Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Summer in the City

I can't say that summer is my favorite. I love many things about it. I have a flexible schedule. I get to wear sandals. I can go for walks outside after dinner and it's still sunny. Popsicles are a thing.  The produce will never be better.  There's regular Farmers' Markets and concerts in the park.  I like these things.

I don't always love the constant application of sunscreen and bug spray that lead me to taking two or three showers a day. The heat and humidity mean I have to take that walk after dinner because I'm too miserable during the day to move. I lack the willpower to work out.  I don't actually like swimming or the water.  I don't like the constant need to mow the lawn and wash the car windows of bug carcasses.

And what I like least about summer is my skin.

I was a lucky teenager. I had pimples, but it wasn't terrible. I don't have scars from acne, emotional or physical.  Until I was in my early twenties, I didn't give much thought to my skin at all.

And then something happened. I got these dry patches on my upper arms and, no matter how much lotion I used, they wouldn't go away.

And then I had a blistery rash on my hand - out of nowhere - and the blisters popped open and wouldn't heal. They kind of healed and the blisters came out  again and repeated the entire process all over again.

The first time I went to the doctor about it, it was more than ten years ago.

These blisters on my hands and upper arms are exacerbated by heat, stress, rubbing, water, and many chemicals. It's advised I keep the areas affected by this eczema cool and dry.  Now, I work in an institutional setting and come in contact with hundreds of people a day. I wash my hands approximately a million times a day.  I can't keep my hands cool and dry.  Plus, I have to apply sunscreen and bug spray or  I can't live my life. I can't void my life of stress, particularly during the summer when stress is all I have to keep me going.

I suspect it's also exacerbated by other damage to my skin. So, let's say, hypothetically, that a dog bites me and I have a giant bruise and a couple of gashes on my leg. That's probably going to cause an outbreak in totally unrelated area of my skin.

My current dermatologist ratcheted up the levels of steroids I use on my hands, but he's hesitant to increase the level even more because of the side effects. In the meantime, I have had an outbreak on the heel of my right hand for months. Just as the blisters are healing and the skin is growing back, I get a new set of blisters. I'm beyond frustrated at this point because my hand is either covered in gauze and tape or a slimy mix of topical steroids and non-lye based soap.

I don't know why I'm writing this, actually. I just feel like this skin issue is a constant in my life. My youngest niece described me as "aunt D with the yucky hand" and that's just not how I want to be remembered.  I'm frustrated while being very grateful that this is the health issue I'm dealing with and not something more serious.

But if you run into me, please don't try to shake my hand. It's super awkward.

1 comment:

  1. 1. I also dislike swimming and the water.
    2. Applying sunscreen and bug spray is The Worst. (See also, applying both to a child whose sole goal is to wriggle away from both.)
    3. Ugh, skin issues. I have eczema too and it is awful. (These days, mine shows up in scaly patches on my scalp, yuck.) My best friend throughout high school and college was a big tub of triamcinolone cream. Gross skin fist bump.

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