writing a post about all this in my head for months now. One day I’ll put it on paper (erm, computer screen). 

Anyway, thanks so much for checking in every day! Here’s a cute picture of Charlotte to make you smile. She’s “riding” her horses. 🙂