The Second Flare Is Harder Than the First

“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.

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18 thoughts on “The Second Flare Is Harder Than the First

  1. eczema man says:

    Brave girl. Admire your courage and honesty. With you all the way. And you write beautifully!

  2. Louise says:

    Stay strong! Hopefully, because you were not a big steroid user, your healing may come quicker than most.

    I’ve had a yucky flare all week which has really got me down because I’m so far into this process, but I am feeling a lot better today. You have to appreciate the good days with this!

    I’m always hoping each flare will be the last one….

    Also take courage in the fact that all of us red skinners on the itsan forum are rooting for you. X

    • I hope so, Louise!! I know there is a danger in thinking one is special and going to heal faster, but I really hope that I only take a year or so to heal (or less). Although I first used topical steroids about 6 years ago, there were big periods of time where I didn’t use them at all. I get encouraged by Josh’s blog (redskinrecoverydiary,blogspot.com) and to see all his improvement after only 6 months. I think I will be pleasantly surprised with my skin once I stick it out for a bit more!!

      I read about your yucky flare! Sorry to hear about that, but we all know that a period of good skin is going to follow that, for you and me both! You are getting near the end of your journey and I am excited for you to reach full healing. I love the support of the ITSAN forum. I got locked out of it so I haven’t been able to comment on there for weeks but Joey Brown is looking into it.

      I always appreciate you coming by and encouraging me as a more seasoned TSWer! 🙂

  3. joey says:

    just ride this baby out, i’ll have my fingers crossed for you.

  4. joey says:

    eczemaexcellence do you still experience a tight/swollen feeling in your hands. When I make a fist my hand gets a pins and needles feeling.

    • Joey I only get what feels like tight hands sporadically. Mainly I get it when I am outside like after I go for a walk. Then my fingers feel stiff when I try to make a fist. I have never had the pins and needles feeling yet but I know others on the ITSAN forum have.

  5. Andie says:

    Stay strong and remember there is nothing wrong with a good cry.

    I’m not going through TSW (I’m not yet convinced I have TSA, need to do more research) but definitely understand how emotionally draining a flare up can be. I had to take a personal day two weeks ago because I was so drained and emotionally exhausted from a bad flareup I was going through at the time.

    Take care 🙂

    • Thank you Andie! Between TSW and my divorce I think I have cried more in the past 2 months than in my whole life… was never a crier, always a pretty stoic person, but it is very therapeutic 🙂 Do you mind sharing your history with eczema or topical steroids? You can email me (nubtorious@yahoo.com) if you don’t wish to post, I just always like to hear the histories of other people. I wasn’t convinced at first either that my issues were TSW but I fit the profile and symptom list now almost to a tee. Taking a personal day can really help to maintain sanity!! Wishing you many days of GOOD SKIN and HEALING!

  6. hpesthetics says:

    I’m more feeling the “Job” story these days, but I hear yah with the thorn in the flesh. Some say it may have been his diminishing eye sight… I hope for you this is a fast recovery if you are a short term user. 😉

    HP
    eczemancipated.com

    • Yes, the Job story is a good one too! Sometimes when I’m really itchy and can’t stop, I get the mental image of the verses that tell about Job sitting and just itching himself with a shard of pottery. But Job’s story is a good one because he endured and ended up better than before 🙂 Thanks so much for the encouragement, I hope I recover fast too. Hard to say as I did start using about 6 years ago, but was pretty sporadic with it. I also used on my face and eyelids (big no-no!) which I know absorbs more and may make my recovery more tough than if I had just stuck to using TS on my limbs.

  7. Helen Lee says:

    What a fantastic blog! I stumbled upon it by accident … I have mild eczema on my arms and all of a sudden have a huge elbow crease flare up so of course went to google 🙂 Your blog is really well written in terms of your experience with eczema, God and your life.

  8. rachelmeeks says:

    This is my favorite thing I’ve read on your blog. 🙂

  9. Jessica says:

    Thanks for sharing. We are on the journey of healing with our son.. finding your blog was somewhat of an affirmation that we’ve done the right thing by not using “the ‘roids.” Probably not what you wanted to accomplish with your blog, but nevertheless, appreciated.
    Happy to talk with you about diet and natural options anytime. 🙂 take care.

    • Hi Jessica, it makes my day to hear a comment like that and I’m glad that it could affirm that the body can be healed without steroids and with just time and gentle natural measures. Definitely it WAS one of the things I wanted to accomplish with my blog now that I’ve been through it – getting the word out to other people that using steroids is not a necessity. I hope your son’s healing is coming along speedily and I appreciate you stopping by!

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