I decided to take the plunge. To be bad to myself. And seriously.
The decision came sudden, but firm.
Treating myself badly took me a few months, but at last I can present myself in bad condition, bad light, bad focus and everything 🙂
Who in his right mind would look at my presently spotless hands and nails and believe that for over 3 decades I was one, big, itching and scratching mess and misery?
As far as my memory goes, my hands looked far worse than the state that I recently managed to reverse into (ugliness warning!):
Rash far harsher than what you can see in the photos occupied the whole of my palms, from fingertips down to the wrists (I think my recent passport fingerprint scanning was finally successful on the eighth fingertip), while in my childhood it appeared first behind my knees, inside the elbows, sometimes on the eyelids, behind the ears and in the mouth area, of course.
I’m glad I could at least reverse that far, because I got used to the bettered condition so fast that my memory just faded.
I totally forgot what it was like to have my skin crack with every tiny move of the finger, to have my fingers so swollen I couldn’t even dream about straightening them, to feel pure water burn like HELL, to be so itchy all the time, I could only get relief by scratching over something spectacularly abrasive like a carpet or the edge of a table, when only scratching until first blood brought temporary relief. Being sore was better than being itchy, that’s for sure. I forgot what it was like to scratch myself even in my sleep, or to suddenly discover that puzzled but concerned look at my friends’ faces when I’d unconsciously keep biting my hands all over, while still discussing stuff with them, business as usual, but with blood on my hands and the look of pure insanity in my eyes. Or when I tried to get a swimmer’s license with rubber gloves on (interesting idea but total disaster). I forgot what it was like to have each of the cracks blister, ooze, develop a hard crust and flake off in a never-ending cycle, or when the fingers swelled to twice the size, so I could only try to tear the rings off with my teeth and keep them in a box for months and months, while somebody else had to wash my hair, wash the dishes, wash the bathroom, peel potatoes… I FORGOT!!!
Diagnosis? Idiopathic atopic dermatits.
I never saw any connection of the flare-ups with anything particular, except citrus fruits. After eating citrus fruits I was scratching like crazy, but I still wouldn’t say no to tangerines around Christmas 😉 And then, while on holiday in Greece, I discovered I wasn’t allergic to citrus fruits at all. Only those imported would give me a rash. How come?? Easy! It’s not the fruit, it’s the chemicals!
(Btw, for many years now we’ve been buying organic oranges, tangerines, lemons and avocados from www.incampagna.pl and I wholeheartedly recommend them – you get a box full of goodies straight from Sicily at your doorstep, they’re freshly picked whole winter and spring, fruits are truly organic so you can even eat the peels! I love those peels so much, I distill them and make a natural roll-on deodorant so as not to waste a precious drop.)
For many years I was a devoted fan of topical corticosteroids – the only creams which could deal with my cracked skin. I would go to sleep self-bitten half to death and almost see-through, and wake up sawn up and more less leak-proof 🙂
For a long time I was trying to understand the phrase ‘steroids only mask inflammation’ and I finally realized that in spite of my skin looking so good so quickly, the inflammation was still there, just under the surface. What difference did the supposedly healed skin make, if it only took something like bathroom cleaning, hair washing or even touching an irritating product to have them look exactly like before the corticosteroid. I came to the conclusion that I can only liken this to taking paracetamol with my hand chopped off – the pain will surface as soon as the drug stops working. Well, fine, paracetamol is a bad example 😉
My hands could no longer tan, which is one of side-effects of long-term topical steroids use, and all those other thoughts about the utter pointlessness of the whole procedure kept ringing in my head.
So I decided to stop using them, once and for all.
I made a spectacular deep-water jump, not knowing how to swim. Perfect.
I started researching.
I first found Vinilinum – not-entirely-natural, but non-toxic and the descriptions were hopeful.
It worked some, but somehow too little.
By that time I had tried, what seemed like, everything already: grey, putrid prescription salve (no effect), regular creams (no effect), expensive ointments (nothing), moisturizers (what a joke!), so-called cream-gloves, that not only didin’t protect from anything but also stung like crazy (total waste of money).
Natural oils would immediately go though my skin as if it was a sieve.
I desperately needed to achieve the unachievable: seal the skin like with a glove, but a breathing one, nurture it underneath and let it heal while being able to not stain everything I touched, including the steering wheel keyboard and taps.
This is how I created my Beton (Concrete) – a salve made entirely from the best of pure waxes presented to me by a crazy beekeeper and cold-pressed natural oils. I finally had a thin layer under which my skin could heal.
And then I also discovered it was perfect for hand, mouth and feet 🙂
The only disadvantage lay in its truly concrete texture – you can only scrap it out from the jar with your fingernail, but then it behaves just fine. Well, probably not so much on a ski vista, but other than that – no problem 😉
But back to the beginning of my story, it went like this: after I’d regained my sense of smell thanks to zinc supplementation, suddenly a whole new world of knowledge opened up to me. Alternative world of knowledge of the human body function, which had almost zero middle ground with the medicine I knew – the one that concentrated on symptoms relief and had zero interest in what had caused them.
I discovered a science primarily focused on explaining why some ailment came to be, seeking the relation of minerals, vitamins and fatty acids depletion to chronic, civilizational diseases.
I learned from my new-found, veterinarian favorite – dr Wallach – that typical symptoms of asthma and atopic dermatitis can be linked to magnesium, manganese and GLA fatty acid deficiency. Because his former tip on the role of zinc in my smell loss proved to be a life-saver, I decided to test his eczema theory as well. But (my, oh, my!), whereas getting magnesium was not a problem at all, manganese bordered on Holy Grail availability and you could simply not get it in Polish stores, even if you wanted to pay with gold.
I decided to give magnesium a shot, however, my too low stomach acid (the hero of the next episode of this health novella) did not allow me to ingest much of any supplement really. So I thought I’d focus on transdermal supplementation and made my magnesium oil (Epsom salt 1:1 with pure water, though in my case it’s always peloid distillate 😉 ). One touch of this oil, though, roared a painful message of eternal hellish sulphur and led me to give the product away, without ever using it again. I ended up with full-spectrum-salt baths (pink salt / Kłodawska salt + lots of Epsoms). That supplementation had to suffice for the start.
Getting manganese was an insanely difficult task as well. I did buy a horse supplement, but didn’t have the courage to use it more than a few times. Plus, it gave me nausea, like any other supplement…
All in all, from the three elements listed by dr Wallach I could only truly use one – GLA. The highest concentration of GLA fatty acid can be found in cold-pressed nigella oil (too intense for me to swollow), the next on the list being evening primrose oil. I found a producer who guarantees pressing at max. 10 centigrade and always refrigerating (www.zlotopolskie.pl), and started taking 1 tablespoon in the morning and evening. I tried it topically too, but with no effect.
In the beginning of the fourth week of taking the oil, my bloody-red skin suddenly turned pink. I remember showing it it my physiotherapist and bragging about my huge success.
After another week my skin turned pale pink and then it started to heal! In no longer than 2 months of drinking evening primrose oil, my skin turned so beautiful, I couldn’t believe my eyes. And after full 3 months it was better than ever before! At this moment, our pediatrician – who never failed to notice and discuss the topic of ‘that skin of mine’ – asked me what on earth I’d done to myself 😀
This was like getting to the top of an eight-thousander… in the winter… walking backwards… on my hands…
I did what Wallach suggested in half, at most, and yet my skin was better than ever! I honestly can’t totally believe it till this day.
Later I would drink only a teaspoon twice a day, then just one spoon, and since then, whenever my skin gets worse it’s a clear signal I hadn’t taken the oil for a long while.
It’s so easy to get used to the good things in life and forget to take care of myself.
So when I decided to reverse to the bad condition, it took me really long to get even half-way there.
I suspect, once I rebuilt cellular membranes it was not so easy to ruin them again.
And yes, I still use my Beton on a daily basis, because it’s the best glove-salve I had ever had a chance to try, but I can go to sleep without putting anything on my hands and I will still wake up without traces of blood on my pillow.
And now, let me say something really important – I have two pairs of kids:
1. Oldies – allergy norms over 700%, asthma, eczema, hay fever, cross-reactions,
2. Youngsters – zero allergies, beautiful skin, no reactions to whatsoever.
For the longest time I wondered if there could possibly have been something I did to make one couple so allergic and the other not allergic at all. We never ate totally crappy food, but I only started gaining a truly sensible consciousness of food and health with child No. 3. So, could it be it was something I did or not do that helped the younger ones?
I thought long and hard and remembered just one dietary change while pregnant with my third child – switching from UHT to raw milk. I still drank about 1 liter a day, but it was completely raw.
Yes, I drink a lot of milk every day, which many regard as the reason behind all of my calamities. But was it possible that the very type of milk was to blame for the autoimmune response, not the very milk itself??
When I later learned how UHT pasteurization affects fats, I stopped pondering. Ultra high temperature makes the fatty acids unstable, and as they build into cell walls, they soon disintegrate, damage the cells and cause autoimmune response of inflammation. What’s more, UHT milk lacks enzymes, bacteria and everything we need to digest it, so instead of nurturing, it just poisons. Badly.
In consequence, we gave up on all highly-processed fats (margarine), toxic fats (refined oils) and when it’s possible we’re looking for organic butter and unrefined oils.
I’ll sum it all up this way – for most of my life I was literally a victim of my skin, and though its poor condition can also be attributed to parasites and/or poor digestion, mine improved dramatically just by attending to my suspected deficiencies – I drank cold-pressed evening primrose oil and took Epsom/salt baths.
Of course, I never returned to poisonous fats and have since been trying to avoid toxins in the food and at home.
The effect is staggering and shockingly stable, that’s why I keep sharing my story with all those poor people who can’t imagine their life without constant scratching.
Have hope, look for the cause, your life can be easier!
PS Anastasia gave me permission to use the photo of her hand, which looks EXACTLY like mine for most of my life. To be exact, my skin looked slightly worse in my normal state, while flare ups would extend it down to the wrists, on both hands of course. I’m 100% healed now.