Hello friends!! It is time for some long-overdue progress pictures. This past Thursday I surpassed the 120 day mark, meaning that now I am in the 5th month of TSW!
I feel very blessed and very lucky to have made the progress that I have done so far. And I almost hesitate to say TOO many good things about how my skin has healed, because 1. there are so many people struggling mightily at this point in withdrawal still, and 2. I don’t want to “jinx” myself and be like “Look at me, I am nearly healed!” and then break out in some crazy late flare. I don’t want to make my progress something that makes other people feel bad, or minimize their own suffering.
I hope if you have TSW and you’re looking at my pictures for the first time, please do go back and compare them to earlier ones and see that if I healed, you can heal too, and what’s more – YOU WILL! I didn’t do anything extraordinary – no special diets, no special creams – I just tried to keep my skin comfortable WITHOUT USING STEROIDS. I also want to re-emphasize that I had crappy skin over much of my body ever since last summer that kept coming back even with very sporadic steroid use – I was probably going through TSW then and didn’t realize it, and only got the really “hallmark” symptoms like the red sleeve, swollen glands, chills, etc., when I completely quit steroids. So one could surmise that I’ve actually been in TSW for longer than 4+ months. That’s part of what I attribute to my relatively “quick” healing time so far – it actually would be more like 11 months or a year, if memory serves me from the time my skin really started going more downhill. That or perhaps God was like, “Let’s give this girl a break, she’s already going through an unwanted divorce and there’s only so much a person should have to endure!” 🙂
I’m not completely healed, but most of the issues with my skin now are just blotchiness or hyperpigmentation, not active open rashes or scabs. Because my limbs are still scarred and/or blotchy, I feel the need to at least wear 1/2 or 3/4 sleeve shirts and pants in public, but I’m hoping I can feel confident about baring my limbs by the middle or end of summer. I still do itch sometimes, but nothing too crazy. There are long stretches of time that I really don’t think about my skin much at all. It doesn’t completely rule my life anymore, and that is such a relief. To the pictures! (some are before and after for comparison).
My stomach is, for all intents and purposes, normal looking! I can tell it has some hyperpigmentation, but it might be something only I notice. Now that this skin has healed, it is soft as a baby’s butt. I sneak my hand under my shirt sometimes, not to itch wildly at my stomach like before, but to marvel at how soft and silky it feels.
My lower back has some hyperpigmentation and scarring. This picture makes it look better than it looks in real life, but I guess I could always get a “tramp stamp” to cover it up if I get desperate. Kidding. No offense to those with lower back tattoos.
My upper arms and forearms are my worst area, although this picture might make them look a little less blotchy than they really are. I had a lot of random scabs and tiny pimple things on them lately that gradually disappear. Today they were really itchy, but I scratch away contentedly, knowing I’m not damaging them and they’ll heal in time too. I think I’ll feel truly healed when I can wear t-shirts and tank tops again confidently in public. This might be the last area to heal because my arms were one of the places I used steroids the most.
My face and neck are almost back to what they were before I started using steroids. My eyes sometimes get random blotches around them, and the skin there has some healing to go yet, but again, this is one of the first areas I used steroids, so I would expect it to be one of the last to heal. I can get away with barely any concealer now – my face has ZERO concealer in this picture!!! And I can wash my face like a “normal person” instead of having to do this whole elaborate olive oil and then oatmeal scrub to get rid of all the dead, flaky skin. My face and neck feel extremely soft. I no longer use Vaseline on my face except a little bit on my lips and under my nose at night. That was a progress milestone since Vaseline is so greasy… it’s nice for my skin to retain its own oils now and not have to smear that glop on it!
This is an example of some of the scars on my legs that remain from scratching and scabbing. I have started wearing shorts again sometimes if I’m alone and exercising outside, but I am a little self-conscious of these scars and not ready yet to wear shorts to somewhere like the gym where others could see them up close. These will heal and fade too with time, I am sure!
BEFORE PICTURE: This is my right leg back in the fall. I had a bunch of tiny bumps all over my thighs and I thought it might be staph – honestly I wasn’t sure WHAT it was. This is before I knew about TSW!
BEFORE PICTURE: Here is my right leg super covered in red blotches. This is probably late fall or early winter – again, before I knew about TSW.
AFTER PICTURE: Here are my legs today! The scarring is mostly on the sides so you can’t see it here. I have lots of old scars that are small, but I’m probably the only one that notices. I still get itchy behind my knees, but that area isn’t ripped up anymore and my legs have come a long way in healing!