“When will I know if I’m in the second flare?”
This is the question I asked myself a few days ago. One post from Louise’s blog has been pretty helpful in breaking down the overall typical pattern of TSW and I have referred to it often, while still understanding that everyone is different and that my own personal healing (or yours) may not follow that trajectory. I’m at 66 days in – 2 months down and entering the third month – so I knew that another flare was probably going to come at any point.
“Am I in the second flare?” I asked myself, while my nearly healthy looking elbow creases from the weekend began to redden and itch and the back of my hands developed a bunch of tiny scabs.
“Could I be in the second flare now?” I mentally wondered, while scratching wildly at my legs and thighs, sending a torrent of tiny flakes to the floor swirling like snow.
“Maybe this is the second flare”, I stated, as my previously-improving neck began again to get very very dry and tight and uncomfortable.
“Yeah, this is probably the second flare”, I agreed yesterday, while ripping off layers of clothing in the car while driving in order to scratch everywhere.
So it dawned on me. This IS the second flare. It was kind of insidious, like my improvement over the weekend slowly slipped away and reverted. This is why I wasn’t sure if I entered another flare state because it didn’t come on suddenly. The second flare is not harder PHYSICALLY because I am used to dealing with it – – and there IS a bit of improvement this time around, like I have barely any oozing and I don’t have such a burning sensation – – but it’s harder psychologically, emotionally, and mentally. To see your skin make vast improvements in a few days and then go right back to its red self is so disheartening. I’m sick of scarves and sweaters and concealer. I’m sick of flakes getting everywhere. I’m sick of not smiling and laughing because my face is too uncomfortable. You feel like you’ll never heal and will be trapped in this red, dry body forever. Lying in bed last night seeing my red self in the mirror, I couldn’t stop the tears from sliding down my red, Vaseline-coated cheeks. I pleaded with God to find me a way out from this.
I mention faith and God more often in this blog now because sometimes it’s all I have to lean on. I don’t bring it up to alienate any readers of this blog that have different beliefs as that’s not my intent at all, but for me my faith has been the one saving thing in many, many instances where I felt I couldn’t deal with this anymore. There is a passage in the Bible from 2 Corinthians where a man named Paul is given some sort of affliction, a “thorn”, a “messenger of Satan” sent to torment him. We don’t know what that affliction was. It could have been any physical or mental illness. It wasn’t TSW since there were no steroids in Bible times, but certainly could have been some kind of skin affliction. It could have been constipation for all we know! Paul says that he pleaded with God three times to take this away from him. (I’ve pleaded with God probably about 2,793 times to get me out of TSW, lol). God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul realized he was glad for this weakness because it reinforced that he needed God and he actually “delighted in difficulty”. (Go you, Paul, I’m respecting anyone that delights in the spawn of Satan that is TSW – I can stay optimistic for the most part but there’s no way in hell I could delight in this). The section ends with Paul announcing “When I am weak, then I am strong”.
Going through TSW has certainly brought me the lesson of humility, and maybe that’s the exact lesson that God wanted to teach me. Even before TSW, eczema itself kept me humble, which was a good thing. When I used to have clear and predictable skin years ago, I do shamefully remember instances where I would see people and think I was better than them. There’s no way that I should be doing that as I’m no better (or worse) than anyone else. This also reinforces that I’m a weak person, I’m human, I have foibles, and I need God. I need God more than ever now!! I have to just keep going – I have no other choice. I know I’m going to emerge from TSW with a reliance and trust in God greater than I had when I was healthy-skinned and naive. I just have to keep taking it one day at a time with the faith that God will bring me through.