I ignored elders when they told all of us children to slow down and enjoy our childhoods. The family get-togethers consisted of the children playing while the old folks gossip and complain about their ailments, including but not limited to pains, fatigue, hemmeroids, and temporary hearing loss. I recall hearing that getting older is no fun. I was warned about the dreaded 4-0.
My marriage ended the year I turned 40. So, I can likely attribute much of what was about to come to an over active immune response. However, I believe my genetic presdisposition and environmental factors mixed with the overload of new stresses were the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Shortly after my divorce, I noticed what appeared to be a bruise on my right inner calf. It just wouldn’t go away. I went to the doctor and have them run all the blood tests to rule out any potential diseases. The bruise became itchy, so I booked an appointment to the local dermatologist. They determined I had varicose veins, and referred me to a specialist who could perform vein stripping. Additionally, there was an option for injecting a chemical into my veins to collapse and destroy the unsightly ones. Rather than opt for the surgical method, I ordered compressions socks, online herbal supplements, stopped standing for length of time at work, and even ordered leg massagers (like the ones used for sedentary patients in the hospital to keep the blood flowing). Nothing cured the condition. After reading about the surgical alternatives, I discovered that once the veins are stripped or destroyed, new ones could take their place and exhibit the same issues. Eventually, I decided to accept my new ailment. But I was determined to keep it at bay as much as possible by keeping my legs elevated, hydrating, and continuing my daily exercise routines.
Not long after, I was taken out bye some sort of virus. I was bedridden for several days. My family was worried for me. I lost some weight, and was very pale and lethargic. My doctor of course prescribed me a course of antibiotics which brought me back to life. But I paid for that dearly.
A few months later I noticed my face was becoming red. I was concerned, but decided that I would start wearing foundation to cover it up until it resolved. My face started flushing when ever I was stressed out, or in hot weather, or when I ate foods that didn’t agree with me. If became chapped and started to hurt. Soon, I started experiencing an acne-like rash around my mouth. My doctor determined it was perioral dermatitis. She prescribed me Doxycycline and Metrogel. I had to stop taking the antibiotic almost immediately due to the stomach upset it caused me. However I continued with the topical and my skin became worse than ever. I took time off of work and secluded myself from everybody for a few weeks while I was trying a regimen of home remedies. Antifungals, apple cider vinegar, black African soap, tea tree oil, Borax and hydrogen peroxide, several creams and tinctures consisting of violet, calendula, and chamomile…. You Google it…. I tried it…. I made my face angrier than ever. The papules and pustules started forming on my nose and around the sides of my nose. My doctor prescribe me Tacrolimus to reduce the inflammation and she got me a referral to the dermatologist and allergist. The topical burned so much, and I researched that it can be very aggravating to the skin. So I discontinued it and waited. I took it upon myself to take a fit test which exposed my chronic food aversions including coconut, eggs, almonds, yeast, and turmeric. The allergist prick test showed responses to chicken, rice, oats, and eggs. So I started excluding some of my staples from my diet.
When I was finally able to see a dermatologist, and she knew right away I had Rosacea. She prescribed me topical Soolantra, which is essentially Ivermectin – something I used to give to my livestock to worm them. Additionally she gave me Elidel samples to take care of the dry eczema that had formed on my face. Apparently Soolantra is a miracle treatment for Rosacea. I was so excited….. Until I got to the pharmacy. This drug was 600 something dollars without my insurance and about half that with. Fortunately the nice lady at the Pharmacy asked me if I had gone online to get what she called the golden ticket. I recall during the whirlwind visit at the dermatologist that they gave me a piece of paper. I handed that to the pharmacist, and my first tube ended up being free!
The first few days were amazing. My bumps went away and the redness reduced. It was for the next 12 weeks that I experienced the worst flare-ups I had ever had. I had bouts of skin crawling sensations, so I do believe this was Demodex mite related. The dermatologist urged me to stick it out, as most of the articles online do. We did determine that I also have some Eczema, and she provided me some Cerave cleansers. I didn’t like the fact that they had sodium laureth sulfate, so I opted to find an alternative foaming face wash. That seemed to help a lot. I learned to take lukewarm showers, as the skin condition doesn’t like extreme heat or cold. Additionally, I stopped scrubbing my face. After a 12 weeks was over, I went back to my dermatologist to show her that everything except for my perioral dermatitis around my mouth had significantly improved. Additionally I was experiencing redness and itchiness in my eyes. This is common in Rosacea. I kept telling her I thought this was digestion related, so she referred me to a Naturopath….
Meanwhile I started seeing an acupuncturist in hopes they could prescribe me some magic Chinese medicine. He did not, but the accupuncture helped improve my anxiety, breathing, and my tinnitus has mostly subsided. Additionally my varicose vein does not look like a bruise anymore. I believe my circulation is improving.
But, my digestion is what really needed resolved. I told my naturopath about my poor, processed food diet as a child, and acne as a teenager….how I took years of multiple antibiotics as well as Accutane. After Accutane, my skin then looked really great for a decade. I started developing anxiety in my 30’s and exhibited terrible digestive issues. When I ate anything with sugar including grain, fruit or alcohol, I would develop dermatitis and psoriasis on the back of my neck. I became lethargic, and had ringing and itching of the ears. I had horrible gas, and rotating diarrhea and constipation. I tried the vegetarian diet which left me hungry and eating all the time. When I found the Paleo Diet, I found that I had more energy but was still having negative reactions. Eventually I turned my diet into a primarily meat, oil, and non starchy vegetable diet. My naturopath had me start taking hydrochloric acid again, which I know would help alongside my bitters. She also wanted me to try expanding my diet. But, my body knew it was too early for me to try new foods and my body was very good at letting me know me.
I ordered a very high potency Allicin supplement online as well as a multi Spectrum herbal anti-parasitic, as I was experiencing pruritis. I completed a lactulose sibo test and scored high for the methane dominant strain. My naturopath then prescribed me the usual neomycin and rifaximin with erythromycin is a prokinetic treatment. My insurance denied it since it is only covered for IBS diagnosis, so I went online to get a coupon for the reduced price from $5000 to under $400. To ensure potency, I ordered a biofilm reducer to help with the treatment. During that time I stopped all of my non vitamin mineral supplements. I didn’t notice too much of a difference during or shortly thereafter. It’s known that the MMC or the migrating motor function is deficient in individuals with SIBO and that regular evacuations are necessary for keeping bacteria down. So, I went ahead and ordered a stainless steel enema kit and started doing coffee enemas. Taking a break from the harsh antimicrobials and enemas seemed to be the biggest help in calming my perioral dermatitis. My skin has been the best it has been in a year. It takes practice holding those enemas in and I usually have to do one or two water enemas before I complete my 15 minutes of cleansing. It makes sense that emulsified oregano again reduces my symptoms, as it is a natural anti-microbial. Unfortunately, I have to take breaks from the antimicrobials, as they tend to irritate the gut. For now I will continue to take my broad spectrum probiotic at night away from food. And I will continue rotating charcoal, bentonite clay, and diatomaceous earth and the early morning to cleanse my system. I will continue my daily enemas until my face entirely results. I will use my soolantra once a week and then go to every two weeks. I will continue on my mostly meat oil and green vegetable diet. I will attempt to keep my eating window to nine hours per day so that my body has 15 hours to detox for intermittent fasting. I will try to eat two meals a day on most so that there is more time for Transit. I will have apple cider vinegar before meals and bitters once a day. I will continue my hydrochloric acid until that improves. I will also start a broad enzyme supplement to help break down fats and carbohydrates. I will continue to do yoga weekly, infrared sauna, enemas, and dry brushing weekly, running twice a week, and walking for an hour everyday. If I keep my stress slow eat well and use gentle products like CeraVe (even though it has sodium laureth sulfate) and natural shampoo and conditioner, I feel like my skin and my gut will continue to improve. I’ll still wear a little foundation out in public, but it’s really best for the skin to breathe.
I suppose the lesson is..sometimes less is more. Healing starts from within. Reducing stress and mindfully eating quality foods that agree with you is key. It’s very difficult for me to share some of these horrifying an intimate details. But I hope it helps somebody else who is dealing with inflammation like me. On a happy note, my skin looked pretty good the day I ran my first five mile marathon. 🙂