Reality Check

It'd been a busy few weeks for me. I was traveling for IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) events, working and dealing with school. Needless to say, I was stressed. I wasn't paying much attention to my body. Especially not my skin. The last thing I needed was another priority on my plate. I realize I'm an adult with atopic eczema, but over the years it has calmed down a lot so I don't always feel the need to tend to it the way I should. By this time I hadn't seen my boyfriend in a while. I was in a very comfortable relationship. He knew everything about me and I knew everything about him. He was accepting. He understood my troubles with my skin. He'd dealt with similar issues in the past. He was also familiar with (and very supportive of) my journey with IBD. I never felt the need to hide or become someone else when he was around.

When your skin shows signs

When I finally saw him we were both excited! I jumped into his arms as I always do. We'd laugh and talk. We didn't really have time to examine each-other as we were just so excited just being in each other's presence at this point. A few hours passed and the excitement began to die down. I decided to take a quick shower as I usually do after a long day. I went into the bathroom and began tying up my hair.

At this time I'm not sure when he'd noticed. Maybe just before I stepped in the bathroom? Maybe just as he stepped in? Either way, he'd come into the bathroom, grabbed my hands, looked me dead in the eye and asked, "What have you done?! Are you okay?!" At first I didn't understand. I could only look at him because I wasn't sure what exactly he was referring to and if he was joking or not. As we stood in this stare off I looked down and noticed the placement of his hands. His eyes quickly moved from staring into mine, to now staring at my arms. When I looked down I realized he was talking about my eczema.

Making my skin a priority

He'd seen my eczema before. He fully understood what it is and what it can do to my body, but he'd never seen it like that before. In the midst of all of the chaos going on in my life, I did not realize how bad I allowed my skin to get. I'm a brown, African American girl, almost 80% of my arms were now dark black. To an outsider, especially one unfamiliar with skin diseases, it would almost seem like I'd been beaten. I explained to my boyfriend that nothing was wrong, I told him it was just my eczema and although he was used to seeing it red and inflamed, it can also become dark too. As always he was understanding, but it was a reality check for me. Just like my IBD, my atopic eczema has to be a priority in my life. I appreciate his understanding, but all of that could have been avoided and my skin could have been in a much better condition if I simply would have been more attentive.

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