“and now for something completely different”

mountains nature arrow guide
Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

Remember how I did a post yesterday about my skin care regime? Yeah ignore that. Much like how lives change, the way I take care of my skin is almost as fluid as my skin itself. Let me explain.

Yesterday I was talking about how I was using two products (Eczema Honey Co.’s Nut-Free Natural Healing Cream and Chuckling Goat’s Calm Down Kefir Lotion), and talked a little about them both. Well last night, Fi was fighting the sleep hard and I couldn’t get her down until around 11pm (after trying for 3 hours!), which meant that I didn’t get to catch up on the massive sleep deprivation from the night before. While I was trying to get her to calm down and sleep through various means, I was using the Chuckling Goat lotion on some dry areas (hands, feet, knees) to help work through some light itching. Finally, the little piglet stayed asleep when I put her down and I thankfully succumbed to my own exhaustion, only to be woken up around midnight by myself scratching the sh*t out of my hands, arms, and feet. It was so bad I could feel my skin starting to weep. Here’s a picture of the aftermath on my hand:

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When I woke up enough to realize what I was doing, I took some Benadryl and waited for it to kick in and knock me out. But then I had to wake up at around 3am because Fi has been big into not sleeping through more than 4 hours at a time lately, which was rough (I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to cut your sleep short when taking Benadryl, but it is hard to mentally function afterwards).

Today I started the day off (once the Fi routine was completed) with another bleach bath to help level out my skin, followed by rinsing off using the Chuckling Goat Calm Down soap bar, and then using the Eczema Honey Co cream again. I am still very much enjoying it, in fact, it’s time for a mini review!

Eczema Honey Co is a company where the founders live with eczema themselves (always a plus because you know they are actually experiencing the condition they are treating). They currently have 4 products: their original cream, their nut-free (no almond oil) version, an oatmeal scrub, and cotton gloves, and the cool thing about their line is that they have a monthly subscription, which is lovely because when you have eczema all over your body, you know that you’ll need a lot of product. The one I am using is there nut-free cream and so far I love it. It’s only got a few ingredients (Organic Pure Honey, Grapeseed Oil, Organic Grated Beeswax, Organic Sunflower Oil, Colloidal Oatmeal, Pure Spring Water, and Optiphen), which makes it easier to understand what I’m putting on my body (aka looking up the studies on how specific ingredients affect skin). This is an important factor to consider because our skin is quite absorbent and things we put on it can end up in our hypodermis and/or our blood stream (and this is even more true for people with compromised skin like those of us with eczema). Of note: optiphen is a chemical made of Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, and Sorbic Acid, and the biggest concern with it seems to be that it can be a skin irritant according to EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. My opinion on the product overall is that it seems to be the best thing I have tried up to now. I put it on after baths or showers and it tends to hold in the moisture best like I mentioned in my post yesterday, and it smells nice and seems to be helping reduce the major TSW signs: the redness, the dryness, etc. Jury’s still out as to whether it is helping with the itch (currently it seems my itching is worst 11pm-4am and nothing can fix that minus taking Benadryl to knock me out). All in all I think for now, especially given that I have only used it for a few days now, this is the product I am going to stick with and see where it takes me and my skin. The only less than positive comment I have is that it is a bit sticky, but it’s mostly made of honey, so that’s expected. All in all I’m giving it two thumbs up so far.

Now why do I think I am enjoying this Eczema Honey Co product? It may jusr be because their first ingredient is honey, and honey historically has been used topically to treat wounds. The evidence is still a bit iffy on how effective honey really is on wounds other than partial thickness burns, with some studies toting the antibacterial properties when used for wounds (studied on the wound of a stumptail macaque), and other saying that honey can slow healing (of venous ulcers in particular). But all in all, as with most things, I think it comes down to using what you feel is comfortable (and consulting an open-minded medical professional who you can discuss your concerns and questions) to determine what you want to use for your care.

Speaking of skin (which I almost always am), I am currently reading The Little Book of Skin Care: Korean Beauty Secrets for Healthy, Glowing Skin by Charlotte Cho. So far I’m enjoying it immensely, as it goes into detail about how the Korean skincare regiment works in a nutshell, as well as how the mentality of it differs (Cho says that Koreans enjoy their skin care and don’t think of it as a chore). I am trying to think about how those of us living with eczema/TSW could learn to love our skincare regimes. It feels like such a foreign concept, but I can see how it would be an immensely helpful part of healing. So, I am thinking about how to apply what I’m reading in the book to myself and if it works, subsequently to the eczema/TSW community. Keep your eyes posted for that in a bit!

I also wondered if there are estheticians that specialize in eczema/TSW, because that would be awesome. Another idea I had was that if in some world I could learn Korean, it would be awesome to go to South Korea (with my sister who has been studying Korean for years) and experience their skin care ways for myself. But that’s a pipe dream.

On a complete and utter tangent, all I dream about lately is eating That’s It Bites, the blueberry ones in particular. But actually. I go to sleep wanting them, I wake up wanting them, and then when I am sitting around during the day, especially if I get a little bit hungry, I crave them so badly. I think I’ve latched onto them because:

  1. That’s It bars are so good
  2. blueberries are some of my favorite berries
  3. the chocolate truffle version is delicious, particularly the blueberry one
  4. they don’t have any other ingredients in them besides blueberries, apples, and dark chocolate (cocoa, cane sugar  and cocoa butter), and I’m not eating sweets with ingredients I can’t track

So basically if you are ever feeling like you want to send me something nice… send me those – insert winking face here – !

Anyway, in regards to the title of today’s post, what I meant by taking a new direction is that I am trying to figure out what my focus, both hobby and career-wise, will be. I am accepting that my skin is going to be the limiting factor for a while to come and in that interim I am trying to figure out what I can do, not just in the meantime, but potentially forever. I want to be able to start to commit to things again and know that I’ll still be able to do them even with the worst of flares. I know I’ve dabbled with writing for a while, but now I am thinking of taking it seriously (Glob help me!). If you know of any opportunities, let me know (this is my desperate reach out to the universe)!

Tangential parting thoughts: Did anyome know the reference I made with the post’s title? I credit my dad for why things like that are still stuck in my head today.

 

REFERENCES

Jull AB, Cullum N, Dumville JC, Westby MJ, Deshpande S, Walker N. Honey as a topical treatment for acute and chronic wounds. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2015 Mar 6;(3):CD005083.

Jull AM, Walker N, Deshpande S. Honey as a topical treatment for wounds. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Feb 28;(2):CD005083.

“Optiphen.” EWS Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/732140/OPTIPHEN/. Accessed 17 Oct 2018.

Staunton CJ, Halliday LC, Garcia KD. The use of honey as a topical dressing to treat a large, devitalized wound in a stumptail macaque (Macaca arctoides). Contemp Top Lab Anim Sci. 2005 Jul;44(4):43-45.

rain-somnia

selective photography of glass window with drops of water during nighttime
Photo by Mark Plu00f6tz on Pexels.com

My thoughts at 4am this morning:

Itch-induced insomnia has been a big irritant in my life lately. Once awake, the sweet whispers of my deeply creative but poorly timed imagination spring into gear and I’m left day-dreaming and pondering through all the remaining hours of the night.

Tonight, a mini torrential downpour has started after 4am,  and I am intrigued by how amiable my feelings are towards the storm this day. Normally a grey, cold (for summer), rainy day is grounds for temporary depression as I pine all day longing for the sweet golden rays of the sun, and its many bright possibilities.

But today, I welcome the rain. It comes on a day when I already plan to stay in, with warm (virgin) hot toddies, familiar movies, nourishing home food, and the best cuddlemates I could ask for beside me.

Today, the sounds of the rain drumming on the roof by my window are a delighting orchestral ensemble performing a liquidity symphony to my receptively excited ears.

Today, the inconsistent downpour reminds me of the magic of rain, the primal feeling of newness and cleanness, the rain washing away all the dirt and build-up of previous time to which I mirror by washing away all excessive build-up of thoughts and itchy urges.

Today, I embrace the celestial water overflow as the omnipresent benefactrice to my althaea offinialis, and let the staccato melody lure me back to sleep and into healing.

let’s get creative! (aka freeform fiction writing)

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As I child I always loved reading and subsequently writing as I developed my own worlds in my mind. I have a story I started when I was about 12 years old that I have since molded to reflect various stages in my life over the last 14 years or so. Recently, inspired by my current eczema flare, I decided to personify the flare as a new section of that story. Below is an excerpt. At some point perhaps I’ll continue it.


Another goddamn visit from a Flare. This time it’s the more benign cousin of the usual suspects. She comes only with her mild temper, and only the occasional and light irritation under my skin. Though she does confuse me as to how to get rid of her- and she is particularly chiding to my cheeks and around my neck like an ever present wind that buries under my scarves.
Still, she, who I’ll call M as she is far down the crisis scale, is a mystery. She is particularly nary after I shower and irritates the fuck out of me, but then within 10 minutes or so she leaves me be more or less, minus the occasional heated moment. She tends to be a bit of a blowhard at night, especially when I am trying to get comfortable and sleep, but minus waking me up intermittently until I toss onto my other side, she mostly lets me get my rest. I much prefer her to some of her relatives, though I do wonder how I can slow some of her persistence. Perhaps she’ll leave me alone if I go and soak in the bath for a while. Though I don’t think she comes in barring infections, you never know with these unwanted guests.

“Well boys. It looks as though we’ve got another one,” the detective mused, adjusting his increasingly baggy pants waistline with one hand while he scanned the note held by tweezers in his other. His men picked themselves up from various places in the crime scene and ambled over towards him, hankering to see over his shoulder at the note’s contents.
“Another Flare has been through town. What is the point of the mayor’s extensively expensive Flare-reduction policies, if he can’t keep a- a ‘benign cousin’ from rolling through and wreaking havoc!”

His men grumbled ascension sounds in response. One officer, looking back over the crime scene absent-mindedly, almost unconsciously piqued “But sir, what if this is a worser Flare than we think? It’s possible the hostage was under duress and just using some of those techniques the good head doc has been lecturing. You know ‘mindfulness practices’ and whatnot. Or maybe the hostage has been tormented by so many Flares already, she barely knows when she’s in a bad situation anymore. Couldn’t we have a situation like that at hand here? Until we have the biopsies, we won’t know which Flare we were actually dealing with.”

The detective swiveled around to turn to look at the officer. Swiveling was getting easier now that he’d finally taken up his wife’s request and stopped indulging Sweets.

Officer McCormick. He was a newer recruit, coming from a larger town. Before working in the Eczema Dept he had worked in Staph A. and it was rumored though he was good, the stress got to him so management reassigned him to Eczema to give him some time to find his bearings. He still seemed a bit strung out though.

“Now son,” the detective started gently. “We’ve been dealing with Flares in this town since the town was first declared, and none of them has been higher than a crisis scale of H. And even then it was the result of a consumables gang-mix up triggering some interest on the low grade Flares radars. I know you must have seen a lot coming from where you did, but here in ChroniCity we don’t jump to conclusions until the evidence points us that way. Red will collect the samples for the biopsy and we’ll know who we are dealing with soon.”
“But what if it is more serious! Shouldn’t we alert Anti-Bac and Court’roids just in case we’ll need them here quickly-”
“McCormick! This small town doesn’t have the budget to be dragging out higher-ups on every whim. Like I said before, our ChroniCity is usually pretty peaceful so we will proceed as usual unless we find evidence to the contrary. Got it?”
“Understood, sir.” McCormick responded, feeling unjustly chastised. The other men shuffled about uncomfortably, all unused to hearing the detective bark out.