Saturday, July 19, 2014

Vacay recap & thoughts on stopping moisturizer withdrawal (warning: long post!)

Where do I even begin? I feel like the last week has been incredibly healing and detrimental at the same time. I'll start off with the vacation. In my last post, I covered everything I thought I would need in order to be comfortable and look normal during my weekend getaway. In hindsight, that list was pretty spot-on except for missing a few things. 1) I did not think about shaving. Prior to this past weekend, I just haven't shaved. Doing so left my legs and wherever else I shaved a hot mess. It would be a brutal blend of eczema and razor burn, times 10. Luckily, I was able to use hubby's electric razor, which didn't produce any negative side effects. 2) Makeup. I knew this would be an issue but decided against doing a trial run because I was just too scared. I didn't want to aggravate my already sensitive face by seeing what I would look like in advance. Well...let me tell you, wearing makeup during this thing we call topical steroid withdrawal is not fun. The wedding had 2 events: rehearsal dinner and wedding. The first night was actually not so bad. I took a bath as soon as we checked into our room, then a nap, and woke up with relatively calm skin. Hubby was in the bridal party so I didn't have him to count on for morale boost during this get ready process. But like I said, the first night was not too bad. Since I've been moisturizing again, I strategically applied vaseline on my face an hour prior to the dinner so it would soak in a bit and leave my skin soft enough to apply makeup over without a ton of flakes and cracks showing. This seemed to work fine and off I went to the rehearsal dinner. I caught up with friends I havent seen since last year or longer, which was awesome, and no one seemed to look twice at my face. The people who were aware of my situation were compassionate and understanding. In other words, no one frickin cared! Lol! Moving on... The worst part was at the end of the night trying to get the makeup off. It was basically impossible. So I itched it all off. Obviously. Took all my meds to calm down and go to sleep and started the next day anew. Considering I hadn't drank in MONTHS prior to this weekend, the next day was not so bad, hangover-wise. I did lay in bed all day and was incredibly tired but no crazy headache or anything. Hubby went off for his groomsman duties at which point I bathed and tried to be calm so my skin would follow suit. This night, the makeup did not go on as seamlessly. I guess because I had essentially ripped off the makeup (specifically, above my mouth) the night before, I had cracks that were raw and oozing that refused to be covered by foundation. See pics below which show the first nights makeup application. The first pic is straight out of the bath with vaseline on my face, hence the redness. The second is with makeup. Unfortunately, as the night went on and some of the ooze dried with the makeup on top, it got really crusty and thick. Wish I had taken pics at the end of the night too but oh well.

I did my best the second night and headed off to the wedding, reminding myself that no one else cares except me. (Sidenote: The wedding was SO beautiful. It was all about the couples' love and it was absolutely perfect.) When it was dinnertime, they were able to accommodate me with a gluten & dairy free meal on the fly, which I was super grateful for. They even brought me out a gfdf dessert! I was so excited when that happened! Anyway, this night I couldn't really stay gluten free in the way of alcohol because the bar had what they had and it was either drink rum & tequila all night or just say "F it" and drink what I want, which was vodka. So I drank regular vodka (I usually stick with Tito's, Ciroc, or Chopin which are made from potato instead of wheat/barley) which eventually led to regular beer and then by the end of the night a slice of pizza. Sigh. This is where things went downhill quickly. Let's rewind a bit, though. During the wedding, I danced my butt off. I had to take a break every other song lol because I would sweat and that of course stung. But boy did I have fun! I haven't been out in so long so it felt SO good to just party with my friends and not think about my skin. The slice of pizza happened at the after party (yes, my friends are awesome - they don't just have weddings, they have rehearsal dinner parties where everyone is invited and then afterparties with open bars and beer pong lol). At this point, my inhibitions were incredibly low and I threw caution to the wind. I decided to just have that slice of pizza, which I haven't had in probably 8 months. Within an hour, the uncontrollable itch set in. Mind you, it was probably 2am by this point. It got so bad, I kind of just had to bail without saying goodbye. I was super bummed about that but knew everyone would be understanding (if they even noticed). On the walk home, I went crazy itching and then started sobbing because 1) it hurt like a bitch and 2) I was inebriated. That night, I had the worst itch attack to date. That's all I can really say about that. If I go further, I'll probably send myself into another itch attack just thinking about it. Anyway, it was bad. Really, really, really bad. I knew I would have a set back from this weekend and knew that I would have to pay the piper. And pay the piper I did. So now it's about a week after the wedding and my skin is still healing from the damage I did but the memories I made are priceless and if I had to do it all over again, I would in a heartbeat. 

Now, regarding restarting moisturizing. I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it allowed me to be out in public, which I haven't done since the beginning of my withdrawal. After getting back from the wedding, I even went grocery shopping AND to the movies! Haven't done that in I don't even know how long. But for sure I notice more redness and itching after moisturizing. In fact, last night my neck was on FIRE, which I haven't experienced in months. I am terrified of the prospect of potentially having to do moisturizer withdrawal again. Even though I wasn't that much better off using no moisturizers. I would bathe every couple days, have crazy anxiety when I did have to bathe because the drying out process was so awful, and was never able to leave the house thanks to the grotesque mustache and face scabs that wouldn't heal for months. But at least I wasn't in pain. I've had times this past week that my neck's hurt so bad, it's unbearable. I actually made an appointment with a pain management doctor because it's too much to handle and tylenol/aleve/advil have not cut it. But who's to say it's the moisturizing? It could very well my body trying to get rid of the gluten. How do I know the gluten has such a major effect on my skin? Well, coming back from the wedding, crazy itch attack and all, I was feeling pretty confident. Cocky, even. So after 2 days home, with my skin on the mend, I decided to test out whether it was all the drinking and altitude or if it was the gluten. I ate these little donut things and by the end of the night, I was just as bad off as I was the pizza night. more gluten. Stupid, stupid girl. I know I'm gluten intolerant, why was I even pretending?? My mom is celiac, my cousin is celiac, I've been tested for it for goodness sake! It just runs in my family. Now I know not to EVER cheat again. I may give it one more shot after I'm healed but certainly not during this withdrawal process.

The pic above was a few days before leaving for the wedding. Much better than a month ago, shown below...

Unfortunately this is what I look like today. Im confident that it will get better as the days go by.

The last thing I want to add is that I haven't been taking my supplements for the past week or so. I also haven't been eating as well, juicing as much, or drinking alot of water. Don't know if any of this plays a part in the current state of my skin. It just goes to show you that this withdrawal process is truly unpredictable, a roller coaster with unexpected ups and downs. The only way through this hell is to keep on going. 


  1. omg that looks so uncomfortable!!! I hope you feel better soon
    Also, great job on going outside :) always hard when your skin is not in the best state

    1. Hi wynter, it IS uncomfortable but when are we ever comfortable during tsw?? :) Thanks for the support!