Enjoy the small things.
It is great how awesome normal feels after a flare up, like after having had a cold. How quickly we adjust and accept normal soon after. I have a brief honeymoon period where I count my blessings and enjoy the simple things normal takes for granted. Simple, everyday things people who have “normal” skin do not appreciate and just do. Things like turning your head, raising your eyebrows, bending your arm, being able to rest their face on a pillow.
I am just coming out of a flare-up. Not a major but enough to get frustrated and then enjoy “normal” again. But this latest flare did enough to make me appreciate normal again. This photo is taken about 5 days after I had a crack at myself. My skin had been slowly deteriorating for about 3 weeks prior. I felt my skin getting drier skin, feeling scratchier, more red raised patches and broken.
Then one night a week ago, on the couch, watching tv it started. A tingle above my left eyebrow. I subconsciously scratch a lot anyway and so gave it a little scratch. Then the scratch doubled in intensity so I consciously gave it a short firm scratch. It still persisted but I didn't scratch so I pressed the tip of one fingernail firmly into the spot of the itch. My logic is it creates a little pain, does no damage and hopefully squashes the itch. Unfortunately not this time, it just seemed to spread. At this point, I should have grabbed a bag of frozen peas or a cold flannel etc, but I didn’t. I went for gold for about 30 seconds. It felt awesome. It felt sooo good. I felt like I was kicking itch’s butt. A rush of endorphins and I was in rubbing and scratching heaven. A blur or hands and head. A massive guilty pleasure.
Then a sudden realisation I had gone too far. My fingers felt damp to the touch but it wasn't blood. I had rubbed and scratched patches on my forehead. Like a carpet burn, I had taken off patches of skin on my forehead and down the side of my face beside my left ear. Instant regret. I quickly went up and washed my face thinking something might have irritated it and still be there. Don’t know how as I had not moved off the couch for about an hour prior, but thought it might help. The raw skin strung. The cold of the water felt nice. I could not see the areas I had damaged but definitely knew they were there. A bag of frozen mixed vege for 10 minutes and then coated face in moisturiser.
Like a drunken night where you accidentally sleep with your ex, the next day was full of regret and self-disappointment as I realise the bigger picture what I had done. Also, I had a sudden wave of the amount of damage control this would require. As I look myself in the mirror, I look terrible, feel terrible, head hurts and the damage done was certainly not worth the 30 seconds of pleasure.
Several days of back to a careful maintenance regime. Moisturising heaps. Moisturiser is my make up and helps hides the full effects of the damage and healing. But the skin is sensitive, delicate and sore to the touch. For the first couple of days, I can not lie on my side in bed as the contact of my forehead with the pillow stings too much. This was my first appreciation of normal when I could sleep on my side again and I saw it as a healing milestone.
I continued to apply moisturiser and greasy barrier creams to my forehead several times an hour. As it dried and healed it felt like I had a form of botox setting in. I could not move my eyebrows or it cracked and crinkled the sore areas as they healed. For a few days, I was instinctively expressionless.
Still, I was fascinated as the healing happened. I have some twisted interest in watching as skin damage heals and changes. Sometimes I feel like Wolverine and heal faster than I think normal people do. Maybe I have just become really good at it? Maybe it is my superpower - to heal only superficial injuries quickly. Handy with my skin, but a lame superpower to use up my X-men card on.
Anyway, over the days the patches on my forehead healed and left behind some cracks and then faded. I am about 90% now and in the window of appreciating the small things. Not waking from sleep because I have rolled onto my side and it hurts, going out the door with less paranoia that people are staring at my skin, putting my head under and enjoying the stream of the shower without stinging.
My skin is a regular source of frustration, but I do enjoy the small things more. In a weird way, I thank it for that.