Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Red-Eyed Return

Back before Liam was born, there were two years when a mysterious and persistent rash occurred around my eyes. Both years, the redness began right around the holidays: the first, the week before Thanksgiving; the second, on Christmas Eve. The rash began the same way, a pin-prick sensation all over my eyelids-top and bottom. The intensity of the pin-pricks quickly went from an annoyance, to a burning sensation. It felt as though the skin around eyes was sunburned and chapped. They were dry, peely, and sometimes swollen.

My dermatologist, primary doctor, several specialists, an ophthalmologist, and my Thyroid doctor, all tried to figure out what could be causing this occurrence, as well as a treatment which would cure, or at least, help treat it. I went through countless topical ointments, natural lotions/creams, allergy tests, and even a biopsy, with no sign of relief or answers. After 6 months (the first time), the rash went away on it's own. We may have done something that helped, but no one knew what. The only thing that seemed to help, was to be on prednisone, a strong steroid, with many side-effects. Even several rounds of this only eventually worked(?).

The next year, when it happened again, we were ready with the steroids, but still had no answers. The second time around, it only lasted for three months. Only three months!?! Only three months of looking and feeling horrible. Only three months of even more stares than just being bald warrants. Three months of sick days, missed family functions, and hiding out in our apartment. I'm used to looking "different", I'm used to the stares, but the pain of the cold, the wind, the light, were so horrible that all I wanted to do was hide out.

The next year, I was pregnant during the holiday season, and like my other auto-immune "issues", pregnancy seemed to hold off the red mask. I flinched at every tingle or dry patch the next year, but nothing came. Same for the next. Then another pregnancy. I was just starting to feel comfortable. Big mistake! I was just starting to think that something might actually have gone away on it's own. That maybe, just maybe, alopecia, eczema, allergies, and a wonky thyroid might be enough for one person to handle.

I was wrong. Over the weekend, I felt the familiar tingle. I tried to head it off with benadryl, lots of eye-approved, all-natural lotion, and extra care to not touch my eyes. It didn't work, and every day since, it has gotten worse and worse. Yesterday, was horrendous! My first day back with my students, and my eyes were sore, red, dry, heavy, and swollen. Just walking to the door of the school was a painful errand, with the cold and the wind stinging with every step.

Since Nolan is still nursing, even the ointments and steroids that helped in the past, are not an option. So, I continued to be proactive. I have put lotion on my eyes every hour or so. I take benadryl at night before I go to bed (since that's when my eyes tend to swell), and again when I wake up (to correct the swelling that has still occurred), and I am washing my hands constantly. Today, I am much better. Still red, a little sore, and the tiniest bit swollen, but I feel as though I have just a tad of control over the situation.

Although I am quite aware that I have no real control, and body will do what it does, I at least feel as though I am making progress. Hopefully, being persistent will have it's payoffs.

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