Tuesday, January 14, 2014

8 Month Update: Adjustments to routine, Moisturizer withdrawal continues...

Guys, I think I need a taller collar

2nd day since showering, skin's a bit flaky

All joking aside, this adjustment to moisturizer withdrawal has not been that bad.

The current condition of my skin is decent. Face, pretty healed except for periphery and upper lip having flakes. Neck down is all fuzzy with flakes. Extra itchy and larger flaking areas are wrists, knees, chest, back of neck, chin, ankles. Actual eczematic looking skin (by this I mean red, oozing, scaling) is contained to left ring finger, and tops of feet close to the toes and 2nd toe of left foot. I deal with these areas by applying tea tree oil or silver gel and then trying to leave them alone. Feet are covered w/ bandages/tissues then wrapped up in socks with leggings tucked in at all times.

This month, my seventh month in TSW, is the month of moisturizer withdrawal. It seems to be the latest rage in the TSW community and I think there are valid points to giving it a try. My skin has become stronger. Specifically when I have scratch fits, my skin doesn't ooze out or break unless I really have at it.

My highlights of my first few weeks of moisturizer withdrawal including how I dealt with each:
  • Pain similar to first month of TSW first couple weeks, I coped with it by using pain killers sparingly.
  • Tightness in skin of first couple weeks has dissipated. Driving (and moving around in general) was difficult in the beginning so I'd recommend staying in bed if possible.
  • Flakes started out thick and large, have become fine but still persistent. Change clothes often! I changed clothes 2x a day when my flakes would build up in my clothes. I'm currently changing clothes 1-2x a day still. If I feel itch building up, I change clothes.
  • Itch fits continue to stick around, though less and less frequent. I try to avoid scratching b/c it's counter productive (case in point, my foot) to healing but I have had a good number of scratching fits and it's ok. Cover as much skin with TIGHT clothing as possible. Prevents direct scratching of skin and movement of flakes. I wear shirts with thumb holes, leggings tucked into socks.
  • No moisturizer also means NO LIP BALM! My lips became intensely chapped and cracked in first two weeks. Later, skin thickened, then peeled off to reveal softer skin which has persisted.

One major change that I've introduced into my routine is reduced washing. Previously, I routinely took a comfortably warm shower a day, approximately 15 minutes, including shampooing my hair once a day. The past few weeks, I have washed once per day Monday through Friday, then taken the weekend off of showers. My scalp was shedding like crazy so I adjusted to only washing hair Monday and Thursday with baking soda for my scalp followed by a 1:5 apple cider vinegar rinse. After not showering for the weekend, I've noticed my skin has felt stronger. In addition, by cutting down hair washing, my scalp is less flaky, albeit still contains flakes.

This week, I'm trying out even less showers, perhaps every other or every 3rd day. My reasoning for this is simple. We shower to remove oils which also retain scent resulting in us feeling (and smelling) dirty. Right now, I have no oils and I'm adding no oils to my skin. Not much scent builds up when I don't shower or wash my hair. The only down side thus far is looking a bit flaky on non showering days. My face is a bit flaky on my forehead and upper lip and I try to deal with it by using sticky tape to remove extraneous flakes.

At this point, I've completely let go of feeling insecure about my appearance. I mean, frankly, idgaf if I'm covered in flakes and I can't afford to stress over it. If this is what it looks like for me to heal, then so be it. Yes, I've gone to work with flakes scattered throughout my hair b/c I know that showering would do it more harm than good. And I have jet black hair, woot woot. I have a sickness that I've come to terms with it and I'm okay with others seeing it; in fact, it's good that others can see what I'm struggling with it.

Though I am not super close to healing yet, I've started feeling more positive in general and it definitely helps the day to day go by more quickly. Keeping busy with other things and not stressing over the little things (triggers, food, etc) is key! One month closer to healthy skin!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Moisturizer Withdrawal Log: Week 3

Happy Friday! 3 weeks down of no moisturizing, still holding strong! (and almost 6 months of TSW)

I've been back at work for a week now and though my face started out very flaky, it's normalized and only has a few flakes on my forehead and chin. I found a way to manage these too with the help of trusty masking tape, which only removes flakes that are hanging on by a thread making skin appear smoother.

My skin is still remaining stronger than when I first started. It is very rare that I scratch until ooze is generated, and this happens only after many long minutes of scratching in a row. Still shedding fine flakes whenever I derobe but it has come to be expected. 

The itch still continues, and is definitely correlated with the size of flakes that I see (makes sense). For the most part I try my hardest not to scratch directly onto the skin. It's difficult overnight to control that but during the day, I'm dressed neck to toe so as I don't give myself access.

My foot saga continues, unfortunately, and while the ankle skin is pretty much intact, the tops of both of my feet still don't form a complete piece of solid skin. Swelling isn't completely gone as I'm on my feet all day and after work it's very lymphy, though not nearly as insane as right before Christmas. I'm continuing to manage by applying silver gel, tea tree oil and covering with tissues before putting socks on.

Mentally, I'm feeling stronger. My main emotion toward my skin and my situation now is annoyance rather than desperation. Annoyance toward the flakes, finding clothes that are comfortable, being stuck inside, constantly smelling my skin in my room, etc and so on.

So annoyed in fact that I became determined to make my own TSW gear which is made of soft cotton, has flat felled seams (read: no exposed seams on the inside), thumbholes so hands are covered and has a tall enough collar to cover the dried flakes that decorate my neck.

May I present Megan's line of TSW Friendly Fashions! Just kidding, but it's definitely a good way to channel my energy into something productive instead of lazing around. After making this prototype, I'm already planning my v2.

Besides this, I've been watching a lot of Hollywood classics and planning on catching up on the Oscar favorites this year!

How are you guys keeping your mind off TSW/MW? I'd like to know :)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Moisturizer withdrawal log: week 2

Well 2 weeks down of moisturizer withdrawal!

I can't say I'm looking much better. Still covered in dry skin flakes. 

But compared to the first few days, I am in better shape. I am shedding way less. When I take my clothes off, instead of an avalanche of skin, it's now more of a light rain. Pain has subsided and I am off the pain killers for sleep. 

Itch is still an issue. Though now no longer mind numbing, I still get itch attacks (I think when too much skin flake is building between my clothes and skin) so I've found taking all my clothes off and shaking off the shedded skin helps a lot. Also changing clothes every 12 hours if possible, but I'm not always doing this just because it's a lot of laundry to do and the shaking off normally suffices. 

My skin on my foot is now mostly dried down, save the top by the toes which is an easy spot to scratch. I dry it down with a blow dryer and cover it with tissue before putting on socks. The skin is still extremely scaly and large flakes persist but the swelling has gone down significantly. 

I am feeling mentally withdrawn, hence the lack of posts, as I would prefer to stay in bed or in the dark than look in a mirror or go outside. I feel pretty self conscious when I have gone outside. But I feel like I am on the right path, I just need more healing to occur faster! I've even taken pictures of my skin but find them so disgusting looking that I quickly delete them. So sorry, no picture update today but I feel as though the description is enough to log my progress. 

edit: here's a quick foot pic. less swollen, ankle skin is intact but around toe is still struggling. 

Anyway, I hope you are all starting the new year off well and I'm looking forward to healing in the near future.