Monday, June 17, 2013

1 Month of TSW - changes

Yesterday was my first official month being on my Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW) journey. 

I suppose I should update on this past month and reflect though at this point, I'm still feeling pretty ambivalent about the whole thing. I suppose feeling this way is better than my initial despair and elation roller coaster. 

I've had to adjust my lifestyle quite a bit to adjust into the TSW lifestyle which I anticipate will be my state for at least several months. I’ll try to cover the negative first just so I can end on a positive note. 

(1) Daily schedule: 

Because my skin is so finicky, I can only be “out” for about 8-10 hours before I really start feeling anxious and itchy. “Out” can be for work, shopping, etc. Before I go “out” I must shower, moisturize, and choose appropriate clothing which normally is a long sleeve and long pants. The long sleeve should be soft enough as it doesn’t rub against my skin and generate flakes because as I’ve learned more times than once, it can disturb my schedule since I feel like I have to tear my shirt off to scratch my dead skin off. 

In addition, I can only go “out” to familiar places because driving new routes where I may feel nervous makes my whole skin tense up. Ever see a yellow light and have a moment where you’re not sure what to do and get a chill in your spine? Now, I feel that chill in all of my skin. 

(2) Sleep:

My bed is where I used to find solace at night. Now, it’s something I get a bit nervous about because I anticipate itching. In order to make my bed the most comfortable place it can be, I have bought new sheets so that I can wash my sheets approximately every 3 days and have a new set each time. 

Now, I can’t just wear any old pajamas to bed, but only a freshly laundered long sleeve shirt. I’ve experimented with sleeping in my birthday suit vs wearing a shirt and have found that if my clothes move with me, they protect me from feeling the dead skin cells whereas in my birthday suit, I feel like I’m rolling in a bed of flakes. 

The sheet set I settled on. That's not actually my bed but it does look quite serene :)

(3) Doggy: 

Sadly, I had to give my dog to my mom for the time being. I realized early on in TSW that I couldn’t hangout so closely with my dog anymore as she shed quite a bit of hair and it just added another thing that could exacerbate my skin. At first, I tried to just let her sleep by my bed in her own doggy bed but soon I realized she was getting depressed as well :( Also since I was not moving as much she was just lazing about most of the day and I could tell she was getting antsy to go out. Because of all this, I decided to let her go live with my mom where she could roam a bit more free and hang out with my mom’s dog. 

My doggy. This was her longing to be pet :T

(4) Physical activity: 

I used to be a gym rat. I’d spend 4-5 days a week at the gym. My health really started to decline this year and I got sick for a few months followed by the burn on my leg. Finally, I decided to start TSW as a part of getting healthier but unfortunately it comes along with living a life of a shut in for the most part. I learned quickly that doing a lot of physical exertion was not possible with TSW as, just like with the yellow lights, any stress could be felt throughout my skin. 

Instead, I opt for movies, computer games, listening to stand up or podcasts. On weekdays, it’s enough to keep my mind off of my skin for the few hours before bed. But, on weekends it gets quite tedious toward the afternoon. 

Lately, I’ve been trying to integrate low intensity yoga or short walks outside into my daily routine. The yoga really helps me relax and unwind and the walks allow me to get some fresh air but I still have to be wary of the sun as after a few minutes of exposure, my skin does start to feel like it’s burning. 

(5) Nutrition:

Out of necessity, I’ve really started watching what I eat. I’m opting for anti-inflammatory choices with my go-to’s being salmon, kale, sweet potato, spinach, and anything else with omega 3s. I haven’t really noticed an effect of eating poorly as I still do have random fast food runs but the switch really couldn’t hurt right? 

In addition to choosing healthier foods, I’m also taking a fish oil supplement for added omega 3 fatty acids. This is one of the more positive things that has come out of this whole adjustment. It’s really not all that difficult for me to eat whole foods with healthy compounds and I was always dragging my feet to adopt this lifestyle but if my health demands it, I have to find a way to do it. 

All in all, my life has become so regimented that I feel like I’m a robot going through the motions. I think it’s helping me to stay balanced as I go through this journey. When I think things are getting a bit too monotonous, I try to remind myself that after this is all over, I will have all the time in the world to do whatever I want with a new healthy layer of skin. 

As far as my skin goes, it seems better. I’m pretty sure my initial flare is over. Thank goodness for the reduction in redness, but my skin still itches and sheds like hell. So does that make me a pale skin now?

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