Post-TSW: What A Difference a Year Makes

One year ago, November 2012, things were radically different.  I was still (happily, I thought) married, living with my husband in our nice little house, working full-time and going to school part-time for my masters degree.  BUTTTTT I was also in the throes of my struggle with the demon known as Topical Steroid Withdrawal, though at the time, I didn’t know yet that steroids were at the complete root of my problem.

If you refer back to my March post, “Living with TSW – A Day in the Life Of My Skin”, that pretty much encompassed what my life was like for months at a time.. TOTALLY. OBSESSED. WITH. MY. SKIN.

Let me tell you about what you have to look forward to when you conquer the TSW demon, and describe some things that I do now that I NEVER would have thought of being able to do with TSW.  I wanted to make this post because I noticed I have some new followers lately (Welcome!!) and so I wanted to send some more encouragement out to those that are still toughing it out.  Plus I haven’t posted in forever due to a crazy busy work schedule, and I still want to have this be a relatively active blog.

  • My skincare routine is almost exactly the same every day and is COMPLETELY predictable as far as products and how long I take to get ready.  With TSW, I never had any idea of how bad I would look when I woke up, and so I would wake up extra early to allow more time to pick off all kinds of unsightly flakes, moisturize, put on concealer, etc.  I KNOW now every morning, the same healthy, rash-free face is going to greet me in the mirror…what a relief.
  • I have no problem trying new products on my skin, things with ingredients that I thought I was “allergic” or “intolerant” to before.  I just received a body lotion sample the other day that had both beeswax and shea butter – things I thought were high irritants to me – and I used this lotion on my legs with zero ill effects.  I’m still very cautious of my face and don’t use new lotions or products there, but my body is fair game for experimentation now, to see just how UN-sensitive my skin has returned to since healing.
  • I can and do eat whatever the heck I want without worrying if the food is affecting my skin.  This doesn’t mean that I always binge on junk – I chose to go vegetarian a few months ago (for more moral and personal reasons than pure health reasons) and most of my meals are actually vegan just because I like to eat plant-based and I feel good eating that way.  However, it’s great not to have to chase down various things like bananas, chocolate, cheese, onions, or garlic, and obsess over avoiding them or try to do restrictive elimination diets.  And if I do want some greasy pizza, I ENJOY and think almost nothing of it in relation to my skin.
  • I can go swimming and be in a swimsuit in public.  One of my goals for a while has been to actually learn to swim, so that I can get involved in triathlon races, because I already love to run and bike.  In the throes of TSW, anyone that saw me in a bikini probably would have run for their lives, fearing whatever nasty rash I had was highly contagious.  I actually regret not taking a full-body picture of myself in a bikini when I had raging TSW, and comparing it to now, since the difference is so drastic.  I went from 50-75% covered in grossness to 100% clear.  So now I am learning to swim and I happily splash around un-self-consciously in the pool.
  • I don’t have to carry tiny mirrors, tweezers, and little tubes of moisturizer everywhere I go, and I am no longer obsessed with constantly checking my skin out in the mirror.
  • TSW doesn’t dictate what I can do for a job anymore.  In my current job, I now work in the fitness industry.  I get up-close with all kinds of people and I speak with them at length… it can be an intimate type of job and one where you can feel like you’re perpetually on display.  Because you’re a fitness professional, people are looking to you as the picture of health, which means having a good body and nice skin.  I had been offered this job for MONTHS, but I never could have done it confidently before because of my skin.  I truly feel for anyone that has TSW and has a job where they have to interact with the public.  TSW made me stay a LOT longer at my previous (unfulfilling and not very challenging) job, because I didn’t interact with the public there, I could hide behind my desk and just talk to my co-workers.
  • TSW is not going to be the limiting factor in stopping me from [someday] dating, getting close to guys, or being in a relationship.  Emotionally I feel I’m nowhere near ready to do that yet, but if and when I am, my skin will be no issue.  And I really have no skin qualms about someone seeing me in any state of undress, besides the usual little body-conscious things that probably 99.9999% women think about themselves (“I have to suck in my stomach” or “My arse could really use a bit of a lift”).

If anyone else that is post-TSW has any thoughts to add on contrasting their own personal then and now, I’d love to hear them!

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33 thoughts on “Post-TSW: What A Difference a Year Makes

    • Thank you my friend! Meant to comment on your own post the other day – I cannot believe that someone snagged your photo without permission for some phony eczema cure!! Anyhow, I hope that you are doing well and continuing to heal 🙂

  1. louise says:

    YES!!!!! Fantastic News. You go girl! I wish you the biggest happiness and life and hope that you find happiness in love and life and a guy who appreciates you and treats you like a princess.

    Thanks so much for sharing this x

    • Aw thank you Louise!! You are the nicest person! I am glad to see that you are doing well too from your blog, even though I am surprised you had a late flare (you were probably surprised too!) Love you so much 🙂

  2. Nivea says:

    After reading ur blog, i’ve tried the calenduis cream. Glad to say that it works for me. I’m able to wear bracelet, able to keep long fingernails, able to apply nail polish and also able to feel tat so long i’m healthy, it doesn’t matter that i’m alone.

    • Hi there! I am happy to hear that it works for you! Isn’t it nice to feel “normal” and be able to wear jewelry and nail polish and all that. I empathize with you 100% that being alone often is HARD (esp if you were used to being with someone – not sure what your story is), but the gift of health and healing is certainly one to be thankful for!

  3. Courtney says:

    This makes me so happy for you!!!!! Shows what your perseverance can do!

  4. Ard68 says:

    YAY! Congratulations on the job front and good luck with the dating scene 😉

  5. viavictus says:

    Hi,

    I can totally relate to this. During the worst of my TSW, I really thought hard about what I wanted to do in life, things that really matter. Motivation to do anything was at an all time low.

    As I’ve improved, the desire to do things increased greatly. I’ve also applied to study a masters in sport science, hoping to work in the fitness industry to help people with their health.

    A very informative post indeed.

    Leslie
    http://saynototopicalsteroids.wordpress.com/

    • Hi Leslie! Thanks for visiting and for your comment. In the thick of TSW I never thought I would be glad for it, but now I look back and I honestly feel blessed that I went through it – because my motivation to accomplish things and enjoy my health was completely renewed. I have dreams for myself that are so big that I haven’t ever posted them on this blog, LOL. Curious to know what other big dreams/goals/accomplishments you personally have for yourself, besides getting into the fitness industry!

      And good for you for going for your Masters! Not sure where you are located (I’m in the US) but I personally found that having a Masters degree so far did not open very many doors, career-wise. Jobs in the exercise science field are kind of hard to find. But I am glad that I got the higher degree because I love school and learning, and I do think it will pay off for me eventually. By the way I really like your blog and I would be more than happy to be interviewed for your planned book. You can email me to chat further: nubtorious @ yahoo.com.

  6. YAAAAAAAAAY!!!! 🙂 I’m happy to hear that life has turned around a bit. *CHEERS* to that!

  7. Wooyay! Congrats, friend – we’ve come a long way baby! Hugs x

  8. So happy for you. .. Read your posts along the way and you’ve really been so determined! ! Wondered if i could get your advice….I hhave put up photos of my eczema today (I stopped using steroids I started early December about a week ago!). Do you this this is TSW . I’m thinking it is? Would love your advice on where I even begin. …

    • Thank you so much! It has been quite the journey. I looked at your blog and saw the photos. Hard to say if it is TSW, I was a lot redder and blotchier, but I think basically if you have ever-worsening eczema and skin that sporadically flares and improves, and you have been using steroids regularly (or in the past), it may well be TSW related. What is your history of steroid use like?

      • Em. When I got my first batch. On my eye btw! Dr gave me e45 and very mild steroid. Then got a patch on my neck I ignored. When I was 16 it flared and say steroids on/off for a year? Then none til I was 21 then I used then for say 2 months? Then not again til March 2013 for a month or two then again in Nov for a month and just stopped last week!

        Thanks for getting back to me.i remember is chatting before
        About hope similar our skin was! How is yours now?

  9. Hi again, my eczema blog! Well it will be interesting to see what happens now that you have stopped steroids. The area around the eye is very thin and absorbs a lot of steroid so maybe it is TSW, but I would think your course would be somewhat mild due to not using strong ones and not using them repeatedly. My skin is really all healed now (YAY!)

  10. So happy to read this blog post. I love your vibe and positivity. The fact that you’ve grown from the TSW-craziness (and everything that happened around) so elegantly is truly inspiring! Thanks again for sharing a little piece of your experience with us. xoxo

  11. Ruth says:

    I love your posts! This is fantastic and I think you have healed brilliantly considering all the uproar life had in store for you during your withdrawal year. You have been an inspiration to many…but your posts on suspected *allergies* reminded me so much of myself over the last 6months…-thinking I was allergic to all food, my bedroom, jewelry, certain clothing, certain odors, etc. I think normal *processing* will return as I heal. I’m only in month 4–pretty much the brutal beginning but my silver lining is that my hands, which historically have bothered and pained me every single winter with cracks, soreness and swelling (severe) are supple and perfect this winter. I cannot believe it. The rest of me, well, is a story in motion…!!

    • Hi Ruth!! Thank you so much for your kind words! It is pretty amazing when I look back at the past year and think of how I feel in such a good place now, between life and my now-normal skin! Month 4 is a great milestone though. That is when things really turned around for me, and it sounds like you are making great progress with your hands being so much better than they were in the past! And I do think the “allergies” will go away for the most part as you heal. Please do keep me updated on your healing… best to you! 🙂

  12. 20112010mo says:

    i have suffered with eczema my whole life and three years ago up until 3-4 months ago it was so severe i wouldnt leave my house for weeks at a time. i am now in control of my problem and have created a website with all kinds of information on preventing a flare-up and treatments that are good/bad. you may find it useful at http://www.eczemastruggle.co.uk we can beat this one day at a time

  13. Sarah says:

    This post gives me so much hope, THANK YOU. I am only one week into my TSW journey and sometimes it feels like the end is so far away, my skin rules my life. I have pretty Bad symptoms at the minute which I am taking as a good thing- the sooner I suffer the sooner I heal right?
    So glad to hear your healing story. I can’t wait until I can write a similar post to this

    Sarah x

    • Hi Sarah, I’m so glad that I could help bring some optimism into the struggle that is TSW! I have been exactly where you are, and yes, I think the sooner you suffer, the sooner that healing is in sight. Keep me posted on your progress and someday soon you will write your own healing story. I highly recommend keeping a diary and/or taking pictures of your skin progress, because it is very encouraging to see even small progress along the way! Speedy healing to you!

  14. joey says:

    Give us an update it’s the end of Jan already

  15. atopiclady says:

    lol joey, I was thinking the same thing :p Miss your posts eczemaexcellence!
    But Its wonderful you are healed! You deserve to live your life without worry of your skin after all you have been through! Cant wait till I am there too. Almost six months in! Btw did you loose a lot of hair? Im going through that stage and its freaking me out. lol 🙂

    • Hi atopiclady! You will get there, 6 months down is a great milestone! Actually I do not remember losing any noticeable hair. The good thing though is that it will grow right back once you are healed! Will be putting up a new post shortly, too 🙂

  16. Christina says:

    I am new so i hope u respond since its been a few years that u wrote about this. What is TSW? And what did u do heal? I did see unourxhase come callenduius cream.

  17. Christina says:

    Tropical sterile withdrawl. Got it.

  18. Jennifer says:

    Hello

    My face and neck look exactly like yours. My eyes are not as bad. Been on desonide, protopic elidel desmesxteone sp? For over a year. On prednisone now. Down to quarter of a pill. Puffy pink rash coming back now. How did you get off TS?

    • Hi Jennifer,

      I know this comment reply is a few months old (sorry!) Once i figured out that TS was my issue, I simply stopped using TS. “The only way out is through”. From everything that I had read it made sense to simply suffer for a bit versus trying to ‘wean off’. I did use Protopic a little bit which is not so much considered a topical steroid, but I had mixed feelings about it. I hope you are finding and feeling some relief by now!

  19. Willow says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for writing about your experience. I’m a week + two months into withdrawal and feeling a bit down. Your story has made me more hopeful and stop feeling like this will never end (yeah, it’s only been 2 months, lol… I’m just kinda freaking out a bit today because my face is quite oozy and itchy.) I notice your last post was from about 3 years ago. Would you mind sharing how/if your skin has changed since that post at 1 year post TSW? I’m curious if it’s really possible to be finished with this in 1 year and not have subsequent flares, since many people seem to be plagued by this for way longer than that.

    • Hi Willow, thanks for visiting! It means a lot to me that this blog is still visited and gives people hope. Right around the time that you are at is where I felt really low and like I would never be normal again. The oozing and itching drove me crazy and I would look at other people’s skin so jealous wishing I could just be healed. I promise you it gets better, hang in there! Sure thing I am happy to share how I am since 1 year post TSW. I was not a hard-core steroid user, which was in my favor, but after my last post on here about being pretty much healed, I WAS pretty much healed! (That’s why I kind of fell off the radar and didn’t make any more posts, because I was out living life enjoying my near-normal skin and didn’t feel the need to make any additional posts as there were no new developments). I do really think it is possible to be finished in 1 year as that was my experience. Though yours may vary. It seems to depend on: the strength of steroid you used, how long you used it, WHERE you used it, and probably other factors like your overall health status. But you are right in that there are still blogs I follow where people are STILL dealing with flares and they started around the same time as me. I forget where I saw it (this was long ago on another blog) but there seemed to be a rough ‘formula’ for estimating recovery time based on the factors I mentioned. And I was pleasantly surprised that mine was on the shorter end than what I estimated. At any rate, keep hanging in there and know there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Best to you! Feel free to post or contact me to keep me updated on how you are doing!

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