Day 52: Self Diagnosis

Day 52: Self Diagnosis

I finally found, online, the name for the skin condition I seem to have. It’s called Dyshidrotic Eczema. Unfortunately, all the sites that cover it say that doctors don’t know the cause or how to cure it. One of the more depressing sites said that there was no cure and it could be a life-long condition…although its been known to spontaneously heal and not come back. This is when conventional medicine absolutely fails, because no where in any of the lists of treatments does it mention the food we nourish our bodies with. And it would seem that SO many people struggle with this condition. I would love to interview each and every person and see what it is they are eating. If the majority of people eat a conventional western diet, then I can’t see why it wouldn’t be helped by improved nutrition.

My hands have been itching, but I have been religious about putting those cotton gloves on, as well as latex gloves when diapering my kids and doing dishes. This has gone a long way in helping my skin heal. It doesn’t look nearly as angry and red or swollen as it was a few weeks ago.

…OMG…

I just took a moment, just now, because I suddenly had a thought about the baby wipes I’ve been using on the kids. I started getting the Costco brand recently, check this out, found on this site:

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recognized formaldehyde as a carcinogen. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has defined formaldehyde as “carcinogenic to humans.”

The Environmental Working Group has given it the highest (i.e. worst) score for its negative health impact. Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are associated with widespread allergic contact dermatitis.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, allergic contact dermatitis is a type of eczema that develops on the skin as a result of allergic reaction. Allergic contact dermatitis usually develops a few hours after the allergen (i.e. the substance to which the person is allergic) touches the skin and causes symptoms.  The symptoms of exposure to formaldehyde may include the following:

  • “Itchy, swollen, and red skin or dry and bumpy skin
  • Blisters may develop if the reaction is more severe
  • Blisters may break, leaving crusts and scales
  • Skin may later flake and crack
  • With long-term exposure to an allergen, the skin becomes thick, red, and scaly.
  • Over time, the skin can darken and become leathery.”

Formaldehyde is a powerful chemical and a concentration of 30 ppm is enough to evoke an allergic reaction.  Some formaldehyde-releasing preservatives release a higher amount.  For example, quartenium-15 releases 100 ppm, way above the amount needed to cause allergic contact dermatitis.

Unfortunately, if you are trying to avoid formaldehyde, one of the hidden ingredients, you won’t find it listed as an ingredient. Instead, look for these formaldehyde-releasing preservatives.

 

  • Diazolidinyl Urea
  • DMDM Hydantoin
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Quaternium-15
  • Tosylamide/Formaldehyde Resin
  • Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
  • 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bronopol)
  • Polyoxymethylene Urea
  • 5-Bromo-5-Nitro-1,3 Dioxane
  • Methenamine
  • Glyoxal
  • Benzylhemiformal

 

When I first did a study of the baby wipes industry in 2013, two brands – Kirkland Signature™ Baby Wipes and 365 Everyday Value® Wipes contained formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. A year later the formaldehyde preservatives were replaced with much safer preservatives. Coincidence? I’d like to think that our consumer pressure had to do something with it. Unfortunately, Kirkland Signature™ Moist Flushable Wipes still have a formaldehyde-releasing preservative 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol. I included Kirkland Signature™ Moist Flushable Wipes in my Baby Wipes Rating List in case parents decide to use them on their babies.

I’m not using the flushable wipes, but still, could even the safer preservatives be having an effect on my hands? What is it doing to my baby’s bottoms? Appalling. We are surrounded by toxins everywhere, everything is suspect.

So, I will be looking into that a bit more!

Today was Memorial Day. As a last hurrah before heading to Canada we had some friends and family over for dinner and it was wonderful. The weather was gorgeous, the food was delish. Getting together with good people is food for the soul.

Got to get a good nights sleep as this will be the last full nights sleep; Tuesday we get up at, like, 3:30 to hit the road by 4:30 for a flight out of SanFran at 7:20am. Yay. Looks like the bubs is teething right now, so I hope it has eased by the time we fly or it’s going to be FUN (in not a good way). Gack!

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Days 50-51: Getting Ready

It’s been a busy weekend. Some packing, some outdoor activities, a date night (yay!)

Through it all my eczema has been slowly healing up. My hands had an itch flair up but I was able to manage it and not do damage – cotton gloves save me. I just slip those on and try to think of anything but my itchy hands. The inflammation response is less, which is very encouraging.

Based off a lot of research on healing eczema, I went ahead and bought bones for bone broth. I boiled it for over 24 hours and now I’m just drinking it from a mug. Lots of good stuff in it. I like that though my diet may be somewhat restrictive, I still get to have some of my favorite things…namely delicious broth. I’m a soup girl. Most likely the result of my Asian heritage from mom’s side.

Tomorrow is Monday…and we leave for Canada at the crack of dawn on Wednesday. I should be very excited, and I will be, but right now I am more nervous about the flight. Travelling with the two girls by myself…anything is possible. I just pray that my toddler is having a good day that day and that none of us are sick. I also really pray that my eczema keeps a low profile so that I will have fully functioning hands to get me through the trip.

My work flow will not be the same once I’m there as, depending on where I am staying there may not be wifi etc., so I will probably be posting less frequently…but will find some way to track how I am doing because I still want to stay accountable.

I’m pretty beat. More packing and organizing tomorrow.

Night, night.

Days 48 & 49: Healing and…Illegal Spending Alert!!

Days 48 & 49: Healing and…Illegal Spending Alert!!

*This post is yesterday’s post, however, unexpectedly, like all the electronics in our house it would seem, the modem conked out mid-writing. $100 later, we now possess a new one. Sigh*

I chose sleep over writing yesterday. I think it was the right choice. I’ve had relief from itching going on for about three days and it is…heaven. I am a little…tentative in celebrating, however, because I fear that more relapses are in the future. One day at a time, and I continue to eat as well as I can.

Now, on the spending front: I had to enter the den of temptation, Costco, today in order to get my hands on some food stuffs and “sucky packs” as my girl calls them ( pureed fruit and veg in those convenient packs with lids) for our flight next week.

For the most part, we did great. Only the stuff on the list…and the stuff I forgot to put on the list but we truly needed. But then, I came to a display of backpacks. Now, these backpacks called because, 1. the backpack I (and my husband) have been using almost continuously as a baby bag is falling apart slowly, and 2. it has a laptop sleeve inside ( I plan on bringing my laptop for entertainment in flight).

I have a plan: I’m a mom of two under three, so I didn’t have much time to stand in the aisle trying to logic it out. Also, Costco is notorious for having stock one day and not the next. So, I decided to get it and I’ll do a trial pack at home to see if it is useful to me. It has got to work as my one carry-on. I want to be as light and compact as possible. If not, I have time to return it.

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Anyone have thoughts?? Am I just using some elaborate scheme to buy new? At this point, I just don’t know. I will have to run my test pack and see. Then, the old pack will have to move on out in order for this to be a legitimate switch.

Hey, check out the food I’ve been experimenting with. Since I’m going wheat free for a while, but love pizza, I sought out an alternative. Here is a cauliflower crust with smoked salmon, nitrite free salami, arugula, onion and cashew parmesan ( dairy free), with kraut on the side and anise stem pickles I made last week as an experiment :

Day 46: Nuff Said

Day 46: Nuff Said

I’m not going to write much tonight because I think I am going to head to bed as soon as possible. This girl needs sleep.

What I will say is that today I had an absence of itching entirely…and it was amazing. Aside from my skin still hurting as it heals its open wounds, it did not itch! I’ll take it.

Had a fantastic, simple day meeting up with a new play date friend. The girls were subdued, still tired from their day at the beach yesterday. They slept really well at nap time.

I got a good start on boiling up some bone broth soup as well as chicken stock from a whole chicken I’d cooked the other night (good for the skin, I hear!) as well as making a batch of kale chips…and cooked dinner. Felt very productive.

Starting to feel sad about leaving the hubs for a whole month. The girls are going to miss their daddy a whole lot and I will miss his quiet, strong support. He really saves my butt day in and day out; as soon as he gets home from work he gets on kid duty and really does his part.

Nuff said. Good night.

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One of my morning green smoothies became fodder for kids’ play when I stupidly left it in arms reach. 

Day 45: Happy Exhaustion

Day 45: Happy Exhaustion

Just so everyone knows, the original intent for this blog, that of not spending on unnecessary and ill-thought-out expenditures, still stands. This is day 45!

In that vein I must report that I have been mainly good on that front. The only extra spending has been on travel related goods, ie a child restraint, and on healing my eczema stuff, like colon hydrotherapy, and organic foods. Also an e-book called “The Eczema Cure”.

But last night, I went on Groupon. I know, ‘uh oh’ you say. And yes, I could have easily gone to the dark side and splurged on the 1,000 thread count sheets down from $300 to $34 in their clearance section (yes…I looked)…but I didn’t. I didn’t because I was on a mission. I want to return from my trip to Canada in a month and hit the ground running with some form of fitness. I want to continue to run, but I have to go a little easy with that because my knees can get injured rather easily. I had learned that there was a Groupon deal for “the Daily Method” which is a workout that combines barre, pilates and yoga in a workout that essential kicks ones butt. I want to try it. I hope that it’s for me. I really hope so, because not only is it close to where I live but it also has childcare!! Yes, childcare. For like, $5 per kid! Yes.

So it might be a frivolous expenditure, but I don’t believe so. I hope I love it as much as I loved Bikram yoga (when I could afford to spare 3 hours of my day ). The Groupon is for one month unlimited access so I hope to be able to use it to its fullest and assess from there whether or not to continue.

I’ve had a hard time trying to figure out what kind of spending I will still allow. I wanted to weed out all the spending that is purely a void filling exercise, all the impulse stuff that ended up as clutter and unused. At  first, starting off with this blog I was very gung ho and thought that I would just go extreme and not allow any expense. But I realize that that is not realistic. What this is truly about is knowing myself, and stopping to ask the question “Is this necessary. Why am I buying this? Will it be used? Is there an alternative that doesn’t require buying this item” and coming back with a truly honest answer. Also, tilting the expenses I do incur more towards self care rather than empty temporary “treats” that are not good for me or simply feed my vanity or illusions.

A few blogs back I mentioned I’d signed up for a free olive oil via another blogger but had to sign up for their paid membership in order to receive it. I was struggling with then un-registering and appearing like I was some cheapo person taking advantage of them. But I did it folks, I un-registered. It was an offer they provided and said there were no strings attached, so I simply took them at their word. This was a big step for me.

As far as physical healing…

My hand is functional, which in and of itself is a relief. It looks awful but they are back to normal size and I can bend my fingers again.20160524_134448.jpg It was itchy today so I put on those cotton gloves and distracted myself.

I also got out and joined my aunt and her charge for an awesome day at the beach. What an awesome day. I feel recharged…even as I feel entirely exhausted. We got a lot of sun and sand and gorgeous views. Why don’t I do it more often (I say this every time I go to the coast)?!

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Day 44: I’m Okay

Day 44: I’m Okay

Hey there *sheepish grin*,

I’m okay. I’m sorry to have frightened, discomfited or in any other way affected you.

Did I mention I am not one to hold back on the sharing? Thank you for those who read and offered advice and comfort. I am deeply comforted. There is a lot of wisdom in our collective hearts and brains!

I’m not all better by a long shot…but I do feel myself. What a few hours alone can do for the soul! Finding a moment to just be alone, dig deep and breathe goes a long way to soothe the agitation and stress that I know is helping the itching reach its highest amplitude.

A lot of you were concerned that I am staying the course in regards to a natural approach to healing out of stubbornness and a sense of pride. Yes, I will admit that I have some of that going on…but mostly it’s because I am finally listening completely to my intuition. This is something I have been working on for a long time, trusting my inner guidance. It’s strong, but I have too many times side-stepped it, either by ignoring it or giving into the opinion of others ( I am easily swayed). Too many times I’ve ignored my sense of where I should go and wandered down another path because of some outside influence, only to discover it is not what I want or what works, and I get annoyed that I wasted the time. I know I don’t need to explain, but I want to:

The reason I’m not going conventional is because I’ve been doing a lot of research, and from what I’ve learned the standard treatment for eczema is topical steroids. It does bring temporary relief but as soon as you stop using the cream it comes back with a vengeance, requiring a stronger cream and so on ( and becoming reliant on it). The result is that the eczema is not cured but temporarily masked. When you do finally decide to clear it via diet and healthy living, you then have to go through even worse outbreaks as you detox. On top of that, I am a nursing mother – I do not want my largest organ absorbing steroids into my system and passing it on to my kid. I do not subscribe to the belief that our bodies can be compartmentalized and that what we do to one part ie my hands, will have no effect  on the rest of me.

I am not against combining modalities. In the past, when I had a bad reaction to hair dye, I used Chinese medicine and Western medicine to resolve it. When I had a persistent foot fungus, I went nuclear using western medical anti fungal cream. This is different now. I know this is not a fungus, it is most likely not environmental (though I am taking steps to make sure that’s not the case), this is a long-term issue I’ve had that I am finally addressing through changes to my lifestyle – mainly through food and exercise. By all other accounts from people who have done this before me and succeeded, it can be a long road with many reoccurrences as the body works it out of the system.

I’m sorry if I frightened anyone with my apparent “break down” in my blog yesterday. I was definitely feeling low. In the spirit of this blog I am being entirely transparent. This ain’t no ‘Martha Steward perfect me let me motivate you through my perfection’ type of blog. Please know that whatever I do or say, I am always grounded in a deep knowing that I am complete and will perservere.

But if you need evidence that I am truly okay, check out this stack of laundry I’ve been doing! Yeah! Back at it baby!!20160523_160739.jpg

Days 42&43: Oh Woe Is Me

I’m not gonna lie. I am having a real crisis of faith. This blog, today, will be my confessional. I’m sorry in advance, this is going to be messy.

I am completely aware that my suffering is, on a larger scale, peanuts.

And yet, for the past four days of the worst flair up of eczema I have yet had, I have been a walking zombie. A terrible mother prone to crankiness with no energy to really engage (also staring at my smartphone doing eczema research or plain just zoning out to distract from the pain – which I HATE and promised to never do in front of the kids). A terrible wife, barely looking at my husband and when I do its to give him a look of ‘help me god’, and then back into my world of misery.

My husband is a strong man. He is not letting me take him down with me. He is upbeat, engaged with the kids and active. I love him so much. I don’t know if I could do the same in the reverse.

For the first time, in a long time, I have a few hours alone without the kids. My amazing mom-and-dad-in-law and the hubs whisked them off to an event. I was pushing to go too, as I always do, when I realized that I was almost in tears. I felt like, if I don’t let everyone go without me, I am going to dissolve right here, either into tears or a scratching raging, kicking fury. I am not myself.

I am afraid that I am wrong in my approach to healing myself (I’m refusing the conventional route). I am afraid that I will drive my husband away. I am afraid that my kids will be affected by my negative, woe-is-me attitude and lack of energy. I’m afraid that this eczema will persist and I will not be able to hold my babies with ease like I want to, change their diapers without wincing, bath them, or nuzzle them and be able to feel their soft cheeks against mine sans thick, rough peeling skin. I want to wear my wedding ring again.

I am mad that I am not the type of person who can just power through and see only the bright side of things. I am mad that I am not stronger. I am mad that I am so self absorbed I have lost complete self control and the house is a total chaotic mess. I am mad that I am not able to give myself a break and be kind. I am my worst critic. I live with guilt everyday, all self created.

Can you see what a mess I am?

I even feel like I am failing at this blog. It started off being about trying to not spend. Then it became about that but mostly my eczema. Now, in the process of trying to heal, I’ve spent money…on more organics, tons of greens, oils, medicine, creams, reference books. In looking at what I need to change, it seems I also need to spend on things like food processors, a Vitamix, a reverse osmosis water filter, a dehydrator…the list is endless.

I am SO CONFUSED.

What are my priorities? What are necessities?

I feel completely alone because I know none of this is anything that my hubby will get on-board with.

How can a stay-at-home mom without her own income justify any of it? I know, some of you are now yelling at the screen “You earned it! You don’t need to justify it! Being a mom is a full time job!”

I get that. But then there’s the reality. It’s theoretical mostly. I still do not have my own income.

Can you tell I’m mad?! I am. And I don’t know why. I want to scream and yell and cry.

I think I might just do that…

 

Please don’t worry about me. I am going to be fine.

Thank you to all my dear friends who have sent me thoughts and suggestions. I read them all. Sorry I am too self absorbed at the moment to immediately respond.