Saturday, August 16, 2014

I have not disappeared! 18 Months off Steroids!!!

2 days ago marked my 18th month anniversary of TSW.  Yesterday just happened to be my 42nd birthday. I found I was more excited about my TSW milestone than my birthday!  And here's why - after 30 years of consistent topical steroid use, I was not expecting to be nearly all healed at 18 months.  It was wishful thinking but after all the research and reading blogs I did at the beginning of my journey I figured I had a good 2 years ahead of me of the worst symptoms followed by 2 years of smaller but manageable flares.  But I was blessed at 8 months into TSW of finding out about 2 critical elements that I now know have helped heal me much faster - moisturizer withdrawal and treatment of methylation gene mutations.  Methylation is critical for healing - if one has one of the many gene mutations (like MTHFR of MTRR) then one's ability to heal will be poor at best.  But my methylation issue did not just affect my skin - oh no.  It went so far as to allow the topical steroids into my body and wreak more havoc - like liver and adrenal gland damage - which I am still recovering from.  

So where do I stand today?  Well, skin wise I am very good.  Dry skin patches on forearms and face and flaring on my fingers.  That;s it.  For the last 3 months I have had a few bigger flares - most of them lasted about a week and included multiple areas like my neck and chest, forearms and ankles, etc.  However these bigger flares were followed by tons of peeling and super incredible soft skin since.  Then my fingers flared - in all the areas where they didn't flare with my last hand flare.  My hands thankfully are all clear.  But my fingers have been flaring for the last month non-stop.  Lots of swelling and ooze.  I have not oozed like this since the beginning 8 months.  In fact the ooze has been significantly different - first there is no metallic ooze smell.  Which is weird given the copious amounts that dripped off my fingers the first few weeks.  And then there is the texture of it - it was very thick and super sticky - to the point of being tacky.  I thought a few times I could probably use it as glue!  The last few weeks it has been drying out more and more to the point I have not oozed in about 5 to 6 days.  So I think I am at the end of this flare.  I figured the hand and finger flares were as bad as they were because I used large amounts of topical steroid creams on them throughout the years - especially when I became a nurse 17 years ago.  I had to keep them as damage free as possible to avoid getting infections.  

Other parts of my body like my chest, neck, legs, stomach, back, and feet are all super clear.  I am at the point where I no longer go tanning twice a week.  I have only gone about 4 or 5 times the last 2 months.  I cancelled my monthly membership and will only go again if I happen to flare again on a larger scale.  I use nothing on my skin at all.  However I am looking into making my own essential oil balms or creams at some point to use once all my skin is healed.  

The rest of me is still healing.  I went to a doctor about a month ago and had basic lab work done.  It shows my liver enzymes elevated - not through the roof, but not close to normal either.  That means I still have a lot of healing to accomplish.  I started going through adrenal fatigue again - it seemed to improve for awhile but now I find I crash at the low points of my adrenal cycles like 3 pm.  I find I start scheduling my day around this crash.  I have done a lot for my adrenals but I feel they will take a few years longer to heal all the way.  In the meantime I am planning on doing some herbal cleanses - ones I have researched and find to be safe for my body to handle.  While going through TSW, we are in a state of cleansing already - cleansing the toxins from our skin.  I had wanted to do an all body cleanse but knew my body would not handle it well until my skin was in a better place.  Any further cleansing we do will only irritate our skin as toxins are released through many areas including the skin.  I think this is why the whole diet issue is so controversial in TSW - so many people say it does nothing to help.  That's because when one starts a much healthier diet, cleansing to some extent occurs - hence the skin only gets worse or just doesn't get better.  Long term diet changes will be highly beneficial and I believe will help with the overall process of TSW, however there doesn't appear to be any short term benefits because of the cleansing reactions.  So people just throw it to the curb saying it never helped.   Which is sad given healing requires certain proteins and nutrients - when we deprive our bodies of nutrient dense foods and eat a Standard American Diet full of sugar and chemicals, we are only inhibiting our ability to heal properly.  So if you happened to change your diet for a more clean way of eating and see no improvement in a few months time, do not despair and just stick with it - you are what you eat!  And you will heal either way - but personally I'd rather heal sooner rather than later.  

So do I consider myself completely healed?  No not yet but I am definitely out of the clutches of TSW.  I am in the final healing phase.  I sleep well, I can tolerate temperature extremes, I can tolerate sweating without any itching, and I can wear whatever I want.  I am frustrated with my fingers but that's because I need my fingers to do just about everything!  Gauging their progress over the last few weeks I say I have about another 2 weeks of them being irritated and into the final stages of healing over.  I had some severe nerve pain with them the first 2-3 weeks but now they are pain free and no longer swollen.  They just remain sensitive to touching things because the skin is still somewhat raw.  I am looking forward to them healing over!   At this very moment in time I would say my skin is 95-96% healed.  Not too bad for 18 months with a long history!  

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