Tuesday, 24 June 2014

11 WEEKS / 80 days - things that have helped me so far

Pre-warning... todays going to be a long one!!

I really wanted to write this post yesterday, but unfortunately by about 10am I started to nose dive straight into and itchy exhausting flare that lasted most of the rest of the day. So I just ended up spending yesterday taking antihistamines, ibuprofen and sleeping. I had an episode like this a couple weeks back that I wrote about also so I think I've come to learn that these are my 'flares'. It only lasted yesterday thank goodness and today I'm feeling fine again with my energy levels back up.

Skin review for last week... One word... Improving.
Heres a list of other things that are also improving...

  • Less flaking (most noticeably on my arms and face)
  • Less bone deep itching (apart from yesterday)
  • Sleeping easier / less insomnia
  • Less metallic smell from scratching
  • Less hair falling out when I brush it
  • Better temperature regulation.. I'm not freezing all the time and can sometimes be comfortable without my goose down jacket
  • Swelling in knees gone down
  • Haven't had a daytime sweat attack in about a week
  • Sometimes it doesn't feel so great to scratch anymore. Most of the time it still does, but sometimes I'll be scratching and think 'This doesn't actually feel that great... I should probably stop'
  • Improvement in energy levels.... just slightly

Things that still need more time...

  • My bald spots
  • Arms (hands/wrists in particular) still very leathery and elephanty and swollen
  • Still waking up sweaty a couple times most nights
  • Swelling in cheeks 

So there we have it :) I think I can officially say now that I'm coming into a calm period... How long for... Your guess is as good as mine! Ideally it will be continuous improvement from here on out but thats just being hopeful I suppose.

Next I wanted to write about things that I'm using/doing to help myself through this whole ordeal.

First item in my TSW kit is Apple Cider Vinegar... I drink 2 tsp of this with honey every morning.. have done for the last 2/ 3 years and have not yet once had a bad cold or flu. Had minor sore throats etc when family members or housemates have been sick but its never turned into anything full blown. 

With Apple Cider Vinegar.. to get any real benefits from it you need  to use the organic stuff with the mother (floaties down the bottom). I haven't used it externally as some people do, but is great at disinfecting wounds and I sometimes use it for cleaning.

Second thing that I haven't actually mentioned before as I've been a big advocate of no moisturisers, is this Rawleighs ointment that my gran used to use. It might just be a placebo effect as I've always used this for small cuts and grazes and I always feel like it heals up so much quicker than when I don't use it. The other reason I use this in small quantities is because when you apply it... either to a cut or just a small itchy spot... it has a serious cooling effect (one of the active ingredients is menthol) so this replaces any itch with a different sensation for a couple of minutes. 

I sometimes use it around my lips to prevent cracking.. I also use it on stubborn little scabby spots that refuse to heal. I've also been applying it to my cheeks every now and then after I do my clay mask also. I just really like the feeling of the coolness :)

I'm not going to recommend anyone else to try this as I firmly stand by the no moisturiser theory. But if you are interested in finding out more heres their website... http://www.rawleighs.info. Its not much to look at but for me its an old wives tale recipe thats been passed down in my family and I trust it.

And then theres my comb!!!! This one is not my original... my original comb I had for about 5/6 years and oh it felt like heaven every time I scratched. I actually lost that comb 2 weeks before I started TSW and 1 day before my partner and I went to Thailand on holiday. Haha well I can tell you that loosing that comb was one of the most stressful experiences I've had in a LONG time. I still can't believe that I lost it. So typical.

Anyway this one here is not quite as good... as you can see a couple of the teeth have already broken off due to some over zealous scratch fests over the last nearly 3 months. I brought about 50 combs in the 2 weeks prior to the start of my TSW and this was the one that felt the closest to my old one. 

Its so important to get a really soft plastic one... the hard plastic ones will just leave massive cuts all up and down your skin. Especially in the bony areas like your knees or elbows. The soft bristle combs will bend around those bony bits and not turn them into mince meat... this one I still have to be a little careful with but with my old one I used to go for gold.

The pink box, Polaramine, I brought over the counter when I was still in Australia. I used this almost nightly leading up to my withdrawal as the insomnia kicked in a couple months before I quit TS completely.

The blue box, Promethazine, is a prescription antihistamine. I had to up the strength of my antihistamine once I'd stopped TS and gone into withdrawal. I still only take half a pill every night but eventually I'm going to try and wean myself back onto the pink box and then off completely. But at the moment the Promethazine is a life saver. I take it 2 nights in a row and then have a break of 1 night, just so that I don't get to used to them.

And then my big box of Ibuprofen :) good stuff for reducing the itchies!!

These are the only medication that I take at the moment. I was on the pill prior to my withdrawal but I stopped taking that also and I'm glad I did. I read somewhere that being on the pill long-term may reduce folic acid levels as well as the body's ability to use folic acid. I have the Heterozygous MTHFR C667T gene mutation, which means that my body has trouble using, or maintaining folate anyway. Plus I've been on the pill since I was about 14 because of bad cramps, which funnily enough since I've started taking folate have stopped completely. 

Actually..... thats quite an important one, the whole pill and folate thing.... I'll do a separate blog post on that I think...

Short ass nails, nail clippers and millions of those emery boards help keep my stubbs smooth and scratch free haha. I really do look forward to the time when I am comfortable enough to grow them back!!!! My gran used to say I had such elegant hands.... not any more!!!!! haha. Fingers crossed for one day though.

Bentonite Clay... this one is a fairly new one in my TSW kit. But I believe that it has definitely helped in reducing the flaking and inflammation in my face. I know that after using Elidel daily on my face for 7 years that my face is going to need a bit of extra help and I think that this stuff is great. Its cheap, easy, feels a little weird. But I saw results pretty darn quickly and I'm definitely going to continue to use it.

Piles and piles of warm comfy clothes. When I was still in Perth, still employed and in my TSW planning stage I went to the big outlet shopping centre and just stocked up on jerseys and track pants, long sleeve tops and heaps of singlets. I knew that I would be coming back to New Zealand and suffering through a long cold NZ winter, so this is where my pre-planning really paid off. I was able to buy heaps of winter stock at sale prices (as it was still summer then) and send it home to be put to use later (now) and I'm so happy I did that. My partner used to say 'why don't you just buy all that stuff when we go back to NZ?' Because a pair of $10 track pants in an Aussie summer would have costed me $40 in a NZ winter!! 

My beloved Goose Down jacket. This was by far my most expensive comfort item. I still brought this in summer on sale and it still costed me nearly $200. I'm glad I did though. I wear it pretty much every day. Its been my warm comfort on cold days and my security blanket when I'm itchy (its kinda hard to scratch when I've got this thing on).

Ear plugs!! These are for both me and my partner... mainly for him actually. Wearing these means that he's not woken multiple times a night when I have crazy scratch fests and he can actually get a good night sleep and wake up well rested and ready for work the next morning... lucky for some huh. I do actually wear them to though.. they kind of help block out any little noises and I can sometimes meditate myself to sleep when I've got them in. Haha to be honest I'm a pretty light sleeper at the best of times and although he won't admit it my partner does actually snore sometimes :)


These are a lot to write about but info on them can be found here...

and here...

Probiotics and Kombucha probiotic tea... I seriously believe that these, among other things are helping me heal from the inside out. 

Sunshine!!! Ok so we don't actually see a lot of this here in NZ at the moment so instead I'm getting my vitamin D dosage from a full spectrum UV sunbed. I just love the sun and it has always done great things for my skin. I was going to wait until I was a bit further along in my withdrawal to begin any sun exposure. But my skin never ended up getting as bad as I expected it to so I thought what the hey... I'll give it a go. And it has definitely paid off for me :)

Walking, walking, more walking, sometimes gym, but mostly gentle exercise has been great for my mood and energy levels. 

Wheu nearly there... what a marathon!!!

The last couple of things that I want to mention that I've found is helping me is drinking water (heaps of it), no alcohol, gluten free, mostly fruit and veges and being a CLEAN, GREEN, HEALTHY MACHINE!!


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