Day 346

Posted: February 2, 2014 in Le voyage

My skin continues to improve, albeit really slowly now. I feel that I have entered into the ‘stagnation’ phase where improvements are becoming less discernible as has the flares become less painful. From mid November ’13 to early January ’14, my skin was almost ‘normal’. I was in the post ‘rage’ period – spanning July ’13 to August ’13 – then, and caught a glimpse of the life that would have been if I had never gotten addicted to steroids in the first place, and the imminent life that will be come the end of this ordeal. The past three weeks saw my skin turn bad and itchy – predictably, as my withdrawal is characterized distinctly by ups and downs. I scratched and picked at my skin. But the intensity of the flare was mild compared to those I endured earlier into the withdrawal. The three week flare seemed to have passed and my skin is entering into yet another post flare period. Flares are now much more tolerable and less agonizing. The overall health of my skin has improved tangibly.

In my previous post, I classified my skin into three categories – Primary, Secondary and Tertiary areas with differential addiction to steroids. Approaching the one year mark, I will say that the tertiary areas are 100% healed, while the secondary areas are almost 100% healed. All that is left are the primary areas behind my knee, on my wrist, on my neck, folds on the arms and pre orbital area that will need more time.

I started my steroid withdrawal in February ’13. I started my moisturizer withdrawal in July ’13. And since then I have not looked back. Making that decision to withdraw from moisturizer was as painful, considering that I have been using moisturizer for as long as I have been using steroids. But it was also a necessary one – in my opinion at least – and I am glad I realized that early. For those who have just started out on this journey, the outlook may be bleak, the circumstance painfully hopeless and words of encouragement become mere platitudes. But tough times will pass, they won’t last. And when it all ends, you will hardly even remember the pain you went through to get the gold.

2013-07-17 11.00.59 Fotor0202142523Fotor0202143621

That was me during the July – Aug ’13 period.

 

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The state of my skin as of today, 2nd Feb 2014.

Day 314

Posted: January 1, 2014 in Le voyage

2013 has been a wretched year for me. I started my withdrawal on the 22nd of February 2013. And for the next 8 months, I struggled badly with TSW. At its mildest, I functioned almost like a normal person. I even went to work between April and June. But the whimsical nature of this withdrawal means that at any moment, the ugly head of TSW will turn around to confront – nary a warning. I suffered badly. At its worst, I was thrusted into the deepest pit of despair. Wallowing about the mire, there was scarcely, if any hope. Thoughts of throwing in and giving up surfaced. Doubts began its slow descend onto me. I began scrutinizing the decision I made and wondered if I had got it all wrong. Things eventually improved and by late October, the worst was clearly over.

Just when the light at the end became discernible, my world had to crumble. My grandmother passed away. My dearest kin, the women I loved the most. My friend, motivation, emotional dependence, listening ear, companion, my everything was gone – all so suddenly. I knew that I had spent little time with her that year due to my skin and was already planning on spending a lot more time with her in 2014. I was looking forward to the days ahead. Every single day into this withdrawal was one day closer to recovery. The number of days became of great significance to me as they bring me hope. The hope of once again seeing her and spending quality time with her. I did not visit her for over 3 months. She wanted to visit me some time in August, but I rejected her request, as I was in a messed back then and did not want her to see me in such a state. She never will visit me again. My life has been so profoundly changed by this loss. Things will never be the same again.

To all skin warriors out there. Whatever the phase of this journey you may be in right now, suffering is but a common denomination. Do not deprive your family and friends of the desire to visit you, if they genuinely would like to. Do not shut yourself up and lock yourself in. Open up to them if they want to talk to you. I understand that you may be feeling down and do not wish for any visit. You may not want your loved ones to be worried when they see you in your current state. You may not wish to talk much about your predicament. But remember that for those who truly love you, the double blow of seeing you in this state and yet unable to do anything to relief your pain is more than what you are going through. Having experienced for myself the pain I felt when my grandmother was suffering in the hospital – while I was helpless – I cannot imagine the pain I would have to bear had she not allowed me to be by her side, for fear of getting me hurt. I would be devastated.

Treasure those whom you love and who love you. Do not be distracted by affairs of this world. Do not let materialistic pursuits lead you away from the things that really matter in life. Human relationship is the only thing that will last. Everything else is but temporary. The sense of achievement and satisfaction of success will mean nothing if our loved ones aren’t there to share the joy with us.

2013 has been a wretched year for me. It might have been a bad year for many, especially fellow skin warriors. But regardless of what is to come along this journey of uncertainty, one thing is certain. At the background of most of our busy lives lie a group of people. They may not be occupying the central stage. They may not even be in the foreground.  But we know that they will always be there, whatever happens.

A new year begins with resolutions. Make pushing them into your central stage one of them.

Day 271

Posted: November 20, 2013 in Le voyage

I am 2 days away from my 9th month. Skin continues to improve. I am now able to leave my home clad in a short sleeve top and bermudas, without feeling too conscious about my skin. My sleep is almost normal. At this instant, I would say that I am 80% healed. A little dry patch behind my knee and on my wrist. My neck and stomach itch a little bit. Forearms have almost recovered. Facial skin is now almost normal. Inner thigh is smooth. Calf itches a little.

I am not sure if there will be further dips in my skin, but I am confident that would there be dips, they will be minor and short lived. One thing that I would like to point out – Moisturizer recovery does seem to speed up the withdrawal. I stopped using moisturizer for 4 months now, and I never regret one bit. Go check out moisturizer withdrawal, I am confident that it could be the key to shortening this frightening withdrawal.

Day 254

Posted: November 3, 2013 in Le voyage

A short update on my skin for the past three weeks.

I experienced a dip between the 18th and 25th October. I am not sure if it is my third rage, but I experienced more discomfort than usual. There was a little oozing behind my knee which was quite badly torn open by my incessant scratching – back of knee was the worst off. Parts of my inner thigh were also affected. I experienced some discomfort around my stomach – possibly the slightest tinge of burning. I scratched my arms and neck as they were dry and itchy. Both my jawlines extending to ear region were itchy and mildly flaky. My wrists developed thick oozing crust that itched. Pre-orbital and upper lips was also affected. That’s about all.

Some pictures from the month of October.

Fotor1103131454        Others montage

Fotor1103134316       Arms Collage

The area behind my knee has seen much improvement from those shown in the collage. But I am too lazy to take pictures as the back of the knee is not an easy place to get good shots. Skin-wise I am much better off now as opposed to during that week long dip. I seriously do not know if this is the third rage. Simply because I expected something much worst. I am hopeful though that the worst is over.

Day 230

Image  —  Posted: October 10, 2013 in Le voyage

Day 212

Posted: September 22, 2013 in Le voyage

After like forever, my journey is finally seven months old. No big deal really, for the holy grail is as elusive as ever. My skin has got much catch up to do, and I am far away from complete healing. I basically categorize my eczematic skin into 3 different groups – Primary, secondary and tertiary. The primary areas are areas which, for the past decade, received the largest quantity of steroids. Secondary areas would be areas inflicted by a later onset of eczema – roughly a year and a half ago – and received moderate amounts of steroids. The tertiary areas are the last areas to develop eczema and where I applied the least amounts of steroid.

Before I cease topical steroids, my eczema was spreading a little. Unlike other skin warriors, the spread was controlled and mild, rather then rampant. I, for the first time, developed nummular eczema on the back of both my forearms. I was given steroids whose effect were short lived, before I ditched the steroids altogether. Right now, the tertiary areas are smooth, very smooth. But I wonder if they will last. Secondary and primary areas are still bad. Neck and back of my knee are the worst – they itch quite a bit. So are the pre-orbital and upper lip. The back of my palm and arm folds are decently bad. As for the secondary areas, stomach. shoulder and bicep areas are decently bad. Forearm is a little rough, while the back of my forearm where the nummular eczema were is totally smooth.

All in all I feel fine without being too comfortable, except for my face where I feel very uncomfortable. I avoid going out in the day as sweating makes me itch. It’s been seven months, but frankly speaking, I can’t tell if my skin is getting better. Yes, I do recover from the rages. As for the eczema – unfortunately – I need more time to convince myself. If not for the overwhelming anecdotal evidences, I doubt I would still persist in this journey. 

Day 204

Posted: September 14, 2013 in Le voyage

Just a short update. I am one week away from month number 7. Since my last post, my skin continued to improve. In fact the improvements made over the past 2 weeks were the most rapid and drastic throughout my post rage period – more so than the previous 4 weeks. I remember noting that this second post rage was different from my first, in that the recovery is slow and not as drastic as the first. I am relief to say that my skin is currently in a fine state and is similar to the state I was in during the best times of my first post rage period.

But topical steroid withdrawal is 1 step forward and 2 steps back, I am expecting a third rage. I experienced a 3 month period of relative calmness after my first rage, and if things were to adhere to a reassuring pattern, I would expect this second spell of calmness to outlast 3 months and a shorter and less intense rage number 3. Whatever, I yearn to see my skin continue to improve. Having better skin makes me feel better holistically. In fact almost 70% of my skin is now smooth to the touch.

I still itch here and there as and when – especially my neck. My eye lids are still a little rashy and behind the rest of my skin in this post rage period. I am sleeping better, but still feel tired. Whatever, I just want to see consistent progress until the rage hit again. I really hope to be on track, on the right track towards good health.