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Saturday, 27 October 2012

Day #53 Unexpected Life Lessons

I maintain you must always focus on the silver lining, as life is about solutions, not problems.  Keeping your mind open and looking for the upside, you will always win.  Today I wanted to talk about something very positive to come out of my recovery, a life lesson if you will.

The last few years of my life have been played at breakneck speed, always doing things, working late, partying hard, women, booze, sports, travel, there has barely been a spare moment... and I loved it.  That said, it is possible to fall in love with bad habits, and this process has certainly taught me a lot about slowing down and even reconnecting with my parents.

1.) Slowing down
My work alone (advertising agency) is extremely stressful, coordinating our largest accounts, our staff and our company operational strategy.  By the end of a work day I am absolutely exhausted, and traditionally I would then push myself to go play sport, followed by meeting friends for drink or maybe a late date.

I've never been good at slowing down, the only time I really relaxed was overseas and even then I am accustomed to doing everything.  What I've leaned through this process is how to cut out distractions, focus inwardly and listen to my body.  In time gone past I could never take a midday nap, now I can do it with my eyes closed (deliberate joke).

2.) Reconnecting with my parents
This is a funny one, because I have the world's best parents and we've always had a brilliant relationship.  Being in recovery mode, I've been forced to take a back seat, allow them to look after me and be thankful for their support.  In time gone past I've been so independant I've actively pushed them off, but now I find myself truly appreciative of their support.

Sitting back and allowing people to help, makes you appreciate them and their issues.  I feel guilty for all the times I've come over for dinner and spent the whole time talking about myself.  Over the past month I've learned so much about their lives, thoughts and inner workings.  I feel closer to them than ever before, and comforted by their mere presence.

I guess the meaning of this post is to encourage you to look at the upside, appreciate what you have in life, and look forward to the future.  If you are positive, it's really not that bad, in fact, in a lot of ways it's very good.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Day #50 - Red skin flare up

A celebration today, I reached day #50 of my red skin recovery from topical steroid skin addiction.  Unfortunately it also marked a flare up, brought on by stress I believe.  Work gave me a couple tough days and I could feel it coming on.  Yesterday it was starting to dry out and weep a little on my chest, and today it was much worse.  By the time I got home from work, my body was covered in dry skin and cracks that bleed when you rub them.

The positive is that the flare is less severe than in times gone past, but it's not pleasant.  I've wrapped my legs in glad wrap tonight to try and keep some moisture in them.  The severe swelling is seriously uncomfortable and I can only get my feet into very flexible running shoes, no chance of leathers.

I'm hoping this flare only lasts a few days, that would be a sign that it's getting better.  I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Cortisone Addiction Recovery - Day #48

My recovery from cortisone addiction, my skin has begun to strengthen, the colour is getting better and my all-round comfort is improving.  The shock to the system of completely removing cortisone steroids was enormous and I'm still battling lots of symptoms (see cortisone addiction symptoms), but overall it's a very positive story and I'm looking forward to the future.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Day #44 Good recovery but very tired

Thursday and Friday were a little rough, but come Saturday morning I'm feeling good.  My skin has gained some strength and a number of the small cuts on my chest and back have healed up.  The dry skin on my body has reduced significantly and this allows the moisturiser to last longer and keep me comfortable.

I haven't been going out much because I get uncomfortable easily, but today was no problem to go visit a friend for coffee, then drop into a Thai massage joint for an hour long relaxing massage.  It was a great feeling to do something a little social and fun.

Interestingly however, even though my body is feeling better, I'm tired as hell.  I slept til 12 today, then had another nap at 5pm.  All day I've been exhausted, not like chronic fatigue, I could force myself through it if I wanted to, but I choose to let the body heal and not push it.

The only other thing worth noting is that we are coming into Summer at the moment and today was a great opportunity to lay naked in the sun for 30 minutes.  I really feel like the sun does terrific stuff for me.  On the forums they say that sun only help you latter in recovery, but the couple times I've done it have made me feel and look better, so I maintain that any sun you get is a good thing (just in moderation of course).

Hope everyone is feeling as good as me.


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Recovery Day #40 - Quick Healing

It's amazing how quick it can change. Waking up this morning I still felt unable to go to work, but had a commitment to run the morning meeting. I got into the office at 10am, feeling like hell, hot red and sore.

At 12.30 I went to the doctor to have a look at my ear (turns out it's infected internally), and realised my skin was so dry and sore I had to go home and moisturize. I was worried this would be the end of my day, but interestingly the skin had healed significantly since leaving that morning and once I applied the moisturizer to the dry skin and lay down for an hour, I was actually feeling good.

When I got home from the office I was dry again, but soon after moisturizing I was feeling really good and now as I sit on the couch I'm feeling limber and good.... here's hoping it gets even better over night. I have an 8.30 meeting, really hoping that my face won't be bright red after the shower.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Topical Steroid Addiction Symptoms - First 5 weeks

There have been a lot of annoyances I've had to live through thus far, I though I'd take this opportunity to outline them and their affect.

1.) Loss of hair - My hair is very sparse on my head now, and scalp is often covered with cradle cap.  On top of this my eyebrows have basically vanished, once very bushy, now almost non-existent.  My beard also is down to a very small tuft on the chin, nothing else will grow at the moment.

2.) Weeping skin - On and off, my chest, arms & legs, usually one at a time burn red and the top layers of skin strip off revealing a watery mess that lasts many days and leaves me shirtless while it heals.  It's very uncomfortable state and I can barely move off the couch when in this state (usually about 4 - 5 days)

3.) Swollen feet and legs - Have been severely swollen for about a month now, the affects of which have led to dry cracked feet and regular discomfort in that area.

4.) Weepy ears - Behind my ears is constantly split and weeping.  The minute I lay my head on a pillow, shower in the morning inadvertently scratch it, they stay wet for some time and dry with a horrible looking flaking around it... leading you to to to remove the crust, which often produces more weeping.

5.) Very red face & hands - This one goes without saying, but it's hard to live with knowing that you look severally sun-burnt.  The redder it is, the more it peels and exfoliating the peeling leads to more redness.  Best practice is just to keep coating with thick moisturizer until it eventually abates.

6.) Full body dry itchy skin - It's amazing how much dry skin appears and flakes everywhere.  I can't help myself, I'm constantly scratching it off, not necessarily because it's itchy, but because it feels uncomfortable and you want it to be smooth.  It's very hard not to scratch in front of people.

7.) Sore bones and neck - Caused by being uncomfortable and hunched over a lot.  My neck in particular is very sore.

8.) Inability to sleep - It can be very difficult getting to sleep or sleeping long periods.  I've resorted to Valium (a couple tablets a night) when I haven't had sleep for a couple days.  It is tough when you spend a few days on the couch dozing and then when you heal, you try to go back to a normal sleep habit... very hard to adjust.

9.) Eczema in my joints have appeared again, this is the worst I have ever seen it, dry and cracked and takes a long time to heal.

10.) Small cracks on different parts of my chest, back and stomach.  These small cracks (like eczema) get very sore, dry and stiff.  They cause immense pain if not kept moist.

11.) Blood nose - This only happened once, but rubbing my nose tonight I got my first ever blood nose (in my life).  I can only assume this is related to the thinning of the skin caused my topical steroids.

12.) Staph Infection - This is common in thin skin (that is scratched regularly), and an immune system that is weak and playing up doesn't help.

13.) Dark blue bruised skin from scratching.  The skin is so thin that in particular after showering, a scratch of the legs can leave them dark blue with bruising.  This heals quickly, but looks terrible for a few hours.

14.) Cracked Achilles heel - This is a small one, but very hard to heal with moisturizer, as you have to wear socks even when around the home... this takes a lot of time.

15.) Dry skin litters the house like you have never seen.  The house needs to be vacuumed daily, the sheets and clothes cleaned almost daily.  It's hard to believe you can generate that much dry skin.  Under my desk at work is a constant patch of white on the floor, as is anywhere else i go.  When I got o meetings I pray that the chairs won't be black or I'll leave a trail behind me....

16.) Crusty eyes - Every morning I wake with my eyes crusted over.  It's a horrible feeling as they break the seal and I rush to the bathroom to splash water on them and free them of their binding.  By the same token every morning my face is covered in dry skin that can be tough to get off without causing bleeding or extreme redness.

17.) Psychological trauma - I'm an extremely outgoing guy, always doing something, seeing people, going out, playing sport, on the move.  Since starting this recovery I have only left the house for essentials or to go to the office.  Psychologically it's daunting, you just want to bury yourself until it's all over, even when you are looking fine.  It's really important to let the people around you (friends, colleges, family, clients) what you are going through, they are amazingly supportive and once you get the elephant out of the room, it becomes easier to maintain some level social interaction, even if just a very small amount.

18.) Restricted movement - A symtom of dry skin, it's hard to go from being sporty and athletic to having the body of a 70 year old.  If I was asked to dive to catch a ball right now I couldn't do it, where a mere 5 weeks ago I wouldn't have even blinked an eye.

19.) Ear infection - As your ears are always weeping they are prone to infection.  It's good to use cotton wool to keep them dry, particularly at night.

20.) Scalp infection - As the scalp is dry and flaky, it's almost irresistible not to scratch it.  Be very careful as once infected it's extremely hard to recover, even with anti-biotics you keep scratching it open again for weeks on end.
21.) Inability to regulate temperature - It's hell always being too cold or hot.  It stops you sleeping, leaved you either sweating and wet, or shaking and cold.  It's terrible in an office environment...

22.) Large sore lumps under the skin - I'm having these scanned tomorrow, but I have developed a couple very large, sore lumps in my arms.  The doctor didn't know what they might be, definitely not lymph-nodes.  It makes it hard to sleep and restricts my movements.

There's probably many more, but feel free to add to them, or ask questions below and I'll be happy to offer my support.  For all of these symptoms, treat them with medication, ice or any other prevailing medicine, know that they are short term and you will get through it, it's just the cortisone and your immune system having a hissy fit.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Week 5 Red Skin Flare Up

On Wednesday I had a very stressful day at work, I could feel myself deteriorating from midday and by the time I got home I was very uncomfortable, I knew this was the start of a flare up,my chest was red and tender, itchy and sore. The next day was worse, my chest became weepy, only a very thin layer of skin remained on my upper chest and I could feel it pulling away from my body as I lay under warm blankets. For 4 days I did absolutely nothing but lay on the couch. Splits in my skin; underarms, elbows, heels and chest made moving uncomfortable and all the areas that were non-weepy were creating massive amounts of dry hard skin. Today is Monday morning, and whilst I'm improved to the point where I m not weepy, I'm still uncomfortable, itchy and not wanting to go into the office. My hands are bright red, that continues all the way up my arms. My face is very red, yet at least smooth (no dry peeling bits). Overall I look like I'm on fire... it's not a good look