Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Diet for The Desperate

Well hi, hello.  How are you?  Long time, no talk...

I struggled with whether or not I should come on here to post because I don't want to discourage anyone on their TSW journey... in the end, I decided I want to keep things real so here I am.

This summer has been quite the challenge for me because my skin has taken a turn for the worse.  It started in May, I noticed my skin was feeling a bit itchy but I didn't think much of it.  Ever so slowly my skin has become increasingly itchier, sensitive and irritated.  It has really hit me this month that my skin is flaring.  My cheeks are red and flaky and even a little oozy.  My legs are where it's really bad, especially behind the knees.  It sucks to realize this, especially after so long... October 1st marks 3 years steroid free.   I thought I would never be back in this situation again, feeling in despair about my skin.  Worry not though, I will not let this defeat me.  It is merely just a bump along the road.

I'm taking this time to really analyze what is going with my health.  To be fair, even during my "95% normal stage" there were still things going on which I swept under the rug to be dealt with some other day... such as chronic fatigue, low energy levels, foggy mentality, long-term memory loss, chronic sinus issues.  Clearly something is in disharmony within my body, my environment and my mind.  There are so many things which can be the cause, it's overwhelming.  However, that is what makes this a journey.  I believe it is a chain of events and multiple factors which have led to this flare.  Most importantly, I think it is time I figure out the root to my health problems, as they are most likely related.

The Culprits:

  • Stress.  I started a new job this year, which has been really stressful.  My previous job was no where near as stressful. I find myself having trouble sleeping and worrying about having time to get things done.  We all know stress plays a huge role on hormones and can make them go all wacky.
  • Dog hair.  I have a beautiful dog who I adore and will always love despite the fact that maybe I am allergic to her.  I've had her for about 13 years so she's not new to the picture.  Recently, a friend of pointed out she may be the cause to my sinus issues.  Sinus issues I can deal with for her sake.  However, my little brother recently left for college so for the past month she has been sleeping in my room.  My skin has gotten worse in this time.   Coincidence?  Possibly, but definitely worth taking note of.
  • Environment.  This goes hand in hand with the dog hair, but I figured I'd mention anyways.  I've been pretty lazy lately..... I mean really lazy and I haven't properly cleaned (thorough dusting and vacuuming) my bedroom in a couple months until today.  Shame on me.  I really let things get bad... but I have given my room a good scrub down (still in progress, but much better already).  I'm sure all the dust and dog hair was not helping me one bit.
  • DIET.  OK, so this is a big one for me.  I have been following a plant-based diet for almost two years and I believed it is why my skin was doing so great and why I seemed to recover much faster than most of the TSW community.  Obviously now I have to rethink this conclusion, however I am not knocking the theory as I was nearly flare free for the majority of this time.  I now think I have allergies which I will be testing out by eliminating certain foods.  It just so happens I have heavily increased my fat intake (nuts, seeds, avocados, etc.) in the last month or two and I suspect nuts are not my friend... sadly so, because they are so delicious!  So I am doing an overhaul with my diet.... I am cutting out nuts, seeds, chocolate, avocados, oils, and for kicks and giggles wheat as well.  This is in addition to my vegan diet.  Goal is to do this for a month to see how things get on.... I truly believe diet plays a major role in our health and skin is part of that! 
If any of you are interested I pretty much am following the McDougall diet- The Starch Solution.  If you want information here are some links:


& for those of you wondering what my skin looks like at the moment:


Just for comparison, this is what my skin looked like only a couple weeks ago:


Monday, August 25, 2014

Hello Again

I have so many thoughts in my head.  I should be sleeping, but I just wanted to come on here and say, I'm doing well.  My skin is near normality, perhaps about 90-95%, and has been for quite sometime.  I've been working a 9-5 job since February and have not missed one day for any health/skin related upsets because my skin just doesn't seem to get very upset these days.  I hope all are doing well on their path to healing! I'm so sorry for the lack of updates.  Honestly, eight months since my last post on here.  How times escapes us.



PS- I will try my best to not let another 8 months past by before providing a descriptive, in-depth update with photos :)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Moisturizer Withdrawal???

The hot topic of discussion throughout the TSW community for the last few months seems to be moisturizer withdrawal.  Will it make topical steroid withdrawal more bearable? Does it speed up healing? And most importantly, is it essential for healing?

Unfortunately, I don't have any of the answers to these questions.  I'm not a scientist, doctor, or have any qualifications of the sorts, nor am I going to pretend I know what's the best course of action for anyone going through TSW.  I'm simply here to chime in on the matter and my semi-experience with it.

First and foremost, I have not done 100% moisturizer withdrawal.  I still moisturize occasionally.  My previous post I wrote about my skin routine where I mentioned I was moisturizing with organic palm oil once a week, post-shower.  I have had great results just minimizing moisture intake.  I also said I would be doing MW once I finished what I had left of it.  Well, I lied (unintentionally, of course).  I finished my palm oil last week, and then started using grape seed oil.  It's much lighter than palm oil and non-irritating (for me).  I used it for a few months during my first withdrawal as a makeup remover and really liked it.  So yes, I'm still moisturizing and plan on doing so until I feel it is appropriate for my skin to do otherwise. Thinking, maybe summer?

The reasoning behind my decision, was simply because I felt my skin needed extra moisture and for anti-aging purposes.  I actually have increased using oils on my hands, legs, and outer elbows to a couple times a week.   It's not news that dry skin leads to pre-mature aging.  As a 25 year old woman, I'm all about prevention.  My hands already look like that of a woman twice my age due to the abuse and thinning of steroids.  Also, I wash my hands a lot.   Furthermore, I shave my legs which strips oils away, causing my legs to feel much drier than the rest of my body.  I think it only makes sense to replenish some of the moisture lost.  As for the rest of me, I keep moisturizing to a minimum, still only about once a week.

My advice (again, just as a disclaimer: I am not a professional!) for anyone going through TSW and is on the fence about MW is to give it a go, or like me, greatly reduce usage.  More importantly though, really look at what you are using on your body. A good question to consider is.. Would this be toxic to ingest?  If yes, switch to something all natural.  Preferably something edible, like oils.  I used to apply Aveeno regularly for years, once I stopped I noticed a huge improvement in my skin.  It also gives me great peace of mind to know my body is not absorbing all those weird chemicals.  I've used olive, palm, grape seed and coconut oil.  I don't like olive oil.  It really seemed to irritate my skin further after a while.  As for coconut oil, I suggest using this when skin is doing well and not flaring.  It seems to be one of the more irritating oils when skin is extra sensitive.  I think palm oil and grape seed oil are better for those who have hyper sensitivity still. However, please bear in mind, EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT.  What works for one, may greatly irritate another, and vice versa.  Also, I would like to add, if you are flaring, especially oozing, consider complete MW as it is harder to tell what is irritating and what is working.  It might be better to leave the skin alone, if you can bear it.  Furthermore, if the skin is oozing it is best to let the skin dry to minimize infections and promote healing.  There are studies showing that moisturizers hinder healing.  I suggest looking at  Dan D's blog for more info pertaining to pertaining to MW specifically, if you haven't already.  He's done much more research into it than I have and has well, actually gone through it, unlike me haha.  I just really wanted to give my two cents on the matter.

As for me, my skin is still doing well and continues to heal.  I'm generally happy with the way things are moving.  It's a slow process, but it is happening.  Some days I even think I'm reaching the end of the line, but then I remind myself not to get too carried away with these thoughts since I know very well from experience this monster can sneak up on you right when you think things are in tip-top shape.  I still have plenty of room for improvement (i.e. Energy levels, sleep patterns, itching, skin texture).  My skin is barely a minor inconvenience these days.  So yea, I'm currently cautiously optimistic.





If anyone has any questions or wants me to write about something pertaining to my experience thus far, let me know.  Just leave a comment, or if you feel more comfortable emailing me, my email is chantalmarie88@gmail.com.  I know I don't write here often, but I do keep up with others' blogs occasionally.   I really would like to make more of an effort with updating.  I'm just so lazy sometimes!  Let's see if I can change that... It is a new year, after all.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My Skin Routine

My current skin routine is really simple.  I hardly do anything.  In fact, I don't even shower on most days.  [Ew girl, I smell you from here].  I try to keep things as natural as possible and just let my skin do its own thing.  The following is what works the best for me.  Everyone is different, so it's important to figure out through trial and error what works and what doesn't.

I take a shower on average about once a week, sometimes twice.  This may gross some of you out, but I assure you I am neither stinky nor dirty.  I was someone who thought taking a shower everyday was necessary and those who didn't were disgusting.  However, my opinions have changed (being a woman, this is not surprising).  Now I believe showering too often is unnecessary and may possibly be detrimental,* even to normal skin.  Surely, some people may not get away with showering only once a week.  It depends on your environment, diet, exercise and genetics.  People with pungent B.O., ehh... might not want to do this.  I think diet plays a significant role on what your natural stank smells like, but genetics too.  Furthermore, I don't do any heavy exercise, thus I am not pouring massive volumes of sweat, ever.  Finally, it's winter here, which naturally means drier skin (something most of you can definitely relate too).

* As a side note, when I was in the worst of my flares, I was showering constantly, literally three or more times a day.  If your skin is oozing, a daily shower will likely be helpful to feeling more comfortable and cleansing.  However, I do not recommend doing what I did and showering excessively.  I believe this may hamper healing somewhat and hinder the skin from doing what it needs to do. 

So what do I use? 
  • Dr. Bronner's Peppermint soap
  • Witch Hazel
  • Organic Palm Oil
I shower using Dr. Bronner's Peppermint soap on my body and nothing on my face.  When I get out of the shower I use a small bit of my Spectrum palm oil on my body and around my eyes (I'm paranoid of getting wrinkles).  I don't slather it everywhere like I used to and I wait for the oil to sink in before dressing.  I want to emphasize I am using very little moisturizer.  My tub of palm oil is almost gone (had it since summer) and once it is I intend to do complete moisturizer withdrawal.  As for the witch hazel,  I use it after scratching any area of my skin to help keep it clean and minimize any risk of infections.  The witch hazel I use has alcohol in it, but I have not noticed any negative effects and feel it has actually benefitted my skin.  I've been using it since August.  I may switch to one without alcohol in the future, but for now I like it.
What's left of my palm oil
Pertaining to moisturizer withdrawal, I didn't want to do full-forced MW right away, because I thought it would be much too uncomfortable, especially when going places.  I did, however, completely cut out Aveeno Skin Relief lotion in October, which I had been using religiously (several times a day) from June 2011-September 2013.  Prior to my Aveeno days,  I was addicted to Vaseline Intensive Rescue for a number years.  I've always relied on moisturizers to make my skin feel comfortable, even when my skin was "normal."  The mere thought of taking a shower and not applying lotion immediately was cringe-worthy.  I'm also an avid hand-washer, which meant constant re-application of lotion on my hands.  Now I can watch my hands several times a day with no need to use lotion or any kind of moisturizer.  I will do a more-detailed post about MW once my palm oil is finished, but as for now I have nothing but positive things to say about it! :)

Au revoir!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

S-T-A-G-N-A-N-T

It's been quite a while since my last post.  Things are still pretty much the same as before, skin-wise. My skin doesn't bother me much, although it is still itchy everyday, mostly at night.  During the day it's fine.  My skin is dry, especially on my neck, hands, and legs.  My legs are my worst areas though.  I can't seem to stop picking at them. -.-  For the most part though, I look "normal."

I've been wanting to post for a while, but I'm still feeling very tired and it's made me rather lazy.  I really can't wait for the exhaustion to pass so I can get on with my life, normally.  It's like I'm living in a constant fog.  As for other symptoms, I still get night sweats, however nothing like it was a couple months ago.  It's just mildly uncomfortable.  Temperature regulation has definitely improved, but not perfect.  Nerve pain has not occurred since October.  My lymph nodes have reduced in size since summer, but are still noticeably swollen.  Most importantly, my hair is growing back!  I have a lot of baby hairs now.  Up until about two weeks ago I was still losing quite a bit of hair.  It's slowed down a lot since then.  Thank God!  

Also worth mentioning,  I have changed my diet as of last month.  I am consuming a plant-based diet now.  Mostly vegan, with the exception of minuscule amounts of honey.  I know it's pretty much determined by ITSAN that diet does not play a role in TSW, however I feel a little differently.  I'll do a sole post regarding my stance on diet.  I will also be doing a post on my "skin routine."  

Adios~

November 25

Friday, November 1, 2013

Lighting & Skin of the Day.

Today marks 13 months into TSW!  I took many photos today because I was messing around with lighting.  I took pictures outside, in my room, and in my bathroom.  It's hard to decide which depicts my skin most accurately.  I figured I'd post some of them though. I may have gotten a bit carried away... heh.

I'm continuing to feel relatively well.  My energy levels are slowly rising.  I'm in generally good spirits.  I've been moving around more, dancing (for fun, not anything professional, hah), etc.  The itching has decreased quite a bit this past week, but I'm still getting bouts here and there, especially at night.  Why must bedtime always be filled with an itch fest?  My sleep schedule is still all over the place, but I spend more time sleeping at night now and less time sleeping during the day.  I am dreaming more as well.  All good signs.  I still have a long way to go, but I'm grateful for these days.

My skin is still pink and varies in intensity throughout the day.  The photos I took were after dancing around my house, so I'm not sure if that created a difference or not.  You'll see I have a patch of redness around my left temple.  I didn't notice it until I looked at the photos.  Some pictures look better than others.  I think my bathroom pics make my skin look worse than it feels.  It's fluorescent lighting.  The photos from my room are a mix of sunlight and fluorescent.

SOTD:
Taking in some much needed sunlight


Squinting.... Getting sun is so good for the skin in this stage.  Get yoself out there!



Here you can really see the dryness of my neck.  I'm currently weaning myself of moisturizers. 





I had a crack on my wrist last week which is healing away!



Wrinkly, old hands.  Yum.
Smile and appreciate the days you feel like dancing.

Unintentional earthing.
I'm not sure if everyone experiences this problem, but Blogger gives me such a hard time when it comes to posting pics.  It's always glitching on me!  So annoying.  It makes posting such a hassle and much more time consuming than need be.  (-.-)  WTF??

☾ Goodnight 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

False Alarm

My skin is doing much better since Friday.  In fact, my skin started to improve the next day after my previous post.  I was really worried I was entering another major flare, but seems it was just a minor one.  I've noticed a significant turn around in my skin the past few days and I pray it continues from here.  This may be the best my skin has been since June?  Not sure.  I am feeling much better though and I'm loving it.

Timing was perfect too since Saturday I had a Court of Honor ceremony to attend for my younger brother.  He became an Eagle Scout!  I was sad thinking I would be miserable there and even worried I would not be able to attend.  However, things worked out pretty well.  I felt pretty decent during the event.  Also, I must have looked okay, since no one said anything about my skin.  In fact, I got compliments on my hair and was told I was "looking good."  Success!   I did wear a blazer, tights with my dress, and a scarf to cover up as much as possible.  Strategic fashion.

Here I am Saturday with my brother:

My grandparents were visiting this past week from Puerto Rico so I've been out and about, keeping busy.  They came last Wednesday.  I wasn't feeling too good the first couple days, but thankfully that changed.  I don't see them very often so I'm glad I was able to feel well enough to enjoy their company.

Photo from Tuesday, outside in the sun so you can see more accurately skin color and texture:


I have plenty more photos and quiet a few post topics in mind to work on so stay tuned.  I hope you all are healing and feeling better.  For those that may not be doing so well, my thoughts go out to you.   I know your pain....  Please stay strong and have faith.  It will pass!

google imgs