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I Hate Eczema!

This past month has been trying.

The weather where I am has been fluctuating between hot and cold, and there is almost no humidity in the air to speak of. As a result, my atopic dermatitis is back with a vengeance.

How long was my eczema in remission?

Until recently, I had been enjoying a relatively long remission from my most aggressive eczema. My face, neck and hands had been clear for months. Since July 2022, to be precise. Almost like it never happened in the first place. I was fortunate enough that this remission also extended to my more serious autoimmune disease. I have been in remission from my cryoglobulinemia (also called cryo) since July 2022.

What has my recent flare been like?

Luckily, I am still in remission when it comes to cryo. I cannot say the same for my atopic dermatitis anymore. My hands and arms are a scaly, painful, itchy mess today. I have been applying my one anti-itch balm like I can afford an endless supply. Which I can’t, just for the record. However, I am more against living in pain or discomfort than I am against spending ludicrous amounts of money on lotions, so I apply it liberally. All the while internally groaning at how much this flare-up is costing me. 

Why is healthcare so expensive?

I know it doesn’t do me any good to complain and whine about costs. I have had chronic health problems for a good majority of my life. Some of those occasions have been financially devastating. I'm mainly referring to times when I have not had private insurance.

A year ago, before being insured, my atopic dermatitis cost me a fortune: financially, emotionally and physically. The overwhelming dollar cost of doctors' appointments, prescriptions, emergency room fees, and diagnostics had become more than I could afford. I feel disheartened when I think of how I had to go into debt to stay alive.

How do my conditions affect one another?

Through 2021 I had many occasions when a patch of atopic dermatitis on my skin would crack, bleed, and then become infected. My cryoglobulinemia weakened my immune system substantially, making me more susceptible to infection. Some of these infections became serious, requiring massive doses of antibiotics for long periods. These massive doses of antibiotics would kill everything in my GI system that kept my IBS at bay. Meaning in the absence of healthy intestinal flora, my IBS would flare up as well.

Where does stress fit in?

My IBS flaring up is stressful for me. Unfortunately, stress is a trigger for my atopic dermatitis. If any of my eczema patches caused my skin to crack and bleed, my lack of immune system from cryo would allow opportunistic infections to set in. It was this awful cycle of never feeling well for what felt like forever.

When did I catch a break?

In June 2022, I got very sick after a camping trip. I have seldom been that sick in my entire life. This illness coincided with my finishing a round of long-term antibiotics. My doctor recommended I take probiotics. I decided to follow through with her advice. After I recovered from my intense flu-type illness, my symptoms from all three of my most prominent health issues lessened.

What lifestyle changes did I make?

I made some lifestyle changes at that time as well that I’m sure contributed to my overall health, such as quitting smoking and intentionally being more active. I think I walked 10,000 steps nearly every single day last summer. I’ve kept up regular exercise, and I haven’t smoked since!

How am I handling this new flare?

So, you can imagine the dismay I felt when I saw that my hands began to crack and bleed from my atopic dermatitis at the beginning of this week. Sigh. Just like the old days. Fortunately, one thing that having chronic health issues has taught me is how to roll with the punches. So I’ll keep applying my anti-itch balm and hoping the weather on the west coast works more to the benefit of us with atopic dermatitis soon!

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