I have mentioned my dermatological struggles in the past on the blog. While the potential disintegration of my epidermis seems to have been staved off at the moment, my skin-care needs are (ridiculously) one of the major worrying factors about my health care and costs.
Yesterday, one of my favorite Twitter friend, @JerseyShoreJen, mentioned she had booked another media appearance from her recent EdOp on Eczema. Being a fellow lifelong battler of it and its fiendish cohorts, I congratulated her and asked her to share her article from the NYT Health Section – “The Painful Cycle of Eczema.”
In the bathroom, I try not to dwell too long at the sight of myself in the mirror before patting my skin dry and slathering it with lotion. I wrap bandages over the raw and weeping patches in the crooks of my elbows — a stopgap, really, since the bandages will soak through in several hours. I take Benadryl to calm the itching, and ibuprofen to temper the swelling and pain, before heading to meetings in an antihistamine haze. I hope no one stares, but they do.
I wore long sleeves and pants to school, even on the hottest, most humid days. … When I passed through puberty and still had outbreaks, I viewed my eczema as a character flaw, something I brought on myself for not being perfect.
After I read her story, Jen and I got into rapid-fire exchange on Twitter, gushing over our challenges and successes with our conditions. Though my collection of problems do not manifest as violently as Jen’s, I see so much of myself in her story. I never once wore pants to gym. I’ve ruined pillowcases and sheets when my medications have bleached out their color. When I have an outbreak I worry that people will stare and judge in meetings.
There’s not an immediate happy ending here – Jen and I are both continuing our respective struggles and our treatments. However, the silver lining is the connection that Jen created, and the relief I felt in talking to someone who relates to what I’m going through.
Jen writes at Down The Shore With Jen.